Finally, my research for TOO DEEP FOR TEARS reached the point where my husband Michael and I were ready to take a trip to Scotland so I could do some first-hand research in Glen Affric, where two sections are set. We both have a deep affection for Scotland. It had settled into our bones and blood the first time we set foot there. So we planned and packed with lots of excitement, leaving a friend to stay with our dog, and a back up in case of emergency. [But we’ll get to that later.]
The flight was ghastly for me (and therefore for everyone around me). I was sick all the way across, dizzy, and thoroughly annoying (believe me; I’m not kidding). When we finally landed in Glasgow, we ‘took the air’ for a bit so I could calm down and even out. Then we drove along Loch Lomond (half-way in darkness) to our B&B, which didn’t look precisely as advertised. Did I mention it was pouring rain and freezing?
We were escorted to our room (not exactly as advertised, with its dusty carpet, peeling wallpaper, worn chenille spread, and a bed you could see the huge dip in the middle of). We were starving, but the kitchen was closed and there was nothing to eat. Wanting to be helpful, I dragged out our European style plugs and plugged in Michael’s charger so he’d be ready to take pictures the following day.
It blew up. He wasn’t too upset, although the room was getting colder by the minute. Did I mention it was storming outside and freezing?
We huddled together until we remembered the huge claw-foot bathtub. A long hot bath was just what we needed. We were at opposite ends of the room when the electricity went out in the whole area. It was pitch black; we were a bit irate about the room, shaky with hunger and jet lag, and completely disoriented. Did I mention no one else was staying at the B&B and the fairly pleasant gentleman had disappeared? We decided we had to take measures.
Bumbling, cursing, then laughing (because we were so light-headed), we made our way across the crowded room and into the bathroom. There we were blessed with a bit of luck; it seemed the boiler had done a full day’s work, and we filled the tub with lovely hot water and sank in neck deep. It was pure magic.
Somehow we found our nightclothes and fell into the bed. For a bit we couldn’t sleep because the rain was slashing sideways against the windows, but presently all that disappeared. Next thing we knew, it was morning, the sun was shining in the window, and delicious smells were slipping up the stairway to our room. We grinned at each other, laughed some more when I tripped over his demolished charger, and went down to the loveliest, airiest breakfast room I’ve ever seen. The sky was deep blue outside the wide windows.
The food was scrumptious and delicately sublime, and everyone was charming and warm and pleasant. We discovered there WERE others staying there, and we all got to talking, and they gave us directions, and one knew of a camera store where Michael could perhaps replace his damaged equipment. We decided we adored this little B&B and were quite fond of the hosts as well. Did I mention that the sun was shining and we had been fed?
We had a wonderful day traveling north along the west side of Loch Lomond, settling ourselves back into the Scottish landscape we loved, taking photographs, eating, walking and realizing we were once more in Paradise. Our main goal was Glen Affric, and when, after a leisurely, satisfying day (with quite a bit of getting lost and finding magical places on the roads we were not meant to follow), we arrived, at last, at the sign that pointed to Glen Affric. Did I mention that the sun shone all day and we were happy and optimistic and looking forward to discovering the secrets of that glen?
We turned, both of us holding out breath, and went about 1/4 of a mile down the road. The pines grew tall around us, as peaceful and calming as a living cathedral. And then Michael stomped on the brakes. I stared, shocked at what lay before us: heavy logs and many chains all pulled together across the road. We could see the alluring greenery of the glen, but could not even come close to approaching it. In the center, was a sign that read, “Closed to Visitors Next 5 Months”. And another: “Work on Dam Progressing.”
Work might be progressing, but we, clearly, were not.
To Be Continued…