Outside the rain was — just for a refreshing change — lashing against the windows of the Dundee restaurant. Inside, one of my dinner companions was reminding the rest of us why he now lives not in Scotland but in Florida.

In Florida, he wakes up pretty much every morning to wall-to-wall sunshine. It’s a given, bar the rare hurricane day here and there, for 365 days a year, whatever the nominal season. And not just sunshine: warm sunshine, often hot sunshine. Plus blue skies. Guaranteed.  

He can start his day taking breakfast actually in his swimming pool, if he feels so inclined. And he can go to bed each night knowing that tomorrow will look and feel pretty much exactly the same. Warm, bright, awash with glorious light, abundant vitamin D, and only the very occasional need for anything waterproof.

As we sat there, the unrelenting rain hammering unrelentingly on, we had to concede that he had a point. I actually cannot remember when I last took Molly out without pulling on waterproofs. Anorak plus overtrousers, plus hat, gloves, well-Dubbined walking boots or wellies — it’s been months and months now. In fact, 2023 goes down as one of the wettest, greyest and generally dreichest years I can ever remember, January through December — and that includes 10 years in the Peak District, historically a much damper corner of the UK than Tayside.

My neighbours — both in their 80s — have never seen the like either, and we are all monumentally pissed off with it. At least, though, we’re not seeing our livelihoods threatened as field after field ends up submerged, wiping out next year’s harvests and livestock grazing. But let’s not venture too far down that line of inquiry. Let’s instead circle back to the stark contrast that is Scotland v Florida. 

I’ve been to Florida — in fact, I’ve spent Christmas in Florida — and I’d be lying if I didn’t concede that feeling the sunshine on my usually hidden winter-white skin wasn’t wonderful. It was. I recall several lovely runs, wearing just shorts and a vest and sunnies. In December. Yeah, that was very fine. As was swimming outdoors without a DryRobe and flask of hot chocolate at hand. Just the liberating warmth, the brightness, the blueness. All glorious.

And yet…

The day after our meal, the remnants of Storm Gerrit had moved on, the wind had dropped, the sun had made a minor effort, and Molly and I ventured to Blacklaw, our closest hill with a view.

It’s a pretty easy climb, and on a murk-free day like this the vistas are glorious. Out across the Tay towards Fife in one direction, across to the Cairngorms in another. Each offers something unique, something that touches the soul.

And there we have it: that’s the nub of it. As Molly and I made our way back down again, I relaxed into understanding at some deep cellular level why I am so glued to Scotland despite my London roots and despite the too-often punishing weather which has, of late, really been getting to me. 

It’s the hills — it’s the hills and it’s the mountains and it’s the lochs and it’s the oceans and it’s everything in between. It’s looking across at snow-capped, sun-skimmed summits and it’s walking for hours and meeting nobody at all. It’s the sense of space, it’s the subtle, ever-shifting, colours and light, it’s the wildlife, it’s the ability to get up high, to get perspective, to get peace, to feel a singular type of freedom.

And while there’s no shortage of brilliant outdoor stuff to explore in Florida, you really just can’t touch any of that. So while I’d be lying if I said I’m not yearning for an extended respite from this most brutal of storm-racked rollercoasters, I also know I’d go nuts if I couldn’t drive 10 minutes up the road, let Molly off her lead and watch her bound through the heather up, up to the top of Blacklaw Hill.

Absolutely everything involves compromise. I guess this, though often challenging, is among the most fundamental of mine. 

What I’m grateful for: A reminder of the rich rewards of living where I do, where Perthshire meets Angus, close to the mighty Tay, surrounded by beauty and empty spaces.

What I’ve gained: Fresh perspective on what matters most to me and why connecting with the natural world is my top core value.

What I appreciate: The way circumstances, often in unexpected ways, so often conspire to gently show us that the grass is not always greener… 

This exercise is one of the many powerful yet practical tools my coach Katie Joy has created to help you get clarity, abundance, and balance right across your life. I can’t recommend her courses highly enough! 

Katie can be found here…
… and here on Facebook… 

Image from our post-Storm Gerrit walk: Eugenie Verney