Summer is here…well some days anyway and there have been some genuinely hot and sunny days this past week. Hands up who’s moaning that they can’t sleep at night?! The perfect climate should be warm and sunny during the day, but nice and fresh at night (particularly if you are THAT age!), so we can all get some much needed rest!
Course summer, to lots of people, means it’s time to take a trip somewhere different – maybe somewhere familiar, maybe exotic, maybe in a tent or caravan, luxury hotel or even a cowshed! Self-catering has certainly changed!
We begin to plan our holidays almost immediately after returning from the last one. We both have a level of wanderlust (mainly of the photographic sort!) and look enviously at these people who manage to travel the world in their camper vans, but, like most people, mortgages, jobs, family commitments all pile up to put a halt to that dream. So here we stay, happy with our lives, but always waiting for the chance to get away from everything if only for a few days.
Over the past few years our big summer holiday has evolved into an annual roadtrip. I have to admit that our first one filled me with dread as driving is hardly a relaxing pastime and the thought of having to continuously unpack every night seemed equally unrelaxing. Imagine my surprise when not only did I enjoy it I absolutely loved it! There is something so exciting about stopping in different places every night. Journeys seem much shorter when you don’t need to come back the same route and different scenery every night leads to thousands and thousands of photographs (well for us anyway – we do like to use our cameras!).
After flirting with a European train ‘road’ trip (there must be a better name than that!) we opted once again to travel ‘oop’ North to Scotland. We love Scotland almost as much as our cameras! The maps came out and we tried to work out a route covering lots of places we haven’t yet been.
As you may know if you are a regular reader, we lost ‘Dad Fletcher’- Joe -in October and although he had reached the grand old age of 88, it has still been a difficult and sad time as we have all felt his loss. As with any difficult period of your life you look to the past, reminisce about your childhood, peruse your ancient slide collection (slides! Who uses them now? they were the ultimate Saturday night treat when the projector came out and it was family slide show time!). At this point it became apparent that our 2019 roadtrip should be a journey round the memories and favourite places of Dad – who loved nowhere better than Scotland.
So, summer 2019 will see us set off on ‘Joe’s Journey’ retracing some of his many steps across Scotland – playing a round of golf, eating fish and chips and famously ordering ‘Steak tartare’ in an exclusive restaurant without fully understanding what would arrive! Cue raw steak served with a raw egg and he was quite a fussy eater! (We definitely won't be recreating that!)
We will travel up to St Andrews, journey through the Cairngorm National Park, make our way up to the Black Isle with a few detours and then go cross country along the banks of Loch Ness to Spean Bridge and finally the Mull of Kintyre. If I can get to the Mull of Kintyre without Paul McCartney and Wings constantly singing that song in my head, it will be a miracle – go on admit it - didn’t it pop into your head too the minute you read it?!
So, what do we pack for a Scottish roadtrip in the summer hols? Top of anyone’s list should be bottles of Smidge – the midges can be horrific, and you learn very quickly to keep everything covered and smothered with Smidge! We have cream for if (or when!) you’re bitten, and it goes a bit yucky! Buffs, which apparently can be used in umpteen different ways as hats, neck scarves etc but usually for us it’s to cover everything up and keep you midge safe! Clothes from sunglasses, shorts and t shirts to winter woollies, hats and gloves! Snacks and drinks for when you can’t find anywhere to get food. An in depth knowledge of every remote tea room (always good to support the local economy and if you're like me you'll come away with some beautifully crafted item you don't really need but just loved!) and the location of any toilets (sometimes a little few and far between!). Do not rely on just finding any, that will definitely not happen! Cash for when they don’t take cards and your ethical shopping bags as Scotland has always been a leader in cutting plastic bag use. Make sure you have planned your route and warned everyone you may be out of contact for periods of time – big mountains, no signal!
But, don’t let any of that put you off for what you will get in exchange is well worth all of it. Scenery unlike anywhere we have ever been, glorious sunsets, mountains, forests, the sea and did I mention the sunsets? Wildlife spotting and wildlife not-spotting (married to a birdwatcher you soon become accustomed to standing round for long periods of time with nothing at the end of it, but then every so often you have a magical experience watching dolphins play as the sun comes up and nightjars flying as the sun goes down), bagpipes, kilts, lots of shortbread, butter tablet , macaroon (I still will not believe that this was ever made of potato!) and of course Scotland’s two national drinks – whiskey and Irn Bru!
We will be looking for Nessie, as we have on more than one occasion, and I still believe that we will one day see her! We are spending the night in Cromarty just so we can watch the sun go down across the bay of broken oil rigs; we will be visiting the tree we planted for Dad in a forest near Drumnadrochit; Balmoral, Glenlivet, St Andrews and a stay in an old lifeboat house are all on our route. We will be taking thousands of photos and we will no doubt be boring everyone of our 4000 followers on Instagram with them for months!
Will we want to come home? Maybe not, but where would we go for our holidays then?
'We're gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run'
Watch out for more of 'Joe's Journey' in a few weeks.
Life and other