West to East Coast
Breakfast was interesting - there was a couple of Germans, a couple of Dutch, a couple of Geordies and us two Aussies. The conversation centred around how to smuggle some extra hand lugguage on our trans Atlantic flight in two weeks time. The poor Germans were supposed to be flying out the following day - no chance.
We departed Skye and headed towards Inverness. It was drizzling again and the temperature was trying hard to get into double figures. This is summer folks!
We stopped at Urquart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness and did some Nessie spotting along with a peek at the castle ruins. A very average lunch was followed by a three hour straight through drive to Aberdeenshire in the east.
My late father grew up in these parts, in a small village called Tarland, and part of him now resides under some trees he planted 60+ years ago. Once again, I pulled out mum's "list of people to contact" and dropped in on Margaret, and old school chum. She was shocked and thrilled to see us. She immediately set about making tea and piled the tray high with cakes and slices and biscuits and insisted we try at least one of everything. She had been baking all day for the Tarland Show, which was to take place the following day, and she was using us as guinea pigs.
I asked if she would show me my father's old house and where he was scattered and she immediately agreed - dropping everything else she was doing. She also rang another old school chum, Alan, who lived up the road and arranged for us to visit. She sent us off into Tarland to organise our accommodation for the night and instructed us to pick her up again at six and we would go out to the house. This was a good plan except for one thing - both hotels and the one B & B in town were booked solid because of the Show!
We picked up Margaret and drove about a mile out of town to the cottage. I pointed out to the BOSS that her beloved grandpa had walked that mile into town (and back again) everyday from the age of four - through snow or rain - and that she was never allowed to whinge again about her "long" trip to school.
No one was home at the cottage so we had a poke around in the garden and took some photos.
We dropped in on Margaret's daughter on the way back into town and then stopped off at Alan's place to say g'day. By this time it was past 7pm and we needed to find a place to stay. We refused a second round of tea and cakes and reluctantly said our goodbyes to Margaret - I do love the Scots!
We drove about 10 miles to Ballater and found a great B & B just on the outskirts of town. It was an old manor house which had been lovingly restored and traditionally decorated.