We own a four-year old Freelander, a car we only have it because it copes so well with our local roads. While much has been done this winter to improve the Kilchoan-Salen road - a number of sections have been widened, and the nasty corner on the Salen side of Glenborrodale sorted - its condition is poor in many places, and worsening with the continuing winter weather.
It's a round trip of seven hours, on a good day, to take the car to Inverness for its annual service: when we lived in Essex our garage was round the corner. While waiting for it, we visited Cromarty, half an hour's drive north of Inverness. It's a beautiful little town, lying at the entrance to a Firth which must be one of the world's busiest oil rig parks.
We might not have enjoyed Cromarty so much had we known the extent of the repairs to the car. The tyres are on their last legs, and the brakes required major work - this to a 4x4 designed for hard conditions.
Feeling a little battered, we headed home, but stopped for a moment at the north end of Ben Hiant to look across to Eigg and Skye. Under darkening skies, with a front moving in from the southwest, the Cuillins, with their caps of snow, seemed to have moved closer - and we were reminded that we pay a price for living in this beautiful place, and part of the price comes in the wear and tear on our vehicles.