It is a little known thing (here anyway) that I grew up on an island, a little island off the Atlantic coast of Scotland with big waves and big winds and white beaches and no trees. I moved there when I was 12. I told my Mum that by taking me from the city I loved she was ruining my life and that the only good thing about moving to The Island was that we would finally have to go somewhere else on holiday. I was a tad dramatic at that age, and wrong.
It wasn't always heavenly, it could be cold and desolate and inhospitable. The wind blew hard, relentlessly and sometimes fatally. The winters were long, the religion extreme and for many years you couldn't get a Sunday paper until Monday afternoon.
But when it was good it was very very good. When the sun shone, catching the silver shores or the golden grass it felt like heaven was within your grasp. When friends gathered on the beach for a barbecue with locally caught seafood or to fire handmade pots in peat fires then camped under skies filled with more stars than you could ever believe existed, even when the sky darkened and the wind howled and it was undeniable that you were the tiniest, most insignificant speck of life on a the tiniest, most insignificant speck of rock and sand and field, that was enough for your breath to catch in your throat and your heart to beat so fast you knew, really knew that you were alive.
And now, so many years later, having left for a life of opportunities all it takes is one piece of music that reminds me of days spent driving over never ending moors and nights spent twirling and whirling in the local hall, one picture shot somewhere that just might be my island or one faint smell of salt and seaweed and wind on the air and my heart is home again.
. images from the Autumn/Winter Toast catalogue.