“The light was a comfort; pitiful as was the sight it revealed, at least it banished the lurking shadows that threatened at any moment to turn into new danger.”
– Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber
When I sit down to write my (albeit infrequent) blog posts, I always start by going through my book of Beautiful Words, in which I have written out quotations from the books I read. Wrenched from their original context, the phrases that make up this notebook are in no way coherent as a whole, but I am usually able to find inspiration in the jumble of wonderful wordsmithing I have collected over the years.
This post’s inspiration comes from the incredibly talented Diana Gabaldon. Though these words as seen in the second book of the Outlander series described the omnipresent danger encountered by her heroine in a much younger and rougher Scotland than the one Kristen and I visited, they struck me as oddly appropriate for how I felt on our first and only night in the bustling city of 21st century Glasgow.
“It was drizzling slightly, and all the joyous spring flowers were lying down, like young soldiers slaughtered on a battlefield.” – Louise Penny, The Cruelest Month
I have always been fascinated by graveyards. Perhaps I have mentioned this before?
A firm believer in the innate goodness of humanity, I have nonetheless often found myself both intrigued and repulsed by the same species’ capacity for extreme violence. Especially today, in the midst of the 24-hour-non-stop news cycle, it can sometimes seem that for every kind act being committed on this earth at any given time, there are simultaneously 2 or 3 acts of cruelty.
“I have stood at the brink of the falls, that thin line that separates eternity from time”
– Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Day the Falls Stood Still
As you may know, the quote above describes the feeling of awe and humility that washes over you when standing on the brink of Niagara Falls, with the sheer crush of water rushing its way over the ancient cliff face to the churning bowels below – it is a glorious and chilling sight – completely unique the world over.
Unique as the Falls may be, the description of that thin line separating eternity from time…that, I have felt elsewhere. On the edge of the Cliff of Moher in Ireland for example, or sitting on the cliffs of the Cape Breton coast, staring out at the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean seemingly without end.
What these places all have in common is that they are viewed from a great height, which is what I figured Ms. Buchanan was referring to in her description. When I went through my quote book today to come up with the perfect way to start this post, however, suddenly this quote spoke to me differently.
“There will be no lovely luxurious time while the fizzing drink cures the head and the coffee sends out soothing noises and smells from the percolator.” – Maeve Binchy, Whitehorn Woods
I am now about halfway through the telling of this particular adventure and I thought I would take this post to pause for a moment – a luxury one does not often have on a backpacking trip, no matter how conscious one attempts to be to the need to rest and recover.
“The tale is the map that is the territory. You must remember this.” – Neil Gaiman, American Gods
I’m not sure why I continue to work slowly at this telling of my trip to the UK with my sister so many years ago now. Perhaps it is because a few of my acquaintances like to read it, perhaps it is simply to keep the writing muscles limber as I work on my first novel. Whatever it is, I hope this tale is at the very least entertaining…and at the most an inspiration from which to map out your own adventures.
“I picked up The Hobbit. And I began to read. I was swept off to a green, green Shire in a far, far land, and my soul has never returned. I suppose it never will.”
As with everywhere else Kristen and I visited, I could write so much more on the adventures we encountered in Inverness. Considering how long it’s already taken me to tell this story, however, I think it’s best to move on.
My final parting thought about Inverness would be my remaining confusion surrounding the fact that we didn’t visit the fields of Cullodan while there – tantalizingly close as they were. Instead we took a bus out to a small village of no repute and traipsed up to some anonymous farmer’s field for a picnic and reading session in the grass.
I’ve spent a surprising amount of time in the intervening almost two years thinking about why I didn’t insist on a visit. Finally, two Outlander books later, I think I know why. It’s going to sound strange, maybe even ludicrous to some, but here goes. Continue reading “Jacobite Middle Earth”→
“Moments like this act as magical interludes, placing our hearts at the edge of our souls: fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time.” – Muriel Barbery
I’m going to use this post to weigh in on a subject that anyone who travels a decent amount seems to have a very strong opinion on: Whether running in to fellow-countrymen while abroad is good or bad.
First of all, I would like to question why this is even a debate. Unless you are from the tiniest village on the tiniest island in the middle of the Pacific from which no one ever leaves – you will probably run into at least one person from your home country at some point in your travels.
If your reaction to this inevitable encounter is to scream and run in the opposite direction, well…that’s a bit dramatic.
“How maps may look stationary, but boundaries shift, worlds open up, other worlds and civilizations pass away. And none of us is stuck or alone, because coursing through us is everything that brought us to where we are.”
-Elizabeth Hay, Alone in the Classroom
This is a much-belated account of one of the odder experiences Kristen and I had while gallivanting all over the UK and Ireland.
Summer hiatuses from routine are almost mandatory for Canadians. When half the year is filled with bitterly-cold winter and all you feel like doing is curling up with a mug of tea and writing the long, dark night away…the late summer nights heavy with Ottawa’s saturated humidity are meant to be spent out-of-doors, soaking as much of the heat in as possible – however suffocating it can sometimes seem.
Now that September has suddenly begun, and in anticipation of a late-October early-November trip to France which I will undoubtedly wish to write about, I’m going to try and finish chronicling the tales of the Great Gurski UK and Ireland Trip of 2014 as soon as possible.