Rambling into week 2 …….

We have completed our first week of total lockdown and the novelty, if you can call it that, has worn off.  We, the Kylesku family, must be the most well looked after staff anywhere in the world, with meal time get togethers and chefs cooking for us twice daily, basic chores still needing to get done to keep the hotel at a ready for when the green light gets given to reopen, still with a roof over our heads and the management following up on all avenues on how we can still get some form of remuneration during these undecided, uncertain times. Definitely fall into the category of the more fortunate.  And I am rambling.

Yesterday I just did not feel like peopling, and was able to stay in my little hole, dvd’s playing, only venturing out for meal times.  I am eternally grateful being one of the more fortunate. I can still venture outdoors for a run in what can only be one of the most beautiful corners of this globe, where the only lifeform I encounter are the local sheep.  It is always quiet here, but now it is eerily so. This quietness was disturbed this morning by the arrival of a flock of geese who are pre-empting the arrival of spring.  And I feel guilty doing this as I know friends and family around the globe are  not allowed to venture out of their own domain. And I am rambling.

Life as we know it has changed – and I have my doubts that we will ever return to the way it was.  I worry.  Even though I know it is useless to do so as this hidden enemy of the world has an agenda of its own and there is nothing that I personally can do that will change its course. I worry about my children, who are on the other side of the world from me and right now in this point in time, I am not able get back to be with them. I worry about what is happening back in my other home in South Africa, the lack of resources, the economy taking another hit to the groin, the uneducated not understanding the full impact of this virus.  Trying hard not to overthink and sink into a depression, to stay positive  – I am one of the fortunate ones.  Hoping that when I awake in the morning that this is all just a bad dream ….. no, a nightmare.  And I am rambling.

Trying hard to stick to a routine.  Humans are creatures of habit and know that in a crisis, routine and habit can be a life saviour. Knowing that the human race has survived far worse for much longer periods of time, we’ve only been in lockdown for a week after all.  On reading various articles, where we are told not to read too much about news, but at the same time social media is a much needed platform to remain sane, where social distancing are the new buzz words. Using this outlet, my blog, to keep my sanity.  To basically give myself my own therapy by airing my concerns, if not for anyone but myself.  And I am rambling.

But by rambling I am off loading my concerns.  Taking each day as it comes and making the most of this enforced down time.  Not to feel guilty when I am out running, or hibernating in my room.  These are my own survival mechanisms.  And each individual will develop their own. And we will come out stronger at the other side of this.

We are survivors.


Adventures during lockdown

I look up, the sky is crystal clear, a dark moonless night but at the same time filled with never ending stars. It is 1 am, there is not a soul around to disturb my musings.

Earlier in the evening it had been announced that all hospitality outlets in the United Kingdom are to closed with immediate effect.  We, the Kylesku family, are the fortunate ones.  For the enforced lockdown, there are 25 of us, all fit and healthy with no threat of the dreaded virus in our midst.  We have sufficient means to see us through the upcoming weeks and drink to our health and survival out in this remote little corner of the Scottish Highlands. We will play games, garden, write, entertain each other, while at the same time being well aware of what is transpiring in the ‘outside’ world. Our evening of merriment has an almost festive feel to it, but at the same time a feeling of underlying uncertainty.


Corona virus – cheers !

Way too much alcohol is consumed and I feel that for me personally, it is time to call it a night. My recollection of the rest of the evening is as follows.

Walking haphazardly up the silent road towards my room, I decide to take a short stroll.  Seeing road markings I try and balance myself along the painted stripes – to no avail – to which I laugh quietly (I think) to myself.  Getting to the path way which leads away from any street lights, I ponder the possibility of seeing the northern lights on such a clear night and make my way up the uneven pathway into total darkness.  Getting through the first stile was no problem, stumbling further up the path and walking blind, I get to the second stile and some sanity prevails and I realise maybe not such a good idea to go any further.  This is when I look up and think how small we are, how insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, how uncertain every day is, how good life is. I talk to my loved ones watching over me from up above, more than likely with a shake of their heads.

Time to head back and I try and get my bearings, through the mist of a couple of bottles of wine, only to find myself falling headfirst into a hole. I untangle myself and think now might be a good time to use the torch on my phone, only to find it has fallen out my pocket somewhere amongst the overgrown heather.  A seriously sobering thought – my life is on that phone.  I try and feel around and realise this is a pointless exercise, as it is pitch black. Stumbling back down, getting caught in barbed wire fences along the way, I try and keep my footing and find the path and a look for possible identifying landmarks, to return to find my phone.

I eventually reached the road and trotted back to the hotel with an icy wind blowing my face sober, to get my headtorch. I make my way back, torch in hand.  I am not finding this so funny anymore.  My guardian angels must have been watching out for me, as it took me less than 5 minutes to find my phone caught up in a bramble and lying next to it my reading glasses which I did not even know had been lost as well.  I slept well that night.

My lesson from this adventure – and it was an adventure – is never go walking on the moors by yourself at 1 am in the morning when you are 2 sheets to the wind!

And this was Day 1 of the lockdown.


The guilty but innocuous pathway in broad daylight

To Limbo …. Or To Life ?

The road is open, quite deserted actually.  Cloudy dark skies which match my mood.  Feeling dark and heavy and in a sort of limbo. It is very easy to socially distance yourself as per the government’s of the world suggestions,  in the remote Scottish Highlands.  Not knowing what is going to happen to life as we know it from hour to hour.  I am looking inward and need to get out.  Life is not definite.

I turn on my playlist and somehow it picks all the songs I need to lift my spirits.  Song after song, until I feel my mood lifting, together with the clouds, a bird is soaring the thermals above me as I wind my way through the heather clad rolling hills and still slightly snow capped mountains. One sound track that sits with me is the ever inspiring one from Fiddler on the Roof.

To Life. To life.  L’chaim!

Which got me thinking.  These abjectly poor people survived life in a pre-revolutionary Russia.  Mankind have survived world wars, plagues and worse.  We will survive this. We need to stop looking inward and imagining the worst, life goes on.  We are all fiddlers on the roof right now, balancing.

The universe has got tired, so is now forcing us to slow down.  Stop this frantic destructive living of instantaneous gratification, take stock of our lives, catch up and take a breath.  Mother nature is rejoicing and this slowing down is giving her a chance to heal.

As I am driving I can’t wait to get back and put my thoughts down on paper (or blog) . I have been to Ullapool for my fortnightly shop, with some of the food aisles emptied and the lines at the tills busier than I have ever seen.  Everyone surreptitiously eyeing each others’ baskets. All with the same thoughts on their minds.  I am hoping I am not being judged for the 4 squares of fudge  and Lindt chocolate bars that I have in my basket (my weakness) – no I am not stockpiling, that is what I need to get me through 2 weeks till my next shop.

Sitting here now, with a steaming cup of tea, in the hotel restaurant, which still has patrons.  Not everyone is hiding. Off over the loch, the mussel men are out servicing their mussel beds with the weather raging around them.  Life goes on. Just at a slower pace – so relax and enjoy.

So to hell with Limbo – I choose Life!


Living in the back of beyond aka the “Gumadulas”


The “Gumadulas” – with the G pronounced with the guttural Afrikaans G. (Not found in any dictionary). And this is where I am now living – far from the birthplace of Afrikaans – which accordingly to my Scottish father,  is not a language but a dialect.  Being of Gaelic descent – his perception of what a language is, is questionable.  But this is not about my dad – this is about the pros and cons of living in the back of beyond.

The closest ‘decent’ shop is an hour drive away, which can be challenging when living day to day, so careful planning is required, but pennies are then saved as there are less opportunities to spend.  But enter amazon, which after sending to your shopping basket, delivery is just one click to payment and two days away.

As a newcomer to the area you soon find out there are so many people in the area who offer all services required, from hairdressers, delivery of fresh vegetables, free range eggs – the Scots are a versatile bunch.

Politics and world wide drama – somehow this is all on the periphery. With the worldwide panic about the coronavirus – we are aware of the possible repercussions and are adhering to the NHS guidelines – and here maybe I am being that eternal ostrich with my head in the sand and erring on the side of optimism – but don’t think it will affect us out here in the back of beyond – ditto terrorism and crime.

Entertainment – here it is slightly harder and one has to make your own as there are not an abundance of restaurants and coffee shops to pop into for a quick bite, no movie houses or theatres, but again if you keep your ear to the ground, there are music evenings planned in surrounding villages and who needs a movie house when you can buy the latest movie on DVD, delivered within 2 days, on line.

This helps you slow down and appreciate life as there is no instant gratification.  Cell phone signal and wifi is erratic – so bearing just this one point in mind – adds 100 pro points to the quality of life in the Gumadulas.  It gives you time – and with the old age adage – to smell the roses. There is a peace in living out here, with none of the fast paced rat race.  I have just been given a book to read called “The Kerracher Man” of a family who moved to the West Highlands to a croft, accessible either by boat or 1.5 mile foot path. Now they are really in the Gumadulas.

On moving here, I know family and friends, were concerned about how I would adjust to the remoteness and isolation.  There is no isolation, you have a choice to join in or not – the community spirit is strong. The harshness of the climate draws people together in a way I have not seen elsewhere. I will get my urban chaos fix when I visit loved ones, and with social media the world is really a very small place, but the Gumadulas will always be calling.