Remote Proximity

Whenever I spend time at Cove Park I spend a fair amount of it thinking about remoteness and quiet, and reflecting that it is fundamentally illusory.

I’m sitting on the side of a hill, looking out over a beautiful view, watching every change in the weather, noticing how the light reflects off the water, or how the sun and clouds are making patterns on the slopes opposite, but I’m also listening to the radio and checking messages on my phone, albeit, holding my arm extended out of the window.  When I want full internet access, I only have to walk a few paces up the, admittedly, steep hill, to the Centre, to hook up with the rest of the world as efficiently and expeditiously as if I were at home in London.

A couple of nights ago I eliminated all feelings of remoteness with a journey into Glasgow.  It took me just over an hour to travel from this rural idyll, where I had to climb in and out of the car to open and close the three farm gates dividing the fields which confine the sheep and highland cattle, kept here to mow the grass, to get to the bright lights and streets of bars and shops in the west end of Glasgow.

It’s the ‘military road’, built to support the nuclear storage facility at Coulport, that makes the speed possible, built straight across high moorland to link the edge of Loch Long to the main road at the side of Loch Lomond, as if to remind us all not to be fooled that this is untouched countryside.

Oddly, the real reminder of the power of nature came on the outskirts of the town of Dumbarton, where I arrived in what must have been the immediate aftermath of a tremendous hail storm, as the road and pavements were covered with thick white, and each speeding car was throwing up a tidal wave of water.

A couple of miles further on the road was dry, and so my ‘country’ attire of walking boots and cagoule were a little de trop by the time I arrived at my destination,  where I met a friend for a drink.  We sat in comfy chairs on the upper level of a bar restaurant in a former cinema, studying the patterned stucco effect patterns on the ceiling, raising our voices over the strains of loud music.

At the end of the evening, on the journey back, the differences were more marked, possibly because by then it was after dark, and there is a clear demarcation lines between ‘city’ and ‘country’ at the point where the street lighting stops.  It was deep dark when I returned to the site and had to open and close all those gates again.  Approaching them, at least I had the illumination of the headlights, but closing them again once I’d driven through, with only the red rear lights to guide me, then, I did feel remote.

But not so remote that it didn’t cross my mind that, with my slow, brightly lit progress down the track, I was probably attracting attention from anyone who chose to watch me.

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