On my way up to Easter Aquorthies I tried to spot the skylarks singing high overhead but they were either too high or too small.
Far below I could see field after green field all the way down to the conic hill of Dunideer where the sheep that graze there acquire golden teeth – a chemical in the soil, some say, that affects the sheep’s saliva; a fairy place, others tell you, and can sing you ballads to prove it.
And not too far away is the 40ft. column that marks the battle of Harlaw. Red Harlaw where 10,000 Highlanders died:
“ As I cam in by Dunideer
and doon by Netherha’,
there were fifty thoosand Hieland men
cam mairchin’ tae Harlaw “
Only 40,000 at the end of the day however….an they werenae mairchin…..
But all that was a long long time ago. 1411.
Anyway today….big blue sky; fluffy summer clouds; a day that made you feel like whistling. Or hanging out the washing. Or going for a hike up a hill to a place like this that had something about it that brought a smile to your lips and a spring to your step. Air that had that fresh, clear like quality that comes after rain and I was going to the sacred place, the Recumbent Stone Circle that marked the centre of all the strange and wonderful things that had happened here…here where the sacred Gadie runs clear and fast at the back o the blue hills o Bennachie.
Then I heard voices.
French schoolchildren had been organised by their teacher to play a sort of basketball game in the stone circle. They were clearly and loudly enjoying themselves immensely.
” Excuse me,” I called out to their teacher. ” Ex Cuse Me!” She blew her whistle and they stopped playing. ” Excuse me, ” I said again, lowering my voice and sweeping my arm to take in the ring of stones. ” Do you think these stones were placed here to mark out a games pitch for visiting tourists? Are you not here to learn something of our culture and history? Are you aware that this is a sacred place, a warriors burial ground, not a schoolchildren’s playground? I don’t expect your kids to know any better, they’re just kids after all, but you! Their teacher! I expect you to know better! “
(No, I didn’t. But I wish I had. Instead I turned on my heel and walked slowly back to my car.
The skylarks had gone.
I drove down to the main road back to Aberdeen, curiously defeated, the brightness gone from the day.)