There is a strong easterly, icy wind blowing, I am outdoors, washing windows, my hands are frozen, the salt residue blown by this icy wind off the loch, is encrusted and a little stubborn on the window panes requiring a little more energy to be expended, my favorite song is playing through my ear phones resting snugly in my ears, my body is warm from the repetitive motion of dip, wash, swipe dry, next time I will wear gloves, because there will be a next time and a next …… this place has an energy that has snuck into my soul. I turn and stop – the incredible vista in front of me is enough to take my breath away each time. There is not a soul in sight – they have gone indoors to savour the delicious fare served up by the hotel, warm and cozy next to the ever burning woodfires. I remove my ear phones, a few seagulls are battling against the upward draft and their cries can be heard above the whistling of the wind. The normally crystal clear water of the loch is a little churned up and is lapping around the slipway as the tide steadily rises. A cheeky seal does what appears to be a somersault and emerges with a large fish, which the seagulls then investigate to see if he would be willing to share, not this time, he dives back under the deep blue choppy waters with his lunch in tow. And this is work.
Fast forward a few hours – I am now indoors – getting ready for the dinner rush. Silver cutlery is all polished. No need for gloves here as it is lovely and toasty and with the candles now lit on each table, the soft atmosphere is warm and inviting. The sun has set, but there is still a gentle light outside. The wind has abated and the loch is like a mirror with it almost impossible to tell where the sky starts and where it ends with the perfect reflections of the surroundings in these still waters. The seagulls have retired to bed and the only sound which can be heard above the crackle of the fires and the mellow background music playing in the restaurant is the low hum of the local fishing boat coming back after a day out at sea, lights glowing brightly in the early evening, bearing their catch of the day. Dinner guests start arriving and there is the hum of conversations as tales of their adventures of the day unfold. Inside the kitchen as the night progresses, tables are being called, food orders being served in an almost regimental fashion where the customer’s needs are catered for diligently, the movement of the swing doors in and out of the kitchen could create enough energy on their own to power the entire village. On really busy nights my fitbit step counter feels like it goes into overdrive tallying up more than 20000 steps in a day, and that’s not including my magical morning runs. And this is work.
Other days, doing a housekeeping shift, may not be as picturesque, but the environment somehow still carries the magic with it. Music in my ears, my body being worked hard physically, which in itself is an added bonus, almost like being paid to go to gym without the mundaneness, repetitiveness and sterility of a gym workout, where I can stop in between “repeats” and just absorb my surroundings. And this is work.
It amazes me daily how in this remote location, everything works and runs like a well-oiled engine. Yes, there are hiccups, but nothing is insurmountable. Maybe it is coming to work here in the Scottish Highlands, far away from my own beautiful, vibrant, but rather chaotic non law-abiding home country that I see how different life can be. The weekly refuse collectors, arrive in spotless vehicles, at the same time each week, and get invited in for breakfast and coffee before moving onto the next village. Post is collected and delivered daily, with a parcel taking only 2 days to get to its destination. Being so remote, the Royal Bank of Scotland, also make a weekly trip out for anyone needing to do some banking. The public toilets get cleaned daily by the local council. And so much more.
All I can say is that I must have done something right in my life to have the opportunity to be able to work in this amazing environment, which feeds my soul daily and at the same time be able to make the rather long hop, skip and jump back home to get my family and chaos fix.
2 thoughts on “Working in the Scottish Highlands”
My Cath. You absolutely transported me with this piece. You managed to fill up my senses.
How I would love to do this with you. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Have Brit passport – will travel xxxxx – are you still in Scottburgh – I am going to be done in Natal first week in Jan – would love to see you