The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain while the rain in Scotland finds you wherever you may be. There’s no hiding place. Scottish skies play with you – tying silken threads of sunlight round your torso, they pull you gently into the open before throwing a bucket of cold rainwater over you. Behaving like a demented clown, enjoying the fun of the fair, Scottish skies use every trick in the book and every weapon in their armoury to tease and entertain you.
‘Come in May’ said J and H, our friends who brave the elements in Edinburgh on a daily basis, ‘ it’s always beautiful in May’
And so with everything we needed for an early summer break in the North we travelled relatively light to Gatwick airport; with just 3 bags and a borrowed McClaren buggy. A slow start on the M25 ground to a halt thanks to a rogue cow who’d wandered onto the hard-shoulder looking for daisies. A short holiday in the fast lane ended as abruptly as it had started and we were off again. After handing in our 3 bags we rolled through security easily and found our breakfast in Departures.
I was nervous about leaving Kent. I have to admit to not being very well travelled and this combined with a fear of the flight ahead of us meant that camomile tea would have been a better option than cappuccino. It wasn’t the actual act of ‘flying’ that made me nervous – it was the thought of Nipper having a meltdown mid-air and me not knowing how to deal with it.
The flight beckoned all too quickly and I carried Nipper down the gangway and onto ‘THE PLANE!’. She’d begun to get quite excited about the prospect of ‘PLANES!!’ a few days earlier. In my inexperienced-Mama way, I’d decided to hit her with every fun fact about planes I could and shout at the top of my voice every time one buzzed over-head. I figured if I got her excited about ‘the plane’, then that emotion would cancel out any ‘fear’.
We talked planes for days. Pointing them out in the skies like manic ‘Spotters’. Grandad even made the somewhat rash promise that ‘Daddy will fly the plane’, giving me repetitive nightmare that Nipper would force Daddy at pencil-point into the cabin and insist he ‘fly de plane’.....
I needn’t have worried though. She’s a thrill-seeker and a sticker fiend – these two character traits combined helped us to ‘weeeeeeeeee!!!!’ our way through take-off and sticker-book our way through the hour flight to Edinburgh.
‘This is Finley’ said H,
‘Hello Finley’ we chorused.
Nipper took to Finley immediately. ‘Finleeeeeeeeeeey!’ would become the soundtrack to our week as Nipper called and followed him all over Western Scotland. Cathy to Finley’s Heathcliffe, Nipper spent the week displaying model sharing-behaviour. In fact everything was shared – breakfast, baths, sticker books, the ‘chickens!’, soft-play experiences, wet feet and a little bit of snot.
The majority of our week was spent in the wing of an Edwardian house in Taynuilt, a pretty village close to Oban on the West Coast of Scotland. We experienced everything the weather forecaster could throw at us – snow-covered hills, hail, driving rain and a mini hurricane that knocked out the power to the house for a day and a night.
Nipper took every available opportunity to splash in the puddles. We drove for miles through rainsoaked hills, speeding through puddles and waving at the lochs as they blurred into one.
We went to Fort William for the day, saw Ben Nevis and hunted out as many Wizard castle for Nipper as possible. We ate blood red raspberry ice creams at the scene of Britain's most horrific massacre in Glen Coe, then Zoe threw hers up a few miles down the winding road. Stopping at another Wizard-castle, we striped her down and wiped the gore from her face as passersby took photographs of the beauty around us.
I fell in love with the bleakness of Oban in the rain and Nipper fell in love with Finley Hamish. She spent the week shouting his name and the word 'balls' - courtesy of our frequent dry-breaks in the soft-play centre in Oban.
Another favourite past-time was seeking out ‘the chickens!’ in between rain-breaks. Ten days prior to our arrival, the house had welcomed 4 news bright yellow chicks, whose little wooden house on the grass outside became a scene of fascination for Finley and Nipper.
The Edwardian house itself was bloody freezing, necessitating us to wear every item of clothing packed into our 3 tiny bags. In the evenings we’d snuggle under the duvets in the lounge, drink wine and listen to the rain as it playfully bashed the guttering. However, I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world. You can keep your modern lodges and your new builds, this old house had history, and maybe a ghost or two. It also had the best view in Taynult – with the hills hugging the loch below us, we watched the clouds skid across the ever-changing sky from the comfort of the battered old sofas.
Time spent with our Scottish/Australian friends in the dusty old house provided us with a treasure trove of memories to take home to Kent.
It was great, and J&H were right – Scotland’s beautiful in May. Whatever the weather.
*First appeared in Kent Life in 2012*