Now with our wheels taking us from country to city, we were entering the borderlands – between urban and rural, between, west and east, and between cultures. This was Inverness, capital of the Highlands.
Many paths converge at the thriving hub that is Velocity cafe and bike repair workshop. It has been going barely a year, and is now a meeting place for all sorts of people, from families to tourists to grannies and grandpas, to the main people who come to the workshop to repair their trusty bicycles.
We were set up in the middle of the workshop, and we made full use of the Seed Truck bicycles – the Smoothie Bike and Mill Bike. Mrs Mash was again in action, telling stories and cooking drop scones to go with them, using the freshly milled flour. Meanwhile, Laura, one of the co-founders of the cafe, had been out picking wild raspberries that morning, and along with organic gooseberries and red, white and blackcurrants from the farm that supplies the cafe, we soon had some ace smoothies on the go.
That evening was a cultural event high on the Richter Ceilidh Scale! Although it started off in a fairly unassuming way, by the end of the night we had highland dancing, we had tunes on the musical saw, we had tales as long as your arm, and poetry fresh off the pen that day. A thanks to local storyteller Lilian Ross for coming along too.
We delved into the importance of having a sense of belonging in a place, and of the importance of being able to have access to land. That night we stayed at the flat where most of the Velocity crew live, and were made very welcome. What hospitality! As we left Inverness the next morning, we reflected on Velocity’s slogan “For the love of bikes” – which, Laura told us, had been expanded to include “For the love of cakes” and other variations. But, she told us, their philosophy is really about bringing people together – “It’s ‘For the love of people’ really”.
And even in the city, we were handed a handful of packets of seeds: rocket, poppy, broccoli