"That didn't take long." A little disappointment in her voice, Amy needed clarification that we had only just gone over the border, another two hours driving lay ahead.
It did not matter that we met a traffic jam en-route. It did not matter that at one point my windscreen wipers were going so fast they almost took flight. The journey, on the whole, was a good one. The mountains beckoned me on, at each corner, each junction. Endless arms reaching out to draw us towards their imposing beauty.
Miraculously, I found my way to the holiday cottage in which Amy and I were to spend the week. White. Stone. Hidden. I could not describe it at first glance for all I could see was a vision of what a holiday cottage in the Scottish Highlands should look like. It was there, in front of me, waiting for my awe-inspired reaction to store up thoughts, preferably finding the right words. We were greeted, as I knew we would be, by a welcome embrace, an immediate warmth wrapping around our hearts which was to become the scene set, for the forthcoming week.
An entrance hall; latched pine door leading into a large kitchen and dining room. My eyes caught sight of the beautiful farmhouse-style table, sturdy and inviting; a large vase of wild flowers had been placed in the centre. A staircase leads to a home from home landing boasting a large mirror with potential faces. From the kitchen to the living room, bright, homely and warm. Two sofas captured me once I had found comfort after the long drive. Ornaments and souvenirs scattered about the room, books in abundance littered amongst shelves; information leaflets, maps and that all important cottage manual.
French doors open onto decking which houses a large table and chairs, all conveniently covered by a dark green parasol, a camouflage in luscious surroundings. Beyond the decking is a lochan or a large pond. Small fish explore the surface causing a tiny ripple in their leaping bid. I could have sat looking through generous sized windows all day, my own bid to seek out the deer which roam freely in the ancient forests. Two large en suite bedrooms occupy the first floor, both comfortable, yet I was drawn to the lightest room, the one where water falls can be constantly heard, where my forest view lay in wait. I counted three red squirrels playing contentedly, running up and down trees, feasting on a bird table within only ten feet of my camera.
The mountains left me speechless. In sight of Ben Lawyers and close to Ben Lyon, I became captivated by their impressiveness, my eyes could hardly look away. I found myself constantly focusing on any moving object, wondering if I had finally seen the most beautiful of all. My longing to capture wandering deer was met with disappointment however, perhaps I shall look harder next time I go in October. But to see all the other wonderful sights made up for the lack of deer. Hamish, for example. A huge Highland Coo (cow), old in years yet still enjoying much deserved attention as he patrolled a paddock fence. He is well looked after but whether I feel he should have been able to explore more freely remains for me to ponder. He seemed quite happy when we stopped by his life.
Our friends introduced us to the amazing scenery of Ben Lyon. I took us in the Land Rover, at one point wondering if we would make the journey ahead as I had to reverse for an oncoming pickup. Hair-raising twists and turns with drops beyond ones imagination prevented me from taking my eyes off the road. Eventually we arrived at a quietly located cafe and gallery where we tucked into cream teas, listening to nearby sheep dog trials. I thought about Sparky and Molly. They would have loved it but I imagined Sparky would have thought nothing of swimming across the loch which separated sheep dogs from our clotted cream scones. Perhaps Molly would have reservedly waited; food or work. A difficult choice indeed. A pleasurable night was enjoyed by all when our friends kindly cooked Amy and I a roast dinner. Wine and conversation flowed whilst Amy played and cuddled with the couple's two dogs, lapping up mutual attention from the cat with the loudest meow I think I have ever heard. Such beautiful pets, loved and tended by doting owners.
I was desperate to spend a day in Pitlochry and Dunkeld where the farmer and I spent our honeymoon. This time I was able to show Amy where we had stayed. An adorable town with the usual Scottish souvenir shops, and of course the kilts. I could not resist a glance or two at some of the local shop keepers as they paraded their calf muscles to the young maidens. I thought about asking what they covered but moved onto a jewellery shop instead where I bought Amy a silver signet ring; she was fascinated with a fan, wondering if it might still work should her tongue be caught in its mechanism. One eye on a tray of silver, the other on Amy, we finally left the shop to return to the car and our cottage in the trees.
To be continued.
I have put up a slideshow if you should wish to view some of our holiday shots.