Farmhouse on the Moor
We spent the next several hours driving through vistas at warp speeds (at least in my estimation) along narrow, winding roads to our next rental destination, an isolated farmhouse just south of Inverness. It was solidly anchored on the crest of a grassy knoll surrounded by undulating rounded hills on all sides where meadows gave way to stunted undergrowth of heather, not yet in bloom. In the distance there was a farmstead with a herd of cattle munching its way across an emerald green, steeply-sloping pasture. The long laneway snaking its way up to the house was lined with a massive profusion of bright yellow blossoms bursting out of thick hedges called Broom.
The house interior was tastefully decorated and furnished with every modern convenience, but designed to look old fashioned. It was filled with shelves of books, the walls hung with paintings and amateur photographs taken by family members. Comfortable chairs were arranged around the fireplace. The bedrooms were large, bright, and comfortable. It felt like home.
Wandering leisurely across the Moor for several hours at a stretch helped to give us a sense of what it was like to live an isolated existence for one’s whole life. Occasionally a frantic rabbit would race by, and several alert deer kept a wary eye on us from time to time before disappearing into the underbrush. On one occasion a cattle farmer drove his truck into a nearby field, to tend to his fences. Otherwise there was utter silence across the expansive Highland valley.
The front lawn’s shady hammock proved to be the ideal place for Bruce to read, or to observe the ever-changing weather patterns swirling across the wide valley below the farmhouse. One moment of brilliant sunshine was soon followed by heavy patches of dark cloud and a touch of drizzle before the sunlight re-appeared. Bruce also discovered the joys of rural hiking into the lonely hills, to soak in the silence and beauty of the countryside. He surprised all of us by expertly preparing some of the farmhouse meals. No, wild rabbit was not on the menu. The backyard lawn chairs were a perfect setting for my kids to uncork the champagne to celebrate my “coming of age”.
Soon it was time to make our way back to Edinburgh via Inverness and Perth, the wealthiest region of Scotland. We spent our final night in at a luxury hotel, compliments of Valerie. From the moment we exited the taxi, where I was greeted by a kilted doorman holding an umbrella over my head, it was all first class. To think that before dinner drinks in the sumptuous lounge cost more than two months’ room and board at Teachers’ College! But, in fairness, that was 60 years ago.