10/04/12 Skye and the 120 miles per hour mini-break

“But dad, I want to see a golden eagle,”

“Shut up, you can see them on the internet…”

“George, what is the rule when you see someone walking towards you on your side of the road pulling a trailer?”

“He’ll get out of the way, Julia, just you watch,”

“But he doesn’t appear to have anywhere to go…”

“Don’t worry, JULIA, the law is on my side…”

“Dad, can we keep the funny bald man on the bonnet of the car?”

“I really think you should stop now George,”

“Julia….children…we have a schedule…it’s people like him…look at him, bloody anarchist with his trailer…that cause chaos up and down the country…”

“Dad, I need a wee,”

“Sorry, the next scheduled stop is in Bristol…”

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the A87, the road into Skye – or in my case, the road into the…

Good Lordy – they drive fast – at you – I’m not going to stay on the road as a point of principle….

What does a break to the beautiful isle of Skye conjure up for you? A gentle drive through stunning scenery? Taking time to enjoy the symbiotic nature of human and land – the animals and plants upon it?

I am sure that somewhere in the highway code it says, “Don’t kill the funny bald man walking towards you with a trailer…”

It may not be explicit – but I’m sure it’s there somewhere in spirit.

I was astonished at the number of drivers who drove straight at me at speed in the belief that I’d vanish.
I appreciate that people’s time is valuable – but please, turning slightly or slowing down to negotiate the walking speed bump would be nice.

Skye is beautiful. Once I was off that particular main road I could take a look.
I walked past a family of cyclists – youngest probably 10 – all pedalling on in stoic terror…

I wonder what it’s like when it gets really busy.

So, off the main road, I meet a lovely couple from Nottinghamshire – who tell me they are on a once in a lifetime 2 year journey to go to all the places around the UK and Europe they hadn’t seen. They’d tried cycling on the road of terror and concluded they wouldn’t require all bran for a week or two.

They’ve been all around the world and were pleasantly astonished at the beauty of this fair country and the kindness and warmth of the people on it (when they weren’t trying to run you over).

I met a chap, Jeremy, who’d worked for rethink – a charity that encourages folk to look at the situation of those with mental health problems.

Google it – see what they’re up to.
I’m afraid my listening skills weren’t quite as they might be – since he’d stopped in the middle of the road – and I was jumping in and out of traffic to keep it going.

He told me of some places where I might be able to stick my tent up. This was more difficult than it sounds since there were miles and miles of heather covered moorland – no grass of note anywhere.

So on I trundled into the early evening – briefly met up with Dennis to return the keys – called myself the punter from hell and suggested electrocution for those committing this heinous crime in the future.

His wife thought this was a little harsh…on reflection….

As I walked, I saw a guy on a three wheeled chopper, motor bike, thingy. Not travelling at speed – just happily cruising up and down the same bit of road as me.

He’d gone past me a number of times when he finally pulled over, and with a huge grin said,”Are you as mad as me?”

I reached out to shake his hand and said,”Very probably…”

We chatted like, I dunno, mates who hadn’t seen each other in a while – he talked about his beautiful chopper (just don’t – I can’t believe you have to cheapen everything) and how working on it, riding it and talking about it kept his own mental health in line.

He gave me is none business card – and I gave him mine.

You can follow him here

He gave me some directions to some nearby flat grass.

I walked off thinking we do mad things to keep us sane.

So, as directed, I walked up the dark and lonely forest track – following it deeper and deeper into the trees, only occasionally breaking my step to say, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my…”

I finally got to the clearing to find 2 fireman from Birmingham putting their tents up.

They’d been given directions from a local hotel – I felt my directions had far greater kudos having been given to me by a guy calling himself Mad Rob.

We talked briefly – strangely it was raining – but we managed to cover the fact that they had to work longer for and pay more into their reduced pensions.

Cycling around Scotland just gave them a break from all that.

I told them to be careful – most of the conversations I’d had with English folk now living up here had started with, “We only came up for a holiday…”

I went off and put my tent up far away enough from them so they’d be outside the blast radius of my snoring.

Tomorrow I’m definitely having a rest day.

Walk a mile

Chris

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