Sleeping in a manger?

Jim Webster

I’m not talking about one of those twee things you see in nativity plays. I’m talking about a real manger. Years ago I was on a walking holiday in Iceland and we were well and truly in the wilds. We’d got permission to sleep in the shielings, these are the huts or bothies used by locals for when they have to accompany their animals out at pasture.

As you might imagine they varied from basic to squalid. Some were merely dry-stone huts with stone and sod roofs. In some you could barely stand upright. Yet others were bigger and often incorporated corrugated iron in the structure. Some had bits where sheep had obviously been kept, but one, the largest, had a manger and hayrack. Whether they’d tied ponies or cattle there I’m not sure.

Still I looked at the various places to sleep, the floor was starting to look crowded…

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