• Charli

A Short Campervan Adventure

Half term got off to an outstanding start with the arrival of my 2 girls from London last Friday evening. Their train was slightly delayed but I was more than happy to wait and watch travellers and fellow meeters and greeters. A father interacted with his 2 children, a girl of about 8yrs and a boy about 5yrs. The girl was was wearing a pretty red patterned dress, yellow raincoat and red welly boots and she judiciously marched up and down the platform, blond curls bobbing as she focused on counting the small metal grates between the platform tiles, oblivious to other passengers until they got in her way at which point she would look up bemused, walk round them and continue marching and counting. Her brother meanwhile still in his school uniform, was weedling his father, getting bored having to wait for ‘grandma’ and began pointing a tired finger at his dad, wagging it accusingly and then gently head-butting his dad in the stomach. The mild mannered father received all this with good grace and tried to distract his son by looking at a poster of the new trains as I overheard him say ‘look and see if it has a white nose like the one on the poster’ . This worked for a few moments until the arrival time changed as follows: Due at 1833, Exp’d 1839…1841…1838…1841. I can not imagine why the minutes changed so erratically.

As the time neared to1842 …final answer… 1842, I stretched to my full height and stood, proud and excited to be with my girls so soon after the incredible Christmas we shared together. I was reminded of when Dad would meet me from the London train in Glasgow Central and he would be standing head and shoulders above most people, so handsome in his suit and I loved catching a glimpse of him before he saw me. He would have been 80 this year and is still missed by us all.

I saw the girls first and we hugged and giggled before heading to Chaophraya for a truly tasty meal, chat and laughter.

Over the course of the weekend we talked about my gradual recovery, genuine and sustained positivity over the last few months and years of dedication and hard work to name, shame and unshackle myself from my demons. We all recognise that attending the HTLA at Columba 1400 was the moment that I allowed myself to feel worthy of the love that was on offer and I am never looking back.

So here I am sitting in a Campervan on hire from Four Seasons Campers Loch Lomond, with my precious companion, Jilly, my own thoughts and a laptop for company. I had planned to head further North East but with Storm Ciara being so unpredictable I have decided that Comrie near Crieff was far enough away to venture on my inaugural trip. Easier to get rescued should the need have arisen!

I’m loving it – getting into the swing of how things can be done in this limited space, although sleeping is an issue, used as I am to my extremely comfortable Vi-Spring mattress. I’m not one to admit defeat but I might cut this adventure by 18 hours for the sake of a decent sleep.

Yesterday Jilly and I walked towards Comrie, through some beautiful woods, dappled with softly falling snow drifting through the sky scraping pines. I had been advised to look out for red squirrels and I saw 3 in total yesterday skittering among the branches, less likely to ascend higher up the trees than their unpopular grey cousins, I noticed. Perhaps it was the falling snow and rising wind which enticed them to stay low, but as I had heeded the advice on a fence post to keep Jilly on lead I was able to watch for a while: they are so much smaller than the grey squirrel and much prettier, with their russet red hair, tufted ears and flicking tails.

We also saw deer, pheasants, robins and siskin: a momentary movement, a flash of colour and a sleepy recall from memory banks. All those years peering at encyclopaedias and bird books, long before becoming transfixed by a screen became optional.

We ventured on until we reached Teaghlach Wood and the Whispering Groves: a peaceful site for contemplation and reflection. One small blue plaque read: ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star ‘ followed by name, dates of birth – September, and death – December in the same year. So sad and yet such a special place for cherished memories however short lived.

I am mindful that I have a certain amount of training to put in for the 3 Lochs Ultra in May and so was keen to undertake a decent walk yesterday: 8 miles over very different terrain, an uphill walk and through changing weather patterns including snow, sleet and wind was a decent practice.

Jilly loved being in the snow and bounced up and down among the fallen bracken, stopping periodically to throw herself onto the cold crunchy snow and roll every which way possible, shaking herself down and looking around to find me with a slightly startled look on her face. It always makes me chuckle when she does this: having indulged in ecstatic rolling on frosty or snowy grass she becomes momentarily disorientated and darts her head around to locate me, even if I haven’t moved.

Having dined on tinned curry for lunch which was eminently more palatable than I could have anticipated, wee dug and I took a drive to Dunkeld, following the A822 which, being higher than Comrie, had received a decent dump of snow with patches of it drifting across the road. Hot coffee, a slab of lemon cake and a wee wander round Dunkeld before the snow swirled up again encouraging us to think about heading back to our pitch and a quick decision as to whether to return on A822 or taking safer route via A9. Not to deterred by the white stuff I manoeuvred our van towards the A822. Winter tyres are on the van and I was brought up in these conditions so was comfortable just taking my time. The scenery was well worth it: the snow had thickened and the landscape was shifting many shades of pink, blue and grey as the sun began its descent. Although there were no parking lay-bys in which to take photos, I checked in my rear view mirror and confident that no-one was behind me, stopped for a couple of minutes to take a snap of the snowscape. Stunning.

The weather is improving and I was slightly torn as to which way to go but being so close to Loch Lomond and DadEmma tree and an opportunity for a respectful moment in Luss, I will pack up and venture forth, but first a hot shower and coffee.

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