Day Sixteen: Perth to Aviemore

I’ve been carrying a card from Ollie with me for the whole journey and today I was allowed to open it. I was allowed to open it because it’s my birthday. The envelope was slightly damaged at the edges, but I liked that. It showed the distance it had traveled and the journey that the card had made. I eagerly opened it and a smile spread over my face as I saw a familiar scene. Three characters and a dog were making their way down a yellow brick road to a distant land. Very fitting for the journey we’re making. Ollie’s good at choosing cards. I turned the card over and found the following:

‘I paint from memories of places that I have been to, of atmospheres that have stuck in my mind. I’m interested in architecture and also the human need to call a place ‘home’. I like to put in characters to make a place more colourful, even if it is someone on a blue tractor. An important thing I’ve learned is to paint from the heart; learn from the Masters but paint as yourself.’

Mark Kaiser

The card was very special to me. It was my link to home. I’ve known from the beginning that I’d be away for my birthday, what I didn’t know was how it’d make me feel.

I think it’s safe to say I never thought I’d spend my birthday in Perth.  But here I am. We’re staying with Henry and Renee. They made us feel at home and I was delighted, if not a little bashful, when it struck 12 and Henry played Happy Birthday and She’s a Jolly Good Fellow to me on his piano. The girls and Renee sang along – I felt special.

Later we visited Owain’s dad, David, who lives in Birnam. If it sounds familiar it’s because that’s the name of the wood in Macbeth.  He met us at the arts centre in the village and told us that Fairport Convention played there the night before. Ah – if only we knew! We drank tea and coffee, listened to his stories of the Birnam wood, innovative Dukes, and the Osprey that lives there for part of the year and in Gambia for the rest. The bird’s name is Lady and she is on her fourth partner..

He then took us to see the oldest tree in Birnam wood. So of course we did what every normal person would do and sat in it.

Henry and Renee then picked us up from Birnam and drove us all the way to Aviemore. That’s a long way! We really appreciate their kindness. They said that they enjoy the drive out there and we could see why – it’s stunning. Snow covered mountains and a blue sky. I never thought I’d see snow on my birthday.

We arrived in Aviemore and found our accommodation for the evening. We’d decided to treat ourselves and booked a log cabin. It was a lovely feeling to have our own space!

I had a wonderful day but I did feel a little emotional. I think I would have been fine if it wasn’t for the fact that my laptop had broken earlier in the trip and I’d lost my phone a few days a go. Today I felt the distance from home. It’s a little worrying to think how dependent you can become to technology. But it’s technology that gives you the ability to communicate with loved ones whenever you like. Or whenever you have a decent signal. Ria and Hannah have been great and let me use their phones, but it’s just not the same.

It’ll be interesting to see how this journey has changed my view of home. We’ve stayed in, and visited, a lot of people’s homes and had an insight into the way they live. What I have realised is that home doesn’t necessarily mean a house that somebody lives in.

I spent my 25th birthday with friends old and new. We spent time in 2 homes and a temporary home. We rolled down a hill and had a piggyback race. What a great way to spend our day.

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