Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Tuesday 13th September

Going back to Monday nights B&B in Ardersier, the Cromal Bank, run by John and Alison; Tucked away up a back road, but with good views, I highly recommend this if you are in the area.
John is a most interesting guy, and he plays in a ‘fiddle’ band, as does his four sons. Has regular Ceilidh get-togethers, and loves music, whisky, food and travelling - we had a lot in common. Has 3000 acres deer stalking land, his wife breeds pheasants and he owns half the village - goodness knows why he wants to work. Needless to say I left later than I intended, but it was worth it.

The weather, although wet, was not windy, so I elected to take ‘the pretty route’ to Perth through the Cairngorm National Park and over the Grampian Mountains - and what a spectacle it was. Notable places I stopped on route were, Tomintoul, Ballater and Braemar.
The guy in the whisky shop said Tomintoul was the highest village in the Highlands, at 1,132ft above sea level - I couldn’t ague with that.
Braermar is a famous sports and walking location, and has several ‘grand’ hotels, a museum and numerous kilt shops.
Much of the A939 follows the River Avon through the National Park, weaving its way under and over this fast flowing wide river, which gives a extra dimension to the scenery.
You will see from my photos (which do not do it justice) the patch work quilt like effect of the mountain ranges. I soon gave up waiting for the official ‘parking bays’ and stopped whenever there was a photo opportunity.

Towards the outskirts the land becomes flatter, and for the fist time in a week I start to notice farm land again. Golden coloured acres of wheat blowing in the wind. Some fields cut, others waiting to dry our after the bad weather up here. The farmers have had a bad year and many will not see a good return on their hard work.

The mountain roads all to soon give way to busier roads leading to Perth and Edinburgh. Soon I see the expanse of the Forth Bridge, and know I am nearing by last Scottish B&B in North Queensferry.
This is a small village with a good tourist trade in the summer months, mainly for walkers and cyclists.
The B&B is literally UNDER the Forth railway bridge, and I hope the last train stops soon!!!
Both bridges are very impressive, especially the rail bridge, being the older of the two, and built in an entirely different way to the road bridge. I have put a link on this because it has a most interesting history - more than I could explain here.

With no concert to go to I have been catching up on the blogs, and editing my photo collection. The ones I have uploaded so far are just a small selection out of the 300 hundred I have taken. If you really want to see all of them they will be upload next week.
I also found a very nice local hotel to have a meal. You may recall my reference to the ‘hotel inspector’ in me recently - its getting worst; I’m becoming a ‘restaurant inspector’.
The hotels restaurant and bar showed promise. Friendly staff, a real fire, good beer and a reasonably priced menu. I had Lobster Bisque, which I was assured was home-made, and braised shoulder of beef. The table was set well but with PAPER napkins, -10 points.
The Bisque was served piping hot - too hot for soup, and I am still not sure it was home made, -10 points.
The braised beef was in fact rather good, served on a round of mash with a rich dark jus, which my shirt can testify to. (sorry Carol).
I may sound ‘picky’ but when sitting on ones own, its easy to be distracted.

Tomorrow morning I leave Scotland and head for Northumberland, and more exciting new places to visit.

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