The Road to the Isles

Had a lovely phone call from Harris on the landline last night. Great to hear an old friend. Felt guilty for not phoning them. Weathers been wild and they cant get that painting job done. Yes mothers better but we cant get her a care package so shes still in hospital , twice weekly visit over the Clisham to Stornoway. Not much fun that. Island life. Long hard winters I’d imagine.

Maybe I can visit before Christmas. I check the calmac website, check the weather. Mebbes aye. Check with Elaine. And the dogs.. do I take them?

I’ve made dozens of road trips to Harris over the last ten year. Slept in the car at Ullapool, Kyle, Uig, Portree and even Dingwall? Now I get a B n B. Too old for that shit now.

The trickiest part in winter is the weather. Not on Harris, on the mainland. Snow and ice,frozen waters, ice and snow. Mind you one Easter we woke up early ready to leave Dunblane and theres snow on the ground here.

The dangers points: Glencoe, Dalwhinnie over to Laggan, Invergarry over the pass to Glen Moriston and Cluanie to Glen Shiel pass. Make it to Balmacara and yer fine. But watch out for the deer. Not hit one yet but you get a major scare when you see one roadside at 60. Heart racing, slow down it’s not a race, esp if wife and tots in car sleeping.

So am heading out of Invergarry, past the frozen shinty pitch, up the glen. Wife n tots all sleeping I feel good. I’m carrying them thru the night so to speak. Except it’s now first light and below freezing. The temperature, around freezing at Spean Bridge has now plummeted to minus 5. Easy does it.

Theres a car coming down towards me. It’s all over the road. Ah shite it’s coming towards me! Flies past me phew. Look in my rear view just in time to see it career off the road and flip onto its roof. Ah shite, shite! They’re all awake now. What’s going on huh?

Explaining what happened, I perform a three point turn, heart thumping. Ah shite I dont want to see this. Dont want my kids to see this. But wait… theres a guy beside the upturned car..hes trying to open the drivers door. Shes upside down, seatbelt on luckily. To this day I still dont know how the guy was out the car so quick.

But he’s in shock. He’s frantically pulling open the drivers door, again and again yanking it open. I think you’re in shock, I say, maybe take a wee rest. He slumps to the ground.

I knelt down beside the driver. Are you ok? What a stupid fuckin question am a daft bastard. I hold her hand, reassure her it’ll be fine. I’d read that when Eric Caldow broke his leg at Wembley in ’63 Jim Baxter knelt beside him holding his hand. Wee bit empathy. So I hold her hand.

Another car slowly pulls up, woman gets out. Can I help, I’m a nurse? Oh I could have kissed her. Thank fuck thank fuck. Soon its polis and ambulance crew all over the place and we headed off towards Skye and our ferry, driving slowly.

Yes, I’ll defo need to check the weather before I head up.

PS This blog is dedicated to all nurses, paramedics and ambulance crew out there. Hats off I couldn’t do that. Oh and all fire persons. First on the scene of an accident is never gonna be pretty but we were lucky.

PPS I never did hear any more of the incident. I assume no news is good news in life.

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