raven: black and white street sign: "Hobbs Lane" (quatermass - hobbs end)
[personal profile] raven
I have been away from home for two weeks. As I had only lived in this house for two weeks and four days before that, I'm feeling a bit discombobulated. Hello, internet.

I spent my first week of holiday at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye, on a short course in beginners' Gaelic. It was - I don't know. Perfect. Beautiful, transformative, all the other inadequate words. Interstitial, perhaps. I have no idea. It was - I went there, and I learned a lot, and the clear space inside my mind is quieter and larger for it. I am supposed to be writing about it under my real name elsewhere, but - haven't. Not yet. Perhaps soon.

I was on Skye for a week, Sunday to Friday, and on a clear, still, beautiful day midway through I went with a new friend to get her ticket for the ferry to the mainland. We'll sell it to you for now, Cal Mac said, but 'ware warning - there probably won't be a Friday sailing. On Thursday night I was at a ceilidh - there was an Orcadian strip-the-willow; they made me sing - and stumbled to bed in a ruffly dress and pink-wine-haze while the weather hit with an oceanic violence. I left the island entirely due to the kindness of strangers and ended up in Glasgow feeling like it was me who had been washed out to sea and returned with smoother edges. I had a booked train south on the Saturday on the west coast line, and it was one of those mornings where everything seems crisp and perfect. I had a table seat and wrote a few hundred words over a cup of coffee while the landscape flashed past.

At Oxenholme I failed to prevent a disaster ("Shall I just step on the train on a moment?" said someone, as I was clambering off. "Just to see you settled in!") and then [personal profile] happydork had texted to say there had been a slight navigation failure, so I sat on the platform for a while drinking more coffee and smiling at strangers, and then the next week after that was just the same kind of contented. I was in the Lake District because last summer I had a bright idea (how about I ask eleven of my closest friends to share a cottage with me in the Lake District for a week?) and wiser minds than mine had brought it to fruition. When I originally looked into it, I found a farmhouse we could rent that seemed big enough, and nice, and in a reasonably pretty part of the Lakes, and suggested it to my friends; it wasn't me who figured out that it was, in fact, the house in Swallows and Amazons, and is still in the ownership of the Altounyan family. I'm still not quite sure how that happened. And then when I actually saw it, it turned out to be an eighteenth-century farmhouse with ancient beams and slate floors, a claw-foot bathtub and a kitchen you could cartwheel in, and a view over the river tumbling through the valley. Over the week I helped cook, did some fetching and carrying, went on shortish walks around the surrounding lakes and fells, and wrote a fair bit at that giant kitchen table, accompanied by people with whom one can be quiet, and the smell of baking bread. I went on a steam train and played Poohsticks on a bridge over the River Leven, and met an owl. Writing is hard, currently; I had a couple of writing-related disappointments, but it's all right, I think. I am still trying.

Back in London, I keep thinking that somehow I am not supposed to be here. That there's some rent I'm not paying; that I'm not entitled to this space. I hate this form of anxiety, the savage kind that persists despite the knowledge I'm allowed to take holidays, and use my own time to write, and learn whatever language I please, and shout at my next-door neighbour for playing music loudly enough to wake me up at 1am. Today I have stayed in bed all morning, read half a novel, sent out a story, found a plumber and put up three pictures. It will have to do.
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