18 years ago today, I arrived in Orkney with my partner Rik, our 2 cats, a Vauxhall Corsa full of clothes, important documents and not much else.
I was 4 days short of my 34th birthday, but that trip really made me feel like a grown up for the first time since we signed the papers to buy our first house, on my 30th birthday.
Rik didn't drive, so his job was car valeting, entertainment supervisor, packed lunch monitor and general all round keep us on the right track guy.
He did a sterling job. We had rented a cottage at Scorradale and as we drove from Stromness and as the light disappeared, the fog came down and an owl shot across the road in front of us. We found our rental, the fire was blazing and a pint poured for each of us in the bar next door. The cats were let our of their carrying boxes and we started our lives in Orkney.
What a special, wonderful 18 years it has been. Only one of the four of us that made that epic trip is still around to nod to the anniversary, hold a glass up and say cheers to Orkney. India, Rothko and Rik are all long gone. But nothing can take away that wonderful memory of our first breath taken on Orkney soil, as we came off the ferry, and headed to Orphir. We were both crap at laying a fire (despite my many years in the Girl Guides) but we were home. Thank you Orkney.