Monday, 2 June 2008

Out of the sunshine and down to the bleakness

I left Troon just as the weather was turning. It came in and glowered down on us, defying us to think summer might be anywhere near. Alanna hopped on a ferry to Belfast, Susie went for coffee with her mum, Andy went to make software and I cleared off down the road to Castle Douglas.

Everyone had urged me to take the low road and catch an eyeful of one of the most beautiful routes in Scotland. I didn't particularly have anywhere to get to since my plans for the night had been scuppered due to Jimmy's mental health problems. I talked him round and off we went - into the moody Tuesday, hungover kind of a day. It was a cocooning type of day that had me loathe to leave the van.

(Sometimes my favourite thing to do is just cruise along and let the scenery wash past me; let all the colours and smells surround me. There I am, out on the road, free and calm and able to go wherever I please. It's a magic that I never feel in London. I wonder if London is even necessary to me).

I came to a really bleak looking village with this great, austere and weather-worn church sitting atop a graveyard strewn old crag. The sky hung low and grey, the sheep in all the surrounding fields sat, blythely chewing, lost in thought. I wonder about their thoughts. Do they have any? Do cows? How can they all be doing exactly the same thing in every field in every county in Britain and be imagining anything exceptional? The smell of sheep shit bled out into the air, accompanying me as I picked my way to the church. This place of worship had such an air of presbyterianism - of Sunday vows, hard-edge pews and of knuckling down to the adversity of life in a dour climate.

I pressed on, through village after village of tucked away activity - I'm sure it was going on, I just couldn't see it. In the end I plumped for a night in a B&B at marriage central/wedding car heavy Gretna. I was absolutely shattered and just wanted to lie low. A knock on the door of a place offering 'parking space' introduced me to a very put-upon looking lady. The whole concept of plugging the van in was too much for her compromised mind and her hubby had to come out and tend to the situation. He was angelic and assuaged the chilly tone of the wife. I clocked her perfectly prepared home and offered some flattery which she responded to most warmly. We were friends! and the stay sorted me out no end.

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