I'm now down at Garlieston, a little coastal place in Galloway, very nearly at the extreme southwest of the Scottish mainland. Today should be another sunny day - I'm enjoying a sudden spate of them - and I intend to visit the Mull of Galloway, from which, on a clear day, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man should be easily visible. I've never seen either before, so I'm looking forward to it. Another 'holiday first' to celebrate - rather like visiting John o'Groats up in the far north for the first time, with Orkney beckoning you just a bit further. And it never matters that millions have gazed at those places before you: the personal experience is what counts.
And the personal photographs. My goodness, I've taken a lot on this trip! In fact so many that they are queuing up on my laptop, the duff shots already deleted, the rest numbered and copyrighted and waiting to be corrected for tilt and exposure, cropped if necessary, then captioned, backed up to a hard drive, and stored until I get home and can file them away properly - but only after first selecting the ones suitable for Flickr and for blog posts to come, the shots to be emailed, and the shots to be added to the collection I install on my phone. I haven't been able to devote every holiday evening to them, and so the processing is now four days in arrear. Not good. I hate arrears building up.
But of course it's a labour of love. The photos are my trophies. They are also a reality check. They remind me that a place is visually attractive, and why in particular, but they also let me imagine what it might be like to actually live there. They spur me on to revisit, and go further next time, but at the same time reinforce the value and virtues of 'home'.
I have reached that point in the holiday when 'getting home again' suddenly has a definite appeal. This longing - not strong yet, but present and growing - wasn't there three days ago. Now it is, partly because a cold has hit me from nowhere, seemingly arriving with the warm and sunny weather, and there is nothing like a running nose, sneezing, coughing, disturbed nights, and a vague headache, to make you think of all the extra comforts of home. I am of course without question comfortable in the caravan; but caravanning requires physical efforts not necessary at home. Ah well, it's the 12th now: I'll be back on the 22nd; just ten days more, and all of them 'coasting downhill', as it will feel as I make my way ever southwards, drawn by gravity as it were. I will think very carefully about being away for as long as four weeks in the future. Three is quite enough. 'Home' means much to me. It's important psychologically that I'm not cut off from it for too long. I need my safe haven. And I want it especially when not feeling well.
All this said, this has been a very good holiday. It has gone to plan, and yet it's been full of unexpected delights. Once I've processed all those photographs - some 2,000 by the time I've been everywhere I intend to go - I will look back on one of the best trips I've so far attempted.
I'm sorry that blogging has taken a back seat. The trouble with blogging while on holiday is that if the subject is a place or an occasion, or indeed a meetup along the way with one or more friends, it begs a photo to illustrate what was so nice. But it's impractical to illustrate posts when away from home. You can't do it with the kind of Mobile Internet available in the places I've been pitched at, nearly all well away from big cities and a sizzling 4G signal. A 2G signal that comes and goes with the wind imposes severe limitations. Blogging then becomes a bulletin every few days, confined to the sort of topic that doesn't need pictures. There are many serious subjects that might be covered using words alone, but the point about being on holiday - something not to be lost sight of for a moment - is that serious subjects need to be put out of mind if at all possible. I would of course attack the keyboard if, for instance, I were the victim of some outrage. But outages never occur. Only an ever-increasing number of varied encounters that all help to bolster my self-confidence in public, but are not normally newsworthy, nor the stuff that a novel and interesting post can be built around, unless there had been something especially intriguing about the encounter.
Yes, I could describe my conversations yesterday evening with four residents of Garlieston (three men and one wise old lady), and a pub crowd, and a jocular shouted exchange on the pier with the rough crew of a fishing boat. But I've written about such things so many times before. And I can't go into the very personal and private things they sometimes tell me. I don't get stared at, pushed around, sneered at or spat on - just treated as what I seem to be. That's pleasant - wonderful even - but not especially bloggable. So I just hope my readership has the patience to await the slew of illustrated posts I will be able to publish once home!