02.06.2023 | “In My Head…”

Lyrics: “Zombie” ~ The Cranberries, 1994

It’s June already. How did this happen? Don’t answer that. I’m having a lovely, relaxing time here in remote Scotland and will be sad when it’s over on Sunday. But needs must and all that. The lovely, relaxing time is also why I a) haven’t shared many photos or experiences yet and b) will keep this post shorter than it could be. [Thoug it did take longer than I had thought] I need to go back to the relaxing and chilling, but also reading and thinking. “Stolen Focus” again. So so many things from this book hit home for me. Seriously, everyone should read it. Because of it, I’m trying my best at the moment to pay attention where and how long and how I spend my time online. But I’ve also started noticing how often I try to add some kind of “noise” (music, TV) to any activity, because it feels strange to just focus on actually focusing on one thing. Except reading. And how often I fill my life with stimulants of any kind – not chemical – but to keep my mind distracted, because being with just my own thoughts can be scary. I know the reason for that though, because the anxious part of my brain tends to ruminate (as in endlessly worry about past and future stuff) instead of helpful mind-wandering. I’m working on that. Anyway, that’s the short insight in the state of my mind.

Wednesday, 31st May

I drove up to Loch Assynt and took a gazillion photos at Ardvreck Castle. One of my favourite places since I stopped here with the group tour I was on in 2009. It’s a popular spot to stop for anyone so there were quite a few people around. But I can’t complain, because so was I obviously. In the spirit of “more focus” I popped the prime lens on my camera, so I had to think a bit more about what to take a photo of and couldn’t just zoom in. Afterwards I continued the loop up to Lochinver where I dined in a restaurant (fancy!), before braving the “Wee Mad road” back to my home for the week. Sadly my camera’s battery had run out of juice so there I couldn’t take to many photos towards the end.

A loch in the forground, Adreck Castle ruins far away on the loch shore, hills and blue sky in the background

And here is a roadside view from the wee mad road:

Thursday, 1st June

The day I did what I (potentially) came here to do. Hike up a mountain. Well, the Scottish call everything a hill, whereas it felt mountainous to me and officially it classifies as a mountain: Stac Pollaidh (612 m) ridge and circuit. It’s only a 4km route, but from start (car park) to the east summit were about 430 m of elevation. I tried to work out the gradient, but I failed. So be it.

I mentioned it on my socials yesterday already: Even though my physical shape isn’t what it used to be a few years ago, when I was hiking up proper Scottish Munros, I managed this one alright. It just took some time. But I was in no hurry and I’m so glad that the critical voice in my head didn’t berate me for it in any way. Yes there were a lot of people of all ages, teenagers, children and dogs going up that hill quicker than I did. But so what? While the nasty voice also tried to make me think of what all of those might think about me slowly walking and scrambling up and down, the sane voice in my head told me that none of them cared! I had lovely small talk with each and also heard nice encouragement from those fit people who were on their way down from the ridge as in “you’re almost there” and such. So all was fine! Thank God, so was my mental state as well.

Half way up the hill the clouds slowly disappeared and the sun came out. It was good thing, I took my time then…

Yes, the lighter sand-coloured bit in the image below was in fact the path down. Not for the faint-hearted. It speaks for my worried (or maybe reasonable mind) that I had put the mobile phone numbers of my next of kin and the hosts here in Scotland on my phone’s lockscreen for this day. And also on a slip of paper in my wallet, because what good is a smashed phone if I take a tumble down that slope? But I made it down fine, slowly, but I did it. Go me!

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