Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?
Pause for rummage.
I have here a UK 10 pence piece, dated 2006. 10p, small change, 2006, big changes.
That year began in Glenlivet, on Speyside – the heart of Scotland‘s best known whisky region. We moved in during the Autumn of 2005, with our breath held and a one year deal on the mortgage. It was my dream cottage in a dream location, within yards of the banks of the River Livet. Finally, finally we had arrived in the Highlands and were experiencing a Highland winter.
Know what? Dreams don’t keep you warm. That stone-built cottage, with its stone-flagged floor and iron-framed skylights… it struggled to keep us warm in the 20 degree below temperatures. We survived the winter and made the most of our time in that heavenly spot. The Crown Estate offers walking enough to keep the most active persons entertained and we walked… oh, how we walked! We explored and hiked and picnicked and strode up mountains and our dreams had all come true.
Sadly, dreams don’t pay the mortgage and it soon became evident that we could not stay. We needed to buy a cheaper property, and there were none of those in this very desirable location. Much of 2006 was spent with spreadsheets, bank balances and, ultimately, with Estate Agents’ property lists – and by the Autumn we were on our way North, to Orkney.
Could anywhere be more different?
There are many similarities – we live now in a small crofting community of similar size to the one that we lived in then. There are roughly the same number of people in a similar number of properties and in an area of comparable size. It’s a lot lower down and our view is of passing seabirds and fishing boats rather than of buzzards and mountains.
It was a big change, but a good one. The scenery we miss, and the freedom to walk and explore, but the climate here suits us better and the community is something else. Not exclusive and guarded as it was back there and then. Here arms are opened in welcome and friends are made readily. Shopping trips are made by ferry rather than by car and the shopping options are less. Life is simple but fun. I am not sad that we made the change, but I do miss striding up those hills! And it is good that the bank sheet now balances, of course.