Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Dead Air

The fine house above is owned by some friends of mine, and is situated in the Highlands of Scotland, at a place called Ardtornish. It comes with it's own loch, two castles and a complete village. Anna and Norrie now run the place from a croft on the estate (as well as Anna's mother, Faith, and the factor - but not in one, small croft...), and I stayed in the Big Hoos for a few days when I attended their wedding a few years ago. If you walk the few miles to the end of the loch, you find yourself standing on the edge of the Sound of Mull, looking over the water to Tobermory, which is - tantalisingly - close enough to recognise the buildings which overlook the harbour there.

True silence is, like true darkness, impossible to experience as - even in a sensory deprivator - there will always be some jangling nerve-endings to fire off phantom lights or tinkling tinnitus. We need the occasional sound to punctuate the periods of quiet that we call peace before we recognise it as such. In our case, up there in Ardtornish, it was the sound of a heron's feet gently plopping in the water as it stalked fish a quarter of a mile away. Yes, that's right, a quarter of a mile away. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited. It didn't last long though - the peace was shattered by the drone of a bumble-bee going from flower to flower of some nearby heather on the bank of the loch.

There is no such thing as a true Scotsman either, anymore than there is a true Englishman. Anna's husband, Norrie, is on the end of a long line of Plantagenets and speaks with a perfect English accent, despite being a kilt-wearing McClaren.

You can visit Ardtornish and stay in the house too, though it won't be free like it was for the wedding. You can even break the peace of the highlands for about 1 second yourself, as there is excellent deer-stalking on the estate, as well as salmon fishing, etc. I know this looks like I am exploiting a cynical advertising opportunity, but Anna and Norrie don't know about my blog, let alone this post, so if you do book up for the midge season, tell them where you heard about it, and maybe I'll get a discount for the next stay.

I might add to this with an account of the wedding - it was not without adventure...


  1. Tom. Stay friends with them and take a cut from the window cleaner and if there is such a thing as a true Scotsman he would have to have a true scots name such as Norrie.

  2. Wise words, my good friend, Reggie McPeach.

  3. McCro here. With Offspring No 1 now resident in Edinburgh, I head north of the border quite often. Edinburgh seems to be a two-accent town; broad Scots, and home counties. I've always wondered which ones were the real McCoys.

  4. My daughter lives in Edinburgh too, Cro - I wonder if they're neighbors? Edinburgh is 50% southerners these days, but since my girl has lived in Elgin since she was 4, she now has a strong eastern accent - and it's not Bangladeshi. She is now 39...