Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Scottish weather (again)

Well this is a bit of a first - composing a blog in a public library. I'm in Portree on Skye and came in to the library partly to shelter from the ceaseless rain but mainly to book a train back home.

I've been 4 days walking the Skye trail: day 1 (sunny), day 2 (high wind and rain), day 3 (high wind and rain), day 4 (rain). The thing that struck me was the complete absence of shelter, even in the little villages I have passed through. It reminded me of a Ray Bradbury science fiction story about explorers on a planet where it rains continuously. They are desparately trying to find their way to a dome that they know of - a shelter that will offer them some respite only to arrive to find it smashed and streaming with water.

You'd think, wouldn't you, given the importance of tourism to the economy of the Scottish Highlands, that the odd little wayside shelter would be an inspired addition to the landscape. I found myself imagining what they would be like. They'd be circular in plan with a conical roof and generous overhangs and a central table and benches all around and - most important of all - there would need to be a whole semicircular section of wall mounted on rollers that you could slide round according to which way the gale happened to be blowing.

All the same, mustn't give the wrong impression; I've had a great time. Scotland reminds you that the traditional distinction between good and bad weather is a vulgar oversimplification and that there are numerous other 'weathers' of dazzling complexity and sophistication. Like for example the burst of sun sparkling off rain-soaked heather while in the distance, out to sea, a dark cloud trails veils of rain. Or the view of trees brilliantly illuminated against a backdrop of black sky. And the rainbows! Not just complete arches, but doubles and triples. And not rooted in some distant valley but promising a crock of gold right at your very feet!

Well - got to go; I have a bus to catch. I have a change of plan for the next few days. I'm booked into a hostel in the north of the island from where I plan to do some day walks without the burden of the whole backpack (tents, food and all).

Three nights in a tent that seemed as if it was being shaken to pieces by a giant puppy is enough - for now.