|Sunset over Thurso Bay|
Others will have done it differently, but we packed up our work and boarded a train through the highlands. As we marvelled at the wilds of Scotland we wished our dad was with us, for how he loves this countryside. A second train further north for the real adventure – chasing the northern lights. Would the weather be kind? Would the geomagnetic magic arrive at the right time?
We walked by the beach and across the river. We found gifts for friends far away but always in our thoughts, memories packaged, tangible connections to another part of the world.
We ventured out into wind and dark, and bitter cold us South Aussies are unaccustomed to facing. Truly our faces felt pulled from freezers, and our fingers – we couldn't feel them at all (gloves notwithstanding).
Finally on our fourth and final night there it was, behind the clouds that refused to part, and later into the morning of our final day, a hint, a glimmer, Aurora Borealis – nothing like the touched up photos on calendars, not as bold as it's been for our host at the lodge (Pentland Lodge House – I highly recommend!). But a shimmer in the sky hinting purple and green. And we got some shots of sunsets and stars and seascapes while we waited.
When I think back on these days at the tip of this small island home away from Australia for three years, I'll think of the retreat from the real world it was, the time out of time with my sister. The beach and the wild gorgeous landscape and those elusive lights of the north a backdrop to a moment, a shared adventure taking a risk on nature and hoping together. Worth it ? You bet. Nothing at all to regret.