It had been two years since I last took a holiday. Its funny how life runs away with you. You get caught up in the day to day chaos, the commitments and errands and before you realise two years have passed and you're starting to loose your mind. A holiday seemed like a great escape from what has been one of the hardest years yet.
For those of you thinking I just spent a week lying on a beach in the South of France in a bikini let me correct you.. It wasn't quite that luxurious. None the less it was just as wonderful and exactly what I needed.
A holiday with my parents was an offer I couldn't turn down. Some good old family adventures, just like old times. Except now theres more of us, because me and my brother have grown up and welcomed new people into our lives. Trouble is its hard getting four working, young adults in the same place.
So I set off from Northumberland at 8am with my parents and the dog in their car. The drive was long and tedious but breathtakingly beautiful. I felt that childlike excitement in my chest again and sang to the dog "we're going on our holidays!" My parents were probably sick of the sound of me singing, complaining of feeling travel sick and insisting on another coffee stop by the time we got there.
I was told that the cottage we had booked to stay in was "out in the sticks". We arrived in the breathtaking village of Loch Carron and stopped at the local shop for a bottle of cold bubbly to celebrate our arrival. I walked Mallow across a rocky beach and tried to ignore the fact that she was rolling in seaweed and would most likely stink by the time we got to our cottage. "I hope she doesn't want to sleep in my bed" was all I was thinking. The air was cool and a little salty and the sunshine was glistening on the water. Yes.. Sunshine in Scotland, no joke.
We drove another ten - fifteen minutes through trees and over potholes, admiring the stunning view of the sea loch to our left. We drove over Cattle Grid after cattlegrid and winced as my dad sped over a 'temporary road surface' which was essentially just rocks. We arrived to find a tree lying across the driveway up to our cottage, with a laminated sign on it informing us that the road had collapsed and we would have to walk to the cottage. I looked at my mum and wanted to laugh as her face dropped, I could almost hear her cursing herself for packing so much food and clothes. We lugged bags after bags up to the gate, dog skipping along at our feet. We walked through the over grown, fairytale-like garden and onto a wobbly patio, finished with a wobbly looking stone wall that we ought not to lean on. The view was breathtaking, the silence was soothing and the sunshine was a surprise to us all.
We dropped our bags at the door, kicked off our shoes and sat on the patio chairs taking in the view. Before I knew it mum was popping the cork on the bubbly and Dad had a beer in his hand.
We ate tea outside that evening, Ben bought whiskey for Dad and wine for Mum to thank them for paying for the cottage. I gave Mum a sterling silver "Bee Happy Necklace" and Becky a sterling silver bespoke love heart necklace (going to release that one before Christmas, its a beauty.) I made myself a new design too, but I won't share that with you just yet.
My room was small, with two single beds (one for when David joined us later in the week.) It was wooden clad and the window frame was rotten and damp. The view made up for the lack of comfort, I felt at home here, just a door away from my parents room. It was like being back in the safe walls of my family home again.
Ben and Becky had their own little staircase from the living room leading up to their room and the only bathroom with a shower. They were blessed with garish blood red carpets and two windows. The view was not quite as spectacular as mine though, as two over grown trees cut through the picturesque loch framed by new PVC windows.
We played cards that night and all drank too much. Laughter filled the cosy living room and I felt more relaxed than I expected to in the company of Bens girlfriend. I headed to bed first, the exhaustion of the journey setting in. I fell straight to sleep with Mallow at my feet and woke early to the sound of my mum coming in to see the dog. I opened the curtains and sat on the end of my bed taking in that amazing view. I could get used to this.
I went down stairs in my pyjamas to find Ben cooking breakfast for us all and my mum wearing her nighty over her jeans, her wild hair all over the place. I joined my dad sat on the patio and shortly after Becky came down too. We ate breakfast together and drank coffee outside.
We left the house early and drove across to the isle of skye, we walked up to the fairy pools with Mallow and she got cold as soon as the rain came. It was pouring it down. I wore dads water proof trousers and pulled my hood up over my hair as the wind whistled through my ears. The fairy pools were as beautiful as my Dad had promised and I spent time taking photos to inspire new designs. The cogs in my brain were still moving, I was thinking about silver still and couldn't stop my imagination from conjuring up new ideas. It was great to feel that designing block shifting, to take in new sights and conjure up new design ideas. I thought about how I wished I had bought my sketch book or my tools and then switched off again. "Just be here, just do now."
We returned to the car thoroughly soaked and exhausted. Ben and Becky made it up first, Mum carried the dog the final climb wrapped in Dads coat hood as she shivered and wimpered. Dad held my hand as I struggled up the final climb too.
My dad pulled my walking boots off my feet as the car was pelted by horizontal rain. I felt like a child but I was too grateful and too exhausted to care. We piled into the car, I wrapped myself in a blanket that smelt like dog and we drove back to the cottage.
Amongst the people I love and the peaceful Scottish coast. I forgot about the bills, the instagram posts, the reports and statistics that told me my sales had dropped or I'd been unfollowed. I forgot about the orders that hadn't been done, the website that I wasn't 100% happy with and the sitting stock I haven't managed to sell yet. I stopped being Salt & Co. and for the first time in two years I was just Martha. I posted photos on my personal instagram page for the first time in months. I talked to my friends a little and just relaxed in myself.
The next day I explored the cove below our cottage and found pieces of seaweed, shells and rocks to inspire some new designs. The cogs in my brain were moving and I finally felt exciting about making things again. I photographed some things and talked excitedly with my parents when I got back. They couldn't see what I was trying to explain but sounded excited to see what I could create. I miss sharing the design process with them. Its such an exciting journey for me, to create something. My parents are both relatively creative too, so they really get involved with my design ideas and structural challenges in making.
That afternoon I meet a broad Scotsman who runs deer stalking expeditions not far from our cottage, he's fastcinating and I get chatting to him for an hour, by the end I have his business card and I'm ready to book to go stag stalking next summer. He gives me two Stags teeth, the only Ivory you can get in this country. They're beautiful. He tells me how there used to be a market for them, the Germans used to come across and buy them until they were done for tax evasion and it killed the market. He says people sometimes set them in jewellery for their wives and I spend the car journey putting them in different positions and imagining settings. The cogs are turning again.
We eat fish at 4pm, this is lunch. Squat lobster tails (if you haven't tried them you should, they're delicious) and Salmon. Bens eating something red with legs that I don't feel adventurous enough to ask what it is in case he makes me try it. I drink a fanta, something I haven't had in years and we drive back to the cottage and eat tea not long after. More card games, more alcohol, and sleep.
Ben and Becky are heading home this morning, they have to go back to work. David is arriving later this afternoon. I'm excited to see him. He left at 5am this morning. I walk with my parents from the cottage, past some more houses in the woods and out onto a bay of the loch. The wind is cold and the dogs going mad. We search the bay for shells and compete who can find the best heart shaped pebble. Dad wins.
David arrives just after lunch time, the dog wees everywhere when she sees him. He looks like he used to, the work worry is gone and he's smiling. My heart sinks and I slip into an even more relaxed state of mind. We take a drive to a cafe gallery with my parents and admire the jewellery, its all so different, unique. I encourage mum to buy a necklace but she declines. She's a Salt & Co. girl.
We walk up to some castle ruins and meet a beautiful big dog. Jet black and so gentle. He (or she) joins us on our walk, we meet a Collie who likes Mallow a little too much and the black dog protects us. We get across to an island and walk through the ferns, they've grown up to eye level on us and I get the feeling of adventure in my bones. Theres nothing here but more amazing views. I slip on a rock and we decide to head back. We eat lasagne for tea and drink Malbec.
The next day we drive to a village my parents stayed during their honey moon thirty odd years ago. Its gloriously sunny and we wander round the little village. Mallow swims in the sea and me and David dip our toes in, its still freezing cold in the water. The sun is hot on my back though and I put a cap on because I've lost my sunglasses. David makes fun of me for dressing like Dora the Explorer.
We drink gin and tonics at lunch time in an outdoor bar and then head to a coral beach. Mum does another competition "who can find the biggest shell" I win with a massive Scallop shell I found wedges between two rocks and then we search for the smallest shell, which I win again. We eat ham and cheese sandwiches and then walk back to the car to head back to the cottage.
The day after we take a drive to Applecross and go up a long windy single track road that takes us 2000ft above sea level, into the mountains. We're driving alongside clouds and the roads are hairy to say the least. David and Dad love driving, we tag onto a group of 'super cars' and are trying to keep up. We stop at another beach, which has pink sand and have a picnic. Mallow swims in the sea and mum and dad reminisce about my older brother Ben crawling along the beach here many years ago.
We're helping mum and dad pack up, they're heading to Torodon today to stay a few nights in a nice hotel. Me and David have booked to go out for dinner just the two of us tonight. We drive out to Toridon and find the hotel mum and dad are coming to stay at. Its like something from a fairytale. We're both envious and skeptical that they found this gem on a groupon deal. We find a place to pull up the car and hike up into the hills with cheese sandwiches and Mallow, we follow the stream all the way to the top and sit on a rock and take in the view. We drive home and get ready for dinner together, we're going to a little fish shack that opens one night a week and has incredible views. Theres only five or six tables inside and its cosy and intimate. We share squat lobster tails and seafood platters and finish our meal off with espressos and ice-cream. We haven't had a meal together like this in months. Its nice. We don't want to go home.
I'm home now, it was a long and tiring journey. David drove me home and the journey seemed to go a little quicker as we played eye spy and listened to a lot of ACDC. I looked in peoples cars and cringed at the awkward eye contact when they looked back and David drove a little too quickly as it dawned on him how much work he needed to get done before going back to work. Reality was setting in and I didn't like it.
Its now 4pm on Sunday and I have done 6 loads of washing today. The aftermath of holiday is the worst. Muddy dog towels, dirty jeans and filthy shoes. The joys. It was well worth it though. I've returned with more of a sense of myself. The person I was before reality and working life set in. I feel more relaxed and at ease. I have a little more of a vision of the direction I want to take my business in next and did I mention I have done six loads of washing... SIX !!
Its funny how a little time out to breath can be so good for your soul. The only thing I missed from home was yoga and my own big bed. David thinks he could move to the west coast of scotland in a heart beat. Im not so sure, I love it here. Nothing compared to a white sandy beach in Northumberland. Midgy free and no rocks to break your coccyx on... thats my kind of happy place.
I had an amazing time enjoying the company of those I love and soaking up some beautiful places and warm (ish) sunshine. I've got some new ideas to start working on and a mountain of work to do in the run up to christmas.. So keep your eyes peeled for some new designs, they'll be inspired by Loch Carron and Northumberland Coast line, I promise to make them special for you.
Thanks for reading. With love,