Tomorrow I get to escape the city for a couple of days. No work, no mothering, no expectations. Possibly no conversation either, but I won’t think about that for now. While I enjoy most types of travelling, there’s something wonderful about just slinging a bag into your car and driving away, that feels more liberating than other methods. No doubt we have adopted the romanticism from American movies, the image of freedom on the roads justifying the huge, gas guzzling cars they have, but I don’t care. It just feels good.
To be honest, it’s not really much of a road trip: in theory, the journey from Glasgow to Glencoe only takes about 90 minutes. Theory however, does not take account of single track roads and the possibility of getting stuck behind a bloody caravan or OAP driver, so two hours is probably closer to the mark. Even though it’s not far, it’s a beautiful journey, alongside Loch Lomond for a long way and as you go further north, the scenery becomes more rugged, hilly and spectacular. I am looking forward to cranking up the tunes (Johnny Cash is perfect for this sort of thing) and having no-one to answer to. The only person to determine any pee stops will be me.
My plan is to do a couple of walks, both involving picnics; one to discover a hidden valley, where the MacDonald Clan hid their cattle during the massacre at Glencoe, and a hill walk up to the Pap of Glencoe. Childish as it may be, I will never tire of saying the word pap. And take a look, it does rise above the earth like a nipple, or one of Madge’s conical brassieres.
Neither walk is too risky for a walker on their own, but both will hopefully will be challenging enough to make me feel like I’ve exercised well, sweated and earned a pint or two in the Clachaig Inn. The 30 burpees are still on for this trip, the big question being when? Before or after my cooked breakfast? Of course the answer is obviously before, after a cup of tea to get my morning system cranked up. No-one needs sausage and egg sloshing about their belly as they fling themselves to the floor, bouncing like Tigger.
Digressing briefly, some mornings the burpees are as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit (thank you Billy Connolly), but I’m showing up reluctantly and doing them anyway. After seven days, I can feel an improvement in my core and my speed. The key motivator being to get them over with as fast as possible…the 30 day 30 burpee challenge for Spartans starts today and I’ve got a week in the bag already. So if you’re considering doing it, don’t think about it, JFDI. On the tired days, it takes no more than four minutes, on the good days about three. It may be horrible, but a bikini wax takes longer and hurts a lot more. Put it in perspective.
If it rains, well…I have books, a tablet and a notepad. I might even give indoor climbing a go, at a huge centre down the road. I am hoping this won’t be necessary. The forecast, like much of the UK for the weekend, is warm sunshine. Oh happy joy joy!
Despite all these good feelings about the break, there is still a streak of nervousness about the endeavour. I will love the walking, and the scenery and, fingers crossed, the sunshine. But what of the evenings, when I have had enough of solitude and my own thoughts? What if, instead of feeling peaceful, content and confident, I feel desperately lonely and sad? It has been at least a decade since I have travelled alone. I remember people conversations in cafes during the day, but being quietly ignored in restaurants in the evening.
We all have those fears, especially women and we rightly fear our safety too. Men on their own attract far less attention or suspicion in pubs in the evening than we do. What if she’s a harlot? Or a witch? Burn her! An exaggeration, obviously, but you don’t see many women on their own with a book in pubs at night, in Glasgow. In the less chilled out places, the men would be buzzing round like flies on site; not particularly to be envied. On holiday, you might more often see a woman dining alone. You might even be envious of that woman, when you’re struggling to make conversation with your own dining partner, or fending off mash stains from your toddler. I know I have been on occasion, sneaking admiring glances and thinking how happy in her own skin she must be, to be sitting there on her own. Interestingly, on my image trawl, it took me a while to find a picture that wasn’t of a woman who looked like she either wanted to kill either herself for being alone, or the woman next to her, for having fun snogging her boyfriend.
The pubs in Glencoe are full of walkers and friendly. There will undoubtedly be other people there who are on their own too. My worst fear is that perhaps no-one talks to me because they think I’m a prostitute/nun/axe murderer, and if I get bored of my book and want company, then GASP! I will have to start a conversation with someone. Yoiks. Despite baring bits of my soul on the internet on a regular basis, I am actually quite shy at talking to people I don’t know, aside from in a work and parenting context. Evenings in pubs are much trickier. Part of the fear is that the person you talk to turns out to be a creepy weirdo, UKIP supporter and/or a general arsehole that you just can’t shake off. I used to be a magnet for those unintelligible Glaswegian drunks on the late night bus, but have managed to develop a powerful death stare to repel them. One of the joys of ageing is developing a thicker skin and a lack of tolerance for idiots, whilst maintaining an empathy for people genuinely in trouble.
The other part, I guess, is that other people will find me sad, weird and unintelligible and want to move slowly away on castors. I may be all those things, but what the fuck. That’s the risk you take if you want to put yourself out there into the human race. We all know that nervous feeling in the gut. If something bad is not afoot, then an adventure is. It’s either that, or a quiet night in the pub with a book. That’s no bad thing, but not as much fun as having the adventure yourself. Two nights in Glencoe might not be a big deal for some, but for me, it’s pretty exciting. Breaking out of the comfort zone is needed now and again. Be bold. You might not know where you are heading, but you can sure as hell enjoy the ride.
Until next time,