It’s only a big clod of turf; a big rock jutting up out of the North Sea with grass and trees sprouting from it, and sheep and highland cattle wandering to and fro over the face of it. So I remind myself every time I make to leave Scotland yet again. Our Scottish affection for our own dust and clay is nothing more than our sentimentality. It’s all quite arbitrary really. There’s nothing more special about our wee corner of God’s green earth than there is about any other place where its own folk hold it in such high esteem. Up in the loaf we ken this, but the meaning and our love affair with hame has precious little to do with the loaf. It’s about the hale damn bakery. No matter what wee white lies I tell myself about leaving I still know that I will begin to miss it as I see it whisk past the window as we head south for the boat to Ireland. Home is only home to the people who know their home as home, and as an ex-pat home is a little more nebulous now, but this wee country of ours still makes a strong claim. While I am a sorry to be taking the slighe a-mach again I am genuinely happy that mo cas nàbaidh thought it so lovely.
Driving down through the Ayrshire coast and into Dumfries and Galloway we watched out over the fields, pleased to see the lambs and the different coloured cows enjoying the same weather that had put us in such high spirits. Out in the channel the mighty Craig, the lonely reminder of the tussle between Benandonner and Fionn mac Cumhaill, watched our progress towards Loch Ryan as it watches over every traveller who journeys between the western and northern Gaels. Behind us was a rare time of pleasure and refreshment, and in front of us yet unmet pleasures and refreshments as every town through which we passed bade us haste ye back. I will, you know. I’ll always be in a hurry back. There was a time when I could list off all the reasons why I left, but now each of these offers an invitation to return, and so I will return – again and again; maybe to stay or maybe just to stay a while, but I will always return. It’s like a Paulo Coelho story. The treasure I wandered off looking for was never that far away from where I fell from the tree. Now on the way home I am feeling homesick again.