I left my childhood with three unfulfilled dreams. I wanted to join the British Antarctic Survey, I wanted to join a Norwegian brass band and I wanted to get stuck in Aviemore.
The Norwegian brass band idea was probably not really my thing - and almost certainly had more to do with location than any deep understanding of Scandinavian music or of brass bands for that matter. I did manage to get mixed up with a group of other kids of my age from a Norwegian band on the ferry from Newcastle to Bergen - and still wonder what might have happened if I’d run off with the band rather than joining my parents on a caravan tour around southern Norway.
I’m not altogether clear why the BAS thing didn’t happen - I did fill in all the paperwork when I was finishing my physics degree but never quite got round to sending if off. This meant I spent the next three years of my life sitting in small dark rooms playing with computers and microscopes in Bristol rather than wandering around the ice in the far south. Maybe recent trips to the Antarctic and the Falklands have got this out of my system, at least a bit.
Getting stuck in Aviemore was always The Big One. Year after year my family would spend either Christmas or Easter, and sometimes both, staying in one of the hotels in Aviemore and depending on the weather spend the days walking or skiing on or around Cairn Gorm or Ben Macdui or even canoeing on Loch Morlich (that was one late and strangely warm Easter). On every trip I would hope that we were going to get stuck there. One year we managed to not get there at all - the snows prevented us getting north from Edinburgh, another year the road was closed just behind us as we went south, and to add insult to injury my school headmaster at the time got stuck in Aviemore - which meant that I got home in time for the start of term but he didn’t. But in all those visits we never managed to get stuck in Aviemore. With the benefit of hindsight, I was probably picturing a very particular sort of getting stuck - the sort where it’s not possible to get home but where all the local facilities remain fully operational.
Which brings me to now. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Grantown-on-Spey about 14 miles north of Aviemore - snow has been falling steadily for about 24 hours and is forecast to continue doing so for another 24 hours, the car had about a foot of snow on it this morning and when I last looked the snow gates on the A9 were closed. By most definitions we are stuck here. We’re actually due to try and head south tomorrow but most of the locals seem to think that this latest fall is going to carry on for a few days yet and that getting south (or north or east or west) isn’t a great idea.
So is this the stuff of dreams? Maybe I am going to get an extra day or two up here which might even put off going back to work at the start of next week. We did get out for a walk this morning in a mild blizzard which was fun when the wind was behind you but a bit bleak heading the other way. We did get to see goldeneye and goosander on the Spey this morning both seemingly oblivious to the snow, but standing watching them was only really realistic for a few minutes. And the fantastic scenery we were able to both see and get out into a couple of days ago is now pretty much inaccessible (and certainly invisible).
This is clearly one of my dreams coming true - it looks like I really am going to get stuck in or near Aviemore but like lots of dreams it’s not going to be quite as good as it might have been. However I can finally cross it off the list.
Which, I guess, just leaves the brass band - should I try the cornet or the trombone?