Inverness Friday - Sunday 29/31 March 1996

"He always said, that he was not come to Scotland to see fine places, of which there were enough in England; but wild oblects-mountains, waterfalls, peculiar manners; in short, things which he had not seen before. I have a notion that he at no time has had much taste for rural beauties. I myself have very little."

Boswell on Johnson (again!) - The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.

Think of this as less diary more intro to some images and an update on an amazing rural weekend. On Friday we got up before breakfast and did our bit on Macbeth's Hillock, returning for more fantastic home cooking and some Second Sight anecdotes from the eccentric B&B couple.

Travelled through Nairn in the morning continuing the futile search for a decent coffee. Drove through the village of Cawdor, fished in vain for a contact at the castle (Fred Cawdor? Edinburgh Art College graduate) and had to be content with yet more 'from the road' surveillance style video.

Fort George provided one of the big trip surprises-not in fact really dull as predicted, but decidedly eerie and pristine. It looked almost as if the great pair had just left. The barracks lie low slung in the landscape, with great grassy teeth between the canons. There seems to be no one there despite the presence of an armed guard with machine gun at the gate.

Drove into Inverness to meet Adam Sutherland the director of the Printmakers workshop up here. Installed ourselves in his office to break the 'end of diary era' news on-line, the attempted to follow him back to the fantastically cold and scenic cottage he lives in outside of Inverness. Some other artists came round for dinner and his sister Janey was staying - she is a well known trapeze artist who lives in Paris (I am not making this up, there were photos). The whole weekend has been a much needed break from travelling and explaining what we are doing.

This was shattered, however on Saturday morning when we took part in the Highland Festival 'Art Train' - The fact we were piped off by a full band and Robbie Coltrain should say it all really. I don't feel I can really do justice to the 6 odd hours spent travelling through the most beautiful countryside with a 'diverse' group of children, journalists, a BBC film crew, craftspeople, locals, musicians and artists. I think it really has to await the digitised video for the full impact!

The surrealness of the day didn't even ease up on leaving the train back at Inverness - we'd realised that we had missed the infamous Findhorn in our trip from Forres - having had an email recommendation from Lorna Banks we decided to tear back to take in the caravans, tie-dye, and the best coffee since Edinburgh!

We got completely lost trying to find Adam's house on the way back and spent hours revving and reversing up & down step dirt tracks. Eventually found it - found they had left for our early evening date and had to piece together the whereabouts of our potential host's (artist Leone Gibb) home from the local police station. Quite impressive when we only knew her first name and hair colour! After a quick bout of kids, tea, snooker, and disney videos returned to the cottage for a wonderful evening by the fire where Adam 'whipped up' another culinary masterpiece. You will have gathered we are right back on food.

Ate breakfast outside this morning (warmer than in the house) and have been left in the silence to work.

"At Nairn we may fix the verge of the Highland; for here I first saw peat fires, and first heard the Erse language."

Johnson - A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland.