So, where else but northernmost Scotland can you travel past a Looks-Like-a-Bavarian-Castle; a majestic outcrop called The Mound; the North Sea; signs that caution about the otters that might emerge on the main A9 road…
And then you turn off onto single track road, through Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve, slowing down to a crawl to allow time for sheep and lambs to cross; you eat your supper gazing at pregnant Harbour Seals, safe on a sandbank a few metres away; you pass the ruins of Skelbo castle, and the bright technicolor of a field of wildflowers; you crest the hill and gasp at a wide sweep of Dornoch Firth; you drop down into Dornoch (posher than Golspie, which in turn is posher than Brora whence you came) for a concert.
[You park opposte the friendly, independent Dornoch Bookshop and the Dornoch Free Library, ?1908. This is a library and indeed a burgh much benefacted by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who was born in Dunfermline and made his fortune in the USA steel industry. He he bought the Skibo Estate, and its Ledmore and Migdale woods, in 1897 and the land remained in the family until the 1980s. Now the magical woods are nmanaged by The Woodland Trust.]
The concert, under the vaulting stonework of Dornoch Cathedral, lifts you further into the heavenly realms. The choir Musick Fyne, under the lively baton of D James Ross, along with Inverness Trombones and two organists (who never appear even after exultant applause) treat us (full house!) to William Mundy, William Byrd, Giovanni Gabrieli, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Arvo Part.
We’re uplifted, moved, enthralled, and excited. I exchange smiles and email address with the friendly person-from-Ardgay next to me, who advises me on the safest junction back onto the A9. We travel in opposite directions home, in the still-daylight at 10pm British Summer Time.
For once, I don’t put the car audio on to BBC Radio 3 as I travel north in the dusk. I don’t need extra sound-track. My heart and soul are full of the music of the spheres, and of my first – certainly not my last – concert in Sutherland.
I think I am alive, and already in heaven.
And that’s just this evening…. I’ll tell you about the earlier part of this Perfect Day, another time.