Scotland

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Saying goodbye

I left the lovely place I called home for a year just as the season they call summer started to change into the chillier winds of the upcoming autumn. For the longest time, I’ve hesitated to put feelings into words into this entry just days after I had handed in the biggest work of my life (s0 far!) partly out of sheer laziness, but because of the overwhelming sadness and the newly minted loss that’s churning deep in the tummy at the moment as I type this in yet another place which I should know like the back of my hand but is still to me so foreign. The happier...

Heat in the Granite City

Yet another train journey, in a pale, pale imitation of Paul Theroux’s penchant for them. Only that this left me with an aching bum (never mind the rather nice countryside obscured greatly by fog that lined the North Sea east coast of Scotland), and a lingering bit of train feebleness (read: motion sickness). It was however, fantastically quiet in the Quiet Coach – that’s not really the norm by the way – and I tried to pacify myself by bringing a large book to lug around in the hopes that some academic distance might be gained in recompense for taking a day trip when it seemed just unnecessary. “Did you...

Winter of (Dis)content

TC and I congratulated ourselves on the relatively fuss-free and brilliant KLM internet check-in procedure as we were ensconced in the Airport Shuttle (also pleased that the driver found the pick-up location) en-route to Edinburgh Turnhouse Airport, replete with our bagfuls of gifts and other stuff sitting behind us. Once more, the security checks and baggage drops seemed effortless, as we found a nook adjacent to the gate that had reclining chairs on which no one seemed willing to lie. Near-slumberous repose overtook us, until an announcement for our flight woke us into anticipation, and catapulted us into dread and unprecedented panic as we were told that this flight to...

Out of Skye

In many ways we were anxious to retrace our route back to Invergarry to finally see the landscape in the daylight, and take in all that we missed on the way up to Skye. The car was frosted over and we realised that for much of the day temperatures would hover at -3 to -1 deg under the deceptively sunny skies. In many ways, we weren’t disappointed. Skye’s Cuillin Hills (its Himalaya lowland equivalent) dominated the Southern landscape as we headed towards Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye bridge. I alternated between marvelling loudly at the hills and protesting in fright as TC wrestled with slow vans, Royal Mail trucks...

Skye unravelled

The morning in Portree began with a frenzied photo-taking session of the harbour from the room window. Sated with Charlotte’s vanilla plums and the generous breakfast a little later, Bill proceeded to tell us that hordes of tourists queue up in front of their door, taking photos of the harbour. “The second game we play is figuring out where they come from,” he smiled in glee. Breakfast was heavy, and we were soon on our way once more. A855 towards Staffin from Portree is a single carriageway (and at times a single road!), and an RBS truck and other larger vehicles hilariously overtook our leisurely romp in the Vectra as they looked in...

The Daze of Skye

It started as an insane and unthinkable plan. Going to the Isle of Skye with either Rabbies or Timberbush Tours seemed to be the default mode of seeing the Highlands until the Travel Companion (the TC) remarked that a road trip in a rented car may not be that implausible after all. TC’s short visit meant that we had just that pocket of time to visit some place out of Edinburgh before he was dragged into relentless shopping, and he came rather prepared to join Scotland’s nationalistic fervour. “They [the Scots] will be very happy. My father said my jumper resembles the Scottish flag,” TC remarked. “And everyone seems to know...

Go West

The Timberbush-Tours pickup point is a most painful uphill trek up to the very top of the Royal Mile, and I nearly boarded the wrong bus in error after that horrendous walk. We started the trip……with The Famous Grouse’s Finest Scotch whisky. All 8 passengers in the 16-seater minivan each received a small bottle of whisky, is now sits next to me as a form of insurance against cold winter nights. “This is what we give our children in the morning!” announced Marty, the guide for the day with Timberbush Tours. Clad in a kilt, a sweater and a green windbreaker, he cut a strange figure with his flowing locks,...

(Sub)urban Pleasures

There’s much joy to be taken in the walks around the neighbouring suburbs of Edinburgh – when the weather permits, of course. They have been most welcome distractions amidst the alarming assignments that I have been given to do, and holed up in my place is not exactly the greatest inspiration one gets. Stockbridge, the rather bohemian area that borders Dean Village, northwest of New Town, is one of those. I find myself returning there countless of times, if not just for the hilly roads, the numerous charity shops and the rather quaint layout of particular streets along the Waters of Leith. But Edinburgh isn’t all, of course – the...

Loch Ness Hunter

A yellow bus, unmistakably advertising the words “Wild, Sexy…Haggis Adventures” crawled up Blackfriars street adjacent to the Royal Mile, and up walked a man with a clipboard moments later. A flash of ID for attendance confirmation and there I was, ensconced in the bus impatiently awaiting departure. “…And this is the emergency exit, in case we all end up in the Loch Ness,” Stevie D, driver and tour guide for the day, knocked the alarmingly small bulge on the ceiling roughly, before the bus embarked on its ambitious mileage of over 540km. A bearded, lanky man who looked seriously unwashed, Stevie wore only a T-shirt and a sweater in the...

Moving Days

The last 2 saturdays were moving days. On the first Saturday, the luggage and I got into a cab and grudgingly paid the £6 fare up to Royal Terrace from Richmond Place where the Adria Guesthouse is situated – beautiful, spacious Georgian Townhouses with high ceilings and Victorian-lookalike furnishing – typically lined with hotels and other upmarket guesthouses. Adria Guesthouse surprised me with its furnishings and the only grouse I had was that the wireless (once again!) did not function properly for Macs. Greeted by a man wearing an ‘Australia Post’ T-shirt, a quick tinker for directions had me saunter down Abbey Mount, through Croft an Righ and on straight...