26-29 Sep Bruges, Belgium
30 Sep, 1 Oct Amsterdam, Netherlands
2 Oct at sea
3-6 Oct Seahouses, Northumberland
7-8 Oct Stirling, Stirlingshire
9-11 Oct Plockton, Wester Ross
12-13 Oct Tarbert, Harris
14-15 Oct Cross, Lewis
16 Oct Kylesku, Sutherland
17 Oct Fortrose, Cromarty
18-19 Oct Craigellachie, Banffshire
20 Oct Anstruther, Fife
21-22 Oct Edinburgh
23 Oct Glasgow
24-26 Oct Reykjavik, Iceland
Thursday 25 September 2014--Chester is the perfect pet. He isn't actually ours, and we don't have to feed him or take him to the vet;
but he spends a lot of time here, and has been doing so for most of his twelve years. Like me, he has his own little corner of the world to
explore; and like me, he has his home away from home. His owners don't seem to mind. They have two other cats
(which may be part of the reason Chester likes to hang out here). He is sleeping here now, as I wait for Bobby to arrive to take me to the
airport. I will have to put him out when I go, and for the next four and a half weeks, there will be no one here to let him in. He always
seems to find something else to do with himself when I'm away, and he eventually forgives me once I get back. But he is getting old, and has
lately been losing weight. Me dear old mum is worried about him. She loves him to death.
Bobby arrives and the cat goes out. "Chester has left the building," I announce to Mom, and off Bobby and I go. The ride to the airport is the first mundane step in what will hopefully be an interesting and rewarding journey. We travel to experience different geography and culture; I intend on this trip to see standing stones and brochs, to visit castles and pubs, to walk braes and beaches, to photograph townscapes and landscapes, and to document it all when I return home. The nuts and bolts of travel are planned long in advance, meant to be unnoticed and unremarked upon, the framework on which a tapestry is hung. I don't really suppose that anyone will be fascinated by an account of my ride to the airport, or tales of rental car reservations. Yet, my journals are threaded with commentary on the ordinary things that go awry--the potholes and speedbumps on the road, the missed connections and broken arrangements, the loose screws and missing pieces of the infrastructure of my trip. We do our best to avoid such things, but they are inevitable, and all part of the travel experience. The way we deal with them shows something of our character, and I think it's fair to say that I manage to do whatever is necessary, especially if someone else is depending on me. But I know my weaknesses. I'm pretty good at going with the flow; the flipside of that is that I can be a bit timid and unassertive, and sometimes pay a price for it. And, while I think I am reasonably friendly and empathetic when dealing with individuals, I seem to have some difficulty with the mass of humanity.
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Wednesday 25 September 2002--Got off at 10:00 and headed for the Cliffs of Moher. It wasn't a pleasant experience. There was a large carpark--€2.50 on the way out--and about eight busloads of tourists, mostly Americans. If I'd wanted to be surrounded by busloads of stupid Americans, I'd have stayed home and worked.
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All is as expected today--Bobby delivers me safely, and my flight departs on time. Tomorrow holds great promise, but no guarantee.