After six years editing a magazine and living in Bristol, I’m leaving my urban ways behind and going in search of something wilder. One overcast day not so long ago I made a list of all the things that make me happy and it went something like this: starry nights, crunchy snow, wide open spaces, mountain streams, old canvas, outboard engines, catching fish, windswept Scottish beaches with cold seas and pretty shells. You see? It’s messing around in the countryside that makes my heart sing and that’s the stuff I want to write about.
I’m lucky because my family has a cottage in Portavadie, a small village (not even that really – a few houses) on the shores of Loch Fyne, a sea loch that delivers bountiful mackerel, crabs, mussels and scallops. On a bright day you can swim in its cold waters if you’re hardy. It’s a holiday home – small, damp and a little bit run down, and I love it. We’ve been going there since I was little, renting it at first. Later, when we moved to England, mum and dad bought it to keep a connection with Scotland; a foothold in northern soil. I think they feared my brother and I might turn too English, which, inevitably, we did. I sound English, but inside there’s a core that’s stubbornly Scottish. I have the cottage to thank for that.
So that’s where I’m heading. I’m going to try and live off the land, find the wild places and write. I’ll see what the day brings. If it’s sunny I’ll swim in the sea, if it’s pelting with rain I’ll hunker down by the fire and read and if the midgies swarm I’ll take the boat out. I’m going to immerse myself in the wilderness of the west coast, exploring its highlands and islands, and I’ll write about what I find along the way.