The approach reach to Banavie, the furthest West that we go each spring, is lined with gorse in full flower, and this year it is hot as well. It appears we have overtaken spring and arrived at summer somewhere along the Great Glen.
Adrian and Shireen are intoxicated with the air and seem to be dancing / practicing …?
This is our first journey West without Star, our dog. Usually when we arrive in Kytra lock just West of Fort Augustus, Linda the lock keeper speaks exclusively to Star and gives her treats and a gold star on her life jacket. This year I am concerned that we will not be allowed through the lock, so we all struggle into life vests as we approach the lock chamber. I am not sure if the stars are for being a dog, or for wearing a life jacket. I make up a packet of flapjacks to hand over with our ropes to seal the deal
Once in the lock chamber we hear that Linda too has lost her dog this year and we are given stars for wearing life jackets. As it is drizzling lightly, the only place that the stars will stick is to our foreheads…
Crossing Loch Ness this year was a total pleasure; the water was limpid, the sun was warm and we had a very cheerful crew
the bathroom port hole is close to the water
the kitchen view is not bad either, which encourages lavish cooking and no problem washing up
I have never known the Loch so calm; usually it has a drama that definitely spikes the experience of crossing it over a period of 4 hours, this time it felt like a benign pool.
when we set off on our spring migration, we often stay for a week in Dochgarroch to have a kind of trial run for the shock of moving after the winter stillness. Thus we are only 5 minutes by car up the road to Inverness, and can return to pick up post from the canals office or have repairs done to any system that seizes up on the trial. The first time we return to our permanent mooring in Muirtown is always a shock; our home has gone. That very stable winter houseboat has suddenly vanished and become a boat travelling West, leaving a hole in the marina space.
It is usually grey, windy and cold when we leave, becoming spring and then summer in temperature as we arrive in Banavie
Yogesh, Anni and Karan stayed aboard Loch Ness Barge for a while in July. I met Yogesh in Baroda in Gujarat in 2015. I had been doing an art residency and series of performances leading up to an exhibition and Yogesh was introduced to me as someone who could make anything happen (by another artist from the Highlands who had worked in Yogesh’s ceramics studio for a number of months). We became firm friends and I could never have achieved half of what I did in India without him.
I wanted to create performances celebrating the spectacular trees in Gujarat, and in Baroda there are some immense banyan trees. Yogesh was my interpreter with a holy man who had a shrine in one tree;
part of each performance was climbing these trees… Yogesh facilitated it all and worried anxiously about my safety throughout!
So from Baroda Yogesh came to Scotland to stay aboard a boat. From a country that is parched, with complex desert environments and full of huge desalination plants and immense heat, he visited a floating home in a country defined by it’s sea-going identity and northern latitude. It was a wonderful exchange, full of complex conversations about politics and how landscapes shape us.
at 10.30 pm the sun set spectacularly a few days before midsummer. Midsummer time is a feast of sky reflections each long evening. This sunset has a brilliant yellow colour (not the orange/pink that often ends a beautiful day) and it seems to foretell the coming storm of the weather forecast
This beautiful boat moored in Muirtown Basin today. She is from the Faroe Islands and is in immaculate condition. I couldn’t resist leaving my desk to go and look at her, there was a strong and strange smell wafting from her hatch.
I talked to her crew for a while, then went home with a tinfoil package for my lunch, it was half a sheep’s head. Part of me was fascinated; it is not often that you get to see the anatomy of a head in perfect cross section, part of me was appalled. Our food is not often presented so that you can see the animal it has come from and it is interesting how much it disturbed my appetite.