Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tales From Caledonia Part 1 - Bonny Scotland In The Springtime

If you have a passion for a place, then it is always a pleasant surprise when it looks so different.

Scotland recently has not looked like Scotland.

The soaring temperatures transformed the landscape. Loch Leven, pictured above, looked more like Lake Como with the soft light and varying shades of azure blues, usually common several thousand miles to the south.

The Grampian Mountains were dry and dusty. The geometric patterns of last year's heather burning made it look more like a landscape which you could see in parts of China. The peace was interrupted by the appearance of the school bus; its engine labouring as the driver put his foot to the floor to coax the vehicle up the steep gradients. The air-con must have been on full, as the children were kneeling on their seats with their heads as close to the blowers as they could get. Some managed to acknowledge me with a raise finger out of the rear window.

And then it was gone and the peace returned.

Back to the beautiful, sparkling burns, gently bubbling under the 18th Century bridges which formed part of General Wade's Military Road. I shut my eyes and tried to imagine the tramp of red coated English soldiers, coming to break up the Jacobite Rebellions.

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

My dog brought me abruptly out of my historic malaise as he decided to chase a rabbit and yanked the lead, nearly pulling my arm out of the shoulder socket.

Then the weather changed. The North Sea Haar appeared at North Berwick. Sea Haar? Sea Fret? Sea Fog? It is all the same. It just depends which part of the country you come from as to which term you use. All of them are damp and drizzly and can ruin many a person's trip to the East coast, having begun inland, where it was fine and sunny.

But I rather like it. It is moody. It makes you think of Hollywood films. Think of The Fog, The Hound Of The Baskervilles or the opening scene of one of the Jaws movies, with the bell ringing in the murky atmosphere.

As Billy Connolly said: 'There are two seasons in Scotland - Winter and July.

July has come in March this year.

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