Thursday, 3 September 2009
Break for the Border
So, looking back over the summer and our Scottish odyssey we have travelled in a big loop. Our loopy journey took us up the western coastline, hopping around some Western Isles, then around the north, over to Orkney and then more hastily in a southerly direction through eastern and some central areas.
Where did it all begin?
Well, the trailer had been back at Airstream HQ for a couple of days getting new batteries and having some other niggles addressed. Our one year old batteries had failed us back in the spring when we'd had just a couple of days without hook up. We were hoping for a bit of wild camping in the islands so we had to cough up for two new ones already, Ouch, and double Ouch! But more on that in another post.
Before crossing the border we made a last minute decision to spend a couple of days in Keswick in Cumbria. It felt like a convenient buffer between the repair and maintenance phase and heading off on a new leg of our journey to the Scottish Highlands and Islands. By coincidence, a couple who were collecting their new 684 while we were at Airstream was also staying at the same campsite as us. Pete was able to lend them a hand with a couple of new-Airstream quirks. We gave each other plenty of space over the next couple of days and then hung out together one evening at the Square Orange Cafe Bar. It's fun meeting other Streamers, especially by chance.
The best part of this detour to Keswick was meeting up with lots of lovely friends we had left behind. This was the place we were leaving when we took off on our Airstreaming road trip. We had strong reasons for leaving, the type that make you reluctant to return to a place. But the things that made us unhappy there are no longer relevant to us, so what we are left with is a great big bunch of lovely people who are lots of fun to hang out with and catch up with.
Much of the meeting up took place in the Square Orange. It is the most relaxed place to hang out in and is frequented by locals and visitors alike, young and not so young. I used to work there and I still love it. When we started travelling I used to hope that we would find places just like it all over the country. We haven't. Every town should have one of these, but sadly most of them don't.
It's the kind of place where you can start out meeting one group of friends and end up bumping into others by chance. You might pop in for a coffee in the afternoon and still be there drinking locally-brewed beer late into the evening. It's the hub. That's what happened to us and two evenings in there simply wasn't enough. One friend's been travelling, another has lost loads of weight, another has a new boyfriend, etc., etc. So much news. You start a conversation, someone new turns up, the conversation takes a new direction. We'll have to return sooner and stay longer next time and see if we can finish a thread.
Scotland beckoned. We were packing up on the Saturday morning and on course to leave by noon, which is the moving on time for all campsites bar about three that we've come across. This was one of those early chucking out ones but we hadn't seen any information to that effect.
I know I have probably raised my blogger's eyebrow before this and sucked in my blogger's cheeks over the caravanners who turn up to claim their pitch at two minutes past check-out time. This anal tendency was particularly irksome to me on this occasion because they knew it was an 11.00 check out and we didn't. My pal Simone, who I hadn't managed to meet up with yet, turned up to see us and check out the Airstream. And there they were, the punctual ones, sitting on the forecourt, drumming their fingers on the steering wheel. Mmnngrrrgh!
Our packing up on that day would make a formula one racing team proud, and in the weeks to come we would find ourselves in places without rules or checking out times. We were looking ahead to big landscapes and open minds.