It’s barely light but already I can feel the heartache creeping through my veins. The landscape whistles past in a streaky blur but the tendrils of freezing mist stroking the white ground – attractive on their own – are made doubly so by the vivid pink of the dawn sky. It’s painfully beautiful and it’s painful not to be out there with my camera.
I’m on a train. I’m on a train to London. For a meeting. 9 hours there, 9 hours back and I’m feeling as far from being a nature photographer as I have since I first picked up a camera two decades ago. The last 5 years have seen me working on ambitious communication projects trying (and some might suggest for the most part, failing) to be a marketeer, an accountant, a business analyst, even a politician. In so many ways the results of these endeavours have been rewarding and certainly educational, but it’s not what I do; it’s not what I want to do.
The very kind waitress with a broad Northumbrian accent and a crisp ‘East Coast Trains’ uniform brings me sausage and mash, a perk of an expenses-paid first class seat. The sun is now up and the snow-laden Berwickshire coastline zips by glistening under an azure sky. My meeting is important, don’t get me wrong, but God I wish I was out with my camera, away from the inane chatter of slightly pretentious businessmen on their phones, away from first-class sausage and mash.
2013 is going to be another busy year but it will be my last busy year in terms of big photo projects with the attendant sitting on planes and trains. I want to go back to sitting in a cold hide, waiting for a creature, or shaft of light that might never appear; smelling the pine, tasting the peat. I want to craft new images, stretch my creative boundaries and tell new stories. I want to drink cold coffee from a cold flask not be served sausage and mash. And I want to laugh again.
As the train moves ever southwards towards the English capital, my heart drifts ever northwards to the Highlands and it’s my heart that I intend to follow in the coming years.