I've finished my travels in Europe, and now back for a few days in the Highlands of Scotland
From Neuchatel I had a very straightforward journey through Geneva and up to Glasgow, to my lovely fiancee. She was keen that we go up to Kingussie, my home town to see my mother, so here I am. Still travelling, God I'm tired. But I have to admit, glad to be here.
I love Kingussie. It's a very quiet, old, little highland town of two thousand people or so, on the northern edge of the Cairngorm mountains. It really only has a few streets, built on the foot of a hill called Creag Beag, and on the edge of the flood plain of the river Spey. I've climbed up Creag Beag hundreds of times, drunk, sober, in wind, hail, snow, rain, baking sun. Loved it every time. Mountain biked it, skied it, Rock climbed on it. I used to be able to run it and back in 45 minutes, can't get anywhere near that now. From the top you can see all the way past Dalwhinnie to Ben Alder, and up to Braeriach, and I would sit in the dry stone built shelterstone on the top and spot end of season skiing potential from here. The prevailing wind is south westerly, and clouds continuously flow past from the Atlantic, streaming toward the peaks of the Cairngorms.
Behind Creag Beag, sandwiched between it and the much bigger Creag Dubh, there's loch Gynack. It freezes over every winter. I'll never forget one crisp winter day years ago friends and I threw big stones on the frozen surface and the ice made huge bonging sounds resonating over the whole loch and echoing through the hills.
Further to to the north it's a full day's hike through peaty hills to the shores of Loch Ness ( I've never seen the monster). To the south, bigger mountains with the potential for some superb mountain biking.
I've explored these hills in every direction, skied by moonlight through these woods, orienteered, camped, abseiled, bouldered, climbed, skied off cornices, got lost, got sunstroked, biked, strolled... so many adventures...
This place really shaped who I am, fanned a spark of adventurousness into a flame that more or less defines me now. From this little town I reached deeper and deeper into the mountains, into bigger adventures and then out into Europe to Alpine mountains, and now almost shockingly suddenly into this Antarctic adventure; something of a order of magnitude bigger than anything I've ever bitten off.
It's almost time to fly south. Seven days to go.
Wow I'm getting sentimental. Obviously the impending departure is really starting to colour everything.
There's still so much to do!
The Power of Attorney is almost sorted,
the dentist booked,
the repeat prescription for epi-pens arranged,
my cases were sent off to Hobart at last a couple of days ago,
The Scotland flag is bought,
Only three more shifts to do at the hospital, (Still on the nightshift bit of the rota of course. Just for that added garnish of stress)
Well, that only leaves about a thousand things left to do. Phew, that's all right then.