New Years' Day was lovely (Anyone annoyed about the apostrophe yet? I've been waiting for someone to comment or email; but I've heard nothing. So accepting!) and scary and wild and beautiful and maybe a bit dull all at once.
After a quiet morning where I got a set of opal earrings and a gorillapod for my camera: both I love, we decided to take a drive in the Highlands. The roads would be abandoned with many hungover Scots taking the day in quiet and forced motionlessness. We'd been talking a couple days earlier about how the oldest tree in Europe was in Scotland - really? Here? We could see that. It was only an hour away. so off we went enjoying the empty roads to the town of Fortingall to see the Fortingall Yew. I've never seen a yew tree up close before and I figured since it was estimated to be about 2000-5000 years old it would be pretty big, but no. I have seen bigger yew trees on TV. Apparently souvenir hunters would nip pieces of the bark and wood and have reduced the tree. Selfish twats.
On this trip I forgot my camera, but Husband and Sassy had theirs. Neither of them took any pictures of the Yew. To be honest, Sassy was far more interested in the ice that had formed in the font outside the church next to which the yew lives. Solid ice is not something the kids have seen often. On this trip they saw their first icicle too. Just down the road from this spot was a small ring of standing stones I wanted to go see, but we forgot, and in another field was a grass covered cairn with a head stone on top that we were worried we'd be in trouble if we crossed the fence for a looksie. We stopped for scones and coffee in the restaurant of the lovely hotel there before heading off to go see Loch Lyon.
Along the way we stopped a couple times to take pictures as the day was beautiful and full of warm golden sunshine and eerie mists. We were stalked by an enthusiastic robin at one point who would've gotten into the car with us if we'd let him.
We went to the very deserted Lubreoch hydroelectric dam and had some wonderful views down the Glen Lyon where there were patches of thick snow (Ok, four inches or so) because there are areas of the glen that get no sunlight. We saw a glacial corrie which was neat. According to Husband, a corrie is where glaciers are formed. They're a bowl shaped formation on the sunless mountainside where during the ice age, snow would gather and compact over centuries before a mild thaw or the sheer weight of the thing would set it off on a path.
Now. On the way we ended up on a pretty scary road. We followed the Garmin and it was absolutely right, but let me tell you - all those stories about Highland roads being fucking scary - TRUE! Single lane, two-way roads with no guardrails and hundred foot drops into rocky fields or frozen rivers where you'd not be discovered for days. If another person does come along and there's no passing point, someone has to reverse along their road until they come back to a passing point.
On the way to the dams I got the "Don't look down" view and Husband was quite happy pointing out all the lovely things. I was remaining calm and trying to shoo out the images of a flaming death bouncing down a mountainside. It was starting to get dark and we figured we'd take the shorter road through the glen to reach Loch Tay and then head home. The sunset sun was stunning all magenta and gold. As we began the trek up another single lane road through the glen there was a sign, "No salt or grit beyond this point. Find alternate routes in winter."
"Did you see that sign?"
"No, what did it say?"
"No salt or grit beyon this point. Find alternate routes in winter."
"Yeah, but it's just a bit of frost. We'll be fine. It's not like I'll be driving fast."
And thus began the longest drive ever. We barely got above 15mph and were Shitting Ourselves the whole time. Husband got the scary view down the side of the cliff this time. Using the calm voices as to not alarm the kids. The kids were fucking amazing and were so deep into their boredom that they didn't even know they were inches from death. At one point Husband asked if we should go back but I said we should press on, we'd just been passed by a white Fiesta (Thankfully he waited at his passing point for us) and if he could do it, it would be ok. We drove by the second dam barely daring to flick our eyes over to see it. Eyes on the road. Eyes on the road. Fucking road. Where there's fucking lambs skipping about and wandering across the road. And it's getting dark.
We were never happier to be driving down the final part of the road where we could see Lock Tay nestled in the valley, covered by a thick fog so it looked like the valley was bottomless and there were clouds below peaks. "It's freaky," was all Sassy would say. That's become her favourite saying. Everything is "Freaky" "Scary" or some other negative which annoys me.
In the town near Loch Tay I found a toilet, where Husband had to move the car around and shine the headlights in as it was pitch black and no light switch. I'd gone into that admiring small things to distract the mind, where I was fascinated by the fact that when I pulled the toilet roll from the dispenser it made little sparks. Was it static or phosphorous? Pull some more and let's try and figure it out..."Are you done yet?"
Finally got home. Got Chinese food for dinner. Watched Wallace and Gromit's newest (It's good) and didn't talk about it. Just wanted to chill. Try and forget it for just then. Some pictures are here.
and also Here.
Scary. Beautiful. Fascinating. That's the Highlands.