#vanlife day 30

The Weather … do the Scots get nectar points for living here?

There is a bit of blue sky over there … that must be England then! This was taken on my walk up Meale A’bhucaille

So one thing that is particularly worthy of mention is the weather here in the highlands of Scotland. I used to live in Glasgow and I never remember there being so much rain as we have been experiencing here. The locals tell us that this has been the worst May weather they have experienced for quite some time! They say that In fact, you can usually bet that the last two weeks in may are supposed to be some of the best weather that you can get in the Highlands and Islands … but not this year! Seems like we picked the worst possible time to start our highland fling!

How many words to describe wet and windy?

I read an article some time ago that the Scots have 421 words for snow! It does make me wonder how many words we might have for rain. If you remember, our two weeks stay in Aviemore was one permanent wind and rain fest with occasional glimpses of sunshine! I think we had one full day of sunshine in total and the rest was wet. To be fair, during our time here in Glencoe, we have had more days of sunshine, with 3 of them back to back! I even got a sun tan on my left knee!

My Zen is weakening again …

The side effect of all this wet weather isn’t just the lustrous green landscapes and forests that we experience on a continual basis, but a far more pernicious one – yes you guessed it – the f**ing midgies! Sweet Jesus alive, these little bastards get everywhere and it seems they have a taste for certain blood types – MINE! So Catherine is able to be her ever peaceful self and allow these little critters to wash or swarm over her. And that’s all well and fine but she isn’t being the local blood transfusion centre to aid the female midge in laying her eggs! (According to the lonely planet guide the male midge doesn’t suck the blood of Buck, it’s s just the female – this isn’t the sort of female attention that I appreciate).

*according to Wikipedia the scientific name is Culicoides impunctatus, I only mention that because I can tell you that whilst my Latin is non-existent (except for saying the catholic mass in Latin) that impunctatus probably means puncturing – my skin!!!

A Re-enactment of The Highland Clearances

Although my wife and myself aren’t practising Buddhists, we greatly admire the Buddhist principles and value ALL life in its great diversity. We purposefully don’t kill insects, flies, wasps, rats, whatever – they are all sacred as far as we are concerned. However, when it comes to this little bloodsucker, I find myself having thoughts about re-enacting the highland clearances: not of the clan MacDonald – but of clan McMidge.

I was driven to semi-despair yesterday when after a night of healthy rainfall (the grass definitely needed it … NOT!) brought the midges out in swarms. Trying to concentrate on writing anything while these blood-sucking bitches swoop in for a quick gobble, is next to impossible. And every time I automatically slap my face or neck, or wherever the latest Bucko blood buffet has taken place, results in me killing them; this is honestly something I’m not happy about.

The morning after the night before

So upon waking this morning to the shock of seeing my legs looking similar to the multiple hills and valleys that we are travelling across in Scotland, it was time to navigate the queues that were forming outside the tent. Word must of gotten out (the following is best heard in a Scottish accent – may be a Billie Connolly one) “there’s a big yin* in tha’ tent. Some really tasty scran fae us. Form a chaotic swarm and let’s take the bugger by surprise when he gets oot!”

*translation – big yin = a big bloke, scran = food

So this morning’s strategic manoeuvrings involved avoiding three camps of midgies* – one outside our tent doorway, another near the back door of Fionnula and another at the side entrance. I am completely convinced that nature has equipped these mini-predators with heat-seeking radar that locks onto its prey and doesn’t let go until they get what they want! ( Catherine informs me it’s actually the CO2 in our breath that attracts them. She has a doctorate, so I won’t argue!!!)

*it seems that the collective noun for a midge is a bite! So I should really say I have to avoid three bites of midgies. That seems rather inaccurate because I know that one swarm would result in more than one bite! I think a better collective noun would be a panic of midgies as that seems to be my emotional response right now to these little buggers!

I’m going all-out Rambo on them

But you get the idea! So now I have something else to test my zen and my peace-loving nature. I have however read that the marines and SAS have lathered themselves in Avon skin-soft to combat this specific sort of enemy. Well if it’s good enough for those boys and girls then I’m happy to give that a go.

But one thing has occurred to me now that we have landed here in the highlands. When Catherine and I were planning our trip and she was looking for peaceful, calm environs to explore. I pointed out that if you looked at an atlas of Scotland and compare it to one of the south of England, there are huge swathes of land where there are few settlements.

We now know why! Nobody can probably stand living here for any amount of time, especially between May and September. But having said all that, don’t let these pests stop you from coming here. the occasional bite or 10 is definitely worth it – I will just give up trying any creative endeavours whilst they are about! while they besiege your tent and van!

About Me

I’m a consciousness-raiser who embodies Agile thinking, being and doing while working with organisations. I love to write and create word plays that encourage people to think. I’m currently exploring my options as to where to take my career next and would be more than happy to help leaders to evolve their cultures to be more collaborative and creative, making them better places to work. Contact me if you would like to discuss how we can do that.

3 thoughts on “#vanlife day 30”

  1. Afternoon son-in-law, from a sunny and warm (and dry) South😃🌞🌞 (I do like to rub it in!!) I should have informed you (if Catherine hasn’t already) that when she was little we stayed in Loch Lomond (or at, I’m not sure🤔). She got so covered in midge bites that we thought she had chickenpox, so she is probably immune now (unlike yourself). I was going to suggest finding an Avon lady to buy some of that pink stuff as I always take it with me to the lake in France!! (But someone beat me to it). Anyway, be prepared at your next stop – Loch Lomond🤣 good luck with the packing and look forward to more adventures- love Mother-in-law xx🍷

    • I remember that holiday well – Catherine was a lot less zen like when we woke to find the ceiling of the camper van black with midges. Sadly Avon Skin so Soft has changed over the years and seems to attract the midges more. Shelley x

      • Totally agree about skin so soft – marginally better than useless!!!! Sounds like a scene out of a horror movie with the black carpet of midgies. Not had it that bad and hopefully wont. Hope you are well Shelley and look forward to seeing you soon.


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