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Saturday. Where did it start and where did it end???? I’m amazed at the people who fall asleep before the plane has even left the Airport and wake just prior to landing, can only imagine they have discovered the ideal travelling drug. Alex did manage to fall asleep and missed take-off from Singapore. It’s astonishing that there isn’t total chaos. I watched as our plane moved away from the terminal and other planes came past from the right and immediately in front then eventually we moved into the line. It seemed a very long distance until the actual take-off runway and once again we waited as a plane took off then we moved up a bit as the next one went. It was like a line of ducks taking off from a pond with just minimal time between each one.

The flight was fine, I saw an amazing “Light Show”. I’ve never seen lightning like it before, instead of zigzags coming down it seemed to be explosions coming up from the ground. All silent, of course, apart from plane engine noise. We had just the two seats on a window side which was fine but the person who was able to stretch out across four seats must have had their best flight ever. Both of us managed some sleep but I needed to listen to music, estimating the number of tracks that would make each half hour pass, Alex watched a movie. The Flight Path screen is great and I was very happy to see we had a tail wind, at times 222kph! 2 hours exactly from our estimated arrival time the lights were abruptly switched on, no nice gentle use of the dimming switch this time! We were fed and watered offered Duty Free etc then just watched the arrival time count down.

This time I was the one who sailed through Immigration, past the multitudes with my Smart Pass, passport. At the Customs Check, Alex must have kept his Smugglers’ Smirk hidden this time because we were allowed  to go down Aisle 1 and straight out the door, I didn’t see anyone else do that! Matt’s face was a very welcome sight!

Now I remember when Saturday ended, it was at 4:00 in the afternoon when exhaustion swamped us and we HAD to sleep!

Here endeth the tale, hope you’ve enjoyed the blog.

Singapore Airport

Have just landed in Singapore and the sun has gone down, midday UK time. The flight was much better than previous ones, no busting ear drums and be both managed to get some sleep. The worst part of it was probably the guy sitting directly in front of us who would have set off the gas alarm in a Sewerage Plant.

The shades were down the whole flight to simulate night and in a few hours we’ll begin the next leg and it really will be night, I wonder if we’ll nap again. There are people up here on the 3rd level sleeping in Banana Lounges but we’ve decided to just sit in the big chairs and walk about to stretch our legs. Alex has a Tiger beer so he’ll be content. (Tiger Beer at Changi Airport café S$13, The Sidewalk in downtown Singapore S$5.20)

Holidays are exciting, illuminating and really enjoyable but there’s nothing quite like going home!

London Too

The shower in the Hotel was superb, even had two heads, an overhead one as big as a dinner plate and the usual off the wall. Wonderful volume at a perfect temp. No wonder everything looks new, they’ve only been reopened for a few weeks so it’s quite likely no one has ever used the room. The only thing I found annoying was the stiffness of the doors, it took quite an effort to open them, even after I had pushed the green button to unlock it.

We sorted what we needed to for the luggage and left it at the Hotel then went across the road for some breakfast in the St Pancras Railway Station Arcade then we caught one of the Big Buses which do circuits of London. The first bus just had a recorded commentary but the second one had a young girl doing her best to involve passengers eg. Shout DRAGON every time you see a dragon. About 12 o’clock we went into Hyde Park and were immediately visited by Grey Squirrels that thought we had food for them. They’re very cute but not beautiful like the Red Squirrels which have lovely feathery hairs on their ears that glow in the sun. We also saw lot of different birds, horses  being taken for an outing along the Hacking Track or whatever it’s called and a squad of soldiers doing almost the same. We really enjoyed a pizza at a place in the Park. After that we went back to the Big Bus Stop and went past some of the same places as before until we reached the Tower Stop and from there we walked down to the Boat Landing. We were very lucky with our Tour Guide this time, either a Cockney or an actor but great to listen to either way. By the time the boat reached Westminster stop it was time for us to get off so we could walk back to a particular Big Bus Stop where the “Green Bus” would take us back to Kings Cross. All of the buses are actually double decker red ones with just a logo that tells you whether it’s going the red, green or blue route.

Cockney taxi driver was a very cheery chappy, blown away by the thought of a flight to Orrrstraalya. We’re promising ourselves we’ll never again overload our luggage. Had a nice surprise when we boarded the plane, a vacant seat next to us!

London

Lena drove us to the station then went on to work, we went on to London. Her journey was quick, our journey was s-l-o-w! I did see a Roe Deer with antlers near Gleneagles & more Pheasants showed off their glorious colours but no interesting Hebridean Sheep or anything. I had a couple of naps but we were both watching the clock, we wouldn’t go by train to Inverness again, Alex thinks it doesn’t really live up to the Poiret depiction.

We have never had such bulky bags before, mine has even had the expansion zip opened so we were glad the Hotel was right near Kings Cross Station. The Hotel looks brand new but is actually a refurbished old one. After we’d unloaded our gear we were ready to find some “Green Space” and were told the Camley Street Nature Park was up the road a bit so that’s where we went. It was like someone had bodgied up their garden in the middle of a jungle. It was late though and we barely got past the front before we were feeling nervous about being locked in and we’d seen some canal activity so we went back to where we’d come in. The great big gates were locked, luckily there was a girl nearby who told us the little side gate was open. We walked along Pancras Road until we were able to make our way down to the lock.

Watching canal barges going through the lock was fascinating, especially when one guy ahd two barges lashed together and he had no deckies so had to manouver his barges and operate the lock gates by himself. After we’d seen enough on the canal we walked along until we came to the Art School where there were some excellent water features that sounded just like marching as the various sections switched on and off. There were also several buildings decorated with Silver Foil.

Gawd Orrmighty, now he finks he’s a Cockney!

Tried to blog but my laptop won’t connect. Bah Humbug.

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.