My heart’s in the Highlands (1)

Look at that, yesterday I was waking up to ambulances piercingly rushing down the High Street in Stratford, London; now I am typing these words on a background of symphonic North Sea waves right off the northernmost point in Great Britain. As my thirty odd years come full circle this weekend, it has been decreed that the anniversary should find me away from the deafening London pack, in the realm of salmon and haggis, where the clouds come crashing down on an insouciant country, beyond light and time. These are the Scottish Highlands, at least after I have made their acquaintance this very morning. This post – and the follow-ups – are the celebration of a love affair with a country I barely knew until today. A world of cairns and firths, Bruces and Macbeths, neeps and tatties.

It all began last night, as me and my fiancée Dana boarded the Caledonian sleeper for a 14-hour ride to Inverness, with a scheduled arrival at half past ten in the morning. The departure was delayed owing to Gertrude, the Hamletian turbulent mother turned hurricane force twelve. I was not in a mood for giving in to tragedy, so we pushed forward, although friends and family issued amber and red warnings over what they thought was pure recklessness. Let the weather be precipitate, I said; our journey may be untimely, but it is not without a degree of calculation. And so we left London in a first-class berth, actually each with his own square meter of railway room (and a shower token for use in Inverness), headed towards the eye of the storm.

The journey itself was rather pleasant, with the occasional bumps, kicks and stops that remind you of the implacability of metal. We woke up as we arrived into Aberdeen. Now the regular service does not take the Aberdeen line, but Gertrude had the last word. From Aberdeen we seem to have crossed to Inverness following the path taken by the Duke of Cumberland just before the Battle of Culloden of 1746.

Once in Inverness, we rushed to pick up the car, so we didn’t get to see the city. This is a task for Monday. Having collected the car, we drove through rain, sleet and snow down the coastal road to Wick, hoping to reach Ackergill Tower, our lodgings for tonight, in two hours.

It looks like the Old Pulteney I had – the distillery lies within a few miles from the Tower – forces me to rashly conclude this first report. Tomorrow will hopefully see more words and fewer drams.

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