January 23, 2014

a lochside concert.

As earlier mentioned, one of our Scottish adventures included a four-day trip up to the Highlands -- specifically the Isle of Skye, an island off the west coast of Scotland, marked with rolling green mountains, gleaming blue lochs, and tiny villages built around quiet harbours. It's a strange place -- about as out in the Scottish sticks as you're going to get (although folk on the Orkney Islands may argue with that statement). Single-lane roads weave around the towering mountains, sheep are everywhere, and ruinous heaps of 500-year-old castles are heavy with Scottish myth and folklore. It's a surreal place. We lost track of the number of times we said, "Is this place actually real?"

We stood on seaside cliffs with wild winds whipping redness into our cheeks, on stoney beaches where drying seaweed crunched under our shoes, beside mountain-fed streams of cold clear water, on ancient bridges made of rough-hewn rock dug from hillsides. We passed through crumbling archways and traced our fingers over centuries-old engravings cut into the walls of fortresses once occupied by fierce warriors and beloved kings and queens who battled for Scotland's independence. 

The culture is beautiful, too -- we constantly ran into people with accents we couldn't understand in the least, people who had lived their whole lives on this remote edge of the earth, whose veins ran heavy with Highland blood and whose hands hung weathered by wind and rain and fishing and farming; people who love their land with such a deep passion that the thought of leaving doesn't even remotely exist.

We spent one night in a small harbour village on a loch -- we had a room in a bunkhouse that was nestled down tightly into a little crevice between the beach and the local pub. As the sun was going down we watched from a creaky balcony as a canoe paddled its way out into the middle of the loch, and once centred, the three men inside pulled up the paddles and produced fiddles and drums, giving us a lovely lakeside concert of fiddle tunes and drumming and much raucous laughter that echoed off the surrounding hills. Wayne and I just looked at each other with these big grins, both thinking how ridiculously stereotypical and entertaining the whole thing was. 

Fifteen minutes later, the midges were out and we just about lost our minds with their insane buzzing and biting so we went inside. Evil midges. Not everything about the Highlands is all fluffy and lovely. Die, midges, die. 

{This post written in June 2013}

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