It’s been nearly 5 years since I did my little farewell tour of Edinburgh and slipped quietly westward to inhabit the Island of Mull – And now its 9 months since sailing away from Scotland altogether and landing myself in Southern France in search of sun and warmth. I was tired of my refrigerator white skin, yes I needed a suntan for a while.
Ironically, the region in which I am living, Aude, Languedoc Roussillon had a pretty dismal year in terms of weather with lots of storms and cool temperatures I looked on regularly in dismay at the weather forecast for the UK as it was experiencing one of the best summers for decades. Now the summer was over and crazily it was coming on for Christmas.
I flew in to Bristol and took a train to Cornwall to spend the Christmas with my family then trained it to Hereford to meet Paul. He was moving back to Edinburgh and a return to wedding photography after spending 2014 wondering the mountains of Scotland and France wandering what to do and where to live to do what he didnt know what to do.
So. perfect timing on my part. We would be spending the best part of the new year moving stuff, buying furniture and we also ended up painting the living room.
It was stormy, cold, wet and dark, I missed my return flight back and had another week of stormy cold, wet and dark. The plan was to head on up to the Cairngorms for some snowy winter walking. Ha! the best laid plans…we gazed out of windows a fair bit and played cards a lot, we read and I wrote little ditties.
Paul’s new pad is in North Queensferry, across the water from, yes, South Queensferry and Edinburgh city. We felt like creatures from the underworld beneath the spectacular structures of the Forth rail bridge on our left and the 1960’s Forth road bridge [opened in 1964 a week after I was born] on our right. With the third bridge under construction we were truly immersed in an industrial scene spanning not only the water but also three centuries.
Our first evening was spent in the pub right opposite Paul’s flat. The Albert was quiet with just a handful of locals braving the chilly dark night. I sat and sketched the bar scene, Paul was on his laptop linking to the world outside, his only connection until a phone-line would be installed.We had no transport either as the van was flashing warning lights at us on our journey from Hereford. It was diagnosed as the turbo and we would have to wait until the New Year holiday was over before it could be fixed. So apart from a couple of short trips to charity shops hunting down a bed and sofa we were pedestrian.
Paul was sitting in J D Wetherspoons bar in Edinburgh using their internet and free coffee refills to upload photographs on his new Wedding website. I decided to stay at the flat and attempt some sketching. It was too awful to go outside so I looked into the mirror – horror upon horrors – conjuring thoughts and words of encouragement from Rembrandt, I drew a self portrait. The storm clouds gathered and the wind took on a mightier than thou force of its own. Outside I could hear the clattering of stuff being shoved by the wind. Here is what I wrote:
The wind is lifting lids and hissing like an angry snake through the window frame.
The rain, savagely blown and battered against it’s glass, breaks into streams of beaten tears
The wind is triumphant as everything fears and cowers in its wake.
Ever defiant of nature’s will, stands the bridge of concrete and steel
beckoning forth across the Forth, those retreating to home and warmth.
But the wind has a master plan and soon the traffic slows.
In the dark, streams of lights recede now to a trickle flow,
The bridge is closed, surrendering once more to the wind’s last triumphant blow.