What do you do on a long drive? Every time I go to Skye, I get half-way there and think: ‘I’m never doing this again’.
It takes usually about five and a half hours without stops. I’ve done it in four and a half – once (early start). I’ve also done it in seven (with stop). Technically, it should always be do-able in about five but you’re always going to get caught at some stage behind slow traffic, and overtaking opportunities are few on the route I take.
I really don’t like to sit that still for so long. My legs revolt. My mind goes doolally. You can listen to the radio, though you usually lose the settings at some stage.
You can take music with you and, often, I find myself playing the same album over and over. It becomes a motif for the holiday.
The worst thing about the visit I’m planning is that I’ll be driving straight back after only a couple of days. I haven’t got my usual place to stay and have rented a B&B.
Looking forward to a B&B. Haven’t done it for ages. A big breakfast!
“What will you want for your breakfast in the morning?”
With a big B you don’t need lunch, and dinner will doubtless find me eating something in the car, a practice of which I’m peculiarly fond. There’ll be a lot of driving when I’m in Skye too, and I’ve a two-and-a-half-hour journey somewhere else into the bargain. I have to pray that my old car will make it.
I’ll need to find wifi signals all over the shop, for my work. I think these are pretty much available everywhere, though they’re rarely straightforward (passwords!). Skye’s wifi is patchy, and mobile signals rare, so I’m anticipating fun and games.
It’s fine to switch the phone off, though. It would probably be finer to switch the computer off too. That would be a real holiday. This isn’t a holiday, unfortunately, so I’ll just have to steel myself to get on with things. I guess if you tell yourself, ‘This is going to be gruelling’, you get through it.
Different cultures have different attitudes to long drives. Americans seem to think nothing of doing 10 hours. Even when I came back to the city, after living in other islands, I’d offer people a lift, and they’d say, “But it’s out of your way”, and I’d say: “It’s just a couple of miles.” I’d be used to going 20 miles out of my way to give someone a lift.
Every day involved driving and most seriously rural households could not get by without it. The general rule in islands is that you can get a bus somewhere but, at your destination, you just have to get out, stretch your legs, breathe the air a couple of times, then get back on for the return journey because there’s only one bus there and one back per day.
Going to Skye, at least the scenery gets interesting by the time you’re at Glenshiel, though the last lap on any journey always seems the longest. As soon as I see the sea and the mountains I’m fine. ‘It was worth it,’ I tell myself. But my stiff, half-dead legs beg to differ.