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Celebrating tranquillity

March 2, 2014.Oliver.0 Likes.2 Comments

There’s a wonderful personal tradition that started a few years ago when living abroad for the first time and following words became my mantra:

“Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.” ~ Dalai Lama

Whenever I turn a year older I try to give that day a certain memorable character by exploring a new place. Ideally opening my eyes in that unfamiliar place on the same day I saw the light of the day. Celebrating curiosity and discovery. A celebration of the day rather than a day of celebration.

Calling Edinburgh your home offers a myriad of opportunities for unique escapes. The compelling call of the wild and the desire to get lost in the great outdoors – listening to the soothing silence of nature and the sound of your own mind. In short: celebrating tranquillity…

Celebrating Tranquillity 03

Winter sun & mountains of joy

After picking up the rental car we savour a last coffee at the extraordinary Artisan Roast before hitting the road; a short ride and a long weekend ahead. I consider myself an autumn person, but seeing how the winter sun turns the landscape into a glowing canvas is sheer incredible. Approaching these snow-covered mountains in the distance makes us almost bursting with joy – our gaze fixed on the horizon and our mouth open to let the awe escape. Even the interior of the car seem to hold its breath, judging the steamed up windows. It’s a bit chilly outside, but the air sparkles with vitality.

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Celebrating Tranquillity 11

The road leading to our remote hostel is a trail of snow. We drive a few miles through woodland, passing only one wooden house and some mobile homes while inching our way to the lodging – moving at a pace that by now resembles the pace of our mind. Les, the owner of the place, seems to have expected our arrival. The old lady welcomes and invites us in before we find ourselves immersed in a wee conversation while looking out of the kitchen window. Two habitable barns, a few sheds and an impressive cottage, the rest is serene scenery. The gaze takes a stroll down the meadow, crossing the sheep farm and comes to a halt at the shore of the lake before climbing up the snow-capped mountains. Our mind settles immediately and two smiles form an imaginary hammock for our bliss…

Sweet vista & vivid memories

The next morning starts with a smile and a chocolate cake on the windowsill. A marvellous still life depicting pretty much the mood of the moment and the signpost for the day. On one side of the window there’s a world waiting to be explored while on the other side our minds go on a wee journey at the sight of the distinctive Vietnamese coffee makers, pouring sweet memories. A trip down memory lane, the two of us reflecting on our time in Southeast Asia. The gift unwraps a piece of Vietnam, the present wraps Scotland; instead of Halong Bay it is Loch Voil. A remoteness that feels even greater here…

We step outside and the joy seems to fling the shutters open in order to take a deep breath. And so do we. The riveting symbiosis of snow and sun is invigorating. We explore the surroundings of the lone cabin close to the shore and judging from a look through the window this must be shelter for the mind indeed. Prayer flags dangle form the roof of the narrow porch and the sign on the door reveals the use of this place: “Retreat Hut” written in colourful letters. The imagination evokes a moment of splendour… envisioning the wee hours of the morning, sitting cross-legged at the window while watching the day as it crawls from a blanket of morning mist and takes a bold bath in this sea of clouds. We capture a few moments and the moment captures us…

Celebrating Tranquillity 01

Celebrating Tranquillity 02

We keep walking the snowy path through a gallery of trees, an azure carpet above our heads and around us an enchanting interplay between soothing silence, the formidable soundscape of waterfalls and the timid dance of the wind with the treetops. Every now and then a magical spell gleams through the branches until we reach the point where someone seems to have drawn the “wooden curtain”, revealing an unobstructed view of the surroundings. We walk down a wee slope and find ourselves overlooking the serene scenery – only observed by the bewildered gaze of a few sheep. The remains of a tamed waterfall in the shape of a narrow stream weave through this lovely spot and seem to form an invisible fence.

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Treasure map & the aroma of the wild

We arrived… We set out without a destination in mind, but still it feels like some invisible ties brought us here. A delightful spot indeed! Let’s make a cross on the map and let’s make it a bold one. No treasure buried here though, but a marvellous place to dig around in your own thoughts…

From our imaginary balcony we are ready to soak up the visual symphony. The sun brushes the snow-covered mountains with glorious light while some peaks melt with a flock of fluffy clouds. A dense forest sits on one of the slopes like a strange shoulder strap and the lake dozes calmly while the wind sweeps the grassy hill, taking advantage of the absence of trees on this patch.

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One of the rocks serves as a table when we prepare our little picnic. Apart from a decent walk I was hoping for one gift that day: a splendid outdoor coffee. However, not one of these paper cups in between but one with an aroma of wilderness and timelessness. Our mugs filled with ground coffee rest on the extraordinary “green carpet” and excitedly wait for the water to boil. A genuine coffee ceremony… With the exquisite brew in our hands we stand in awe, feeling some wondrous warmth within before even taking the first sip. Our faces reflect the magic of the moment, sparkles of joy dancing in the window to our soul…

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Celebrating Tranquillity 08

Filled with wonder

Back on the ample grounds of the sheep farm we keep marvelling at the silent spectacle around us. The moment feels greater than the mountains around us and our minds watch from their fancy rocking chairs. We try to dress our thoughts and find words for the reflection of what we see, the image projected on the screen inside us. The scenery keeps drawing a beautiful map of radiating memories.

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Only a few places evoke the feeling of viewing your very own emotional landscape in front of your eyes – no matter if mountains of joy or lakes of tears. Slow moments, sparkling magic, feeling home in the great outdoors or as the wonderful person by my side said:”It somehow feels like we belong to this place…”

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Celebrating Tranquillity 14

Celebrating Tranquillity 15

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Categories: Stories

Comments (2)

  • Honest Mum . March 4, 2014 . Reply

    Wow what a breathtakingly beautiful trip away, you’ve made me want to revisit Scotland again immediately-your stills are epic too, so cinematic! Chocolate cake eating on the window sill surrounded by such beauty and tranquility sounds divine! Thanks for this!

    • (Author) Oliver . March 4, 2014 . Reply

      Hey Vicki, many thanks for your lovely feedback! Really glad you enjoyed the read and your imagination went on a wee road trip as well. 🙂 Scotland and the British Isles in general are amazing for little escapes like this. I think everyone should seek remoteness and the great outdoors every once in a while…

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