I had long thought that the countryside around Greenock was beyond my grasp. Sadly, my world had revolved almost exclusively between home and IBM where I worked since I arrived in Scotland, in the early autumn of 2001; I was ceaselessly preoccupied by petty considerations and worries that inevitably clutter one’s life and overwhelm the mind. And, as such, my spirit was dampened by the dull current of urban life, the shackles of a more or less spiritually dessicating professional occupation.
Except for running on a nearby track that had since been left to abandon and which grass and weed of all sorts had reclaimed possession, or rare escapades to Glasgow on weekends, I usually kept to my own, a solitary life spent at home between books, music and some illusory aspiration to fashion photography which was sustained by a large, if inconsistent, body of work; a body of work that met with extremely mitigated appreciation. In effect the town represented an enclave that was opaque to the bucolic world spreading beyond its walls.
When I began to venture away from the populated area, into the hills, while jogging at first, it was as if I had suddenly awakened from a oppressive dream and found myself into a new reality, as if I was a pioneer on a new frontier.
Once I had left behind the Murdieston farm and the perfectly groomed green fields of the Whinhill golf course, I was suddenly facing the sheer immensity of the Scottish moor, an unlimited naked expanse stretching up to the horizon, inordinate succession of grass and moss-covered hills and hollows under the sky, tinged with the rose hues of heather, broken only, intermittently by clumps of woodlands, mostly Norway spruces or fiery larches, but also scots spines, and isolated farmstead that looked so insignificant in the vastness of the landscape. The old Largs road wound its way and was like a greying scar spread upon the land, a permanent encroachment of man on the wilderness.