The two children peered out of the car windows at the tree trunks, haphazardly piled up on each other like a heap of gigantic matchsticks, their roots tracing out wild twisted patterns, flexing and flailing in the fierce wind that blew over the moor. The girl sat upright in the car, pressing her face to the window, looking down at the road, which passed frantically beneath the wheels. The boy, sitting opposite, looked out towards the Cowal peninsula - just about visible across the loch, flickering in and out of view between the still-standing shrubbery.

In the driver's seat their father Robert tried to relax, but with each gust he couldn't help but increase his grip on the steering wheel.

Slowly the road descended off the moorland and approached the loch. Here the road was littered with small rocks and seaweed, and Robert turned on the windscreen wipers as spray from the loch - carried up and over the rocks by the wind - began to rattle down on the car.

Eventually the road rose again onto the moorland, and from the top Robert could see his friend Frederik's house, bright and white in the sun, nestled into a small sheltered bay. A large crescent-shaped pebble beach curled out into the loch in front of it. A small woodland of salty trees climbed up the hillside behind.

As Robert parked next to the garage, Frederik's face appeared, smiling, in the small square pane of glass of the front door. Robert cut the engine and quickly escorted the kids in, hunched over them with his raincoat to give some basic protection from the wind.

"Great to see you!" Frederik said, taking off their coats and hanging them up next to the door. The house had a firm, chalky, smell. It reminded Robert of his wife Iona's parents house - a big old white cottage located just outside Glasgow.

"How are things?" Frederik asked.

"Oh you know, could be worse. And here? It feels like it's been a long time."

"Windy," Frederik replied, laughing. "But you picked a good time to come. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow morning."

There was a boom as the door, which had been sitting just off the latch as the kids entered, slammed shut behind them, causing everyone to pause.

"Actually, I was perhaps thinking about driving back with the kids this evening."

"Yeah, no problem - I totally understand," replied Frederik, looking down at them.

"And I'm really sorry to hear about Iona's father," he added.

"No worries. Thanks for inviting us over. Iona will appreciate it."

They directed the children into the living room, where the kids pounced on the two round ginger cats who had been nestled together on the sofa under a haze of sun and dust motes.

Robert sat down heavily in one of the old armchairs and took in a deep breath. Frederik stood in the doorway, his arms behind his back. The French doors that looked out over the bay rattled quietly, accompanied by a gentle whistle from the fireplace chimney.

"Did you guys add some more noise-proofing?" Robert asked.

"You know what, I don't think it has changed since you were last here," Frederik replied.

"Apart from the garage. We got that finished this summer. It was good to do it now - I don't know for how much longer a project like that is going to be viable."

"Looked great to me!" Robert said, gesturing for Frederik to come in and sit down.

"Right now it's just got a few chest freezers and some canned food in," Frederik said, sitting down on the arm of the sofa.

"How is your new place?" he added.

"Very nice. It's actually pretty close to the Cochno Barrier. Life is practically normal - at least with respect to the wind."

The last time Frederik had driven to Glasgow the barrier had been still under construction. He remembered the large cranes, rotating slowly, purposefully, over the A82 - metal girders hanging off them, swinging. And the small line of homeless tents.

"Changing the kids' school was difficult - but somehow we managed to get a spot at Boclairs. It's a little too unsafe to let the kids walk by themselves, but the parents are talking about organising a school bus type thing."

The kids, having exhausted the cats of entertainment, had returned to stand patiently next to Robert. Frederik got up and walked over to the television to put something on for them to watch.

"And what do those two think of it all?"

"A bit confused as to why they now have to share a room, but I think they'll be thankful in a few years if they don't need to move school again."

It was odd to hear Robert talking about a few years. It felt like such a short amount of time out here on the loch. Frederik had plans for the year coming up of course - but what took up the real, quantifiable, space in his head was the image of his life in forty years time. It was the reason he had bought this place sheltered in the bay with his wife Rina in the first place.

And what he saw in his head when he imagined those forty years was icy ground and strong winds. And while the winter ice was a constant, the wind had been getting stronger and steadier every year, and would only continue to grow - and according to some forecasts - by a lot.

It would not be long until Robert's children would have not just the next forty years to consider - but the next sixty years. And not in the fun, "what do you want to be when you grow up" way - in the same very real, practical, tedious, responsible way that Robert had decided to move his own family to live under the Cochno barrier.

About fifteen miles down the road toward Inveraray Rina was sitting in the car with the engine running. In front of her was a large tree trunk, and a pile of earth and dry stone wall that the tree had dragged onto the road as it had fallen. Why had this tree not been cut down already like the others? Perhaps some moronic farmer had blocked it? Well either way, it was unlikely that the tree would be moved until late in the evening or perhaps even tomorrow morning.

Rina rolled down the window of the car and wind flooded in, filling it with a frantic loudness. She leaned her head out the window and let out a sharp "fuck" over the landscape, before rolling the window back up. It was a habit she'd gotten into which Frederik hated, but it made her feel better.

"What do you have to be angry about?" he would say. "Strong winds surely cannot come as a surprise by now."

But it wasn't that. She was angry at the whole thing. And besides, it was not so unreasonable to be angry at this fucking wind.

The car rocked as it was hit by another small gust.

"Fuck" she said again, under her breath.

It was hardly the end of the world. They would simply have to throw something together with what was in the fridge (and freezers). Rina put the car into gear and swung it around onto the other side of the road to start the drive back.

From the top of the moor she could see the foam and spray from the loch being lifted high into the air. Out further she could see the valleys and peaks of the waves rolling in. At some point, every single one of those waves would crash onto the shore, she thought - and as they did, more would take their place - even bigger than before.

From inside the car, the glistening loch water looked particularly appealing today. It had been a long time since she had gone swimming in the loch. This summer she probably would have been able to - if she'd picked the day carefully.

She glanced at the fuel gauge. There was enough to take the long way around to the shops and back if the tree was still not removed by tomorrow. But as she looked back at the road, she could not shake the feeling that the gauge had somehow already ticked down in the corner of her vision, and had to stop herself from immediately looking back at it. That made her want to say "fuck" again.

Soon she reached the top of the moor, and could see Robert's little green car parked up next to the house. She followed the lane down to the house and parked inside the new garage. As she opened the car door she was greeted by the dank, quiet smell of cold concrete and petrol that hung fixed in the warm, still air. She took a deep breath.

"You're back early," said Frederik.

Robert got up and gave Rina a warm embrace.

"There is a tree on the road to Inveraray. I expect it won't be removed until tomorrow morning. We'll just have to make dinner with whatever we have in," Rina replied.

Frederik looked over to Robert.

"There is a long-way-around, but you're still welcome to stay the night if you like."

Out of the French doors Robert could see the dark triangular shadow that the cottage cast over the back garden. Beyond that was the loch - still rolling and churning in the sun like a huge pile of broken green, white, and blue glass.

It was at about this time of day that the shadow of the barrier reached their house in Faifley. Accompanied by the same unbearable coldness that the radiators could not seem to combat.

"Let's stay," Robert said. "I'll message Iona."

Frederik headed back into the garage to dig through the freezers, and Rina headed off into the pantry.

A few moments later, Rina returned with a bottle of wine, holding the base and presenting it proudly to Robert. The word "Mistral" was written on the black label, decorated with two distinctive white spirals that wrapped and twisted up and around, framing the words.

Robert looked up at Rina, not sure what he was looking at. "Now that you're not driving?" she asked.

"Oh sure, go on then!"

She poured three glasses and took one into the kitchen for Frederik.

"One of the few things that has improved in the last decade," Rina said happily.

"I promise I'm not a wine buff, but I like this one. On the label it says something about the wind dropping the humidity, stopping frost from forming, extending the growing season and slowing the sugar accumulation."

Robert looked back down into his glass.

"Supposedly that gives these grapes more time to build flavour."

Robert took a sip. It was sweet and heady. He leaned back in his arm chair and closed his eyes.

"That is, when the vines actually survive," said Rina's voice.

Robert wondered if he could ever live in a place like this. All it would take would be one of the kids injuring themselves or falling ill, combined with the difficulty of getting to the nearest hospital, to send him and Iona into a full on panic.

The smell of butter, garlic, and seafood started drifting in from the kitchen.

"What are you making?" Robert shouted.

"Some kind of seafood stew!" Frederik shouted back. "Or garlic bread and chips for the kids if they don't want it."

It reminded Robert of visiting Provence with Iona on their honeymoon. He wondered if it would be possible to take the train all the way to Nice. Flying was just so unpredictable and expensive these days - there was no way they could afford it.

The three of them and the children ate together as the sun set. Afterwards they returned to the living room, where Frederik put on the TV and they watched it together until the children started getting tired. Robert and Frederik went upstairs to prepare their rooms, have them brush their teeth, and put them to bed.

After the children were asleep, Robert headed back down the stairs, where Frederik was already waiting for him with a bottle of whisky.

"Do you want some?"

"Just a little," replied Robert.

"You can't buy this one any more," Frederik said, "the distillery shut down when everyone moved off the islands."

"But I've got so many bottles of whisky now I'll probably be dead before I get through them all."

Robert took a sip. It felt like a long time since he had drunk whisky. Out of the French doors the dark loch water was still just about visible, the edges illuminated by the last light travelling over the horizon. Rina came in and joined them, glass of wine still in hand.

"You know, I really was sorry to hear about Iona's father. Were you two close?" Rina asked.

Robert wasn't sure what to say. The fact was, in a way they were. Inexplicably linked in their love for Iona. But more than that - Robert had felt a kind of odd kinship with Iona's father. He too, had been the person in the family who people brought their issues to - someone you could expect to consider your problems seriously - to try to do what was best to help you.

"In a way we were... but... he never believed things were getting worse, you know? Right up until the end."

Frederik and Rina looked back steadfastly.

"He didn't speak much about it, but he joined the protests against the construction of the Cochno barrier. He couldn't understand why we were moving there."

Robert looked again toward the French doors, which with the sun now entirely set, reflected only a deep black version of what was already inside the room.

"It was hard for him without Iona's mother. I think he was probably just lonely in those last few years."

"That's too bad," said Frederik.

"And yet, you know, I had this weird feeling of jealousy when he passed away." And although Robert for some reason found it extremely difficult to say it out loud - from the look on the faces of Frederik and Rina he knew they understood - that this man had died quickly, and quietly, never facing the reality of the world he inhabited.

"He scoffed at the little house we bought in Faifley - thought we were insane - like - how anyone could ever want to live under that dark, ugly barrier's shadow?"

"Denial." Frederik said, "it's sad."

Robert looked straight ahead at the stone fireplace that jutted out slightly into the living room. It was made of stacks of rough rocks, mortared together to create an arch. The more he looked, the more Robert felt he could see. Each rock was its own moorish landscape, filled with valleys, and mountains, and colours - patches of green, and purple, and grey, like tiny microscopic wildflowers. And all of that detail, although he had not seen it earlier, had been there the whole time.

One of the cats, who had crept in unnoticed, suddenly jumped up onto Robert's lap, digging its claws into his jeans to grip as it landed. Shocked, Robert knocked his glass over, spilling some whisky onto the table.

Frederik and Rina both got up at the same time.

Unfazed, the cat pushed its head into Robert's chest, before turning around in a circle and sitting down, starting to purr quietly to itself.

"Not sure I can handle the whisky," Robert said, "do you have any more of that wine?"

"Of course!" Rina said, smiling. "Let me get something to clean that up too - don't move."

"Don't worry," Frederik said, coming over and looking down at the spill, "I already told you how much I have to get through!"

Frederik picked up Robert's glass, and went to join Rina in the kitchen. Robert could hear them whispering quietly to each other.

And as he sat there, he realised the only other noise he could hear was the rattling of the French doors in the wind which, he felt, was already far quieter than before. It looked like the forecast was going to be correct.

Robert woke to the sound of the TV and people chatting. He could hear the kid's voices, and the sound of clanking in the kitchen.

As he trotted down the stairs he saw Frederik, still in pyjamas.

"See, I told you it was going to be a nice day," Frederik said, pointing out of the window at the grass which was waving gently in the wind - the loch water flowing up and down the pebble beach gently behind.

Once breakfast was finished, Robert hugged Frederik and Rina, and they said their goodbyes, piling the kids back into the car.

It was warm in the car, and as they pulled up onto the moor Robert thought how different the landscape looked from this direction. The way the sun broke through the clouds, the movement of the water, even the colours of the moorland itself. And the kids were quiet too, looking out to the right at the loch, the flattened pine forests passing over their shoulders.

After a couple of hours of driving they left the highlands, and the Cochno barrier appeared on the horizon. It undeniably dominated the landscape; vast, black, metallic, titanic - the mesh-like surface quivering and flexing in the sun. The approaching cars looked almost comically small in comparison, moving up to the barrier in a procession, as if on a conveyor belt - entering into the enclosed entry passage that cut through the barrier at an awkward almost right angle.

As Robert's car passed under the barrier and into the shadow it immediately started to feel cold. Robert glanced in the rear-view mirror. The city of homeless tents was bigger than ever, covering the dark damp pavement in a patchwork of dark, wet blues, reds, and greens. It was growing, undoubtedly.

The kids too sat up, obscuring the view of the tents, and twisting themselves to look back out at the barrier as it passed into the distance. Robert suddenly felt excited to get back and see Iona. Among all the uncertainty the future held he was sure of one thing: he was unnaturally, inhumanely lucky.