I ran away to a remote Scottish isle. It was perfect

Crowded out of the city by noise and stress, I embraced the wild solitude of a Hebridean island – and found a connection to nature

The sound of the waves is not so different from the traffic of the city. But as soon as you lift your face and taste the fresh tang of salt on the air, you will mark how this sky is as different, fickle and changeable as all you have left behind. Then, if you listen, you will hear the laughing gulls. And beyond that, heading off in a low V-shape, the haunting call of the geese.

I have lived in the Hebrides for more than 16 years – the first years with my husband, and for the past decade with my dog, Maude, alone. I had been dreaming of staring out at a raw, open horizon for years – ever since I found an old map of Scotland and pinned it up in the hallway in my London flat. It was positioned across the full length of a narrow wall where I always saw it as I was passing, at an angle where your eyes fell into that empty space between giant masses of land. It is always during that notion of transit, of passing from one space to another, that your heart opens and all of your dreaming begins. I would press my nose to that thick paper, inhaling its musty scent, as my finger traced the ragged coastline of the fractured islets and islands. In those moments, as my eyes closed, the traffic, shouts from the street, neighbours slamming doors, would evaporate into the hurl of fresh spindrift, the thick, curling crests of the breakers drenching the salt-stung air, the gulls tearing the skies apart with an aching, screaming call.

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