ON the 22nd of September 2012, with the starting gun fired, I found myself on a platform in Princes Street Gardens making the first political speech of my life. It ended: “People will not be voting Yes in 2014 for any particular party or government. This is a referendum, not a parliamentary election.

“People voting Yes will be quite simply plighting their troth to their country’s future as a state as well as a nation. And I will be one of them.”

There followed many conversations with people – mainly in the cultural rather than the political realm – as to how this dream might most easily be made flesh. And the overwhelming feeling was that a thousand flowers needed to bloom; we all had to plan and execute ideas which might attract and persuade people to the overarching Yes cause.

Enter my partner in crime. Unlike me, Jean Urquhart was, for part of her adult life, an elected politician. The former chatelaine of The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool had been first a councillor then an MSP at Holyrood. A woman of independent mind, she switched from SNP to Independent when her party decided to endorse future Scottish membership of Nato.

We had been friends for many years; indeed, she and my late husband had both been raised in Bathgate and knew each other before Jean and I met. We shared broadly similar convictions and values. And a suitable sense of the ridiculous.

We hatched a plot. Supposing she and I were to undertake a road trip; a trip in the weeks leading up to polling day to various Scottish islands in my modest VW Beetle? Suitably customized for the occasion. We would also have the company of my normal navigator: Ghillie, the Tibetan Terrier. Another woman with attitude.

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(Which led to our first little local difficulty. Ghillie knew her place and that was in the front passenger seat. The glower aimed at Jean from the back seat would have felled a more wimpy soul than Mistress Urquhart at 50 paces.)

I visited the Yes campaign offices and relieved them of a bagload of goodies with which to charm the hopefully friendly natives en route. We planned an island hop which would take in Arran, Mull, Islay and, a little later, Shetland, which was ultimately to become Jean’s new home.

We planned accommodation around the car ferry dates; a wonderful wee turf-roofed cottage on Arran; a farmhouse B&B on Islay; a friend’s house on Iona and another in Lerwick. Sorted. Sort of.

And we planned some formal meetings alongside our determination to leave no passer-by/tourist/local dweller unturned in our mission to maximise the Yes vote.

But the meetings would be geared to people and places with no formal political connections or known leanings one way or t’other. We may have lacked experience as itinerant evangelists for Yes, but what we lacked in know-how, we hoped to compensate for in enthusiasm and raw passion for the cause.

The Arran sojourn almost turned two time-served agnostics into true believers. The sun split the heavens, and one evening, as we ate shoreside in Lamlash, we watched children laughing and playing in the sea. In Scotland. In a Scottish summer. The omen felt good.

No names, no pack drill about the meeting room where we met target voters. Suffice to say it had a fairly intimate relationship with the NHS. We had a rough-and-ready pitch for each occasion. A sort of good cop/good cop routine.

And we found folk eager to chat, eager to debate, eager to ask questions. No eggs or rotten tomatoes were harmed in the making of these encounters.

The Islay sojourn was similarly pleasant, though some in the farming community were obviously oblivious to our blandishments. I thought then, and still do now, that an antipathy to the Common Agricultural Policy and its supposed bias to French rural communities might have some merit. But it wouldn’t pay many bills when the subsidies disappeared.

And as we drove around the winding and single-track island roads, at once enchanting and frustrating, we saw a great deal of signage suggesting that the EU had underwritten a wheen of infrastructure projects.

Our landlady on Iona, base camp for Mull, provided one of our more unexpected hustings. She invited a load of people round her dinner table and set us loose on them – many sceptical, but many persuadable. We gave it our best shot ...

This is an excerpt from Summer Of '14, our upcoming glossy indyref magazine. For the full (much longer) piece, pre-order your copy today!