Thursday, 13 January 2011

Great Scots!

May 2010 saw Kayle and myself head from sunny Spain to what was rumoured to have been a rainy Scotland. Stepping off the plane at Glasgow airport at 11pm, the cold hit us like a ton of bricks and we thought we were in for a rough time.

After meeting our new host we camped the night, before our long drive up to the highlands. And what a night it was, wrapped up in numerous blankets and sleeping bags and wearing all our winter clothes!

The next day we started a supposed 4-5 hour journey to the highlands, taking the scenic route along the coast. Unfortunately it ended up being nearly 10 hours as we broke down in the middle of the highlands with nothing more than the "hills" ie mountains for comfort. At least we had our camping kit if AA couldn't find us! Eventually we arrived at our new home....

Cluttered is a wee bit of an understatement. And this was the lounge after we'd already been there for 2 weeks clearing up the place. My permanent spot was on the floor next to the radiator and t.v.

I was the soldier always on lunch duty, the others lost all focus upon entering and would come out empty handed.
The actual width
of the kitchen

But with views like this from our garden, who cares what the inside looks like!

Katy, from Brighton, was another volunteer on Clutter Island and arrived two days after us-so we had someone to drown our sorrows with at the pub- and who helped build the shed into which we moved the rubbish from inside the house. She didn't last too long but was a good laugh, I think we may have lost her in the clutter. Next to arrive was San Diego-an/Mexican, Regina, who lasted even less time and eventually hopped on the bus with us to Edinburgh never to return again. After Katy's and Regina's untimely departure there was a Candian girl... I can't remember her name, she was only there one night and also hopped on board with us when we left on another adventure. Looks like Kayle and I outwitted, outplayed and outlasted on Clutter Island and were the sole survivors- a pity there wasn't a million dollar prize and those awesome bandanna's!

Scotland is a place of many 'firsts' for us. Our first (although wonderful) host that seemed cuckoo. The first time we hitch-hiked and the first time the word pint entered our vocabulary! 
We spent a lot of time at our local (a 4 mile walk away, trust me there's not a light in sight when you're stumbling home) and came to know many of the locals, young and old. There was Ronan our host's nephew, Sean (both pictured further down) the blind chef who lived in a great caravan, a guy called Pumpkin- never understood why, but he was a crazy driver, and then there's our dear friend the fisher-boy with  the yellow 'willies' (apparently saying wellies in an SA accent is a bit of a problem) who ran around the pub pants half down trying to show us his hernia- the literal kind! Most of those we met are fisherman and you'd be surprised at how many have never left the highlands.

We enthusiastically joined our friends in the Scottish national sport- drinking & banter. Each flowing as easily as the water in the lochs. One such night of debauchery saw us waking up to a scene straight out of a teenage spoof movie...
Fields and fields of sheep and not a soul in sight. We knew how we got there, we knew who were with as I'm sure everyone did (our village was tiny- don't even think of hiding in the trunk of a friends car to scare them, no sooner had I done it someone asked our host whether the small Indian girl always stayed in the boot!) 

Sadly, after a few weeks, some crazy nights, beautiful walks, plenty of craic (fun) and a trip to Edinburgh it was time to take a nine hour train ride to England. And this time there were no runaways. 
Fast forward to August, after months of hard work in England and before setting off around Europe again, we decided a mini road trip back to one of our favourite places was in order.

I'd like to say the drive went forth without a hitch, but the fact that I was involved does carry with it some risk! (I won't go into the dopey details but there's a reason I don't use maps!)
When we did finally make it to the highlands, the weather was as beautiful as we'd left it, if not better, and the scenery a well received change from London's busy streets.
Friendliness, a good craic and a wee
pint can always be counted on. 

As the saying goes it's about the journey not the destination, and as eventful as the journey was, meeting up with people we thought we'd never see again was wonderful - Ronan, Sean, Katy (who now lives in the highlands) and even our host.

We stayed for a couple of days before making our way back to London where Kayle and I split up for some solo travels.

These breathtaking views were completely worth the long drive and few days.

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