Definition: "To begin living a stable and orderly life"
Hmmm, "stable and orderly", I'm not too sure about that! But it's a phrase I've found myself using several times over the last couple of weeks and it's a sign of the significant effect living in this area has had on me already.
A bit of background. As a boy, my Dad brought me up to the western Highlands on many occasions, and I loved it then and pored over photos of the great mountains of this area....the Ben (of course!), the Aonach Eagach, Bidean Nam Bian, the Buchaille (that most iconic of Scottish mountains), Beinn a Bheithir.
We came many times, we walked the hills and the passes inbetween them, I have great memories of early morning walks on the loch shore, spotting seals and herons, of warm summer days spent by lochsides or by the burn in a beautiful glen somewhere.
And I'd continued to head up here in the intervening years, although in more recent times, I've been drawn much further north to the extraordinary scenery of Sutherland. But always, heading through Glencoe and along the lochside to Fort William, the memories have come flooding back, together with a feeling that I was "home".
April 2011 finally saw me moving to Scotland with Kirsten and, despite having come very close to moving to the Fort William area, work took us up north to the Inverness area, something which we thoroughly enjoyed and made the most of.
But, with Kirsten securing a new job in Lochaber, we got the chance to move down to the area in the end. Not that I was 100% happy with it initially. I'd loved living in our "hideaway" in the Strathpeffer woods, and resisted the move to the "busier" Lochaber area.
But we were lucky enough to find a place to rent over the other side of the loch from the Fort.
And HOW lucky we were, we didn't realise it at the time.
This place has changed our perceptions already and, wherever else me may eventually end up, I think a major factor will be having the sea, or a sea loch, nearby.
I'd never lived by the sea, always fancied it though. And, when you consider it, the western Highlands are synonymous with mountains towering above sea lochs, almost fjord-like. It's what makes the area so special. Therefore it was only right and proper to live by the sea! And what a joy it is, in every way......from watching the flowing tides, day in, day out, to seeing lights reflecting across the still water, spotting herons on the shore, seabirds flying past at all times of day and, over the last few days, the huge pleasure and privilege of watching an otter at play in the shallows. I'm also absorbed by the activities over at the Corpach saw mill and the comings and goings of boats laden with logs, felled from the Highland slopes. There is always something to see here!
Add in some splendid hills right out the back of the house, and plenty of roads for cycling (including a 25-mile round trip to the nearest shop!) and we are in a great location. Oh and, of course, to top it all, a wee passenger ferry to take us the 10 minutes across to Fort William whenever we need to....not a bad commute for Kirsten to her office.
I really do feel like I've come "home".
And that's where the "settling down" comes in. I can see us staying here (in this area anyway) for a long, long time (I wasn't sure I could further north). I'm also finding there is no need to travel off in search of adventure all the time, it's right here in front of our eyes. The van is being used less and less. We've just spent a whole weekend enjoying the area around the house, on foot and on bike, rather than heading off in search of new places. I'm sensing this will be the way forward and, going back to the title, there is a real calmness and serenity flowing over me at the thought of this.
Of course, life still has its little annoyances and challenges. I'd love to find a decent accountancy job here for a couple of days a week and then supplement it with sports massage income, but they're few and far between up here. I'd also love to sell my house down south, but it's proving difficult and it feels a long way away when I need to get down there.
But these are all manageable and I'm coping with them because I really do feel I've found where, and how, I want to spend the rest of my life.
Plenty of places to explore, plenty of things to see, plenty of adventures to be had, settled down.........