A Fat Purple Fig

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Ghosts of the Past

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A visit to Inverness wouldn’t be complete without a trip north east to Drumossie Moor, the site of the Battle of Culloden. In fact, visiting Culloden was one of the main reasons for coming to Inverness, given I wasn’t planning to search sincerely for a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster.

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Human Nature

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I can hit the extremes of both loving and loathing the time stamps I have set for myself. On the one hand, they give my days structure, and often set me on a pathway to wonderment. On the other, they prevent me doing what I would rather do, a lot of the time, which is settle into my little bolthole and avoid leaving as much as is humanly possible.

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Not Drowning, but Waving

 

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Friday began well, with this cracking bowl of ‘Scottish Porridge’ for my breakfast at the B&B. According to my host, Susan, the secret is not only in the oat itself (they have to be Scottish, naturally), but also in soaking them overnight. I ate mine with fresh strawberries, thick yoghurt, and a sprinkling of all kinds of wonderful things from the small bowls in front of me. Amazing.

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The Soloist

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And, just like that, it was time to leave.

I had a 3pm ferry to catch and a four-hour drive to get there, so I stopped for one last breakfast with Uncle Jimmy, and whittled away any time I might have had up my sleeve for taking photos, or stopping for a stretch, or (please, no) losing my way, which, granted, is difficult to do with Google Maps.

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Framed

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Rose, Donna, Fiona, Bob

Taking photos here feels tremendously successful, as I’m snapping them – it’s only when I get home and pore through them that I realise it is just one landscape after another, poorly represented. I’m starting to realise why there are artists that paint landscapes all their lives.

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An Ode tae Auld Dogs

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“But pleasures are like poppies spread:
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow fall on the river,
A moment white – then melts forever…”
Robert Burns, ‘Tam o’ Shanter’, 1790

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Castles in the Air

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Another day, another road trip, its soundtrack pulled from the stack of CDs in the console; the Bee Gees, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, ‘Tartan Tops’, and ‘Country Classics’, which leads with Jimmy’s favourite, Dr Hook’s Sylvia’s Mother. We pulled into a truck stop for breakfast, which provided yet another in a long stream of opportunities for Jimmy to demonstrate the art of being a Grumpy Old Bugger.

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The Adventures of Jimmy the Kid

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When I arrived at Jimmy’s, bright and early, he had our roast in a slow oven, vegetables in saucepans on the stove, washing draped over the radiator, and was catching up on some painting and decorating in the lounge room. But he had plans for the day, however slight they may have sounded at the time:

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The Comedy Clan

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Any holiday to Scotland would not be complete without calling into see my Dad’s brother, Jimmy. On the long-ago holiday to Gretna with my sister in 1985 (when she was 18 to my 13), Jimmy and our granny engraved their names on my self-absorbed little heart, through their love and generosity.

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Fàilte gu Alba

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I’ve said it once already, and will no doubt repeat it ad nauseum before the fortnight is out; Scotland is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that when Harry Nilsson’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’” started playing on the radio on my drive from Edinburgh to Dumfries and Galloway, I started quietly sobbing behind the wheel, and almost had to pull over and put myself back together.

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