Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tom McClean

Sunday, the 20th of March

We trek form Mallaig to Morar, Alli's suitcase bumping along on its little wheels behind us, and onto the white, sandy, half moon beaches. Scotland's Caribbean. We have arrived. 

Tangled seaweed meets rocks and sand to create the perfect home for mermaids. We sprawl out on the wet, cold sand. 4:12 starts to seem like a long time away. Brushing off our sandy feet, we start the search for a shop that will warm our insides with a hot cup of tea. 

Morar is a tiny town. Morar also seems to have more closed shops than open ones. We trudge down the main street, looking for a place that doesn't seem to exist. I spot an older man gardening. We ask. He laughs. 

"100 people live in this town. Did you try the hotel?" 

We did. It was closed. Joy. 

He shouts for his wife. 


We have stumbled into the best tea house in all of Scotland, the kitchen of Tom and Jill McClean. Steaming PG Tips and crumbly biscuits are set in the middle of the table. In true Christina/ Maddie/ Alli fashion, we bombard them with questions. This is what we learn. I am ecstatic to share this. 

Christina: "Tell us how you first met each other"

Jill: "Tom and I were both out in the same little town one night, just a few miles from here. Back home in England a few weeks later,  there was a knock at my door. The face on the other side seemed familiar, but I couldn't place him initially. My father called me to the door. The rest is history. When we got married, we lived in the little shack that he built himself. It was an hours boat ride to the grocery store. When our two boys were born, we decided that we needed to move somewhere with a school. Now we are here." 

Tom is a fascinating man, potentially the most fascinating man I have ever met. He is an orphan from Ireland. He is the first man to have sailed across the Atlantic, west to east. As he was in the middle of the ocean, Neil Armstrong took the first footsteps on the moon. What a scientific paradox. Two men, doing the first of something extraordinary, kings of the moon and sea. He contributes his independent nature and ability to endure months of solitude to his upbringing. The orphanage made him tough. It molded him into an independent, strong willed, adventurer.

He proudly shows us his kilt, twirling it around, shaking the pleats and pointing out the long, dagger like pin. Kilts come in family tartan. Tom does not know his family. 

This Summer, Tom is voyaging from London to New York.

In a small boat.

That he built himself. 

That also happens to be in the shape of a whale.

We plan to meet him in the harbor.

Tom is a motivational speaker, gardener, grandfather, and avid biscuit eater. He loves his wife very, very much. 

After our tea, Tom drew us a very detailed map of an adventure to embark on while we waited for the train. 

What a day.