Friday, June 05, 2009

from along the River Spey, the Highlands, Scotland: recovery

The kayaking hero returns: wet, tired, hungry. He eats the rest of my Walkers shortbread biscuits (factory: a few miles up the road), plugs in the computer and probably likes the idea of being left there, under the quilt for a few days.

But I’ve been riding buses and staying put and my energy is boundless. I think surely a hearty Scottish breakfast will perk him up a little.

[Do you know what b&bs serve us each morning? Always there is porridge (oatmeal), and then there are the eggs – with cooked tomato, mushrooms, beans and a variety of meats, if you want them.]

In the morning, the man eats heartily and then retires yet again while I spread out his wet clothing, basking in the pleasure of tending to such rudimentary duties again.

By lunch, the man is willing to go up the hill for a hearty meal of soup (sweet potato) and sandwich, while I sit gazing admiringly.


We stroll into the village in search of a water bottle (his old one went overboard and he needs a replacement). It’s not a big village, but it has a number of sporting goods shops. And lads, cavorting after school.


And then I gently prod him for at least a half day hike.

Initially, we repeat the direction I took yesterday – to Loch an Eilein. It’s a steely gray day, with occasional sprinkles to make it interesting, in a Scottish sort of way.


It’s empty and quiet here, in the woods. Birdsong, yes, there is that. And the snap of dry wood as a deer scampers off. And the croak of wild pheasant.


We go up a bit toward the high hills. Yes, that’s a good way to remember the highlands: some covered with dense pine, but more frequently made bare, with only the heather waiting for it’s moment of purple hue, and wet dark clouds tumbling low over it all.



And just when you’re sure that the rain is going to come and soak you through and through, there is a break in the clouds and the evening becomes an unknown again. Wet? Dry? Cold? No one can say.


We head back. Dinner at the Old Bridge Inn again. I like it there. Something about the warm pub feeling, the food, the people watching…



A last plate of Scottish cheeses (Isle of Mull brie, Inverlochy goats, Strathon blue, smoked applewood cheddar) to finish things off.

Friday we leave. Up to Inverness and then west again. To the Isle of Skye.

IMPORTANT NOTE: for the next four days (until June 9th), my Internet access is going to be very uncertain. Over my years of blogging, I can think of only a handful of times where I could not post because of a connection problem. This may well be another such time. I will try; stay patient please!