This is a photo of me on an extremely powerful and poignant memorial statue called The Emigrants which commemorates all those who were forced to leave their homes in the Highland Clearances. It is situated in Helmsdale on the east coast of Scotland. The father and son look out to sea and an unknown future and the mother (with her baby) turn back towards the Strath and the home they have left behind. You can find out more about the statue here.
This statue made a lasting impression on me. While I’m not in any way being exiled, unlike those who were cleared out of their homes and sent to far-flung countries, it does sum up how I feel after visiting this part of Scotland. I feel sad about having to leave. It is a wrench to have to go to home. But from the time spent in this beautiful part of the world, I also draw an incredible strength for whatever lies ahead. So, much like the father, I feel like I am striding forward with determination.
This is one of the stops we made on the way up from Helmsdale to Strath Halladale: it’s a picture of me at Baile-An-Or, the site of the Sutherland gold rush. Kaff’s grandfather took part in it. No, he didn’t find any gold – like Kaff’s family has ever had any luck with finding their fortune! – but it is a beautiful part of the Strath. Whenever we reach Baile-An-Or, we stop and have a breather, knowing that we’re very close to reaching the croft where we usually stay.
It’s also by this point that we lost any decent Internet signal so mine and Kaff’s hopes of blogging and tweeting our vacation were abandoned. The poor thing tried to get a signal and drove up and down the Strath, stopping in almost every passing place to try and see if she could get 3G, but it was never strong enough for mobile Internet. She managed to get some time online at the local library in Thurso to deal with some emails. Ho hum. In the end, she was forced to do what everyone should do on holiday, and RELAX. It was kind of funny watching her struggle to switch off and enjoy that she couldn’t get online and nobody could reach her. She has become Geek-Girl in an alarming short space of time, bless.
I’m thinking that being able to take a real holiday and disconnect from the Internet and mobile phones might just be the GOLD DUST of our time.