When all the world was new

Yesterday I travelled on our once a day bus to and from Inverness. More on that, and on the purpose of my trip, later.

Anyone who has seen my paintings - www.picturesandpoems.co.uk - knows that I take a keen interest in studying the Scottish Highlands in all conditions of time and weather and season. Yesterday was very, very special. Breath-taking, quite literally. There had been a lot of snow and the temperature was well below zero - actually, it stayed there all day long. This is rarer than you might think because the Altantic Gulf Stream swings in around the Hebrides to touch our shores with its warmth.

As we climbed what is locally termed The Fain (Gaelic: barren place), snow quilted hills glowed in the most incredible shades of rosy white, burns (rivers and streams) usually in spate at this time of year were transformed into the most unimaginably beautiful ice sculptures, woods in the glens below thick blanketted like in Bambi, like on Christmas cards. Where red deer would usually have been invisible against the tangle near and far they now stood, antlered heads up and still; stood out like minute, exquisitely relevant cardboard cutouts. Pink sky without cloud. Air without movement. And the sun! Still low on the horizon, through just enough of a mist to dissipate any violence so you can for once look at her, she smiles down as so she has since all her baby world was new.

I was going to Inverness to meet and lunch with a couple from York I have known as friends as well as relatives since I was a seventeen years old National Serviceman. The craic was good, the lunch excellent. Afterwards I called in at Waterstones, talked with Toby there about a possible book signing session - my novel, More Deaths Than One. It's looking good.

So was the day. Getting home to a smile from one lovely wife and a tail wagging welcome from two old dogs and to the comfort of a blazing fire, a glass of something, some good food. What more is there than this?

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