Tuesday, 23 October 2007
A Scottish Tale
To say we have enjoyed our visit to Scotland would be an understatement. Four nights spent at the Hilton Dunkeld, a lavish 18th century manor house built by the Duke of Atholl for his Duchess, now extended and transformed into a luxurious hotel. Exquisite food, fine wine, gentle music played by a concert pianist on a Steinway Grand. Aging trees planted in bygone centuries, left to be admired by future lens; golden rustle falling softly to the ground amidst autumn colours, eyes transfixed as the gentle breeze carries each one on its journey. The River Tay flows proudly along side; salmon and trout occasionally startling as they shimmy upon the clear surface of ice cold water. The mountainous backdrop protects the valley as our dreams glide along after full days and lasting memories. Pine trees line the rock formations, hiding nature as it carries on through years of stillness and tranquillity.
We spent Saturday in the mountains. The Cairngorms National Park; an incredible range of scenery leaving me speechless, my thoughts having been taken over as I revelled in the beauty of the landscape which lay before me. Our journey up to Braemar took us through glens and along tiny streams which end at the road side, water spring fresh. Heather coarsely grows, overwhelming in some places where grouse rummage in silence, camouflaging themselves from a twelve-bore. We got out of the car at Glenshee ski lifts, a small car park which will be buzzing with keenness once the snow has lain its path. There were two cars parked. The silence of the mountain range almost haunted me as I looked around, my ears listened yet my heart was the only sound that I could hear.
We continued our drive through Braemar to a small area known as Invurey, a cluster of woods in which we searched desperately for Capercaillie. A shy bird, they kept their distance; our cameras distracted their peace, clicking, lenses opening and shutting in readiness to capture moving leaves or emitting sounds from behind protruding rocks. Our day was blessed with the mild temperatures and the added bonus of unobscured views. No clouds scattered the empty skies as we were able to splendour at the greatness of the mountains; their heights continually overwhelming us.
As we began our journey back to Dunkeld, the light was beginning to fade. The mountains were becoming silhouetted as we drove with a little more haste to get back to civilisation before darkness fully set in. My thoughts were once again my speech as I looked to my left, my eyes following the dusk upon the mountainside. As my eyes reached the top, the sight which met them left me breathless. The most magnificent creature stood in his prime, roaring to his herd, his antlers majestic in his stance. A Stag; my most favourite of all wild animals. My disappointment at not being graced by his presence earlier was washed away by my gratitude to the Stag for being on the top of that mountain just as I turned my head. He was meant to be there, just for me.
A planned visit was to be our Sunday taken care of. Meeting people for the first time after being cyber connected with them for the past few months. We drove along the opposite side of Perthshire, through more incredible mountain ranges, past Ben Lawers. We got lost of course, having no knowledge of the area and me having a problem with my lefts and rights. I never have been good at navigating and when instructions were given to me in a busy street in Pitlochry that same morning I was quite sure we would lose our way at some stage. However, our car drew up outside a beautiful white cottage, more breathtaking scenery capturing our hearts as we were greeted with open arms and smiling faces.
Our destination was of course to meet dear Westerwitch and her husband, Happy Snaper. Another bonus as Wizzard appeared in a puff of smoke, bright eyed and beaming with kindness. They could not have been more welcoming. We sat down to a delectable chicken dinner, excellent banter and wonderful company. Not forgetting Sassy, their adorable collie who has recently been involved in a most senseless incident and who rubbed herself against my legs asking for some attention of which she got plenty. I wanted to bring her home but they kept a close eye on her as we left, just to make sure we had not smuggled her into the back of the car. As we waved to them whilst driving away I knew it was just until the next time. For I am sure we will meet again, such lovely people can not be forgotten.
That night we had our final meal in the hotel whilst listening to the Ceilidh band play the most addictive Scottish music. The farmer and I having four left feet between us, we sat and watched as kilts and sporrans graced the dance floor with their beautiful wives. The Ceilidh ended at 11pm and we retired to bed, almost as exhausted as those who had entertained us with their expertise, and just as happy.
We got home on Monday afternoon. My little pigtailed princess came running out to me, her arms flinging in all directions through sheer excitement, her smile once more melting my heart. We hugged, we went through the “I’ve missed you’s” and then we got down to business; the present giving. More hugs, more I’ve missed you’s, followed by more hugs. I am glad we went away. We have had a wonderful time. Every minute of each day we have spent in Scotland has been momentous. We will reminisce about this holiday for many years to come. Meeting our friends, seeing my Stag, searching for Capercaillie, admiring the mountains, walking alongside the River Tay and witnessing a truly Scottish gathering whilst savouring luscious food and being treated like royalty in opulent surroundings. And the best bit? Seeing Amy’s face on our return.