Lighthouse Letters
By Sharma Krauskopf

This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.

Snow Comes to Speyside

Thank goodness the long ferry ride from the Shetlands to Aberdeen was behind us. My husband, my friend Sue and I usually like ferry rides but this was the first one in a gale force 10 wind and we plan on it being our last. That is a story for another time. (The graphic via Wikimedia shows the ferry from Shetland to Aberdeen passing "The Nizz" on Fair Isle on a calmer day).

Once seated on our train to Nairn we welcomed the cliquey click of the wheels as they carried us across the beautiful landscape. To be perfectly honest we were elated it was wheels running on land instead of a ship riding an angry and rugged sea. Since sleep was scarce on the ferry we discovered ourselves dozing off and missing the passing scene. When we woke we knew Nairn was near as the high mountains could be seen in the distance.

Leaving the train we entered Nairn station, the cleanest and neatest train station we had ever seen in Scotland 9graphic by Nigel Brown via Wikimedia). As we waited on our friend to arrive we all fell asleep again. Finally, Robert did arrive and we were on our way to Castle Grant Farm that is located just outside Grantown-on-Spey. Robert was late because the road between Nairn and the farm has been covered with ice.

By this time we were more than a little paranoid about the weather. We had so far been delayed leaving the states by a blizzard, iced in Thurso, encountered snow and sleet in the Shetlands, and experienced a horrendous ferry ride in a gale. Well, you may say this was January what did you expect. Our January trips to Scotland for the last seven years had never been anything like this. As we soon would find out it could get worse.

Settling in at the farm, Robert told us the forecast tonight was for snow. (Yikes, it begins again!) He assured us it was only going to be a few inches. Right after dinner we began seeing the biggest fattest snow flakes ever outside the window. Well, here come our few inches.

By morning the few inches had turned into nine! (Picture of Aviemore in the snow by Richard Webb via Wikimedia). Sue had to fly from Inverness to London that afternoon so right after breakfast the phone calls began. Inverness airport was closed and the trains were running an hour to two hours behind. If she could get to Glasgow the airport was open. It looked like train to Glasgow was her best bet. One minor problem remained. Could she get from the farm to Aviemore? One option was to take the tractor the fifteen miles to Aviemore but it was obvious that idea did not really appeal to Sue. About 10:00 the snow stopped and the sun came out. The decision was made to wait a couple of hours and then send Robert out in the truck to see what the roads to Aviemore were like.

Well, now we had nothing to do but wait. The Macdonald children, Sarah and Jenny, whom I love dearly, persuaded me a snowman was what we should do. So out we went. It was to be a snowman but with its long straw hair it was definitely more a snow lady. I have a picture of the artists with our creation.

It came time to test the roads so the brave Macdonalds parents were off in the truck to Grantown-on-Spey to buy milk. We wished them well with a few snowballs. The girls and I decided to make a sledge run down a hill behind the house. This was a major undertaking because in addition to making the path we wanted to ice it down so the sledge would go FAST. We had almost finished the sledge run when Robert and Margaret returned and said the roads were partially open. Sue should make a run for Aviemore.

Robert and Sue took off immediately in the truck for Aviemore. I decided I had enough snow construction and desperately needed a cup of tea. I had not been in the house more than ten minutes until a blizzard hit. I mean total white out. You could not see our beautiful snow lady only a few feet from the kitchen window. The minutes seemed like hours as the snow continued to fall and Robert was not back. Finally Robert arrived. He told us Sue made the train but his trip back from Aviemore had been treacherous.

The snow continued until we had over eighteen inches on the ground. The girls were disappointed it was a weekend. They were sure they would have gotten out of school if it had been during the week. Robert and my husband set about feeding the sheep and cows. This was no easy task in eighteen inches of snow with drifts and the snow still coming down. I felt sorry for the sheep as they huddled into the snow banks

As soon as the snow stopped I was out with my camera taking pictures of the area in its heavy coat of white. Everyone else was frustrated with the snow but to me it was so incredibly beautiful and I loved every minute of it.

Footnote: Our weather problems continued. We were to fly back to the states from Glasgow. We were trapped in Glasgow by fog and we finally left two days late!

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