The murk of January and February breeds claustrophobia: the weather is invariably gloomy, the days short and, in the absence of true daylight, the mind wanders, seeking escape.
The first port of call on this mental meander is memory: that perfect day in Kylesmorar; being battered in the Lairig Ghru; that 80 miler over the Dark Peak; the cooling sea breeze of a remote bay on La Gomera.
Next comes the ambition: places I haven’t been before, seeing familiar places in a new way, things I haven’t tried.
A ‘to do’ list develops:
To catch a wild brown trout from a remote, hard-won Scottish lochan
To cycle along quiet roads of the far north of Scotland
Spending a lazy summer fortnight pedalling and eating my way through France
A week hiking in the Alps or Pyrenees
A Canadian canoe/camping trip
Hiking the Inca trail
A trek in Bhutan
Trying to catch a bonefish from some deserted tropical flats… etc… etc
The more the mind wanders, the more fanciful the adventure becomes. The process usually culminates in a grand plan… jack it all in, load the bike and see where I end up.
This fantasy extends to the weather and conditions. Scottish evenings are long and still in the mind’s eye, but the midges aren’t bad. I can cycle all day without pain, and my back doesn’t creak constantly under the load of a rucksack.
It’s easy to be romantic while daydreaming. The reality will be different, though.
The fish won’t be rising, I’ll be midge or mozzie-bitten to distraction, there’ll be a constant headwind, I’ll struggle all night to find a comfortable position to sleep in the tent and rise bug-eyed-and-beat to rain hammering on the flysheet. (Yep, we’ve all been there).
But these realities serve to sweeten the times when things are damn near perfect. Taken together, the rough and the smooth, they are rich nourishment for future dreams.