Well it’s official. This is a little piece of paradise. Shirley has caught two brown trout from the riverbank right beside us. Free fishing within the grounds of the campsite is included here so it would have been rude not to try it. Before getting out her fishing gear she’d been chatting to a couple of other fishers who assured her that the chances of catching anything were somewhere in the region of nil – but little did they know. Her Mum told me once that if there’s a fish out there, Shirley will catch it. There might have been a small exaggeration fuelled by maternal pride when she made that bold statement but it is certainly true that Shirley’s good with her fly rod. Our tea for tonight is now securely cleaned and in the fridge.
Flushed with success she has bought a license to fish the rest of the river and indeed Loch Tay, if she so desires, and she’s gone off in her wellies with all her gear to seek out some other poor unsuspecting trout. I’m sitting here in the warmth of the van hoping she has a great day but that she doesn’t bring too many trout back. The five loaves and two fish miracle would be a bit embarrassing here as no-one looks like they need a good meal.
Speaking of good meals, we went to the pub for dinner last night. They serve the kind of portions designed for hill walkers and farmers but the fresh air had given us such an appetite we polished off every bit and followed the main course with a wicked desert. You know that way when you’re lying in bed regretting eating such a lot? Need I say more? The chocolate mint served with the coffee would have been desert enough but temptation got the better of us and we’ve set our grand plan for a healthy tour back a few hundred calories. The pub was hosting live Scottish music after 9 p.m. last night and they asked us to stay but it was no good. The eyelids were heavy, as were the stomachs, and we fell into bed exhausted at 9.30 p.m.
Planning for a long tour, we’ve learned from experience, goes best if you have some broad aims but not very specific ones. If you are completely aimless it’s easy to get restless and start to experience an existential crisis – when you wonder what purpose there is in anything. On the other hand, if you have very specific aims you can get frustrated and disappointed when other factors get in the way of your neatly prepared plans. It’s like everything in life – it’s all about balance.
One of our broad aims of this trip is to improve our fitness. We have been walking the dogs twice daily for years now and so we often achieve our daily recommended 10,000 steps but we’ve discovered that walking on the flat at a steady pace soon becomes easy and it certainly doesn’t take off the extra pounds. Away in the motorhome you quite naturally do more physical stuff – it goes with the territory. We fill and empty the water tanks daily but we don’t drive to the motorhome service point. We do it with a watering can and a floppy bucket. This involves several short trips to and from the taps. You have to empty the chemical loo at least every other day – a longer walk carrying a heavy cassette (or at least it’s heavy on the way there… is that too much information?) We cycle to the shops to buy our food daily and we do more dog walks than we do at home. In all it usually means that we return from a trip a little lighter and a lot fitter.
This time we decided to push the margins a bit and add in another fitness challenge. We’ve started the Couch to 5k running programme. Recommended by the NHS and the British Heart Foundation it is a gentle (Gentle! Ha!) 9 week programme where you build up your running very gradually. The app is downloadable to your phone and you can add music if you like to try to distract yourself. Every other day you go out for a walk/jog with the time you run gradually increasing. On the first week you walk briskly for 5 minutes then jog for 60 seconds alternating with walking for 90 seconds. You do that for 20 minutes then walk for the last 5. Sounds easy eh? It’s not. On our first day we couldn’t keep up the repeats and ended up walking the last 15 minutes but by the end of the week it was definitely doable. In week two they up the running to 90 seconds and the walk to 2 minutes alternating for 20 minutes. We’re in week two at the moment and that extra 30 seconds running is more like a speeded up shuffle. They recommend you repeat weeks until they feel comfortable before moving on to the next level. I suspect we’ll be in week two for quite some time – but watch this space. Who knows? We might end up running a half marathon.
The only members of the party who are not pleased with this new challenge are the dogs. We’ve tried to take them on the run but it didn’t work. They wander from side to side and risk tripping us up and when they take a sudden urge to stop for a pee there is very nearly a major pile up. So we go on our own, feeling like parents free for half an hour from the responsibility of our children but boy do they sulk! Boo won’t speak to us when we get back and Poppy puts on her most wounded expression and sighs a lot. What a pair of manipulators!