Travel

Getting Away From It All

It had been a challenging start to the New Year to say the least. A motorbike accident, potential job forced change (now confirmed) and my sister diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – all within the first few weeks of January.

This meant no adventures, my time and energy had to be directed elsewhere. In short – I had to adult. This is not something I am overly fond of doing and for those that know me they know it’s not something I’m particularly good at.

But, I stepped up and did what had to be done, but sadly and stupidly to the cost of my health, mental and physical. When I came through the other side (still not sure I’m completely through it) I knew it was time to recharge my batteries. I had to get away from everything. Literally. While I was off sick my capacity to mentally process anything was diminished (it’s not great at the best of times!!), I was exhausted.

The destination I chose to do this was Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and Harris.

I had been chatting to a fellow Gerry Cinnamon nut since the beginning of the year and we had become firm friends, helping each other through various life issues. He’d painted a perfect picture of the Island and I already knew I loved Scotland and the Western isles after my trip to the Stone Skimming Championships so it was a no brainer for me really. I looked into all possibilities of travel and ways to get there. I could drive (I’d love to do this and is in my mind for the summer solstice), fly, or train. I eventually chose the train from Peterborough to Glasgow via Edinburgh and then a quick taxi ride to Glasgow Airport for the hours flight to Stornoway.

It’s not a bad journey on the train to Glasgow, I’d done it to see Gerry Cinnamon in December so I knew what to expect. However, the flight was something different. It was in a small aircraft, there were single seats down the left hand side and doubles on the right. I was a little concerned about it, the weather was awful as we took off but we soon got above the clouds and the rain on the window was replaced with a beautiful frosty pattern and the sky was blue.

After the coffee and Tunnocks Chocolate Caramel bar (my fave!) we began our decent. I had said that I would bring the weather with me and I certainly did. The views as we came in to land were just breathtakingly beautiful, I think it was at that point I fell in love with the Island and knew I was going to enjoy it. I just sat there and watched with a huge grin on my face and a couple of tears in my eyes (something that is quick to happen these days)

The grin stayed with me pretty much as I picked up my suitcase from the cute single carousel almost immediately and then made my way to the car rental desk to pick my car up. I think the guy thought I was a little odd but I’m used to that and yes, he did ask if it was just me! He was a nice friendly chap, chatting the whole time as we walked over to the car and checked around it. By the time I drove away (In my ford Focus which was lovely but not my Vinny) I knew quite a bit about the guy and his family! 🙂

I’d mentioned the place I was staying and he gave me directions which were incredibly easy to follow so I was at the house in about 5 minutes and introducing myself to the next friendly person. She was the mum of the lady who owned the house. My smile had gotten bigger by now. The house was just stunning. She gave me a whirlwind tour and she could tell I was buzzing to be starting my wee holiday. She finally left – I don’t think I pushed her out the door – and I went outside into the garden to take photos of the view as the sun was beginning to set over the sea. It honestly couldn’t have been more perfect for me. A friendly cat came and said hello and sat on my lap and watched the sunset with me – I nicknamed him ‘Needy’.

Once the sun had gone I went inside and unpacked and had a shower, my friend and I were meeting for dinner.

After a good nights sleep and a fairly lazy Friday morning gazing out of the window I decided to take a drive to the mountains/hills I could see way off in the distance that had snow covering the peaks. I hadn’t been shopping so had no supplies to take with me and I was too keen to get going to stop and buy anything.

I literally pointed my car in roughly the right direction and just drove, listening to Gerry cinnamon, stopping when I could (as I do) to take photos and marvel at the landscape, landscape like no other I’d seen to be fair really. Vinny would have absolutely loved it, I’ll have to go back with him and drive the roads, they’re just right for him.

It changed frequently, from the expanse of peat to lochs to pine trees to mountains. I managed to stop a few times, it was a good road and they had parking areas along the way. Something that frustrates me when I’m driving, with stunning scenery surrounding me, I can’t always stop. But here, they’d made allowances for it and rightly so, there was a view around every corner and I nearly left the road a couple of times as I was taking sneaky glances left and right.

I made it through the pass, I’d gone from Lewis to Harris and Oh My! I loved it. Pure joy. I just couldn’t believe it. I was getting glimpses of the sea and white sands. I had to stop. I just stood and cried. It was perfect for me. Blue sky, white surf, all shades of blue/green sea and white, golden sands. Just. Wow. The kind of views you really can’t tear your eyes away from, you just want to drink it all in and imprint it on your memory. The camera only does so much, but that’s enough and all I have when I’m home (I’m always going through them)

I walked down onto one beach, did my usual writing of my name and just sat and stared. It’s good for the soul.

On my way down the road I had noticed a sheep that was sat perfectly on a mound in the corner of a field. I wasn’t quick enough to stop so on the way back I had a look for him – he was still there. I pulled over and walked over to him, I’d disturbed him, he stood up and just looked at me, almost posing – it was perfect and a photo I may get printed off.

I eventually made my way back to Stornoway, although it was the same road the views were different going back the other way but I didn’t stop anymore, I wanted to get some food and cook dinner.

After dinner I could feel myself relaxing finally. I ran a bath, had a glass of wine and had an early night, reflecting on the day. I woke up in the night and looked out of the window at the sea – the moon was shining on the water, another tear – could this place get more perfect for me?! I still had a couple of days to go so I was going to find out.

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