Week # 10 – try and live in harmony

Listening to the news on BBC which has at every turn regurgitated the story about one political advisor who appeared to have flaunted the lock down rules. Yes, he seemingly behaved like an idiot, but the vindictiveness and ugliness coming to the fore is ludicrous – how unfair it is, one rule for one and another for others and I sigh and think just get over yourselves.  He is one man. Maybe he should have thought a bit more before travelling. None of us are perfect. None of us know of the exact circumstances in any scenario in another persons life, which makes them make a decision that we personally may not have taken. Let the person who has never made a bad decision, cast the first stone.

And now the narrative that if he can get away with it, then why shouldn’t we? Why should I listen to advice when he didn’t.  Reminds me of the old saying.  If your friend jumps in the fire, are you going to as well! Stop being dicks!

What is it about the human psyche that wants revenge and one-upmanship? And this is when I would like to tell mankind to live like animals.  And this is not meant to be taken literally, but in their attitude and behaviour. It is survival of the fittest, but there is no revenge, no hatred, no vindictiveness.

Sitting here, writing this overlooking the wind swept loch waters, watching a couple of seals, Hubert and Joyce, frolic playfully. Up the road is Betty, the sheep who had twins, Lotty and Dotty on our doorstep. On stepping out my room in the early hours, there was the young stag, Darryl, together with is other brother Darryl eating the lush green grass, whilst keeping a wary eye out for humans. Down the road are Billy, Tilly and Hilly, three large speckled pigs that rush up the fence on seeing you for a scratch under their ears. They are all so totally different, but there is a harmony to their lives that we can learn from. Just be nice people, stop being so angry and thinking life is unfair.


Lotty and Dotty 

Stop worrying about how life may seem to be fairer to others.  Banish hatred from your heart and live in harmony.

Word for week 9 is Bleh!

This is my first experience of the start of summer up here in the ever jaw dropping highlands. And it is turning out to be an experience I never would have dreamt of. As we enter week 9 of the lock down with the graphs showing ever decreasing number of cases of this evil virus and the powers that be erring on the side of caution with regards to the opening up of the remote areas of Scotland, the uncertainty is quite debilitating, soul crushing and at times can make it hard to breathe.

At the start of this enforced hibernation period, the crisis brought out the best in people, where groups expounding positive messages abounded, then came the anger and now it is the tweaking of curtains and paranoia.

I read and listen what is happening back in South Africa and my heart breaks. My family are living in what can only be called insanity with regards to the restrictions that have been enforced, and I feel almost guilty for being in what has to be the best location to be in the world right now.

And with this also comes the uncertainty of what you can expect summer in the Scottish highlands to throw at you. Just last week I was able to hike the beautiful moors and catch a bit of sun, then the next week, it is back to heaters, jackets, snow on the ground and minus temperatures.

Mother nature however is rejoicing.  On my excursions outdoors, the bird song is never ending, the newly born lambs (by their hundreds) and their ever patient mothers have taken ownership of roads, which usually by now would be teaming with summer tourists and their campervans.  The deer are definitely not as skittish and I find them venturing further and further into the village. Which got me worrying for them for next season when, (note I say when, not if) normal life has returned, that the babies will not have had any exposure to the dangers of traffic so will not be street wise and we may well see more roadkill than normal.


And the questions still remain ….  Will we open this year? Won’t we open this year? Will it be sunny tomorrow? Will it snow tomorrow? Or maybe it will rain!!!!

On re-reading this post, it alarmed me.  I was typing as I felt.  I always thought that I had a positive mindset and can see the glass half full and the light at the end of the tunnel, but obviously as the words flow my angst is coming to the forefront. I was thinking of discarding this post and starting again with a more positive ring, but then thought no – this is my coping mechanism. This is my therapy and a way of getting my concerns off my chest. Maybe we can look at the animals, despite facing bitter climates and deadly predators, they have survived generations.  The glass is half full and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, just hoping its not the train heading in our direction.

Same, same, but different!

I have to say that I do not envy any politician in this crazy world right now, as whatever decision they make – they are damned either way. They are making decisions with guidance from others in circumstances never experienced before and are feeling their way.  They have no precedence to follow.

Here in the UK as we roll into week 8, an announcement was made last night about the relaxing of the lockdown restrictions and it was with bated breath that I opened my media apps this morning. Nothing really earth shattering, as they say in South East Asia, “same, same, but different”.  The new “lighter” restrictions I read, are for England only.  Scotland and Wales want to do their own thing, with hospitality remaining closed into the unforeseeable future.  And the anger and the criticism never stops. How dare they! Why haven’t they! My neighbour is …..! If they aren’t why should I! People turning on each other and the media are feeding off the paranoia and conspiracy theories. It’s the uncertainty that’s the killer.

Watching from the relatively unscathed safety of the remote highlands, where apart from not being able to work and the required social distancing, life carries on pretty much as normal, it is almost like watching a bad movie unfold.

I try not to listen to Trump as it makes my skin crawl and his fanatical following are like something out of a Mad Max movie. In South Africa, the president who was revered for his initial stand on combating the spread is now being ridiculed. Here I realise his advisors have really advised him badly, where you can now go to a shop to buy school books, but not novels? Corbyn slating Johnson on his handling of the lockdown, how would he have done it differently? (I am a supporter of neither). I am tired of opposition parties using this unsettled time to try and score brownie points with the detractors. We are all in this together, so why not work together.

So stop being angry armchair critics. If you can come up with a constructive measure that would be embraced by all going forward then by all means voice your opinion. We all want this to end – sooner rather than later, including the politicians.

Falling asleep last night I fantasized what it would be like not to have corona as the main topic on everyone’s mind when I woke up in the morning.  I can dream!


Swimming into week 7 – what lies beneath!

Something brushed up against my foot. My heart skipped a beat and the adrenalin coursed through my veins. I stopped hoping to see what it could have been, and realised that I had swum into a bed of long clingy seaweed.  This was my second solo swim in the icy waters of Loch Glendhu.  The waters of which are crystal clear and almost cry out to be swum in, belying the freezing temperature of the salty Antarctic tide that flows in and out every 6 hours.

The waters had been sending out invitations to me daily and I had vision of myself slicing through the still waters and revisiting my joy of swimming freely in nature – you cannot get much wilder than swimming in remote lochs in Scotland.   But my mind and reality proved to be poles apart.

After being warned about strong currents and the possible dangers of swimming solo, I had decided to time my swims with the tide, in or out from one jetty to the other. The tide was going out, so headed off up the road, wet suit attired, wet shoes, swimming cap and goggles, (must have looked a really odd sight), only to find that the water at the fishing jetty, where 2 fishing boats rocked gently against the quay and the water was slightly more sheltered, was teaming with jelly fish. Time to get really wild and make my way through prickly gorse and rocks and slimy seaweed to get to the waters edge a little further away.

The extreme temperature took my breath away. I needed to get moving to warm up my body. By now I could not feel my feet or my hands and after a few strokes of freestyle with my face submerged, I realised that a smooth stroked swim was not on the cards. My head pounded and my face froze.  Instant ice-cream headache. So, it was backstroke most of the way. Looking up at fluffy clouds and the occasional seagull, I am in my element. An inquisitive seal pops his head up a few meters away, watching this ungainly creature making steady headway to next boat jetty.  The sense of accomplishment was immense. It was years since I had last swum in open water and these open waters are extreme. And it was this that brought me back the next day, this time with my face slathered in Vaseline to try and keep some of the freezing effects at bay.  It worked (to a degree). Think I might harbour a bit of masochism and thrive on pushing my limits, I am hooked.

Swimming in these unknown waters got me thinking about my initial fear, how deep, how cold, what lies beneath, the unknown. On looking down into the dark depth of the loch, there was a prickle of fear. It is of the unknown.  And right now in every day life we are all living with the unknown. How much longer, what is going to happen, what lies beneath. But as I swam toward shore and started to see the shimmering bottom of the loch and welcome sight of the concrete slipway, so too there is a shimmering at the end of this dark tunnel.  We are wired to survive. Life will return as we knew it and we will look back in years to come and be able to say, remember when….! So keep swimming and when something brushes against your foot, know that it is only your own fear which you can control and head for that shore.