Although I have never done more than spend holidays in Scotland, I am very aware of how much it influenced me, both in its reality and as an idea.

My father, Donald Kennedy Macfarlane, emphasized his Scottishness strongly and I identified with him. I even wore a Macfarlane tartan kilt through my five years at my boarding school in Yorkshire. I had a number of relatives in Scotland, including my Scottish grandparents in the early years, to whom I was sent for part of my school holiday because my parents were in India. These holidays were particularly memorable because of the countryside, the fishing, walking and new friends and inter-acting with my cousins.

This early influence was reinforced when I went with friends from University on a tour of the Outer Hebrides in 1961, my first year at Oxford. From then on my parents and I developed plans to buy a croft in the Outer Isles, which were not far from the Inner Isles where my Scottish ancestors had been ministers in the Church of Scotland.

The story of the purchase of the croft on North Uist in 1968 and the island atmosphere is told in detail in my mother's (Iris Macfarlane), articles for the Scotsman, which I have edited and published as And We in Dreams. During the years covered in that book, I visited the croft a number of times and the experience once again left deep memories. The croft remains linked to me though the fact that my sister Fiona still lives there.