A new life

In a few days we will be celebrating our first year in a new life in North West Scotland, not with champagne or fireworks but rather, with an acknowledgement of the changes we now recognise, wistful and subtle, as life and landscape move towards autumn. The garden and hedgerows, croft, riverbanks and shore, hills and mountains which surround our new home are moving from purple to bronze. The bright, ethereal light of long summer days, the blue skies and turquoise seas are moving to deeper greys and aquamarines. If this blog had begun a year ago, no doubt I would have described a magical land (it is), full of every shade of green and gold (it is), but I would not have been as aware of the gradual, delicate transformations of nature and the ‘blanket’ of life, as I am now. And I feel utterly privileged.
It ought to be possible to describe the colours and palettes of the surrounding environment, and parts of it can be: the purple heathers and scabious, the yellow broom and gorse, (and yes I’ll keep repeating this) those crazily turquoise seas; but somehow, although the broad brush strokes can be, the smaller touches cannot, at least not by me.
We live on the west coast, in Wester Ross, in a small crofting ‘township’ called South Erradale. Our croft has a house, a garden of many parts and secrets surrounded by high hedges, a small wood, a long byre, and grassy fields which have rushes, low growing bog myrtle, willow and alder in the wetter parts, grasses and herbs galore where it is drier, gorse (whin) along slopes and river banks and all the while the Red River runs through it all. As habitat for wildlife, it is wonderful; a noisy, busy, bounteous haven for small birds (and big ones), insects, otters and deer. And we have a young dog called Dram, who is a short-haired Border Collie; he is very smart, very fast and he has quickly learned to be good with sheep and babies!
This small blog is for my family, and also for my friends whom I left behind in Lancashire, just so you can tag along and share the joys (and woes) of trying to live a different life.

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The fields are studded with bright yellow flowers which outshine all the other tiny herbs and flowers at the moment. And young Dram loves to gallop about when there are no sheep to distract him!

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About Annie O'G Worsley

I'm a mum of four, gran, writer, crofter & Professor of 'Environmental Change'. I now live on a small farm (known as a croft) by the sea in a place surrounded by the ‘Great Wilderness’ mountains of the Scottish NW Highlands. I was a full-time academic, a geographer, but I decided to go feral and follow my dream of living a smaller, simpler, wilder life. I have always loved wild places. As a child I was inspired by tales of Trader Horn (my great-great-great uncle Alfred Aloysius Smith) told to me by my mother. Trader Horn spent his life wandering, mostly in Africa. I too, love stravaiging (Gaelic for wandering) and spent time in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea as a young researcher, living with tribes there. Although I spent years researching and teaching university students about environments, processes and habitats, I am discovering much, much more exploring the wilds around me. In moving away from scientific writing, I have rediscovered my wilder self and have a much deeper, truer understanding of nature than I ever had before. My work is published by Elliott & Thompson in a series of anthologies called 'Seasons' and I am currently writing a book about this extraordinary place. I continue to write academic papers with my research colleagues but I am developing new skills including landscape photography and painting. And of course, I still love to wander.
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