March 23, 2018

A season in Scotland - Autumn

The place we're going, I've been before.

As the train leaves King's Cross Station I retrace the road in my head – the fast line up the misty coast, to Edinburgh ; the scenic, slow train through the islands, to Oban, and then there will be a boat, a bus, and another boat.

We stop in Edinburgh for a couple of nights. Being there again is like meeting an old friend, one you haven't spent much time with but with whom you can reconnect in an instant. I find my way through the streets to my favourite café, my favourite bookshop, shamelessly relishing the nostalgia that wraps around my mind like honey. Of course, this time, I bring my daughter along with me. She stills fall asleep in minutes everytime we put her in our carrier, and I feel so eager for a day where she'll be grown and we will start introducing her to our favourite places in this world. For now, I stroke her head and describe everything – the charming stairwells, the red stones, the bagpipe playing on the Royal Mile and the taste of my cup of matcha.

Edinburgh is cold and wet, but still magical. One evening we go out to see a Samhain celebration (which we'll end up missing entirely by standing on the wrong side of the stage). We get fish and chips and eat it whilst walking. It feels like a date, but again, now we're parents and our little girl is with us, sound asleep, like a secret nuzzled against her papa's chest. On our way back we talk about how much we love this city and how we dream of living there someday.

The next day the train takes us to Oban through mountains and valleys and forests – Scotland showing off outside the window. Saoirse spends the trip looking at the trees. Every minute reality is being superimposed on my memories, like a sketch being slowly coloured in. In Oban, we jump on the last boat, slowly crossing the sound of Mull. We cross the island of Mull on a bus – the jurassic mountains dusted with snow, the heather a vibrant brown. Then we catch the last ferry to Iona.

I was there a year ago, on my own – just after my 26th birthday. I spent just a day here, a grey, drizzly day spent exploring the island from north to south. I knew this place was special the moment I saw it from the ferry window, the only street of white and grey houses growing closer – Baile Mor, they call it – the big town. You have to love their sense of humor. I never thought this would be our home one day.

We are picked up from the pier by a gentle giant called John MacLean and his lovely wife Rachel. He is immense and wears wellies and a weathered trenchcoat – she has lovely golden curls and a colorful dress, and her eyes sparkles when she speaks. I stayed in their hostel on my first visit, and now it's where we're going to live, for the winter at least. At the very northern end of a tiny island, off another island, somewhere on the west coast of Scotland. As soon as we've arrived and our bags are emptied, we look at each other and again feel this wonderful chill – are we really here ? What have we gone and done this time ?

But there is tiny baby asleep on the bed, who doesn't even notice we've traveled half the length of country in a few days and that we are now standing at the edge of the world. If she's not worried, why should we be ?

1 comment:

  1. Stunning photos as always and a lovely reflection on that leap into the unknown...