A Life in the Slow Lane

Meet Flipper!

To a person of a particular age the TV of their childhood was full of animal heroes. Belle (and Sebastian), Lassie, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and perhaps best of all Flipper – a bottlenose dolphin who talked to two tanned blond haired boys, Sandy and Bud, with a series of high pitched clicks. In the series, Flipper is the pet of Sandy and Bud, but we didn’t let such political incorrectness get in the way of our fun. They were different times! We all grew to love Flipper as he went off on various capers in the idyllic waters of Florida. What I’m trying to say is that we grew up with a great love of bottle nose dolphins – and bush kangaroos.

So last night, since there are no bush kangaroos in Scotland, Sarah and I set out to try to see Britain’s most famous bottlenose dolphins. Despite Sarah’s poorly toe she insisted on walking the two mile round trip to the end of the peninsular, known as Chanory Point, to try to see the dolphins.

The tail end of Storm Hector was still churning the Moray Firth and we wondered whether this would adversely affect our chances. As we reached Chanory Point there was a small group of onlookers and we immediately knew we were not going to be disappointed. There were the distinctive fins of bottlenose dolphins breaking the surface left, right and centre. It is difficult to know how many dolphins we saw, but over the 30 minutes or so we watched I must have seen 50 or more dolphin fins, many of which were only 20 metres or so from the bank. At one point a dolphin even jumped completely clear of the water right in front of the crowd.

Bottlenose Dolphin with a rare ray of sun on it’s back

I have since read that there is a resident population of about 200 bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth and not only are they the most northerly population of these mammals they are also the largest bottlenose dolphins in the world.

Three dolphins in one shot. Count the fins.

We were amazed at how easy it was to see so many dolphins in our own country, an animal which I always associated since Flipper with the turquoise blue seas of sunnier climes.

Today, I’m afraid, World Cup Fever has gripped Basil. Well in all honesty it has gripped one member of team Basil – me. Yesterday I was unable to raise Basil’s satellite dish to watch the first game of the tournament for risk of Storm Hector ripping it from its moorings. Today I watched the second match of the competition and tonight I have already planned an early dinner so I can watch the most attractive looking first round match – Spain v Portugal. I think Sarah is planning a second chanced to see dolpins rather than Cristiano Ronaldo’s six pack, I can’t understand why!

This morning I looked on Tripadvisor to see what else, other than Flipper hunting, Fortrose, our nearest town, had to offer. The answer was not a long list. In fact it was a list of one – Fortrose Cathedral. So Sarah and I headed into the very pretty small market town to view what is left of the Fortrose Cathedral. The answer, I can report, is not much.

Street Scene in Fortrose

It was once a very important episcopal seat, but following the reformation (see endless blogs from last year about Martin Luther and the reformation) the Calvinist Scots had no need for bishops or Cathedrals and Fortrose was stripped of its lead roof and then much of its masonry as this 13th century building was reduced to not much more than a ruin. Oliver Cromwell, who usually gets the blame for most misdeeds in this period, is supposed have have used most of the red sandstone to build a fort in Inverness. In reality as in most of these cases I doubt Cromwell personally had anything to do with it.

The remains of Fortrose Cathedral

Tomorrow we head south to the great mountain range of the Cairngorms and Scotland’s last ancient forest. There may even be a bit of bird spotting thrown in, but that won’t be until Sunday. I bet you can’t wait.

For those awaiting a medical update on Sarah’s little toe I can report that it is already improving. Removing the strapping, which we thought was a good idea yesterday, has helped enormously confirming yesterday’s “good idea” wasn’t!