One bored morning in March of 2015 I had just dropped my youngest to school and had flipped over to Amazon Prime Video to avoid clearing up after breakfast. The first thing to appear was a tv show I had never heard of before called ‘Outlander’. The imagery of the Scottish countryside caught my eye but the thing that swayed me to give it a go was that it had Ronald D. Moore’s name on it (we loved Star Trek: TNG and Battlestar Galactica!).
From those first few minutes of the first episode, I was hooked! I adored the characters, I adored fairytale Scotland, I adored the magic behind the dance of the druids and the standing stones, but most important of all I felt deeply invested in the tangled web Claire had found herself in. I was hooked by the rawness and relatability of Claire’s emotions and circumstances.
I consumed those first 8 episodes of Outlander (they were released all at once in the UK to catch up with the U.S) in a few days and because I couldn’t bear to wait for April 5th to roll around I ordered Diana Gabaldon’s first book (Cross Stitch in the UK).
I read Cross Stitch alongside the next few episodes of the t.v series but quickly finished it long before the season ended (how could I possible put the book down long enough to ‘wait’!).
The next 6 months of my life were gloriously spent reading through Diana Gabaldon‘s books, one by one. It was a crazy 6 months spent with Jamie and Claire and Roger and Brianna!
I devoured Dragonfly In Amber and Voyager and felt the very real pain of all the years Jamie and Claire had missed and could never get back. 20 years of raising a family together, precious years for any couple let alone two people as in love as those two! I felt the sad reality of Frank having his wife returned to him a changed woman who could never truly love him with her whole being like she had before. I imagined knowing you are living as husband and wife with a woman who wishes she were lying beside someone else each night. Having a strong friendship and mutual respect is all good and well in a marriage but it’s not really the future he had planned for before Jamie Fraser came into the mix. It wasn’t lost on me that Frank in Cross Stitch couldn’t imagine adopting a child if he and Claire were unable to conceive but on Claire’s return pregnant with Jamie’s daughter…he cherished and adored Brianna with all of his being and couldn’t bear for her to know he wasn’t her biological father until after his death.
By the end of Dragonfly in Amber it was clear to me that the Claire of the ‘Outlander’ t.v series just wasn’t ‘my Claire’. Caitriona Balfe is beautiful and in the beginning of Series One I quite liked her as Claire (after all she was part of the reason I even began reading the books!). She and Sam Heughan have great chemistry and visually they are a beautiful fit for ‘Claire and Jamie’. However by the end of Series One I just began to feel that she wasn’t a strong enough actress for the role she was playing and it began to grate on me. The Claire of the books is strong, adaptable, brave, feisty and tirelessly hard-working…she’s older, wiser and BIGGER than an ‘okay’ actress could ever be.
As I finished reading Voyager, Jamie’s story and the next stage in Jamie and Claire’s life together, Sam Heughan‘s Jamie Fraser just wasn’t doing it for me either. Sam is a beautiful man but how could a real flesh and blood man ever live up to ‘Jamie Fraser’? The ‘real’ Jamie Fraser is so much hotter than Sam Heughan could ever be and might I add, that’s a dangerous thing! As a woman reading Diana’s books you really do need to constantly give yourself a nudge back into reality, or else your real-life husband or partner can begin to become a big dissapointment compared to THE ‘Jamie Fraser’?
I stopped watching after the first episode of the second series of the ‘Outlander’ t.v show. I completely understand that other fans can separate the two (the books and the show) but for me it was like watching a cardboard cut out of these characters I was deeply entangled in the lives of, and it just wasn’t doing it for me.
My journey through all the remaining books: Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in The Bone and Written In My Own Heart’s Blood was all consuming and over far too quickly (I just couldn’t put them down despite trying to savour every page).
As I came out of my reading fog and had a long wait ahead of me for the next book I began having a cheeky look at holidays in Inverness. Our first Christmas in the U.K we stayed on a cattle farm in Ayeshire, Scotland and explored the ice covered beaches nearby. My ancestors on my fathers side are also from Scotland so I’ve always had an interest in exploring more of Scotland but just hadn’t had the chance. Travelling with 3 kids is expensive and exhausting. When you are relying on public transport even road trips are stressful to plan (i.e having to rent a car, having said car for the right amount of time and getting them back in time with the right amount of fuel in the tank, not getting muddy shoe prints on the backs of seats….and on and on it goes!) so seeing more of the U.K had been put on hold for me.
At this stage in my life the kidlets were getting old enough (9, 12 and 14) that I felt I could go away for a few days on my own (with hubby working during the day but home with them in the evenings) and they’d still be alive on my return. The price of a solo traveller is SO much cheaper then travelling with 5 and packing and planning for ONE was so easy. Before taking the plunge I took a little ‘tester’ weekend away to Folkestone (just over an hour on the train from London so I could come back if I was needed) to see if they’d really be okay, and they were!
So for my 32nd Birthday I treated myself to a 3-day ‘Outlander’ inspired tour in the Scottish Highlands (starting in Inverness and ending in Edinburgh).
This tour was the beginning of my travelling to Scotland Obsession and the first of 4 trips I took to Inverness.
More details (and lots of photos) to come but right now I should probably go start on dinner 😉