I write this on the train as I speed away from the freedom and the magic of the countryside, hurtling back to Edinburgh, back to the comfort zone. I’m acutely aware that my eyes might be glazed over as I think back on the weekend but I reckon for the moment I still remain far enough away from the city that the other passengers will realise that it is merely the look of a person reflecting rather than a person high on narcotics.
Images dance behind my eyes; the pissing rain, the tins of baked beans, jelly babies, ham butties and cans of Strongbow, pulling on soaking wet jumper over soaking jumper, and a useless sleeveless jacket to seal it all in, and remembering the feeling of my limbs aching pleasantly from the dampness that ensued. A paddle down the River Tay, and a night camping in Grandtully, then up through Oban to the River Awe, a hike, followed by camping at the foot of Ben Nevis. This was my microadventure.
Activity number one: Kayaking. First time back in a kayak after a year or two meant I was swimming within the first fifteen minutes after a dodgy attempt to eddy in. To give up is not an option, and slowly my body remembered how to move with the boat and down the rapids we soared.
Activity number two: the Hike. A melancholic mood tinged the air as the three of us shuffled in silence across the moors, dispersing the flocks of sheep, trudging through puddles, each layer of clothing soaked, clinging to the goosebumps lining our skin. We walk in silence seemingly miserable from an onlookers perspective. But in our heads we are utterly content. Our mind making the switch back to its simplest setting – a slideshow of questions; what to eat, where to camp, what rivers to run. It was not a time for me to figure out the issues of home, they will still be waiting when I return. It is time instead to revert back to living in the moment, worrying less, experiencing more. Enjoying it all.
Activity three: Camping. I must buy good quality gear, because I suffered without it. Needing to pee in the middle of the night but the wind and rain that is attempting to break the tent poles beside your head makes sure you hold it to the point that you are experiencing physical pain. That pain also helped as a distraction from the cold that was invading my borrowed sleeping bag and wearing me down second by second.
I have only stepped onto the train in Fort William and already the bad bits are blurring and the good bits are becoming amplified. These small adventures make you stop and think like nothing else does. They make you a better person, a kinder one who appreciates the life they have and the people they left at home because life moves at a much slower pace in the woods, there are no lists to be ticked, no deadlines to be met. When the distractions are taken away from you, happiness and humanity slides in to take its place.
I am interrupted from my reverie by a few kids jumping on a trampoline waving at the people on the train that passes straight through their backyard. My eyes return to focus and soon I am boarding train two – Glasgow to Edinburgh – I slowly become aware of my appearance ; dark purple rims encircle my eyes, a scabby graze sits on my cheek, I have no bra on, my hair is one huge knot and I’m sure I smell. My general colour is a blotchy red, grey and purple combination. The result of lack of sleep, a rogue branch and bad circulation in a shitty climate. All evidence of the blissful misery I have stumbled through over the last few days as we camped and kayaked our way around Scotland. A boy with a particularly strong brow sits facing me on the train two rows down drinking a bottle of Buckfast. He stares blatantly at me for the duration of the journey. Ah hello city folk, it seems I have returned to ‘civilisation.’
I throw my rucksack over my shoulders and head towards the flat, to a shower, to a bed, to an easy life.
Perhaps one day I will leave with a bivvy bag and torch and never come back.