Saturday 28 November 2015

We Take A Little Holiday

The visitor season is over for this year, Sue's car was due a service in Inverness, and a good Inverness hotel was offering excellent-value two-night breaks. It therefore made perfect sense for Sue and I to take a little holiday!

We don't take many holidays together - Sue uses much of her time off work to go to Kent so see her Mum, and I travel to Devon two or three times a year to see family and friends. So going away together is almost a novelty! This time, we decided to put Cupar into the local kennels (for the first time ever), so we wouldn't have him to worry about.

We set off on Wednesday morning, dropping Cupar of at the kennels on the way. We arrived in the Inverness area early enough in the day to take a wander at the bizarre and almost spooky Clootie Well near Munlochy.  We then visited a carpet shop and have chosen carpet to be laid on the stairs and upper floor at the Barn - we'll have the Barn finally finished soon! We had time for a visit to B&Q as well - Wednesday is 'old folk's discount day' and there's always something to buy!!

The Clootie Well - "Hope hangs in the trees here.
Every one of the cloots around this well is a token,
left by someone who wants a wish to come true"
We stayed at The Royal Highland Hotel, built in 1854, an original and grand 'Station Hotel', standing alongside Inverness railway station in the centre of the town. The popular 80-room hotel retains much of its original Victorian character. We've stayed there before, and know service to be first class. That evening, an excellent dinner at the hotel, including a free bottle of wine, was part of our all-inclusive package.

The next day, we delivered Sue's car to the Citroen garage in Inverness for its first routine service, and then drove off in a courtesy car. This car was a Citroen C4 Cactus - a vehicle that is packed with typically Citroen quirkiness, and interesting to try out. Certainly, it is innovative, modern, 'different' and spacious for its size, but I have to say I find Sue's little C3 to be more nimble and have more 'go'.

'Our' C4 Cactus
We set off to spend the bulk of our day exploring Fort George. This is an extraordinary fortification, built in the wake of the Battle of Culloden (1746) as an impregnable base for King George's army. The fort took 21 years to build, and its amazing defences have never been tested. To this day, the Fort remains as an army base, currently being the home of The Black Watch 3rd Batallion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The soldiers in barracks go about their daily tasks while visitors poke about and take in the atmosphere of the place as well as enjoying the many exhibitions, audio tour and museum exhibits that are housed within the fort.

The outer ditch, which could be flooded if necessary, is surrounded by gun emplacements.
Parade ground and barrack blocks
The Lieutenant Governor's House, now housing the Highlander's Museum 
It was a bit chilly on the ramparts...!
No, I haven't changed my hairstyle, I was wearing a hood! 

For our entertainment that evening, we had pre-booked tickets at the multiscreen Vue cinema to see 'The Lady In The Van', which tells the true story of Alan Bennett's strained relationship with an eccentric homeless woman whom Mr Bennett befriended in the 1970s before allowing her to temporarily park her van on the driveway of his London home. She stayed there 15 years... The film stars Maggie Smith in the title role, and Alex Jennings as Alan Bennett. We found it strangely moving and rather sad, and would recommend it.

After the cinema, we ate at JD Wetherspoons in the town centre - not our first visit, and it won't be our last - there's such good value to be had there!

Next morning, it was another hearty breakfast before doing a bit of shopping then heading back to Skye, collecting Cupar on the way. He was pleased to see us, and very muddy, but otherwise seemed to have suffered no problems from his kennels experience.

So there we have it - a pretty packed few days, and a thoroughly enjoyable break away from routine. We must do it more often.....!!