Quiet times in Scotland

We’ve had the quietest weekend in Scotland and it’s been so good. Charlie and the dogs left from Dorset on Wednesday, and I got up on Friday morning after a very sound sleeper ride to Glasgow, making my way westwards on little trains and empty roads. We went to the pub for pints and lunch and I caught up on work that afternoon, and in the evening, completely randomly, Annie – the daughter of Jim & Nic, our next door neighbours in Dorset – came over for supper with her friends… who were all staying just up the road for a few days. It felt like a small world, but a happy one.

On Saturday we needed to blow away some cobwebs, and headed down to the beach at Kilmory for an explore. Sparkling seas, and a bitterly cold wind. 

McCormick was dressed for the occasion…. thanks to Arthur Beale and my dad’s old duffle coat.

Mavis was in heaven, as she is any time on a beach, by the sea.

Spot a corgi in the following picture: 

Then to have a look at the beautiful ancient Kilmory chapel, with its gravestones looking out over to Islay. 

Inside the chapel are magical, mystical, ancient grave markers. 

And two beautiful tombstones to McCormick’s – we wondered, Charlie’s ancestors?

I loved the flowers and lettering of this headstone. 

And we read this bitterly sad tale…

And wondered at the toughness of life in those days.

The light was shining on dark seas as we headed back up the coast.

This beautiful cottage is on the way…. demonstrating perfectly that it is not BUILDINGS that are ugly in wild landscapes – just ugly buildings which ruin a place. 

And then, on the road heading north, you glimpse this dramatic view of ancient Castle Sween – reputedly, one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland, built in the late 12th century. 

But a moment later, the Castle Sween Holiday Park comes in to view.  How was this possible?

The building is wonderful, dreamlike, magnificent. 

And forbidding. Look at that facade – but also at the beautiful arch of the one way in. 

And such a position. 

Arches within arches, and stonework of unbelievable quality.  Like a Romanesque monastery, although history has been tougher to this building, finally destroyed in the civil war. 

The twentieth century has not been kind to Castle Sween.

Although of course, I was glad to spot a pair of monobloc chairs, to add to the vast library of images that Bridie and I are collecting, several contributed by readers of this blog. 

“Welcome to Loch View”.Well done, everyone. Good work:

But then, to Inverlussa, and the beautiful, sad chapel that we’d spied up on the hill.  It is a heavenly building, and as far as I can tell, is, or was, for sale by the Church of Scotland for the princely sum of £50,000.  A dream.
The churchyard was spectacular, and filled with snowdrops. 

Such a perfect, simple, proud building.  It needs a future.  I hope some spark might just be generated. 

We peered through dark windows to see this lucid interior.

Saturday evening with our neighbours, catching up and having a fine night. We woke up late on Sunday morning, and went down to the shore with the dogs.

The paps of Jura were loud and clear today. We walked up the hill behind us…

And down again, and that was pretty much it for Sunday. Quiet, quiet times.  At dusk, after torrential showers and brilliant patches of sunshine, a beautiful sunset spread westering across the sky and the little lane past our house shone for ever.
That evening, by darkness, dreaming of late summer evenings when I’ll be doing the journey by evening light, I drove back to Arrochar and caught the sleeper train back to London. it’s the most brilliant journey, lulled to sleep by the rocking of the train, although I’ll confess I have hyper-lucid dreams on the train. Last night, as I have done from time to time this last year, I had an unbelievably vivid dream about Mum; we had a long and good conversation. I remember waking up in the dark of the night, the train rushing along, feeling infused with a sense of wellbeing.  One or two friends have mentioned these dreams of departed people to me. Does anyone else know what I mean?

Scotland is literally our new heaven; it has an emptiness, a drama, a clarity, a simplicity that the soft, gentle domesticity of Dorset somehow lacks. But then nothing is more special than turning the key in the lock of the Old Parsonage and that friendly house embracing us all again, at which point, you think to yourself – well, that’s double luck, to have somehow found not just one, but two remarkable places in the world, to call home.

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