Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Getting back into the swing of things

Is never easy when you've been away for awhile. And when that being away includes the trauma of a week spent with the massed ranks of the family, well, do you need me to paint a picture? I moved to Wales, can't they take a hint?

Actually, that's unfair. It wasn't nearly as traumatic as it could have been. Some of my nephews and nieces are now old enough to look after the others, but not so old that they don't want to. This then is the golden period when I can appear to be a sympathetic uncle without actually lifting a finger. And I had made two large pork pies as my contribution to the catering, which went down rather well.

So what did I do all week? Well, not a lot. There were some visits to Torrisdale beach, and on the only day when it looked like the clouds might clear the summit, I climbed Ben Klibreck. It's a long time since last I bagged a Munro, and I had forgotten just how much hard work it is. Or maybe I'm just getting old. Still, I managed to beat everyone else to the top, mostly because the cloud came down and I was the only one who knew the way. Strangely enough, the next day my muscles were fine, but my head hurt like I'd been at the Harrogate Crime Writers Festival. Lactic acid overdose, I guess.

Perhaps the highlight of the week was a trip to Balnakeil Bay. We used to go there as children and my father used to spend large chunks of his summer childhood there as well, guest of his mother's cousins who farmed most of the surrounding hills. Anyone reading this who has been there will know why I like the place so much - and those of you who haven't should put it on your list of places to visit. Sadly Balnakeil House seems to be in need of some attention. The Eliots sold it about twenty years ago and it's been largely neglected since. Some idiot parked his sports car in front of it whilst I was trying to take a picture.

The weather in Sutherland was its usual mix of wet and cold, but the sun came out from time to time. I even managed a spot of fishing on Loch Naver, but didn't catch anything. This could have had something to do with my seven year old nephew wanting to come along, then deciding after fifteen minutes that he was bored. Or it could just be that I'm a crap fisherman.

All in all it wasn't a bad trip, as these things go. And I got to spend a lot of time driving around the Scottish Highlands in my open top sports car, which has to be a good thing. JulieD behaved herself impeccably, but I'm glad I remembered to pack the waterproof cover for when she was parked up at the lodge. It rained every night and often during the day - I could almost have been home in Wales.

Last weekend I returned to the relative civilisation of Edinburgh, for a piss-up/reunion with a bunch of University friends. Barbara came up for this, having wisely avoided the family stuff, and there was much catching up, drinking, eating and talking toot. All in all a great time, but boy are we starting to look old (well, they are. I'm still young and spritely - just don't look at that portrait in the closet).

And yesterday I drove back home. All the way from Fife to Ceredigion with the roof down. The M6 is very boring and I could do without the bugs in my face and hair, but there's something fundamentally wrong with driving a convertible with the roof up when the sun is shining. That and the fact that the heating was stuck on.

I took my laptop north with me in the vague hope that I might do some writing. It didn't happen. So now I must stop blogging and try to get back into the swing of things.


Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Och, I wanna go there. I love Scotland.

Minus the family, though. Well, yours may be fun, mine isn't. ;)

August 02, 2005 5:38 pm  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

mmm, pies...

August 03, 2005 8:14 am  

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