Monday, 14 September 2015

Plans

I leaned back into the comfort of the passenger seat and allowed the sunshine which streamed through the window to percolate through my skin and warm me up from the outside in. It was September in Scotland so this type of warmth was surprising and I wanted to soak up every bit of enjoyment it offered me. I squinted out from under my hands at the road ahead, which was a grey haze because of the heat. My eyes were drawn to the mountains which rose up around the road and reached towards the sky. They reminded me of just how much space there is here that I haven't explored yet.

***

I grew up in Dundee which is slightly north of Edinburgh.  When I first moved through to Edinburgh people would regularly ask me if I was going 'up north' at the weekend. That seemed strange to me because Dundee, to my mind, doesn't qualify as North Scotland. To those of us belonging to the Scotland south of Inverness the 'north' brings to mind images of remoteness, smallness (in terms of the sizes of the towns) and vastness (in terms of the landscape). It is the Scotland that tourists flock here for and the Scotland of literature and Hollywood films.

The road to take north from Edinburgh is the A9, Scotland's longest road at 273 miles and depicted in the James Bond Skyfall movie as some kind of single track, crumbling road to nowhere. Actually, it's a bizarre mix of a scenic route whilst also being a major trunk route. It's rarely as still and quiet as the landscape surrounding it, as commuters, weekend hikers and haulage lorries crowd onto its sometimes single, sometimes dual carriageways. The changes between single and dual are regular and abrupt. It's easy to be caught in the outside lane, trying desperately to find a space to pull in as the road narrows. When driving along this road it isn't too much of a stretch to see why it has the nickname 'the Killer A9'.

Of course, despite the fact that I'm a Scot, my idea of North Scotland is as vague as the tourist's visions because I've never actually been. Well, I've been to Inverness and Golspie too, but both for flying visits and I didn't explore as much as I might have liked. I fancy remedying that.

***

I've been doing this 100 day reading and writing challenge and one of the books I read was partly about an adventure around Scotland. This was the main reason I picked the book up but I ended up being pretty disappointed. Each leg of the journey only had about two pages dedicated to it and it just didn't do much to form the picture in my mind of the places that the author visited. I suppose that reading is as much about discovering what you don't like as much as what you do. In that respect, this book has been as influential as any that I've loved because it solidified an idea about how I might write about Scotland.

Which is all my way of saying that I'm going to try and get a little bit more organised around here. I'm going to save up and buy myself a bike again so that I can get out and about more often and I'm going to make more of my weekends by travelling further afield now and again. I'm also going to try to make the posts more cohesive as opposed to me just rambling on, so I'll try to get a little bit sharper in terms of writing. The ideas are still marinating just now but I'll keep you posted and as ever, if you have any suggestions of places to visit or things to see then I'd be delighted to hear them.


1 comment:

  1. Love this post! Travel, beautiful writing and reading books! North Scotland sounds just idyllic and certainly a place I'd be desperate to get out and explore. Great idea about having a plan of action, can't wait to see you putting it into place! X

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