Last night we went to the local pub to celebrate Fathers’ Day. We had already checked that dogs were welcome, but with the bar area full we were ushered into the only other room which accepted dogs. The food and drinks were average pub fare but the décor in the room was like a throwback to the 1970s. The walls and the ceiling were covered in artex patterned by the plasterer using the limited number of regulation motives which were taught at plasterers school! One of the patterns was identical to the ceiling of a rented house Sarah and I lived in in 1982. A crowning glory was a strip of woodchip wallpaper sandwiched above the picture rail. Since nobody has used artex and woodchip for at least 30 years we concluded that this was last time the room was decorated.
Today has been a travelling day as we gradually make our way home over the next few days. The normal route south is to take the A9 to the west of the Cairngorms, through Aviemore and Pitlochy. We have used that route several times in the past and so we went for the slower and more mountainous route to the east of the mountain range.
We drove along the road from Tomintoul to Cockbridge, which is legendary for listeners of radio road reports as being the road in Britain which is always first to close when there is any snow. After that we dropped down from the foothills of the Cairngorms into Royal Deeside, the location of Braemar and the nearby Royal estate of Balmoral.
I thought it would be nice to get a photo of Balmoral castle for the blog, but as usual this is not possible without dropping loads of money into the Royal purse, which were not minded to do. We did stop in Braemar however for lunch and a wander round. Braemar is a unobtrusive little town whose only claim to fame is being near to Balmoral! The town centre had shops full of pottery highland cows, kilts, sporrans and the like, but with summer not in full swing it was pretty quiet.
After lunch the journey was finished by a final drive through mountains and past somewhere Sarah and I remember well, the Glenshee skiing centre. This is one of the few skiing centres in the UK and Sarah and I, with friends, had two separate weeks skiing here in the late 1980s. The culmination of our second visit was me and our friend Helen sitting in the car park laughing uncontrollably and suicidal Sarah (total 3 weeks skiing experience) and kamikaze friend Mark (total 4 weeks skiing experience) fell, rather than skied, down most of Glenshee’s only black run! I seem to remember Mark spent marginally more time on his skis that Sarah, but it was a close call.
Tonight we are on another CL near to Blairgowrie (56.576071, -3.418095 £12 including electricity) which is large and secluded. Most importantly the satellite dish has locked onto Astra 2 so that I am able cheer the lads on in their first match against Tunisia, or alternatively cry long and hard into my beer.
Tomorrow we should be back in England, but it will be another long day of hopefully uneventful travelling.