I’ve been a little sad, because the wonderful Windswept Wilderness itinerary which takes place around beautiful Assynt where I’m currently living, was scheduled for last week. Because Scotland is still officially in lockdown and no tourist accommodation or food outlets are allowed to open, this was, of course, not possible. The weather, however, knows nothing of these things and put on a stunning display of its finest behaviour: Clear blue skies, warm temperatures for painting outside, a very gentle breeze to keep any early midges at bay and the occasional fleeting cloud to provide dramatic shadows on the hills.
While it is lovely to be able to enjoy these landscapes completely empty and with no traffic on the roads, it was quite poignant to watch the date come and go. I considered introducing a later departure, perhaps in August when the heather carpets the hillsides a vivid purple, the intense light colours the mountains a dark indigo and the tufty grasses are turning golden. Everything is still uncertain, though, so I have decided to postpone all Scottish trips until next year – including the new one, ‘Sketch the 500’.
If intrepid painters find themselves in the region later on this year, I will be available to take day trips or shorter outings from (hopefully) September.
It is difficult to believe we are already hurtling towards the longest day, when up here in the far north it scarcely gets dark at all. I usually take a stroll to my favourite rock where I sit with a bottle of fizz, gazing out to sea, watching the pinkish horizon and listening to the oystercatchers. Occasionally a seal or an otter comes by to say hello. Last year I walked through the woods and arrived at the rock just as a soft rain began to fall. I returned home with the bottle unopened and drank the wine curled up in my favourite Papasan chair listening to the raindrops on the rooflight. Whatever happens this year I’ll still celebrate this most wonderful of seasons and hope that by next spring I’ll be sitting and painting it with some of you.