Thursday 7 June 2012

The Scottish Highlands - the Perfect Cure for Ennui

If you're experiencing a sense of ennui - "listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest", you might be inspired by John Macnab , a little gem of a book by John Buchan.

Set in the 1920s, the book follows 3 Londoners - a barrister, a banker and a cabinet minister - as they devise an entertainment to relieve their ennui - their frustration with their successful but unexciting lives.

They issue challenges to 3 Scottish landowners from whose estates they intend to poach stags and salmon. What follows is a masterpiece of storytelling and an evocative journey through the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

For the first time since 2000 I've returned to Sutherland, the rugged north western tip of Scotland for a week long holiday. Tomorrow I'm visiting a retired ghillie who lives nearby. He's a former paratrooper, a poet and a countryman who would have fitted right into Buchan's adventure. As I write the rain is pouring down outside and the wind is howling around the very comfortable Gull Cottage, where I'm staying. Darkness has only just fallen at 11pm and there is no traffic noise at all. There's no O2 here, though there's plenty of fresh air. It's a far cry from London and not a trace of ennui.

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