On coming home and the Google Maps trap…

It’s struck me that I am clearly a dedicated, committed blogger. My brain is full of accumulated detritus that I might one day wish to share and I have whole notebooks full to bursting with grand ideas, anecdotes, useless nuggets and fun facts that I bet the world is just dying to sink their teeth into. Of course, the standout point is, I now have a blog with three posts (let’s hear it: yaaaay! Well done you! Three posts in what…how long? Phew! Glè mhath!).

Alright, enough of your slow clapping. Settle down, now. I’ve been busy. Sort of.

I moved to a place called Bowen Island, just off Vancouver. I picked berries, looked after chickens (only three died and it was natural causes, OK?) and generally fecked around all summer. It was great. However, for better or for worse, I am relocating to Vancouver itself for the winter, re-establishing myself as part of the modern world and re-learning how to deal with other humans, traffic and technology. Naturally, once this was decided, I panicked, booked a six week trip home and decided that my true calling was researching local history and folklore (another project for another time) and the writing of that bloody novel that’s been hanging round my neck for five years.

I’ve been home three days now and I think I’ve got over the jet lag. I woke up at 2.30 am, then 4.30 am and this morning I was blindsided by checking my phone and discovering that it had just gone 11.  Anyone want to know my secret? My top ten ways to fight jet lag? Well, I drank tea, had naps and thoroughly enjoyed feeling drunk in the middle of the day without actually drinking. Job done.

Time to be productive.

Another digression: anyone else graduate around 2012 and wake up after five years working in hospitality and realise that you’ve basically been in some kind of tech coma and might as well have woken a hundred years in the future in a spaceship surrounded by robots? Back in my day, people wrote on paper. With a pen. While eating biscuits.  Facebook was only just a thing. Now it seems that in order to get ahead, you have to blog on a smartphone whilst doing some kind of cleanse and following some mad exercise and skincare routine. It is clear to me that I am already over the hill and clearer still that I like it there! 

And this brings me to Google Maps.

As anyone who has ever moved to a new area or traveled before, Google Maps is pretty crucial unless you want to be an old timer like me who prefers to have numerous damp, crumpled town maps in their pocket and draws street layouts on their arm with biro. Anyway, a while back after putting one too many town maps through the washing machine and getting heartily sick of picking mashed up bits of paper off my clothes, I decided that maybe this “app” was the way to go.

I was mistaken. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. No one else seems to have so much trouble with it but I swear, it’s out to get me. It lures me remorselessly into dead ends, cul-de-sacs and witches’ ovens. I’ve taken to leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind me which, if I am in an urban area, often turns into a trail of pigeons but to no avail. I remember once, driving with my partner towards Peebles in the dead of a mid-winter night. As soon as we left the motorway, the damn thing went haywire. We had been advised to go through Biggar rather than Moffat as the road was supposed to be easier but Google Maps was having none of it. With the starless night, wraiths of thick mist and the insistent auto-correcting of our route, I felt as though we were following a twenty-first century will-o’-the-wisp to our certain doom.

I mean, obviously we got there in the end. But I think my point still stands. Forgive me, fellow millennials, for my reluctance to blithely follow technology. I suppose I’ll have to though if I want to branch out of hospitality and make a living in a new city. Maybe I’ll even become shinier, sharper, more polished as I skip cheerfully after the mischievous twinkle of an iPhone light away from the road and across the bog.

Or maybe I’ll sink into the muck up to my neck. Though at least I might find all those  lost pairs of wellies.

Peat Bog Wellies

My childhood home is littered with tarnished, saliva-filled tin whistles left over from the fèis; old sheet music written in a crabbed hand and songs with words that I don’t understand anymore. I grew up near Oban, although I was born nearer Cumbernauld. In High School, I chose French, not Gaelic. I have spent next to none of my adult life in Scotland and, on meeting me, a person’s mind does not leap so easily to the Highlands and Islands as it does to the uncomfortable thought, “What the fuck is that accent anyway?” and all the social difficulties that this implies.

Still, I went to Fèis Latharna every year and I had a yellow sticker on my name tag that meant I knew a wee bit of Gaelic (Is mise Ally; pòg mo thòin and such…). My poor parents suffered through two daughters learning the fiddle and endlessly repeating songs about some truly shite sounding porridge. My childhood was lost wellies and being forced to sit on a poly bag on the way home to keep the car seat clean. It was that horrible, cringy feeling you get swimming over rocks, lest your hand brush through the weed and touch a jelly fish or…God forbid…a RED one! It was going camping on Lismore or Kerrera with the comfortable awareness that someone, usually a younger sibling, would track sheep shit into the tent. Above all, it was the long, slow, itchy summer of the ceaseless midgie.

I live in Canada now, after three years in New Zealand and every time someone asks me where I’m from, I say Oban, Scotland. I have left as many wellies preserved in peat bogs for future archaeologists as anyone so, really, what else can I say?

I am The Prodigal Teuchter so leave your flat cap at the door and settle down with a dram for yarns about beasties and bogles and Brexit, misty-eyed reminiscing and, above all else,  indecipherable grumbling into a pint about everything that doesn’t really matter.