rest and be thankful

The “Rest and be Thankful” road in the Arrochar Alps in Scotland.

“Rest and be thankful”, the phrase from Wordsworth, is particularly apposite as we come to the end of the year, a time to reflect and to recognise where we’ve come from, where we are, and (I suggest) to choose to be grateful for whatever life has brought us.

It is also the name of a famous steep and twisting road of the A83 in Scotland, in the unusually alpine-looking valley seen above.

So, as I take a moment to rest and be thankful myself, a story of reflective gratitude from when I took 24 hours to be present to the majesty of my home country of Scotland and to share it with a dear friend.

I love Scotland. I was born there, and even though I’ve not lived there since turning 24, I love to return, to tour around the country. I also love to be a tour guide to see the joy of others as they experience the majesty of it for the first time.

So, midsummer 2012, the longest day of the year in June, the coaching business I was in was having a coaches conference at Loch Lomond. I was flying in from Cayman for this and I asked a friend in the business if she had ever explored Scotland. She had not.

“Right!”, I said, “fly up a day early and I will drive you around the country for 24 hours before we arrive at the conference”.

I met her late morning from her flight from London to Edinburgh, on a gorgeously perfect sunny day. We drove up to Gleneagle and met with a friend who lived in Perthshire at that time, I simply at back and listened to the two of them talk. After that, we drove the magnificent drive across Glencoe, then stopped in for a cup of coffee with family who live on the coast on the other side of Glencoe. After that, it was the drive over the hill from Oban to the beautiful village of Inveraray, dinner and a bed and breakfast on the main street.

A gorgeous day, but the next morning was even more special. As it was the longest day, it was light just after 4am. Sun streamed through my window and somehow I found myself awake, so I rose and went for a walk along the sea loch at the break of day. Magnificent. Around 7am we had breakfast, then we set off for Loch Lomond and the conference hotel. I’d planned this route especially, as to cap off the majesty of Scotland for the tour for my friend came cresting the ridge at the top of the Rest and Be Thankful. I remember that moment, we drove in almost total silence for a while, speechless at nature’s beauty.

So, all in all, 24 hours taken to create an experience, an experience for which now, as I look to rest at the end of another eventful year, I am thankful for.

What might you rest and be thankful for ?

Oh, and in closing, the “Rest and be thankful” road was, for many years a scene of motor racing, of what are called, literally, Hillclimbs. Cars go up one at a time and are timed on the course, climbing from bottom to top as fast as they can. My grandfather raced cars, including this Hillclimb, as did my father. Spending weekends at Hillclimbs and other races around the country was a big part of my childhood. I can still remember the smell of Castrol R racing motor oil smoking out of exhausts, as well as burning tires as cars took off from the start. Oh, and the noise, the magnificent noise!

I asked my father for a photo of him or my grandfather racing, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have one (ah the loss of heritage!). This one is, however, of a car very similar to the Jaguar XK120 that my father restored by hand and then raced for many years. This car with the lovely registration JAG120 was driven by a dear friend of my Dad. Such a beautiful sight and the engine sound of that Jaguar 6 cylinder engine. Oh my!

Originally published at Tom McCallum.

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