Today is a special day for me because it’s exactly one year since I moved to Scotland. And what a year it’s been! When I arrived last February I obviously had no idea what was about to go down. Still, I feel so fortunate to have had such a fantastic first year in my new home despite the pandemic. Luckily for me I would choose a forest walk over a pint any day, although I must admit I’ve missed having a good browse in the library.
‘I’ve been in a slump for months,’ I wrote this time last year. ‘So to finally be in a place that inspires and challenges me is both a relief and a privilege.’
Time moves strangely sometimes. It feels like I’ve been here a lot longer than a year and yet the 568 mile drive sticks vividly in my mind. Almost as soon as I crossed the border into Scotland it began to snow. I’d just joined the motorway and every car slowed to 20mph while the world turned white. I interpreted that as some sort of baptism of fire. Or snow I suppose.
When I got here I started making all sorts of plans: volunteering at the Scottish Dolphin Centre, training to be a Shorewatch volunteer for Whale and Dolphin Conservation, joining a writer’s group, finding out about local art exhibitions. But a few weeks later the first lockdown began and we all know how it goes from there. Despite all of that, I’ve still tried to make the most of my time here. I’ve seen loads of new birds, my photography’s come on leaps and bounds and I’ve been making steady progress with writing commissions too.
This morning I took my dog out for a walk and found myself wandering up to the headland. When I arrived in Scotland this quickly became one of my favourite spots and before long I was watching dolphins, basking sharks and loads of different birds from up there. Today I sat there again and admired the blue blush of sky reflected in the water. It was completely calm – perfect conditions for spotting dolphins. It’s still a few months before dolphin season kicks off though. I love that I know that. After watching and studying the place this year I’ve started to align myself to its natural rhythm. If I glimpse a distant bird on the backshore I know what it is before lifting the binoculars to check. A year ago I hadn’t even heard of turnstones or redshanks – now they’re familiar and welcome sights.
There’s still a lot of progress to make. I don’t know exactly where I’d like to settle yet, but it won’t be far from where I am. This place has got under my skin in the best way. Although it wasn’t the first year I’d planned, it’s still been one of the best of my life so far and I can’t wait to see what the second year brings.