Friends, collies and the RAC
Peaty bogs notwithstanding, the weekend really had been too good to be true. Fair enough the wet stuff had been around on Friday, but we had done six peaks after that and seen them all – hurrah for St. Munro. Thus it was in a spirit of optimism that we parked up later with just one – short – mountain to ‘hop’ up tomorrow, completing our weekend before the drive home. I adore that bit; running in the front door, touching noses with the old girl as I run past to find David, and then telling him all about my big adventures. However, when I did see him – after this weekend – I had a bit more to tell him than I could possibly have predicted. We had quite a long drive, after a big walk, but got to the Car Park for Shiehallion fine. This is such a popular mountain that they don’t allow you to park there overnight. Otherwise, it would be mobbed by posh motor homes making my little van look very inferior indeed. It wasn’t a problem though, B drove back a little way to somewhere she has sussed out as we were driving along, easy peasey. We hadn’t quite parked straight so B went to correct it turning on the engine again, but nothing happened. My Van had died and gone to heaven without giving me, or anyone else, any warning. I was very upset about it all and I knew B wasn’t best pleased either. My immediate concern focused on the big hole in my tummy but, to give B her due, I soon had a nice big bowl of food in front of me, bang on time. Next, we did waiting and there was lots of the flapping of arms, to see off the midges and turn the air blue. The atmosphere got even gloomier than after the bog in the boot situation, and who could blame her. My van was beginning to be a bit of a liability and I felt rather responsible for it all. That’s quite a lot for a young dog, like me, to take on, don’t you think.
Finally, a man I hadn’t seen before, and who wasn’t even wearing walking boots, turned up and did lots of technical things under the bonnet of my van. I couldn’t supervise this because I’d been taken off to a place of safty, for all our sakes. It wasn’t actually necessary on this occasion, as I was on my best behaviour; I knew something wasn’t right. Anyway I was very tired and had a nice full feeling, which always induces mellow form. I think the man was what they call a magician because, after not long at all, my van’s engine was ticking over nicely, almost purring (sorry Tink). The words – battery gone, alternator fine, best go home – passed between the humans and meant nothing to me at all but, there we have it. At ten past eight, on this Sunday night in late August, having done a six hour Munro walk and some driving, we had to hit the road South for home, hoping my van didn’t conk out on the way and I knew, at the speed B drives, it was going to be a long night.
The first part of the journey was lovely driving alongside Loch Tummel, with dappled sunlight flittering through the trees, as a speckled gold bounced off the tarmac and the lake sparkled in a silent, dazzling, evening dance. But, then we turned onto a very busy road, the A9 they call it, and it got dark and I didn’t like it any more. I asked all the Buddha, and saints and soft furry toys, in my van, to keep B awake and help her find her way, because we hadn’t used this route before. We had to drive over a very big bridge – even longer than the one we had used on Friday and before – and it was truly weird. I looked one way and there was another bridge with huge mechano like structures helping it span the water. I looked the other way and there was yet another bridge, suspended by filaments of steel that arced elegantly, like elongated hammocks though – even more strangely – there were bits of the flat surface missing, at periodic intervals. I was glad we weren’t on that bridge because I don’t think my van could leap across big gaps like that. We were on a bridge too, so that made three bridges; I wondered just how many bridges a river needed. We got over the other side OK but then we fetched up in Edinburgh city centre, rather on the city bypass. If the bridge thing was weird the city was truely incredible. I’ve never been in one of those before and, I can tell you, it got me sitting up straight. There were lights everywhere and I mean bright, vivid, often flashing lights of multiple colours. The inside of my van was like Blackpool illuminations. Everywhere was light pollution and the buildings were so tall and cramped together, everything was concentrated in my head space. I didn’t know what to make of it. I didn’t like, or dislike, it; I was just magnetised by the scale of it all, and somewhat overwhelmed. There were lots – LOTS – of people around too, even though it was the fag end of the day. Suddenly, my head began to hurt very badly, so I had to try and draw a blind on the lights and the noise by shutting my eyes, even though it meant leaving B to her own devices. Next time I came too the contrast was equally alarming. My van was in darkness and I could just make out the outline of some non-Munro hills. It was though, very comforting, soothing even. It was enough for me to know where I belong; it seems I am a country dog after all. I dozed off again and before you could say Moffat, Parkgate and Shieldhill, my van had pulled up outside our house. Despite the ZZZs I was shattered because of everything that had happened but, I couldn’t wait to tell David all about it and get a consoling cuddle. Never, never, in a small dogs life did disappointment loom so large; I had run round our house three times before I remembered. David wasn’t expecting us back till tomorrow evening and was still at Watermillock, with the old girl. Then all I heard, before drifting into a v. v. v long sleep, was that glug, glug, glug sound that comes out of a bottle. I slept very, very well that night and I have a sneaky suspicion that B did too.
Lots of love, Ben xx