What do you do when you’ve got a significant date coming up that you don’t want to acknowledge, never mind participate in? When well-meaning (but deaf) friends refuse to keep quiet about it and find your squirming discomfort a source of amusement? You disappear, of course. You do something just for you.
I think of myself as a fairly low-maintenance person but, like everyone, there are certain things I need in order to stay happy. Top of my list are:
An outdoor lifestyle
Peace and quiet
The company of my best and oldest friends.
Not all of these have been easy or possible over the past couple of years and to be honest it’s been pretty depressing, even though I’ve been one of the lucky ones; I have not been unwell or lost anyone (due to Covid – sadly other diseases don’t wait) and I have been able to keep working. But I miss travel – so much.
I wasn’t sure if the trip I decided upon and meticulously planned back in the spring could actually go ahead. I’d had one flight cancelled already without explanation and the virus has made its presence felt in Assynt. I told nobody where I was going (craving some private ‘me’ time for a change as well as not wanting to jinx it) and didn’t fully believe it would happen until I was safely sitting on the plane. Yes, a real plane, to somewhere I’d never been before but had always wanted to go. Somewhere a friend I made 43 years ago has built a round-house, with an extra room for someone like me.
Hot, sunny, tropical and sandy, where the locals wear colourful clothes and big smiles; by day I listened to Atlantic breakers, by night to crickets. The unmentionable day was suitably ignored during a barbeque ‘picnic’ in a beach shack with copious amounts of wine and Dan’s incredible ratatouille. Another day a river trip with myriad birds (herons, eagles, pelicans), crocodiles and a brief landing across the water in Senegal, all completely magical and rustic, just the way I like it.
I even took my sketchbook.
Thank you, wonderful Gambia, for saving my sanity and revealing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be back.