This week, as Scotland voted to remain a part of the (not so) United Kingdom I couldn’t help remembering my time living there.
It seems almost an age ago that I lived on a terraced street in Glasgow. Not the sunniest of places, nor indeed the best place to be a broke Australian from the tropics waiting for teaching registration.
To be honest, it was grim. Very grim. Thank goodness for my best friend Belinda who visited me for a week to hike the highlands.
Below is my account of how we came to decide to spend a week in blistered, whisky-fueled pain in the Scottish Highlands.
This excerpt is from my first attempt at writing a book-length piece.
Titled ‘Two Hairy Cows in the Highlands’, I remember writing a detailed prologue explaining the pun and stating very clearly that we were neither ‘hairy’ nor ‘cows’. Methinks I doth protest too much.
Walking into the Scottish Highlands for a week had seemed like a good idea over the phone. Actually, it had seemed like a good idea one hour ago. Before the dull throb of blood had coursed through my veins, filling me with a sense of dread, I had been enlivened by a sense of adventure.
Belinda and I had planned our hike from our respective locations in London and Glasgow. While pondering how best to spend two weeks holiday we had tossed around the idea of a foray into Amsterdam but had eventually settled on Scotland.
I was living there already and was itching to see past the towering tenements, my temporary unemployment, a disinterested boyfriend and endless grey skies.
I had not been able to find much teaching work and my registration seemed to be the most difficult thing that the Education Department had ever confronted. I was even contemplating working as bar staff in one of the two naff Australian themed pubs in the city.
Such was my desperation.
I had left London for this grey place, wanting to explore more of Britain rather than following the predictable path of an Aussie who heads straight for Shepherd’s Bush.
However, I was constantly on the brink of hot tears, alone, somewhat dejected and definitely depressed. A trip to the Library had become the highlight of my week.
It was time for a change.
It was actually on one of these trips to the Library that I was struck with the idea to walk ‘The West Highland Way’. I had read about it in a guide to Scotland. With food and B&B’s as the only expense it seemed a perfect solution to my present situation.
In fact this was the complete opposite of my absolute inactivity. This was a hike!
It was true Scotland, it was rolling hills and thick accents. It was flapping kilts and hairy cows. It was haggis and mud and ‘you can’t take my freedom!’
And so began our hike into the Scottish Highlands.