Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Archive for May, 2013

Last Day in Inverness

Not a lot to write tonight and I suspect there could be less tomorrow. The car had to go back today but before we dropped it off we took a run to The Slochd, a pass through the hills which although only 605m at the highest point is often impassable because of snow. On one side there is a natural rock formation called, The Soldier’s Head which I’ve never managed to photograph because of the dangerous road. After several trips down that road we’d worked out a layby where we could stop to walk back for a photo (In this instance the wrong side of the Armco barrier was the right side!) so that’s what we did.

After dropping off the car Lena picked us up and we came back to the house. Maybe not everyone knows Alex’s love of the saying, “If it wasn’t for the last minute nothing would ever get done”. He put that into practise today and has put together a water feature and placed it in the garden, fixed some curtain retainers, had a Papa Nap and removed then raised a curtain track. Lena did mention the jobs the first week we arrived, maybe that’s why she was pleased to see us.

The Golf Bag has gone back up into the loft and my bag is packed, Alex is waiting for another ”last minute” to pack his bag, he learnt l-o-n-g ago it was no use thinking I’d pack it for him. The light woke me again this morning at 4am so I think I’ll be going to bed early tonight, Alex might start packing then, the train leaves for London at 7:55.

Thanks Lena and Mark for putting up with us invading your space and making sure we had a great holiday.

Aviemore

When we were in Strathpeffer, Alex hitting golf balls and me driving a buggy, the Pro Shop was peopleless when we’d finished (probably the pro had gone home to sit by his fire) so Alex wasn’t able to get any trinkets. We went back this morning to remedy that then stopped in Dingwall for a last supper at Grants Café.

Mark, the shorter, had an orthodontist appt. so it was about 3:30 when we arrived in Aviemore. Colin and Ali had their clubs out ready so when “The Boys” went off to play at Carr Bridge Lena and I went for a walk to find a cache or two. We walked along the main road then up through the Centre. I decided that Aviemore looks different now because all the action is in the village and the Centre just seems to be a cluster of Hotels. When we lived there all the action was in The Centre. There was a Swimming Pool, Ice Rink, Restaurants, Sports Shops and Ski School offices etc then in Santa Claus Land there were heaps of little shops, amusements and, of course, a resident Santa. We walked to the Dry Ski Slope which is still up in the Centre and there is a small Climbing Wall but it certainly wasn’t a bustling place like the town is now.

My search for the cache took us up and across the new A9 then through a field and into a Birch Wood. Lena found the cache quite easily then we walked through the Wood, along a path between Loch Puladdern and Craig Ellachie. In the 7 years I lived there I’d never been that way but it was a really lovely walk. We walked back towards the old A9 and past the Youth Hostel where I stayed when I first arrived in Aviemore, the building is a nice new stone one now. The second cache we found was on the old bridge over The Spey River, the fastest flowing river in Scotland. As we walked back along the back road we passed the place where the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages lived. The old board where “The Banns” were posted is still on the wall. Our banns were posted there and nobody knew because the place isn’t on the main road so unless you went out of your way you’d never see them. I remember Alex’s mum saying confidently we couldn’t get married because our banns hadn’t been posted but they actually were. They had to be on display for two weeks before a marriage could take place, that was supposed to allow time for anyone to make objections.

We walked back past the “Butcher’s Burn” where in the long ago the butcher used to dress the meat using the nice clean, clear water. By then we were ready for a warming drink so stopped at Cobb’s Café before heading back out the road towards Milton Park. We had time to visit the lovely, new school, new Fire Station and the Stone Circle before The Boys returned. They all swore they hadn’t been cold even Colin, who was wearing shorts.

Lazy Sunday

Nothing special today. After going to a “Car Boot Sale” in a Leisure Centre Hall we went looking for Highland Cow teatowels, everyone loves them don’t they? Alex realised he could drive across town without any help from the cyborg, I certainly couldn’t. There is no Ring Road, it doesn’t seem to matter where you want to go you always have to drive through narrow city streets and negotiate at least 3 complex roundabouts to get anywhere at all.

We’ve discovered that Tescos comes in three different sizes, small, medium and large. Small has the usual food and groceries, medium tosses in some clothes and large adds things like TVs. Very handy to know if we were staying longer.

I convinced Alex we should go for a walk along the canal despite his sore Achilles. There wasn’t much happening there, no boats going through the locks and no people fishing, just dog walkers and people like us. At the Marina there were a few people working on their boats, some either getting their luggage off or preparing to get it onto a boat and more people sitting on their boats, relaxing and enjoying the reasonable weather. One of the lockmasters told us he was about to go and check the lock levels. Apparently people who live nearby don’t like the sound of water cascading over the top of the lock so they have to release enough water from the base of the gates to make sure that doesn’t happen. I would have thought people who choose to live beside a canal would enjoy the sounds that emanate from it.

Tomorrow we plan to go to Aviemore so Alex, Colin and young Mark can have a game of golf at Dalfaber Country Club but it will probably depend on the weather. We might have had our allocation of good days!

Remember you can click on a single photo to go to a Slideshow and see a larger version.

Inshriach

Yesterday we drove past Dulnavert Cottages where Alex’s family used to live then we went to Inshriach Nursery. When Alex was young his mum worked at “The Big House” (Home of Major and Mrs Drake) and Alex got his first job working there when he was 15. He was the farm’s dogsbody, cleaning horse harnesses, cutting Ragwort aka Stinking Willie, painting gates and picking produce from the Kitchen Garden. Mr Jack, son of Major Drake established the Alpine Nursery at Inshriach. The original potting shed, has now become a Tearoom called, “The Potting Shed” and the rest is was just the way Alex remembered it. From inside the café you can sit and watch birds through big windows. People told me you could always see Red Squirrels there feeding but they must have been away on holiday yesterday.

We came home along the old A9, which was the main road from the south to Inverness until shortly before we left in 1978. Alex worked on the bridge building at Tomatin. At Carr Bridge we stopped to check out the old Packhorse Bridge (built before Alex could legally leave school).

Tonight we had a nice meal out to celebrate Lena’s birthday, I’m DEFINITELY due for some serious walking and salad eating when we get home.

Fort George

It’s my day off from blogging today, Alex and Lena went into Fort George while I had a snooze in the car. They went in and walked around with an audio thingie. They watched a short film about the different regiments. Their paternal grandfather served in the Seaforth Highlanders in WW1 and was killed in action. He’s buried in Meteren Cemetery in the north of France. His widow was left with four young children at home, their dad was the oldest child aged 7.

The garrison was built by the English rulers after the 1745 rebellion (Bonnie Prince Charlie’s failed rebellion) to impose order on the unruly Scots. It’s still a working garrison and the Squaddies were going about their business. (Some were out on the firing range disturbing my sleep.) Some were lined up in civvies waiting to get their “Permission to go slips”. The building looks as though it hasn’t been changed since it was built.

In the Museum there were poignant messages sent from soldiers to their families during WW1 and WW2 and personal belongings including a mud splattered kilt which belonged to a soldier injured at The Somme. In the Ex Governor and Commander in Chief’s living quarters they had uniforms you could try on and take selfies. One of the staff suggested Alex try on a kilt and show off his legs but he declined. He did find a jacket the same as his dad would have worn in the Royal Artillery but it was apparently meant for an undersized soldier so it was too small for Alex.

Since both Alex and Lena have dodgy knees they ascended the steep, wet, grassy ramparts to see the gun placements (all original) very carefully and descended even more carefully.

I was startled out of my sleep when the back door of the car suddenly opened. Their tour was over.

I won’t be blogging tomorrow, it’s a private family day.

Golf Day at Strathpeffer

Today started warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, the promise of another perfect day…. somewhere. Here it was OK at first with only a few clouds and it didn’t seem too cold. I left the house without a jumper or jacket on but did put them in the car. On the way to Strathpeffer I saw another Fly Fisherman and this time I managed to get a photo, he was up to his waist in the water.

Alex’s booking was for 10:00 at Strathpeffer and as soon as we arrived the jumper and jacket went on and I knew I should have left my beanie and scarf in my backpack. It was daft to think they were only needed on the islands.

There were only a couple of cars in the Carpark and as soon as we’d organised the buggy etc we were off. I THOUGHT I was joking when I said I’d be using my Jeep Club training but the track beside the 1st hole made me really wonder what I was in for. The Golf Course truly is a beautiful setting and so much easier to appreciate when you’re tootling about in a buggy rather than trudging up and down all the hills.

The only weather we missed out on today was snow! Luckily when the hail came down we were able to shelter in a little hut. Every time I stopped I tried to position the buggy so the plastic windscreen would take the wind head on but it was impossible to get good protection. The guy in the pro shop had warned us that we shouldn’t have any trouble with the buggy apart from the 18th where we must stay on the buggy track because it was quite precipitous and slippery anywhere else. When I saw the hole I realised what he meant and certainly wouldn’t have been keen to head off straight down from the top but the buggy track was fine.

Alex has decided that Strathpeffer is a Golf Course every golfer should play but I think the golfer who duffed his shot on the 15th at Askernish should ignore that advice. He would have lost balls in a pond, in bracken, in the Machair, heaps of places before he got anywhere near the fairway.

After we’d finished we went into Dingwall to Grant’s Café for a warm up and some lunch. An ideal place for both.

Glasgow

Glasgow is 170 miles from Inverness or 273 Kms but it took us about 4 hours with a diversion in Falkirk to see the Falkirk Wheel, a wonderful invention apparently. Unfortunately when a stubborn, inflexible GPS cyborg conflicts with a Council road closure and a simple time limitation there can be no happy resolution, so we had to abandon our search.

We were frequently reminded by flashing road signs that suicidal deer were a distinct possibility but I think really the purpose of the signs is to delude tourists into thinking there are wild deer in Scotland. High on a motorway embankment we also passed the bizarre Silver spangled Mermaid, why on earth it seemed appropriate to put a mermaid there is beyond me.

We had a nice catchup time with The Aunties and then left Glasgow in rush hour but the renegade GPS cyborg redeemed herself by getting us straight from the heart of Glasgow onto the Motorway without any tense moments.

It takes such a long time to travel the distance between Inverness and Glasgow because sections of dual carriageway are interspersed with two lane highway. It’s the only major link between the two cities and carries all traffic including heaps of big trucks.

Tomorrow I get to drive the golf cart …….. I’ve already had my first lesson in etiquette for Golf Cart drivers!