Sunday, February 5, 2012

Another trip west...

Sunrise over Little Loch Broom
This past Friday, we attended the first of the monthly fairs at Aulbea - just eight miles from Gairloch (our weekly trips to Gairloch will start on 27 February and will mark Chris' first venture into the market world as a stallholder). It was a very good day for business (lots of foundation laid for future sales and an incredibly ringing endorsement from the organisation that runs the fairs - my picture taken with my jewellery for the newsletter!). It was an even more wonderful day for the scenery we enjoyed to and from the fair. You may be aware that the UK has experienced a bit of deep freeze these past few days. Indeed, the temperature when we left our home at 6:20am was -7 degrees Celsius. As we traveled first south and then west the temperature came down more and more until we reached the coldest along the road between Garve and Braemore Junction where it plummeted to -11. Even the streams were frozen solid and some of the lochs were rimmed with ice with only small areas of water in the centre. But it was just so lovely watching the light of the sunrise play on the hills and lochs. 

Icicles along the roadside
As we turned down the road to Aultbea from Braemore Junction, we passed miles of lovely sparkling icicles hanging from the large rocks beside the road. The sky, as is always the case with this sort of weather, was a clear as it could be. We were treated to a lovely show of colour over the hills as we reached the outer end of Little Loch Broom, and Chris captured this image looking back to where we had been. 

We arrived at Aultbea about a half hour early (so know that we can sleep a little later when the next fair comes) and sat in the car beside the little harbour, where Loch Ewe wraps around the little peninsula that serves as the land for many houses. Chris sipped his coffee as we watched shore birds glide in, wondering if there were as surprised as we were to find the shoreline frozen solid. (Loch Ewe is a salt-water loch coming in from the Atlantic between The Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland - this body of water is called The Minch.) We saw some cars arrive, driving toward the village hall and made our way up the road to find our table and get things set up. It was a lovely market, with many new friends and even newer friends amongst the other stallholders. I had a sale (it was not a brilliant market for sales - but it was incredibly good as far as getting "the brand" out there) and a great deal of fun visiting with the various people who came to my stall. But the rule of thumb for markets is that if the bakers still have loaves unsold, it hasn't been a very good market for sales - but they are always good for meeting like-minded people.

Looking towards the north west
Little "cavern" of ice
The market ended at 2;30 (having started at 10) and we packed up for a drive home that should have taken no more than one to one and three-quarter hours. It took us nearly three. It took that long because with every bend in the road the views before us become more and more beautiful. From a hill just outside Aultbea, we were treated to a view across the water toward the north. The play of light on the water was amazing and the  bank of clouds over us was low, but just beyond the light shone through to give the view such incredible depth. We traveled along, capturing the view of the house on the hill at Second Coast with the snow-covered hills beyond. Beside the road, as we traveled along the shores of Little Loch Broom, feral goats, wild descendants of once-domestic goats, and their kids were seen on the hills and traveling along the side of the road. Waterfalls and a tiny "cavern" of ice and water enchanted us. 

Moon over an
abandoned house
As we drove on, now on the road that would take us to Braemore, the sunset and moonrise coincided with beautiful effect and an abandoned house along the road where Chris had captured a lovely sunset before served as the perfect focus for a twilight photograph. The temperature, having reached a "high" of about 1 plummeted once more toward double digits. Chris returned from the picture-taking feeling as if his very core were frozen.

The thought that we will be making this trip on a weekly basis come the end of February and a twice-weekly basis once a month come March is just too good to be true. We are hoping that as we meet more people from this area the day may come when we will find a lovely place to live where these views will be part of everyday. Now, wouldn't that be something!