Holiday: Scotland – Day 1(8)

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We always go away for my birthday and this year is no exception. Although the official celebration is still a week away, we thought we’d start early!

What a difference a year makes! Twelve months ago for my celebration, we were in central London, shoulder-to-shoulder on a sweaty tube-train! This year, we’re heading in completely the opposite direction, spending just over a week in the Scottish Highlands.

10.30am: But first, we needed to get there! We headed for our least favourite airport – Luton – and our 1.55pm EasyJet Flight – EZY147 – destined for Aberdeen Airport.

I really hate Luton Airport with a passion – it’s always so busy and the whole experience tends to feel like a rugby scrum at all points of the process! And to bring out my snobbish tendencies, I often seem to be in a queue somewhere behind the family that finds it impossible to speak quietly, whilst sporting the maximum number of visible tattoos! Yuk! Given current Coronavirus-conditions, I wonder what it’ll be like today?

Ahh, lovely Luton Airport!

11.45am: Actually, it was almost pleasant! Outside, the place still looks like a building site, but inside, it was relatively peaceful and well-organised!

It was a shame that many of the eateries were closed, but we did find a Pret for a coffee and a sandwich; and for payment, the obligatory second mortgage! The retail outlets looked a bit sad where some looked as though they’d not re-opened since you-know-what!

What could possibly go wrong?

2.55pm: We landed on time at just before 3pm and with only hand-luggage to slow us down, we were soon on our way to the car-hire point to pick up our ‘wheels for the week’. As we quickly discovered, it’s another of those airports where you need a car from the Terminal to get to the err, car-hire desk. 😮

3 miles later…

On arrival, oh joy! No-one on the Avis desk! Luckily there was a mobile number to call. Apparently, ‘because of COVID-19, there are fewer staff on duty’ and the solitary member of staff, was elsewhere on vehicle returns and there had been some confusion over the plane’s arrival time.

What, no staff!

3.45pm: Just ten minutes later, we were sorted – sort of! Instead of the promised Vauxhall Astra, we were upgraded to a Mercedes A200. A car so technically advanced, even I couldn’t work out how to put it in gear! (that’s my street cred in tatters!). A quick training session from the Avis staff revealed that the ‘gear selector’ normally located in the centre console was, on this particular model, actually a fake and the gear ‘lever’ was on the steering column! Doh! I know what you’re thinking: why didn’t we just consult the handbook? Simples! There wasn’t one! 😲. Apparently, Avis remove them as a matter of procedure!

Top (no) Gear!

We were soon our own way to Richard and Lynn’s. It was a gorgeous day, pleasantly warm at around 18℃. Under normal circumstances, our destination was just 40 minutes away. I say ‘normal circumstances’, because we dialled in the post-code only to find that when the sat-nav pinged to announce our arrival, we realised that the rural nature of the area meant the postcode is shared with about 30 additional locations! A few fumbled mobile calls to our host (hardly any signal at all here) and we were now pointing in the right direction. And luckily, Ann’s razor-sharp memory pinpointed the finish line. Lynn met us on the drive and we were soon bumping elbows at Culdrain House.

Perfect! (1)

5.30pm: With elbows retracted, we headed for the garden to enjoy the pleasant weather, oh, and Richard’s home-made very pleasant Rhubarb Gin! We reckon it’s close on 20 years since we were last all together here – and we some serious catching-up to do!

Perfect! (2)

Our hosts’ ‘pet complement’ has expanded since we were last here, and we were soon greeted (‘smothered’ actually!) by dogs: Dougal, Pippin, Merrie and Parker (Dot and Dash, their cats, were temporarily AWOL).

6.15pm: A quick unpack and we were ready for Dinner!

7.30pm: Time for our evening meal. Richard and Lynn had been busy in the kitchen and we tucked into Roast Pork and a very tasty vegetable selection followed by Lynn’s homemade Eton Mess. Our catch-up conversation continued helped along by some excellent wine choices!

10.00pm: With the meal over, we were beginning to flag and by 10.30, we called it a day.

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks good, just shy of 20℃, so we plan to explore some places that Richard had helpfully pointed out on the map including the Moray Coast.

10.45pm: 💤💤

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