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My work life has always involved travel. The past year has been epic and the last month even more so. LA three weeks ago; Portland, Oregon two weeks ago and last week, filming in the far north in minus 35C. I’m not at liberty to say where we were but it was awe inspiring, savage and unbelievably beautiful.
Still, as I head into the dusk on my way to my Dad’s 91st birthday and I peer through rain-streaked train windows at black Scottish mountains, I am minded to hang up my cowboy boots for a while. Stationary living appeals, domestic experience to be embraced, a little inertia welcomed.
I’ve been away from the blog for nearly two months now; consumed by another adventure. I’m making a new series for Discovery that I can’t write about; but I can write about Alaska. Last winter I visited for the first time and was blown away by the grandeur, scale and savage other-worldliness of the place.
This time we arrived mid April as the snow was melting and the greening had begun. Snowy peaks soar above fronds of silver rivers teaming with salmon that are preyed on by bear and eagle. Everywhere you look is drama. We hope to be here until the fall. What a privilege it will be to follow the seasons and cycles of this extraordinary world.
We’ve just returned from an fantastical festive break in the Highlands of Scotland. It had an ominous start though. We kept just ahead of the worsening weather on the train from London to Glasgow. But when we set out from Greenock with my doom-saying 89-year-old dad as co-driver the white out began in earnest.
While we inched our way up the blizzarding A9 my snow hating Dad, ” the only place for snow is on a bloody christmas card”, made constant pleas for sanity and a hasty retreat south. But when we finally slithered our way through the forest of the Rosehaugh Estate late at night to Red Kite Cottage we were as relieved as we were exhausted.
Our own little gingerbread house was everything we’d hoped for on the inside inside but it was only with the morning sun that we realised how lucky we were on the outside. Regular heavy snow falls and freezing temperatures, (down to -16 degrees celsius) meant we woke to find ourselves in a winter wonderland. The area north of Inverness that is known as the Black Isle had become the White Isle.
Despite living, working and playing in the north for years I’d never seen conditions like it. Everywhere, trees bent under the weight of continual dumps of snow. Ice crystals grown by frost glistened all around as drifts of freezing mist added to the drama of the landscape.
Day after day the conditions became more awe-inspiring. A lovely Christmas with family, warming visits to friends, great meals burnt off by long walks and suicidal sledging made for the perfect holiday.
I couldn’t resist a folksy blog on the snow in London. We went to bed last night and it was snowing. We woke to soft silence and a child’s distant laugh. London was transformed. Schools off. No buses. Tubes non-existent. ‘I’ll have to work from home’, said Jen with deep concern slash delight. Today the great advantage of being a twenty minute walk from work became a temporary disadvantage. There was no way I could call off work, but most of my staff had to. Still, on the way in I managed to snap some cliched snowy London pics. And after a surprisingly productive day, I headed home early to take my Ozzy Jen to Victoria Park to make her first ever snowman, actually a Snow-woman.
We decided to walk from Liverpool street via the South Bank to Haymarket to see the excellent Frost Nixon film. It was bloody cold and there was the odd flurry of snow during the afternoon. But when we emerged from the cinema at eight o’clock it was to be confronted by near whiteout on Piccadilly Circus. Grown people all around us were behaving like children. A lone Chinese woman held her face to the sky and laughed like a child as big flakes landed on her face. And Jen, brought up in Adelaide (currently facing a shocking heatwave), was having a ball too.