I'm glad we went to Skara Brae first. It was my pick and very beautiful. Marc's pick was Skye, in the Western Islands. It looks just like Colorado, only it makes Colorado look like a teeming metropolis. Marc always picks the location that looks like Colorado...don't ask me why. It seems to be his ideal of earthly beauty. My ideal is tied to water, and lots of it.
We didn't make the mistake of thinking we would be away from water while we were there, it is just more omnipresent in some places than others. They ejected us from a bus in another cold location (surprise) and we were excited to see the ruins of a castle. But castles will be an entry unto themselves: castles are generally nasty buggers left on top of the highest hill in a remote location. And they are historic, which means you WALK to them.
What was a surprise was that, if you stand in the middle of Scotland, you are not 40 miles from the nearest shore. It means the ground doesn't freeze and explains the existence of large palm trees in the gardens in the west. The seeds are carried by the ocean current from Jamaica, etc. and deposited and grow. It reminded me of the Monty Python film where the two soldiers are arguing about the speed of an African swallow carrying a coconut.
There was a phenomena of Skye that did impress me. The air was scented. At first, I thought it was some neat trick that the Department of Tourism had pulled off, a kind of property potpourri. Then we realized it came from a lack of gas and town fumes. No restaurant smells, no car exhaust, no pavement fumes: the air was clean. And it smelled lovely, like pine trees and grasses and flowers. It was vaguely depressing and I miss it to this day. I have not smelled anything like it before or since. It was a moment of Grace. I have an enduring pity for those who haven't smelled air like that.
Back in Inverness from our day in Skye, Marc left the B & B as he did every night at 10 PM, to call home.
Better him than me.
Next: What Should Have Been Stirling