Water and Air

DSCF0316.JPG We’ve been back in Scotland for three weeks. I can’t say (fond of a cliché as I am) that it feels like we’ve never been away, because in so many ways things feel so very different now.

In  small ways, like a renewed appreciation for the sweet, clear water flowing freely from uncalcified taps. Tea has never tasted better. Even the cats are drinking more water. And the wind, storm-force from the south-west, that embraces you warmly while it knocks the air from your lungs and bowls you off your feet. Great gasping gulps of freshness that do a power of good. We had a reinvigorating trip down the coast one afternoon where Dee could fly a kite (literally) and we could feel the shock of the waves on the rocks.

DSCF0328.JPG And we feel the difference in some quite big ways too. Life in the batiment taught us many things, about being with other people, negotiating food, provisions, living space, activities and outcomes. I think we are all doing fine living with Mum, at least she seems not to mind the invasion too much (she has many years’ – generations’ even – practice in not seeming to mind her space being invaded). Bob and Aggie are very settled – our room is most definitely Bob’s domain, and Aggie has developed a way of moving between two or three arm chairs (time of day/sunshine dependent) and the cat feeding table via Mum’s TV unit, without actually having to set a paw on the floor. Talking of TV, having lived without it for many months we are able to be more discerning in our viewing, and will never take the BBC for granted again (there have been some stonkingly good dramas recently).

Living near Brussels reminded us in no small measure of the gravitational pull of the city, against which we seem to have struggled for so long in our wee Highland village existence. Skyping Wilf and Gélise the other night we both had a real pang for seeing them every day. We’ve been to the theatre (local amateur production, thoroughly enjoyable) and back to the City Halls for an SCO concert (Wagner, Schreker, Fauré) where we enjoyed the music, loved the young conductor, and met some old friends.

DSCF0251.JPG We went to Fife, tried to see ourselves living in a wee fishing village in the East Neuk, and failed. But we did get to go to the Cambo Estate Gardens to see the snowdrops and other spring flowers (and some really interesting garden sculptures, which unlike many of their art seemed really to belong, and to add another dimension to the general beauty of their natural surroundings).  We went to Grantown-on-Spey to visit Jo, and confirmed that she needs a new home too. So we’ve been through to Edinburgh, looking at residential homes for Jo, and also trying to find somewhere to buy for ourselves. Our current thinking is that the western side of Edinburgh should provide some kind of equilibrium between the family-based call of the west (me), the where-I-am-happy call of the east (Dee) and the culture-buzz-settledness call of the city (both).

In amongst all this we have continued to work, most mornings at least. We’ve also done some gardening, not just for Mum but in our professional capacity. Dee continues to spend a great deal of time sorting Jo’s affairs.

DSCF0296.JPG Last weekend in some early Spring sunshine we cycled from here to Lochwinnoch via Bridge of Weir and back, on cycle routes 7 and 75 for most of the way. About 62 km (ca 40 miles) so not bad for the first big cycle of the year. We drank our wee flask of tea at the Castle Semple Loch watching some learner sailors make a real cod of tacking with their spinnaker up, then righting their capsized yacht. Water and air, it’s what keeps you going.


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