When I set off on this journey, all that time ago, I had used the experiences of Satish Kumar as a reference point – a compass even.
In the ‘60’s he’d approached his guru prior to embarking on his peace march through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia …
I’m paraphrasing, but I recall it going something like this…
“So, you’ll have lots of money with you?”
“Oh yes, plenty of money,”
“Places to stay – hotels and the like?”
“Oh yes, you don’t need to worry about me…”
“Well you can forget all that….if you take money with you, you won’t feel the need to engage with people…all you’ll meet are hoteliers…”
It was with this ringing in my mind that I took a turn into the Tingle Creek Hotel just near the Kyle of Lochalsh.
I’d had a lovely walk following the single track road around the coast from Achmore. It had rained – but the vegetation looked more lush and fresh because of it.
I caught a glimpse of Skye as I walked – remembering Sean’s story of a climber who’d slipped and fallen 30 feet from the inaccessible pinnacle – the In-Pin I think climbers call it. How Sean, Ingrid and another climber had rallied round to make him safe before the mountain rescue team came and retrieved him.
It made me think of Sean’s last words to me as I left,”Call us if you need anything, if you get into trouble – because shit happens…”
So I walked into the hotel – and was met by the infectious grin of Nat, the owners daughter.
She listened intently to my story as she served me the elixir of life (er shandy).
Having been thoroughly soaked, and with no dry clothes except my jammies, I asked how much a night there would cost.
“It’s normally £60 (odd), but we can give you it for £45….”
“Sold,” I smiled.
They had wi-fi too so I could upload/ download a bunch of stuff….and a bath….hmmmm.
As I sat enjoying my simple carb refreshment, Nat came over for a chat.
In amongst it she said, “We think you’re doing a great thing, so would it be ok if we paid for your dinner tonight – anything on the menu?”
She’d somehow made it sound as if I’d be doing them a favour if I accepted…
“Fantastic,” I think I blurted.
Haggis for starters, followed by steak and chips…I lay on the bed watching match of the day special thinking….what a hoot.
Having draped my things about the place, I had a selection of dry (albeit somewhat smelly) clothes to wear for my walk today.
As ever, come the morning, I pillocked about with my packing – 10am came and went…Dennis, one of the owners phoned the room explaining that kicking out time had come and gone.
Bugger, I thought, they’d been so kind and here I was pissing them off….
I got to reception after grunting Hubert and Darth II downstairs…
“Sorry,” I smiled.
Dennis handed me the receipt for my stay, it read….
You are an inspiration to us all!
Keep going it will be worth it!”
He took some photos of me outside the hotel, me still grinning like a fool at their generosity, his wife and Nat waving down from one of the upstairs windows….
You might get to see them here
I laughed for the next mile up the road.
Even though I’d decided to have a rest day, I walked on ten or so miles. I noticed a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise.
It was Dennis. I still had the key to room 8.
“Errrrr….” I think I said helpfully.
“Don’t worry, we’ll come and get it…”
He and his wife appeared a short while later, full of smiles and chat then waves and beeps as they drove off.
I’ve temporarily run out of positive adjectives.
Walk a mile.