Monday, 15 June 2015

Let's talk about: R O A D T R I P S

"All the wide world is beautiful, and it matters but little where to go... 
The spot where we chance to be always seems the best"
John Muir, 1890

A solitary pub just outside Glencoe. Where the lobster is fresh, the ale is poured properly and the pool table is (usually) free

When I was younger being Scottish didn't matter to me. It seemed a little uncool compared to living in London or being one of the American teenagers on programmes like Sweet Valley High. As I got older I discovered a gorgeous little hideaway up at Loch Fyne and while I enjoyed the beauty and dramatic scenery of the place - I still longed for the bright lights and fast pace of the big city.

Loch Lomond in the sunshine on the drive up to Oban.

Over the past year or so something has changed. I've developed a deep love and connection for all things Scottish. I've bought a map of Scotland and have delighted in covering it with stickers. The places I want to go. The places I've already been. Regularly I get this insane craving to go away again. It hits me almost like a nicotine addiction. This insatiable urge to run away to another Scottish hideaway. To escape and unwind.

The only pub in the tiny village of Ballachulish had closed it's doors for good the day before we arrived. 

It's like this addiction has become a part of my being now. And so I always have my next little Scottish road trip planned. Marked on the calendar between toddler dancing exams, dentist appointments and soft play birthday parties.

There isn't much call for swanky cocktail bars, sushi houses or 24 hour gyms in the places I like to go. 

And that's just the way I like it.

The A82. The drive  up to Fort William is unbelievably beautiful in the Winter

I imagine this change in passion has a lot to do with Ava and even more to do with age. But give me a couple of nights in the Scottish Highlands over a long weekend in London any day of the week. If the offer is a fortnight in Dubai or a week spent ferry hopping around some Scottish Islands then I will take the latter every single time. 

I'm not even kidding. 

Is that weird?

The Falls of Dochart in the very picturesque village of Killin and the dart board in the Fort William pub where I played my first ever games of darts. And won.

The past few months have seen oyster eating on the banks of Loch Fyne and walks along lochs where the only noise heard is the lapping of the water and the occasional sea plane. Endless afternoon games of pool and darts in bars with beer selections that would blow a beer lovers mind. They've seen drives up to Oban littered with coffee stops, castle spotting and playful arguments over which album should be listened to next. They've included fairy spotting near waterfalls (I swear Ava still believes I saw Tinkerbell) and gift shop perusing in the kind of villages you see on postcards.

Loch Earn. Where a kind fisherman offered his lunchtime crisps to Ava so she could feed the ducks.

Many trips over to Arran and a more recent one to Millport have convinced me that islands are the ones I need to tick off next. Bute, Islay, Jura and Mull are all on my list. Skye and Lewis are also on the agenda. Only as they take a little more planning, money and time off, they might have to wait until next year...

Largs beach on a sunny day just before jumping on the boat over to Millport.

I seem to need these little trips like I need air. I feel twitchy when I don't have something booked. I get restless and irritable when I don't have something pencilled in my diary.

Morning view outside The Clachan Cottage Hotel at Lochearnhead

I know now that I will never wander far from Scottish shores. And that when the babies are all grown up and I pack them off to uni or their very own wanderlust gets the better of them, it won't be a beach house in Spain that I will be retiring to. Nor will it be a villa in Tuscany. I will be settled somewhere up north. Maybe in the highlands or perhaps on a remote Scottish island. Feeling that perfect peacefulness that only one of my treasured road trips can bring me.

Every single day.