As a kid I was lucky enough to have lots of fun family holidays, but it was our 1995 Summer holiday which has had the strongest, and happiest, lasting impression. I was 13 and it was my first visit to Scotland, a little town called Fort Augustus, right at the mouth of Loch Ness. I realise now that the reaction I had to that place twenty one years ago was love.
In 1995 I was X Files obsessed. I told my school careers guidance teacher, with utter conviction, that I was going to join the FBI and uncover All the Mysteries of The Universe. I was going to be Dana Scully (but not all sceptical and monotone and with a much more colourful wardrobe). Much to the amusement of the staff at my local newsagents – who I also delivered papers for – I subscribed to The Fortean Times and pondered – and believed in – everything from the Roswell aliens and crop circles, spontaneous human combustion and ESP and everything in between. And I was going to find out the answers to it all.
I digress slightly, but my point is that maybe it was this geeky teenage passion which ignited my connection to Fort Augustus, as I sat at the edge of Loch Ness every evening of that holiday drinking Irn Bru, eating Pontefract Cakes and waiting for Nessie to surface. And although my scepticism is sadly more aligned with Scully’s now, I knew that that place would still feel magical over 20 years later.
I was proved right this summer when I finally returned to the Scottish Highlands, and to the town I had never forgotten about, but this time with my own children. I knew immediately that it was that part of the world where I belonged and where I wanted to raise my family. Watching our 5 year old daughter exclaim, with arms outstretched, ‘I love the mountains!’ was enough to convince my partner and I.
Since returning from our holiday at the beginning of September, Scotland is always on my mind. At first I tried to reason with myself by remembering that holidays are meant to be lovely, and of course actually living somewhere is a different experience entirely. But then I thought of all the places in the world that I do really love, but not enough to actually want to live there. The feeling I have for the Highlands is a different kind of buzz – more knowing and constant.
Our decision to relocate our lives has given us more drive than we have had in a long time as we now have something to work towards and something realistic to save for. As I bemoan constantly of late, buying our own home in our current location is completely out of the question which as left me feeling very uncertain of the future, especially since we had our children, but now we finally have a goal and I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Everything happens for a reason – this has always been my mantra, especially when things are looking a bit shaky. This week we have been dealt a blow which has required me to remind myself of this. As seems to be the case for a lot of people right now, our landlord is selling the house we currently live in – the house my partner has been in for nearly 10 years and the place where we built a home and started our family. The timing is pretty crappy as we have so many other things to deal with right now, as well as the busiest time of the year for our business looming.
But, we’ll just battle on. We have no choice. The thought of our beautiful daughter being able to dance in her fairy forests again and scaling mountains together will drive us on through these challenges and we’ll be living our Scottish Dream before we know it.