Things we (either) forgot to bring (or haven’t found yet)

  • The wok
  • A potato peeler
  • Tablespoons
  • Collapsible steamer baskets
  • Sufficient coffee mugs for a pair of visitors

I took  the travelling wok out of the van before we left and asked for the good kitchen one to  be put in. It never made it. We now own a third wok, purchased at Tesco in Huntly.

A rigid steamer section was purchased as a temporary solution from the charity shop in Brora (£1)

The coffee mug situation was fixed before the extended family arrived on Sunday.

Days 6 to 8, a little exhausting

We are in Huntly and on a hookup – with lots of lovely power for the lappie.

Now,  if the 23rd of the month was Day 5, today must be… gosh, Day 9? Three nights at Brahan whizzed by PDQ. We did rather more walking than planned and we got a little wet from time to time but it was almost as peaceful and relaxing as we had remembered – only this time with guns.

We parked in the same spot as last time, which was pretty much a year ago to the day I reckon.

The site at Brahan takes up to 5 vans and is ranged along an old  tree-lined drive, the ha-ha supplying an uninterrupted view across the field

The site at Brahan takes up to 5 vans and is ranged along an old tree-lined drive, the ha-ha supplying an uninterrupted view across the field

Our Saturday walk had to be re-planned due to a rough shoot in the area of the estate where we had intended walking. We decided instead to go and see the Red Kite feeding. Due to  a little map disagreement with the track on the ground and the presence of cows (Nell’s scared of them) we took the long route, got wet and missed the birds. A two and a half mile stroll turned into a 4 hour hike but it was not all bad. Nell found a beautiful ball to carry for about six miles and we had some fine views of Loch Ussie. On the down side, I lost the skin off three of my toes and my hips and knees were giving me gyp. Worn out, we hit the hay by 9pm.

On Sunday Mr Snail’s brother and his wife came to visit as they are on holiday in the Heilans just now. We took a stroll with cameras and that map and it served up anther measure of confusion whilst the weather gods served up further rain. We did see salmon leaping and a roe doe grazing quietly at close hand, oh – and a rainbow. So again, not too unhappy with that outcome.

Monday morning saw us leave Brahan early, without breakfast n fact. Mr Snail wanted to deliver Hank to the hands of the exhaust-fixer-man without delay. We were blessed with another fine day and good travelling. Even Inverness failed to ensnare us in its rush our claws and we were swiftly through, despite queues on the Kessock bridge. I took advantage of the delay to look for dolphins but spotted none.

The exhaust-fixer-man’s establishment was on the far side of Elgin and so we drove straight through. I cast a wistful eye over the M&S Food Hall as we passed…

Hank was left with the very nice man at Custom Crafts, who said he would need around an hour. I asked if the nearby snack wagon made a good bacon roll and he said that they were good but that Harry Gow’s were better. No contest! We walked back down to the main road to Harry’s shack and had a sausage and egg roll apiece with a very good coffee. It certainly hit the spot.

Back to two tail pipes at last. The new one is shiny-shiny

Back to two tail pipes at last. The new one is shiny-shiny

Hank needs a whole new exhaust system soon. The exhaust-fixer-man says we are looking at something like £1,200. Eep! But at least we know where we can have one fashioned and fitted and some time in which to save up. That’s better than having the thing drop off and not knowing what to do about it.

I did the decent thing by the way and suggested that it was daft to take Hank back through Elgin just to go to M&S when we did not actually need anything. So, we turned towards Huntly, stopping only to fill up with LPG at a garage just outside town. That was the plan anyway but after two attempts and with a painfully slow delivery, Mr Snail managed to take on just 66 pence worth of fuel. He gave up. We will try again at ASDA in Kircaldy.

Day 5

We paused this morning to empty waste and fill with water then drove up into the town and parked in order to buy ice cream supplies and morning rolls from Harry Gow’s.

I tried to buy a collapsible steamer basket in a hardware shop without success but was pointed across the road at the charity shop which had several proper steamer baskets. See forthcoming post on items that we forgot to pack.

Also forthcoming are reviews of Sea Breezes site and Sid’s Spice restaurant.

Today’s report is brief as we will be off grid for a while and the Macbook eats battery power like nothing ever before seen.

So, Brora was great, we will return.

The drive down was almost uneventful, apart from the loony caravan tower who shot out of a junction right in front of us at a speed designed to roll his van. He was lucky both not to do that and that we also managed to avoided ramming him in the process.

Our LPG had run out just past Wick. We normally fuel up at Skiach and that was the plan for today but we have been caught out before and found the pump dry. It’s OK coming North but not brilliant heading South, so we stopped for a quickie at Evelix, despite the price, so that if Skiach came up dry we would at least be running on gas for a while. Luckily we are now completely full on both auto and domestic tanks.

A further stop at Dingwall Tesco to ensure that we have supplies with which to entertain our weekend visitors and then we were here. Brahan  is as wonderful as we remembered and we plan to have  a very enjoyable stay. Tomorrow we may go out after some geocaches.

The camera has not been out of the bag today but there are a couple of phone snaps on Facebook, with the views from the front seats. Will try to do better tomorrow but it may be Huntly (Tuesday) before I can report again and upload photos.

Day 4

Really? Only Day 4!

Well, here we are in Brora, at the Sea Breezes caravan site. It may not be the world’s prettiest site but it serves its purpose and is well placed for our needs, The site was once a Cold War Listening Station (nicknamed The Gulag Archipelago) – and it shows.

Yes, it is ugly

Yes, it is ugly

Outside the perimeter fence is a coastal footpath walk that goes all the way to Golspie – that and a sandy beach, if curse. Nell is delighted.  Once again we are parked looking out to sea. Tonight we can see the lights of Lossiemouth in the far distance, twinkling through the mesh wire of the fence,

We have just arrived home after eating out at Sid’s Spice, where I was treated to the most delicious Tarka Dall and the best Naan Bread that I have had in many long years.

Earlier this afternoon we sought out the  local branch of Harry Gow’s and had a double cornet each. I had Coconut with Chocolate, and Raspberry flavours; Mr Snail had Melon and Honeycomb in his. It has been hot and sunny all day once again and the ice cream was welcome.

The moment that we rolled into town we were hailed by the gentleman who had parked next to us at Duncansby Head. He and his wife spotted us again as we wildly attempted to navigate the town and find our place. Luckily when we asked directions a local young woman offered to drive ahead of us and show us the way. Thank you to her, whoever she was. Our motorhoming colleagues followed us down to the site and came to say hello, and show off the morning’s yarn purchases. I brewed up, of course.

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Too hot to close the door, so Nell was happy

The ride down here was a short one, under 30 miles from Dunbeath where we had spent a very pleasant night… listening to the rain. It rained solidly from supper time to breakfast but cleared to offer us a marvellous day. I sat at breakfast watching the creel boats at work on a mostly flat and sparkling sea. The lights on the sea were twinkling so vigorously that the effect reminded me of a Star Trek alien from another dimension. It was quite hypnotic.

We took Nell for a walk along the coastal path before leaving and she made lots of new friends when a tourist coach came in.

I left a donation in the collecting box at the boat house to say thank you for our overnight accommodation.

Tomorrow we head for the Brahan Estate, where we shall spend three nights. It will be a wee while before we see the sea again.

Mr Snail has been making enquiries about fixing the exhaust. One of the recommendations received was for a place in Elgin, where it just so happens that we intend to be on Monday. Seemingly we may avoid the expense of sending to America for an exhaust pipe and an end-piece may be specially fashioned for us. Watch this space.

If nothing can be done on Monday we have the option of returning later in the week after the ARI appointment, missing out Balmoral and Glenshee, but still arriving at Pitlochry in time for the Enchanted Forest. The backup plan would see us parking up at Lossiemouth and in sight of the sea once more, so I’m fairly laid back about this possibility.

Day 3

Note to Self: If parking overnight adjacent to a lighthouse, then expect the obvious.

Last night we sat in the front seats, Talisker at hand, inserted the USB stick with our music on it into the stereo (it began with Adiemus, I guess that we have no Abba) and watched the sea until it became dark… and then we watched the  lights. We counted at least a dozen Lighthouses within view.

A fat orange moon rose over the sea to our right. I should have loved to go out and photograph it but (a) a strong wind had come up and (b) the lighthouse beam would have spoiled the effect anyway. Later we took the dog out before bed and marvelled at the Milky Way. This would be a stunning location for Aurora watching sometime.

The wind strengthened through the night and we were woken by the gentle thud of rubber on rubber as our mudflaps struck the wheels at intervals.

This morning dawned bright and fair. There was a lot of lenticular cloud lit by the rising sun. I felt as though I should go and observe this for myself, camera in hand but I was snug in my bed and coffee had been delivered. It was still very windy when we took Nell out for a morning walk – and that wind significantly cooler than the day before. I had to don a fleece.

We strolled down to the beach, where I tried to get some seal shots, There was some really good seal action but my camera skills let me down quite badly.

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The drive down to Dunbeath was a pleasant one. I have previously been unimpressed by Caithness, finding it bleak and unlovely but today I saw it with a fresh eye. The light was fabulous and I saw much photographic potential as we ambled along. My cries of “I should love to photograph that!” went unheard, unfortunately.

It was a short journey and we arrived in Dunbeath at midday. I confess to some alarm when I saw how narrow a gap we were aiming for in order to arrive at our overnight spot. I sucked my girth in and we made it. I am not looking forward to going out again!

Note the handily-placed rock

Note the handily-placed rock

It was worth it. This is a smashing spot, quiet and well out of anyone’s way.

After lunch we walked the dog along the Dunbeath Strath, which furnished me with a ruin to photograph, an old Inn.

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At one point I looked to my left and saw three deer, one young Roe buck and two does just standing on a rise in the middle of a field and looking directly at me. Whilst I was attempting to liberate my camera and park my walking pole, Nell came galloping back to see where we were and the deer were startled. I had to settle for enjoying the sight of their white alarm flags soaring over the fence and far away.

Dunbeath is a smashing wee place, full of interest and cannot be recommended highly enough. I would be happy to return here at any time.

Our  berth for the night

Our berth for the night