Highlands and Islands by guest author David Munro

Thanks to Scottish author David Munro for this great blog piece. David would love to visit Orkney and I hope he'll be able to come up some time.

David's current novel Georgina is the fourth in his Time Jigsaw series.

A love and admiration for Scotland’s picturesque northern landscapes did not materialise until my mid-twenties. Born and brought up in Scotland’s capital city and at one time staying in the Royal Mile, the country’s Highlands and Islands were almost unknown to this lowlander. Family holidays tended to be in a warmer climate in England and beyond. A school trip at fourteen years of age to the West Highland town of Mallaig and Kyleakin on Skye was my sole experience to a land north of Edinburgh. However, in May 1981 all was about to change.

The company I worked for was a well-known brewer and offered me the chance to further my business career. Being in a rut, I jumped at the chance and relocated to Aberdeen. My area for work would be the Grampian Region. This included not only Aberdeen, but Fort William, Inverness, Stornoway and Carloway. As a city dweller, the latter two situated on the Isle of Lewis captured my imagination. However, to reach them, the journey from my flat in Aberdeen involved a two and a half hour drive to Dalcross Airport outside Inverness then a flight to Stornoway Airport. Thankfully, a year later, a flight from Aberdeen to Stornoway was introduced and the drive to Inverness was to my delight, eliminated. A lasting memory of flights on a ‘paraffin budgie’ to Stornoway was a sudden turbulence which occurred after thirty minutes. I made sure I finished my cup of coffee well before.

I found the people in the Highlands and Islands genuine and hospitable. It was a joy working in the region. As a representative of Tennent Caledonian Breweries, I would visit pubs and hotels to ensure profits remained positive. The Doune Braes in Carloway was an outlet which intrigued me. Thirty miles from Stornoway, it had a sales turnover comparable to that of a city centre pub in Edinburgh! Remote as it was, an oasis although not in the desert, but a rural setting.

Being the ambitious type and after only fifteen months, once more I was given the opportunity to further my career. The change of scenery had been beneficial not only in terms of work competency, but also my frame of mind. The Highlands and Islands had rejuvenated me – a breath of fresh air.

I moved to Glasgow and nine years later, my career with Tennent Caledonian Breweries ended. In a 17-year career, the highlight was my time spent in the North of Scotland. If I could choose a period in time to experience again, it would be the fifteen months spent there.

Now a writer, my novels have a Scottish theme with scenes from the area I frequented as a young business professional. An admiration for the Highlands and Islands has not diminished. A bonus of being a writer is to participate in literary events and in my favourite region. Next year if restrictions are eased, I plan to visit Stornoway and discuss my novels with the community. Since my once-monthly trips to the island, it will have been forty years, therefore a long overdue return. Given the experience of fifteen bumpy flights, perhaps I’ll take the ferry.

My current novel, Georgina, has its closing chapters in the West Highlands and next years release has a beginning and conclusion in Plockton. A village close to Skye, the Highlands and Islands connection continues.

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