In times of stress

It’s tough going at the moment. There’s a lot of stress for me. My other half is stressed too. I just found out that my mum has a back injury. It’s not good at the moment.

I’ve lived in this house for 5 years (nearly) and in the South for 17 years, yet in times of stress I want my home. My Glen. The Glen. (You’ll only get that reference if you’re from the area).

I want to go for a walk after dinner to the waterfall and drink malt whisky from my hip flask – while sitting on a rock in the middle of the river.

I want to listen to the noise of the Glen. The River. The sheep. The cows. The burn. The fox cries. The silence and then, the banter. There’s always banter in the Glen.

OK, so I’m homesick. I’ve been having a glass or two of wine and I’ve been watching Monarch. They’ve been to the cemetery on the hill. We’ve got one of those. I remember my first hike up there (Kindrogan Hill) to the cemetery. I must have been 13 years old. It was a wild walk. Deepest, dark pine forest – the light struggling through the needles to reach you. The smell of the pine. The worn dirt track, rough underfoot. Warm from the hike, I relished the cool air of the sheltered path to the cemetery where the local ‘laird(s)’ and his family are buried.

Last year, I took my step sons to the very same cemetery (with my Mum along for the walk). It was a trek for them, but they quite liked the history lesson, thanks to Mum. We saw deer, listened to the wildlife and watched a Buzzard do its stuff. But, for me, the sight I found was heartbreaking. The walls of the cemetery overgrown, and the graves not easily distinguishable from the weeds. There are no trees any more. There’s no path. There are no fresh flowers. The forest reached its ‘peak’ and so became a deforestation project for the ‘Forestry Commission’. The resulting landscape is just sad. Bare. The cemetery has lost its mystery. It’s neglected. It’s unloved. It’s forgotten.

I do, of course, have happy memories of the trip with J & B. We picked wild raspberries all the way home. The boys don’t like rasps when I buy them at home in Surrey. But, Scottish rasps? Any time, any place, anywhere… That’s how it should be, right??

We need happy times and happy memories to keep us going in times of stress. The Glen is one of mine.

Haste ye back…

The UK is Snowbound?

The past week has been dominated by headlines of “UK snowbound” and “UK grinds to a halt” etc. There’s been widespread snow and falling temperatures over the past week in the UK. My parents have snow drifts up to 3m in height. I have three inches of snow outside the front door. My parents have been making a daily 80-mile round trip to see friends. I’ve been to work three times. The difference? Being used to the weather. And, being correctly equipped.

My first memory of living in the remote Glen (Glen Brerachan), I was 13 years old. Resentful. Wilful. Highly spirited. Disgusted that my parents would make me live in such a remote location. And then Winter hit us. We had white outs – I’d never heard of them before. We had snow drifts so deep that you could build ‘snow holes’ in them and hide. It was warmer inside the snowdrift than out. People abandoned their cars and walked to the nearest house, where they were welcomed as old friends (whether or not they were total strangers) and the entire community pulled together to make sure that old, young and needy were taken care of.

That year, I had three and a half weeks off school. The main road was closed for weeks. We had to wait for the local authority to bring a snow cutter into the Glen to cut through the massive three plus metre snow drifts. Even when the snow cutter arrived, we had longer to wait as there were cars abandoned inside snow drifts. Meanwhile, the community rallied around each other. The shepherd, Chic, loaded up his wife, collected lists of groceries from various households and drove in his Zeter (Russian brand of tractor) 20 miles to the nearest town. I learned to ski. It was the only way for me to get to the school bus.

I remember walking with my mum to the nearest village – 4 miles away – through the frozen snowdrifts to pick up essentials. It was a total winter wonderland.

Over the past 10 -15 years, the Winters haven’t really been that bad. They’ve eased somewhat and we ‘Glenners’ have defined this as ‘global warming’ – until now. To have heavy snow, as it’s been this week, as heavy as it is, is completely different. Unheard of. It would be OK in January. February even. But November? No way.

Today, in my Glen it was -22 degrees. My parents have  snow drifts that are three metres high and one of their cars is buried. They have to run the heating 24 x 7 just to maintain a bit of warmth in the house.

I worry about them constantly.

And I feel guilty when I complain that I’m cold. I’ve been in the South too long. I’ve gone soft. It’s 21 degrees in my lounge. I know my parents are about to go to bed and I know that their bedroom is a mere 6 degrees.

My parents have heating, thankfully. I will make sure that they’ll always have heating, but other, older people, don’t have a ‘me-type’ to help out and it’s not cheap to stay warm. What do they do?

Pitlochry Golf Course

From the second tee...

From the second tee...

Played and survived.

What a different experience of playing a “short course”. Hmmm. The first three holes are not only a test of your golf skills but of your fitness levels. As you stand on the first tee, little do you  realise as you look up the hill that you’re actually heading up…up…and up again.

The 5th is a challenge…at first it looks like a straightfoward hole until you realise that the pin is about 30ft above you on a raised platform… The elevated 6th tee has amazing views of the valley below, the Atholl Palace hotel and the rest of the hole. And it’s pretty much the same as your round progresses – stunning views, uncompromising golf, and immaculate grounds. Advice from the locals – push on through the first three holes to settle into an easier pace on the way around and always take a club longer than you think you need…

Golf buggies are not allowed on the course as it’s too steep! But, if you have a Powakaddy or something similar, it’s definitely worth the effort to take it! If not, speak to Mark (the Pro) in the shop and hire one of those on offer.

Stop for a bite to eat at the restaurant and enjoy the views of the first tee and the 18th hole as you do. Spectacular golf course! Challenging golf!

http://www.pitlochrygolf.co.uk/home.php