I had difficulty sleeping last night. I was overexcited. It was just like one of those halcyon Christmas eve nights spent as a child being unable to sleep waiting for Santa Claus to make his unlikely entry down the chimney, bursting with anticipation of what wondrous treats Christmas morning might bring. Last night, the morning treat I was anticipating was perfectly well known, however – we’d be leaving Bunree. How I have been looking forward to this moment.
During our eight days at Bunree I’ve forgotten what blue looks like. Many years ago, on a work assignment to Edinburgh, I was met at the airport by one of our consultants who, on our journey back into town and referring to the colours of the buildings, remarked, “they’ve got 68 shades of drab here”. I’ve never forgotten it. In similar fashion, Bunree seems to have a sky made of 68 shades of grey. Blue does not exist. The clouds have consistently contained some of the blackest and certainly the lowest I have ever experienced. They are oppressive; they weigh down on upon one’s psyche. The greens normally expected of a naturally verdant countryside are missing, too, or at least very subdued due to the lack of light. Though the taunting noise of the wind is almost constant, it doesn’t clear the clouds away; the cloud bank pushing in from the northern Atlantic is quite simply endless. The clouds have produced rain at some point every single day – and that is after we were told that the same had happened for the two weeks preceding our arrival – and when it isn’t raining it frequently feels darker and more threatening than Mordor. We’ve woken up to the same interminable dark grey scene every morning. A week is all I could have stood without going (even more) insane, and that was a close run thing. The received wisdom is that Scotland is a breathtakingly attractive country but picturesque scenery is of little use if it cannot be seen through the opaque mantle of low-hanging, black cloud. We haven’t seen the tops of the mountains, which are only between 3000 and 4000 feet (in round numbers); they are hardly massive. This has not been living, this has been existing. If I had to exist here for any length of time, I would surely slit my wrists. I simply do not understand how anyone can endure this willingly on a permanent basis.
While almost everywhere in England has been enjoying an Indian summer heat wave with blue skies and temperatures around 25°C, as friends and relatives have been at pains to impress upon us, the best we’ve managed under our suffocatingly grey blanket is 16°C.
Mercifully and at long last, I am now leaving and my heavy heart is beginning to lighten already. It cost me £65 to top up our car’s tank with diesel at the local filling station yesterday (that was from ¼ full) and it’s the best £65 I’ve ever spent.
However, there is a sadistic twist. Just as a child’s fantasy is destroyed when it finally learns that Santa isn’t real, so my hopes were dashed. Having dragged Guillaume for three hours up through Glen Coe, across Rannoch Moor, passed the Trossachs and beneath Stirling, we arrived at Edinburgh by 12:00 PM. The rain began at 2:00 PM.
At least during our time at Bunree we were in pole position with a view of the loch, even with occasional glimpses of the opposite shore. Here at the Caravan Club’s Edinburgh site, all we can look at as we sit in Guillaume taking shelter is the two motorhomes opposite and the laurel hedge that edges one side of our pitch. The site is within spitting distance of the Firth of Forth but we can’t see it. Merde alors!
I’m thinking of having some bumper stickers made up taking a liberty with the old, worn out “Scotland the brave” phrase; Mine sticker would read:
I braved Scotland