Iesha Small

speaker, writer, communications professional

Helping working class and introverted professionals thrive.

The Wrong Type of Tree

I am surrounded by trees here. I’ve just watched as the hint of a train sped through the trees in the forrest  about 100-200m from the front of my flat. Behind me there are more trees at the base of the Cairngorm mountains. Trees to the left of me extend along the Badenoch way, to the town of Kingussie. To the right of me there are trees lining the Speyside Way which eventually extents to the Scottish East coast.  Walking along the Speyside Way there is an overwhelming smell of pine, which is good, if like me, you love that smell. If pine aroma isn’t for you … well I don’t know- maybe bring one of those nose pinch things that swimmers use.

It’s fair to say there are a lot of trees here. The Scottish Highlands is home to the few remaining parts of ancient Caledonian forest (dating back at least 7 millennia). The wider region, including the Cairngorms has taiga/boreal forest biome- because of the high concentration of scotch pine-  that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the UK. However, for my purposes, they are all the wrong type of tree. If you are a leaping deer or scampering red squirrel (yes, RED, I saw my first one ever a few days ago) I’d imagine the trees are just right. Very tall alpine things. Wonderful.

But they are the wrong type of tree for me.

I have yet to see a single tree here that is suitable for me to hang my gymnastic rings on. I need trees with long thick branches. Hench trees, tree equivalents of body builders or power lifters. Here, I’m surrounded by tall and lean trees, or trees with short branches like T-rex arms (at least at any height I can reach). There is an abundance of super model trees. Graceful, tall and beautiful but their arms might snap if I hang myself off the end of one.

(This was the surprising sight of pine trees at Loch Morlich beach – a natural beach at the foot of the Caingorms mountain range, very close to where I’m staying).

I appreciate this is a fairly niche concern to have but at home I hang from a bar or a tree or similar every day for a few minutes to stretch my body out and it feels great and really helps my shoulders and back. I thought it was a little excessive to bring my pull up bar here with me (actually I didn’t but Mel did and my car was pretty full). I thought bringing my gymnastic rings would be a reasonable compromise. I’d find a tree to hang them from and all would be good.  Like the trees at home near the library *wistful look*. 

I’ve yet to find that elusive tree. I wonder if my landlord will mind me hanging the straps of my olympic rings from the wooden railing on my balcony. In the mean time, it’s a good thing I’ve got my steel club and resistance bands to keep me busy too

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For the next few months I’ll be writing about a wider ranger topics than usual because I’m taking some extended leave and expanding my horizons in a variety of ways. I hope you’ll come on this journey with me.

Links to select external writing

Outside Voices (ebook and interactive project compilation)

Inclusive Classrooms, disrupting power dynamics (article)

I don’t blame any teacher for not coming out as gay (article)

The Unexpected Leader (book)


The Wrong Type of Tree