It took me so many years to get my site up that here are a few blogposts never sent from exactly four years ago.
Have you noticed that certain things keep showing up in your life? I’m not talking about karma, or the law of cause and effect. Nor am I talking about coincidences, which Albert Einstein called called God’s way of remaining anonymous. I’m referring to situations, people, or geographical locations that keep recurring, again, for no apparent reason. It’s just one of life’s great mysteries.
For me, it’s mystical and shamanic experiences—and large homes. That’s right, like Dowton Abbey, castles, manor houses, chateaus and palaces. These enormous ancestral piles have this habit of dropping in my lap in the most extraordinary circumstances. So far, I’ve never had to own one, thank goodness, nor could I afford to. But they seem to happen with an uncanny frequency that makes me realize that whomever is writing the script of my life has a great sense of humor.
The first time it happened was Islay House, which is where I’ve just returned to. With over 70 rooms and 33,000 sq feet, it is the largest mansion in the Scottish Hebrides. Islay House was built in 1677 and extended over the centuries as a shooting lodge for the Morrison family and was sold to my friend Laura’s family 30 years ago. In the spring of 1992, I lived here for a few months alone while I was writing the outline for my first book project. My friend Laura initially didn’t tell me the house was large when she lent me the house. It was only when, a few days before I was to leave, she faxed me a map so that I could find the washing machine that I knew something was up.
I loved living here. Just look at that staircase! There’s an identical one on the other side of the house. The kitchen was so large that my food got cold by the time I had walked with my plate to the sitting room. I learned to sprint full speed toward the phone when it rang, and would arrive breathless. And then there were those magnificent bathtubs that were so large I nearly drowned every time I had a bath. The peaty brown water was so soft it made my hair like silk. Islay’s second export besides agriculture is peat and water, layers upon layers of it, which, when added to barley and heated, is transformed into the best single malt whiskies in the world.
And now, 22 years later, Islay House is going to be sold, Laura invited me to visit for a few days to say goodbye.