At the heart of most people is an innate desire for freedom, put a fence around us or bars in front of us and we immediately want out.
From time to time our little family will express this desire and we head for the hills…literally.
The past weekend was one such occasion; I returned from work at eleven and we headed off to the National park at Loch Lomond. The “Bonnie Bonnie banks” were heaving with day trippers and tourists out enjoying the remaining warmth of late summer. This is always joyful as those accustomed to motorway driving attempt to negotiate the twists and turns of narrow roads.
The road to the car park is one of the longest twelve miles that you will drive, even I was tempted to ask if we were there yet, and I was driving.
Just before one we set off and the gradual forest path soon gave way to a steep plodding track. There was a large variety of abilities on the hill and ours was somewhere in the middle. Climbing a hill of this nature is very rewarding, within half an hour you have a perspective reserved usually for the birds.
Ascending 1000 feet in that space of time on foot is not really a pleasure, but the freedom to do so and the panorama that it affords certainly was something worth the effort. In the end we pushed on another 1800 feet before calling it a day and returning to car level on the water’s edge.
In Scotland we have freedom to roam, that basically means you can walk anywhere unhindered as long as you respect the surroundings and do no damage. This has led to some boundary testers over the years and also some tetchy foreign land owners who are not acquainted with the unique laws of our land. Clearly there are unwritten respectful clauses expected and you don’t go wandering through private gardens.
The following day with tight calves and slightly aching legs we went off to a miniature music festival. Our daughter was to be playing with the band and had a two song set on the centre stage (to be fair, the only stage, it wasn’t exactly Glastonbury). The entire town centre was closed for a charity cycle and also this festival.
It isn’t the easiest place to park on a good day so the train could have been an option. However, my wife noticed in an email that we could print of an official vehicle permit; imagine the joy of our kids as we sailed into the restricted area and with police authority and had the ridiculously young security guard move the cones to let us through.
It was a successful trip and the performance was very well received by an extremely respectful crowd. This was historic Linlithgow after all and public joviality is kept to a polite minimum.
What I loved about our two very different days was the freedom that we had placed into our hands. One was because we are citizens of this country and the other because of direct relationship with a participant. I don’t take either of these for granted, with the knowledge of who I am comes the responsibility to treat it correctly.
I am held accountable (and correctly so) for how I treat that which has been given to me.