The Holiday – The Road Home

We counted off the junctions to home. There is a point on a familiar road where the car seems to embrace remembered contours. The engine hums a soothing pulsating home-coming. Seems to pull with new determination. Our magnetic North become home.

Motorway parallel with the hills and the West Coast train line.

Gretna, Ecclefechan, Dumfries, Moffat, Beattoc Summit, Drumlanrig, Abington, Douglas, Lanark…

The old water tower appears on the horizon. The church steeple rising above the toothy silhouette of a hill town splayed against a greying sky. Soon we are crossing the elegantly curving, 5 arch, single-track Hyndford Bridge. 1773 carved into its sandstone. Crossing the Clyde at the site of an ancient Ford – the old Ferry Toll House facing up towards Lanark, now blind, shuttered, unused.

Hyndford Bridge

The children are noisy at the sight of the broken racetrack. We are HOME we are home we are HOME…

And I feel that surge of love that HOME releases. Excitement. Strange excitement to be triggered by such a homely familiar, a tugging reminder of the ties that bind – surely natural when given thought now.

Ana begins to sing about Jaspar and Stan, the ginger and white family moggies.

Jamie begins to wonder about his football. Have Evan and Lewis used it and ruined it or lost it amongst the chaos of brambles in the garden…

The car gathers momentum as it swerves down the hill and swoops the 325 degree bend into New Lanark. The village suddenly unfolds. Tinto hill, Hill of Fire, the dense forestry – all framing the perfect sandstone Georgian surprise that is home.

View from the end of my house – need to get rid of that  post!

You turn off the engine after driving long hours in a car and there is instant quiet. Bones fall silent. Relieved. Free from the gentle but omnipresent, humming vibration of engine and road. The kids don’t notice that of course. They are unbuckled and out. Jumping from the rear and tumbling and squalling onto the cobbles and falling through the front door. 

Robert and I look at one another. A look that says Robert is unpacking… I am going to the supermarket… What kind of mess will we find in there?

And then there is Evan. lumbering to the door. Grinning. Awwww Mummm thank God you’re back… I’m starving…

He is pressed into unpacking service. The first bags just being lifted from the boot when we hear a bellow from the house –

Muuuuuuuummmm….Daaaaaddddddd….Theres a pongy smell in here…..
Yeuchhhhhhh…its STINKING….. 



White winter sun spills through the kitchen window. Illuminates cobwebs which are become white garlands in the startling brightness.

The cat sits on the window ledge scratching at the panes to come in. His little breath puffs in frosted explosions against the glass.

The hoary garden stretches up behind him. Terraces of sandstone spattered with bare whitened branches of hedge and tree. Tendrils of summer’s planting darkened to stark fossil etchings on the blond sandstone rockeries.

The Clyde sings into the silence of the morning. Swollen throated. Bringing the voices of ice and waterfall, of rain and snow-melt from high in the valley. A peregrine circles in the stark light of a clear sky and the crows scatter raucous, wheeling clumsy and indignant to the bare black tree husks which cling precariously to the valley side.

Last year men came with chainsaws and permits to slash and burn the blackened ghosts. Their towering height a skeletal tree-cathedral reigning over the valley. Crashing with every storm into the ravine that yawns just before the tenements. This year there are rotting stumps amongst the wooden girders that hold up the valley sky and are hung with the jetted jewels of crows nests and rookeries.

Spilling the over-ripened fruit basket into the garden I see the badgers have begun earth-moving. The old ginger cat has followed me up the garden steps. He paws the turned earth, sniffing and scenting it. Then moves lazily to the seat where the white sunlight has warmed frost from the old wooden boards.

I look back down to the house. Neglect has nurtured grass which grows from the guttering at the gable-end. The storms of the last weeks have loosened slates. The chimney granny is crooked and still – smoke from the wood-burner spilling in a crazed arc from its several mouths.

This place is Home.

And yet, there are still some who would ask why I live here.