A bucket full of blessings

As we drove away from Dingwall we felt a real pang of sadness. Our tour of the North Coast of Scotland was all but over and we’d soon be leaving the Highlands. Very fortunately we had one last Highland Fling to look forward to – The Highland Motorhomers’ Meet at the home of Margaret & Angus Mackenzie near Farr, south of Inverness. Margaret & Angus very generously arrange these get-togethers, sometimes as often as twice a year. We were at one in 2011 and loved it but haven’t managed back since so we were excited to make it this year.

We had a grand time in the company of a bunch of merry souls – and by the end of each evening some were very merry indeed.

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In full swing

Friday evening was a shared meal with the theme of “no meat”. What a happy coincidence that we had about 6 lbs of fresh trout in the fridge thanks to Shirley’s expert fishing on the shores of Loch Meig. Usually we cook the fish with the bones in but on this occasion we thought we should fillet them. . Using the wifi at Dingwall I found instructions and set about the slippery beasts with a sharp knife and a lot of hope. It worked pretty well, although there was a bit of fish wastage that the dogs took full advantage of. Arriving at the meet we panfried the trout fillets in olive oil, lemon and freshly milled pepper and placed it out on the table with all the other goodies. What a great meal we had with all the different offerings! I love the generosity of people at these events and the variety of lovely food there is to share. It being mid summer it was light for a lot longer than it was warm and bit by bit blankets, jackets and hats were put on and we chatted and drank the night away.

Saturday night was a BBQ and bonfire with live music. If you look closely you’ll recognise the sun reddened whistle player.

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Wild mountain thyme

We had another massive shared meal washed down with some fabulous cocktails made by George. Vodka and toffee, whisky and Werthers, vodka and mint… dangerous but very tasty!

Sitting round in the evening in a cloud of midges, someone claimed that rolling up a piece of kitchen roll and setting light to it, then blowing out the flames so that it smokes, keeps midges at bay. Before long everyone was trying it and from a distance you could easily have thought we were smoking huge joints. All went well until the second night when Bill didn’t roll his kitchen paper tightly enough and the flames got dangerously close to his fingers. Looking for a safe receptacle to drop his flaming torch he chose our citronella candle in a yellow bucket. To our surprise the huge flame from the kitchen towel burned for hours, finally burning a hole in the side of the bucket. Bill turned to Shirley and said, “I’ve wanted to do that for ages – it’s been on my bucket list.”

Bill and his bucket
Bill and his bucket

Later, in a discussion between Katherine and Shirley about complementary medicine, Katherine said that she and James took memory pills. Shirley got quite excited about this, as we’re both finding the odd lapse in the memory department. “That sounds great,” she said “do they work?” “We don’t know,” came the reply, “we keep forgetting to take them.” It’s so good to meet other people as wacky as ourselves. We also wish to thank Katherine and James for tips about how to make your chemical loo last longer. Unfortunately this involves the use of a shewee. If you don’t know what one of these is you’ll have to look it up. I can only say that I tried one once and the result was not pretty.

A morning walk to clear the head
A morning walk to clear the head
Shirley by Loch Ruthven
Shirley by Loch Ruthven

Our final treat was a trip to Fort Augustus for a pub lunch, travelling in the community mini bus and Margaret & Angus’s car. We were last to arrive at the pick up point and tried to open the bus door, only to be told that we were travelling in the car. Off we trotted to travel in style with our hosts, completely unaware of the fact that we’d partially opened the sliding door of the minibus. Apparently the door shot open as they set off, almost frightening several of them to death. For the rest of the weekend we were nicknamed ‘The Assassins”

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One of the assassins at Fort Augustus

On Monday morning we bade fond farewells to our new friends and headed south, stopping first at the Hermitage by Dunkeld for a dog walk. Getting to Ossian’s Hall at the falls we found that they were so powerful that the spray reached right up to the viewing platform. Suddenly, to our astonishment, we saw the salmon leaping up into the ferocious water – it was a truly incredible sight. Moving on from there we went to our stop for the night at Loch of the Lowes, a wildlife reserve nearby. To overnight here it’s important to phone ahead and get permission but it’s well worth it. On the way we were astonished to see a young red deer leaping across the road in front of us. After parking up, we wandered along to the hides overlooking the loch at ten p.m. in near full daylight. There we found a very knowledgeable bird watcher and with his help we were able to see an osprey feeding its young in the nest high in the pines, a beaver swimming across the loch and a number of herons. What a fabulous end to our tour of the Highlands and a final reminder that we’ve been truly blessed to see so much of the beauty that Scotland has to offer.

Osprey chick
Osprey chick

5 thoughts on “A bucket full of blessings

  1. The Highland Gathering was such a blast … Hopefully see you there next year.
    Monday was a dry night!
    Parked up at Helmsdale Harbour, which you recommended … TimeSpan was good too.

  2. It was great to meet you at the gathering, really enjoy reading your blog, sorry again for bucket destruction!

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