As part of our therapy into adjusting to being fifty something, Mr D and I have recently made a pact to use our remaining time on this increasingly chaotic planet constructively. I realise that we may actually have another fifty years to party but as some of our dear friends have already departed to another world, hopefully one more peaceful than this one, it’s better, I think, to hedge your bets. And it’s not been easy recently, my Scotrail Thrifty Club 50 card arrived and I became a Great Aunt. Now don’t get me wrong, I am delighted at the arrival of the gorgeous wee Gracie but the ‘Great’ bit, they can just forget. I am not yet ready to morph into Maggie Smith. The same way I am not yet prepared to ask for a free cup of coffee with my Club 50 card. Discount on my ticket? Yes. Asking for a sympathy coffee because I’m the wrong side of fifty? No.
But I digress. As we are now down to only one fledgling in the nest and the washing basket no longer resembles The Magic Porridge Pot, (wash little mummy, wash, confused? Look it up) so it was that Mr D and I, amazingly found ourselves with a free Sunday and as the weather has been so uncharacteristically beautiful, we took off for a walk to a place I hadn’t been since the children were small, The Dunearn Burn walk in the Darnaway Forest, off the awful A96 between Nairn and Forres. A truly magical walk that takes you through beautiful deciduous woodland and if you are up for it, down the west side of the gorge to the mysterious River Findhorn.
And magical it was that day. The sun was low in the sky which only served to intensify the rich metallic glow of the leaves and the absence of wind allowed the ancient song of the Findhorn river to reach our ears. A word of caution, however, it is not a walk for the feint hearted or those uneasy on their pins, as the path is at times steep and slippery, with unnerving drops down to the Findhorn below. What actually amazed me on revisiting, was how I never managed to lose any of my children as I regularly dragged three small Power Rangers along those paths for a bracing, healthy walk, as they maniacally tried to kill each other, me or themselves with stick swords and pine cone hand grenades. If I murmured to myself, “what was I thinking?” once as I looked over another vertical precipice, I murmured it several times over as we got closer to the river. For as you finally descend to the river itself, an enticing network of steep steps and ropes, guide you down to the pebbly beach below. How I ever got three small, excitable ninjas and a badly behaved Cairn Terrier down there on my own, I’ll never know but the madness of a tired mother, desperate to get out of the house and de-energise her children before bedtime, knows no bounds.
But once again it was worth it, especially as waiting at the bottom of the steps this time, was a battered wicker chair, obviously used for fishing but which soothingly whispered, come, sit, rest a while and take in the view. And so we did. Mr D being the perfect gentleman and to be honest wanting to keep the peace, let his darling wife have the chair and served me a nice cup of tea. The fact that we had brought a flask with us unnerved me slightly, thankfully we hadn’t brought a tartan rug, but it was very welcome nevertheless and as we sat and took in a beauty which I cannot possibly describe, Mr D was inspired into poetic creativity, enthusiastically describing the River Findhorn as resembling Prince of DarkNess, a new smooth, deep black imperial stout, brewed by the Loch Ness Brewery in Drumnadrochit. The power of nature to inspire hey? Robert Burns would have been proud.
Back at home I asked the fledgling whether he remembered the walks and how much fun it used to be? “Nope” was the usual teenage monosyballic, I can’t be bothered to think about your question, reply . I didn’t bother arguing. He’s too young to start reminiscing but hopefully when he’s older and finding himself far from home, he’ll remember our crazy walks down to the Findhorn and thank the universe that he actually managed to survive.