Week 3 and 4. Out of the City.

Saturday 17th August 2013

First an apology, to all those (including me) who think this blog should be written in English and not American. Unfortunately when I buggered the old computer failed I also lost my copy of Microsoft Office, now I’m no fan of Microsoft as many of you will know, but at least Bill Gates knows that England and America speak a similar language but spell the same words differently (colour/color, Harbour/harbor, travelling/traveling) unlike Steve Jobs who seems to have gone to his grave thinking that both were exactly the same and I have (so far) found no way of changing the new word processor (Pages) dictionary to proper (UK) English and if the standard of my spelling was described as “awful” I would be quite pleased it’s absolutely appalling, so until I can change the dictionary . . . . . . .!

We didn’t put as much thought into our destination after Edinburgh as we should. We had vague notions of going back to the city to “do” the Ian Rankin (author of Rebus) tour Hidden Edinburgh, so opted for the nearest site. Unfortunately Yellowcraig Caravan Club Site, although a super site, is to the east of the city and to continue on our way we must go back through Edinburgh and then northwards. Still it was a pleasant journey, we have a pleasant pitch and more important no queues to use the loos in the morning.

Sunday 18th August 2013

Not much activity today as Sue is still not well, so we pop’d into North Berwick and had a little wander along the sea front it is still (we were here in 2009) a very quaint and pleasant town with lots of small local shops but sadly the one decent grocers has gone leaving just a small convenience type Co-Op. It must be assumed that Tesco or similar has opened somewhere close, lets hope it doesn’t destroy that high street as it has done so many others. After our shopping we finished the afternoon with a walk down to the beach from the caravan site, it only takes 10 minutes but it is an absolute joy - one of those beaches where if you don’t take it you don’t have it. There was an ice cream van in the car park but that is used only on the way to or back from the beach it’s too far to pop back and the nearest shop is around three miles away. The beach was crowded with families having fun by doing things together, playing football or cricket, building sandcastles, eating sandy sarnies.

Monday 19th August 2013.

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Although feeling better Sue is still feeling rough today so its another local day, just a trot to Tesco to get supplies then the rest of the day with our feet up. We carry three proper purpose built navigators, the one built into the car, the one that is set with the length, height, width and weight of the car/caravan rig to keep us away from roads we can’t use and a spare - just in case. There is also one in each of our phones and another built into the “tablet”, so how come we got so lost we ended up at St Abbs some 35 miles from where we were supposed to be. Still St Abbs was a super place to visit, it is a very small town with a very narrow road down to the harbour which although still the home to a number of fishing boats seems to cater mainly for divers, needless to say the water was crystal clear. While there we visited the harbour cafe which was selling large plates of langoustines at a very reasonable £7.50 per plate, they were delicious.

Thursday 22nd September 2013

We had a few very lazy days around Yellowcraigs to help Sue over her man cold with just the odd gentle walk down to the beach and a drive or two along the coast and fresh sardines (hopefully a taste of things to come), and today we are on the move again. We have moved north and west into the Cairngorm Mountains, of course we had to go via Edinburgh but this time I managed to find the by-pass, we were looking forward to the view while crossing the Forth Road Bridge but the fog was such that we could see absolutely nothing but a few vehicles in front and a few behind.

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The main bulk of the journey was done on the A93 and was at times quite interesting, sometimes steep and sometimes narrow when towing your home, where it passes the Glenshee Ski Centre it becomes at 670 m (2199 ft) the highest public road in the UK.

This area, The Cairngorms National Park, is a first for us so we are looking forward to exploring, although with very few roads this will probably not take long as, unfortunately, the days of tramping the hills are behind us, but there is a ski lift at Glenshee Ski Centre operating a few miles back down the A93 so we will try that out and hope to see a cracking view from the top.

Friday 23rd August 2013

Got quite excited when we arrived here yesterday as we had full signal on both the phones, great I thought I’ll have internet - wrong!! We do have a strong 2G mobile signal but to access the internet it appears you need a minimum 3G signal and of that there is no trace so in desperation I have had to buy access from The Caravan Club. I bought the largest amount - 100 hours as that is only 40p per hour as opposed to as much as £1.00 per hour for lesser amounts but it can be used at virtually all Caravan Club sites and can be used anytime in the next twelve months.

We went back down the A93 today, thinking we may have a ride to the top of the ski lift, unfortunately the tops of the hills were shrouded in mist so we were not upset when we discovered it was closed and so went for a drive. It was open when we returned taking lads and lasses and their mountain bikes up to the top for an alternative adrenaline rush to skiing when the sun shines (or the rain falls) and the snow melts - but it was still cloudy.

Sunday 25th August 2013

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Yesterday we went the other way along the A93 then left on the A939 for a drive, it is the way we go when we leave here on Tuesday, if we go the same route as we drove today, and our navigator says we will, it will be, er! - shall we say, interesting. as the road goes over a small bridge -, not a problem usually, but The Gairnshiel Bridge is very steep up a pointy top and very steep down the other side. Someone at this campsite say that coaches, twin axle caravans and motorhomes regularly get caught on it but they have never heard of a single axle having trouble. We could of course take an alternative route but this will increase the distance by some 40 miles along similar narrow roads.

As well as doing the washing today we visited Linn of Dee a beauty spot just 6 miles from the site where the River Dee is squeezed through a rocky gorge, it looks great now but when the river is in flood it will look stunning. Finished the day with a (very) large gin and tonic looking out over a stunning sunset.

Monday 26th August 2013

The highlight today was a visit to a shop, OK I can hear your incredulity, but this was a farm shop in the middle of nowhere, it advertised a cafe so we stopped for a cup of tea, thought a cake to go with it would be nice and decided on a cream slice. When they arrived the slices were laid on their sides around 6” square and 2” thick (150mm square and 50mm thick for the younger among you) with three sections of fresh cream and raspberries each separated by the thinest, crispest, sweetest flakey pastry imaginable and served with ice cream and raspberry coulis, yummy.

We watched the Edinburgh Tattoo highlights on the TV tonight, it was recorded the night we were there (we had waited in vain for one of the mobile cameramen to go base over apex or get marched over by the massed bands marching up and down), for those that also watched our seats were facing the castle. The BBC did a great job but nothing can compare with actually being there.

Tuesday 27th August 2013 8.00am

It’s moving day today, we are off north of Inverness, around 80 miles or so, the problem is a local chap on the pitch behind us said we were mad going the route with the little bridge - he would never go that way - the other way though further has better roads and is just as quick. What to do? The horns of a dilemma! When you are pulling your home behind you do you risk it for the sake of an hour and a few miles? I woke at 7.00 am this morning worrying about it.

Tuesday 27th August 2013 4.00pm

We are now set up in Brora Caravan Club Site and did we come via the little pointy bridge? Not likely, I had a chat with the Braemar Club Site warden and he informed me that we had absolutely no chance of getting over the bridge unscathed with a van the length of ours. We took the safe route, just about double the distance but much wider and faster roads (even faster still if you take into account the time potentially spent “un”grounding the van balanced on the top of that pointy bridge and then getting any repairs done). Click here to view a YouTube of the bridge being crossed in a small motorhome.

Thursday 29th August 2013

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We’ve had one relaxing day and one busy day, yesterday we did nothing more than a circular car drive, we were in the back of beyond when we passed a little hand produced sign that pointed down a side road and declared “St Mirren Cemetery” intrigued we turned down the road which almost immediately turned into a dirt track which we followed for a couple of hundred yards to a gate on the gate was a message stating that cattle including a bull was in the field they were dangerous and may cause injury or death and to carry on was at walkers own risk and not that of the land and bull owner. I would have turned back but Sue is made of sterner stuff and with hardly a pause was through the gate and following an indistinct path. Rounding a corner we saw that the cattle were in fact sheep and we strode on eventually spying a small walled area which was the cemetery. Just a few graves were in evidence but we found that stones on the floor were grave stones but weathered so much that no inscription other than the year 173(5)9 could be seen on them. The last person buried here in 1956 was George Murray, who had renovated the cemetery during his lifetime.

Our busy day today was a visit to Dunrobin Castle, I’m going to resist all the remarks about the aristocracy will never be Dunrobin the rest of us, etc., etc. It is a splendid building built in the style of a french chateau the site has been occupied by the same family since the 1400’s. The aristocracy loved their hunting and the museum is more of a mausoleum for the thousands of creatures the Sutherland Clan have slaughtered over the  years and is, to my mind rather depressing to see a large hall like room stuffed to the gunnels with dead animals although I was interested in the size of some of the exhibits, the rhino and hippo skulls were enormous as was the mounted head of the water buffalo - far bigger than I had imagined. Continuing the hunting theme twice a day are falconry flying displays, we were able to watch the afternoon show, the falconer flew four birds, a Peregrine Falcon, an Arctic Falcon, a European Eagle Owl and a Saudi Arabian Falcon, It was a great display by a skilled and knowledgable birdman although, it has to be said, that one of the highlights was when the wooden bench we were sitting on collapsed pitching Sue, and the couple we were sharing with, to the floor. I know not how but I managed to stand as the bench collapsed avoiding joining the others rolling on the floor.

Had a super tea tonight, scallops with Scotish black pudding and salad - yummy. What I want to know is why when Scotland lands some of the best seafood in the world it puts virtually all of it on lorries to Spain and other Mediteranian.

Friday 30th August 2013

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We have managed to avoid what we will probably have to accept before we get much further - the eye watering £1.50 litre of diesel. Yesterday it was (in the same garage) simply a jaw dropping £1.48, somewhat different to the £1.38.7 we paid just a week ago. Today we visited the Timespan Heritage Centre at Helmsdale, a small seaside town that in the early 19th century was pickling and exporting to places such as Lowestoft, 20,000 barrels of herrings per year. The timespan museum was mainly about the clearances and very interesting, but took a lot of concentration as the written detail was too small to read comfortably, the mock-ups of houses and work places was very good but lacked detail (longhouses had dirt floors not polished tiles) but despite the criticism it is worthy of a visit to put into perspective the devastation of the Highland clearances.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014