Stravaig (verb; Scottish): to wander about aimlessly.
There is a nip in the air, and a familiar scent I can inhale deeply but can’t identify. Cosy in many layers of clothes, my notebook clutched in one hand, my hair ruffled by the light breeze, I tip-toe into the garden, on the bed of fallen autumn leaves. Some yellow and moist. Some orange and crisp. The stream nearby gurgles softly. Under the maple tree I sit, pen in hand, thoughts strewn in my head, an umbrella of leaves sheltering me. The setting sun casts a shadow on my words, as though urging me to look up.
I look skyward, between bunches of leaves, orange and red, aglow with the golden sunlight. The ageing walls of the 13th century stone house that is Meldrum House glow warmly. Hints of the blue sky meet my eye. There is a nip in the air, and a familiar scent I can’t identify.
On this blogging trip through the region of Abderdeenshire, we’re always going somewhere. We’re driving along tiny coastal villages, kayaking in a loch in the middle of nowhere, trying gin – brewed down the road – by the fireplace in an 800-year-old cave bar, hiking up to Oxen Craig (Bennachie) in the light rain, chasing sunsets, swaying on Tarzan swings, fueling up at an organic farm-to-table bistro.
Then one evening in Stonehaven, time starts flowing a little slowly, like the cool salty breeze blowing into the vast North Sea, ruffling the tides. On the rocky shore I pause, thinking back to the beginning of our hike. Up to the hills of Bennachie, when the rain finally ceased and a rainbow lit up the sky, an incredible sight.
On the rocky shore I pause, thinking of the connection between slow food and life. At Buchanan Bistro on the Scottish countryside, food is not just fuel, it is grown with love, sourced with consciousness, served with pride. That slow food – delicious, farm-to-table, vegan-friendly – is life.
On the rocky shore I pause, thinking of the ancient woodlands and rolling fields where we stayed the night. Banchory Lodge is a mansion hideaway by the riverside.
My mind feels weary of saying no to plastic bottled water served mindlessly everywhere that finding recycled glass bottles in my room is sheer delight. And outdoors, writing under an old tree, by the River Dee, I can’t help but feel, this is the good life.
On the rocky shore I stand up surprised, for the sky has unexpectedly erupted in the most gorgeous light.
Turns out, you can kayak and hike, quad bike, eat well and keep your footprint light, yet Scotland will let you pause, stravaig and write.