Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Aug 5th 2017

Ever since Keith and I got together 7 years ago- one (along with many others!) mutual bucket list adventure we wanted to achieve was attending The Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. 10 years ago I spent an entire summer up in Edinburgh playing in a Fringe Show, and Keith's dousing has lived up here for years and years, yet still we've never been able to make it happen. 7 years ago we made a pact that we would and this year is the year it finally was able to happen!

We dropped Jazz with my mum and Alec and boarded our Virgin East coast train on Friday morning. Unsurprisingly, as not only was the Tattoo starting on Friday but so was the Fringe Festival, the train was packed and quite uncomfortable so we settled ourselves in and watched some catch up on the iPads, and actually before we knew it we were rolling into Edinburgh Waverley Station.

Simon couldn't meet us until after work so we had an hour or so to kill- naturally we headed for the pub, one of our favourites the Ensign Ewitt for the first of many gins, beers and drams!

Our very good friend Mark is a sound engineer for the Tattoo and was busy at the castle in his super duper recording van prepping to record that nights show – his job is to record it, edit it and have the official CD on the shelf for Monday's performance. He contacted us and said although he couldn't get away we were welcome to pop up and see his office for the weekend which was exciting, and as always, lovely to see him for ten mins.

It was 4pm and time to meet Simon so we bid Mark a farewell and headed to the Malt Shovel on Cockburn St. The Royal Mile is always a fun place to be at this time of year- lots of people doing publicity for their shows and a really happy, exciting if not slightly nutty vibe all the way!

Once we'd met Simon, Friday night followed in a big catch up, naturally involving a few bars and refreshments! Simon once again showed us some really cool places in Leith and we enjoyed our dinner of Shetland Mussels and beef and Haggis burgers at Nobles.

Saturday dawned brighter than the BBC had indicated, despite a few foggy heads in the O'Gorman/Williams clan! 🤣
Nothing a good sausage and haggis roll, super charged espresso, a pork and Haggis scotch egg and a Bloody Mary, or in Keith's case a Bloody Scotsman (replaced vodka with whiskey!!) can't sort out!

After a lazy morning we took the bus from Leith up to Princes Street where I deposited the boys in John Lewis Gadget section whilst I went off for a shop for an hour. Big mistake- Keith, inspired by Simon's "Smart Flat" has brought a Amazon Echo Dot and subsequently has spent every available minute researching what we can link up to it in our house!
Boys and their toys eh?!

Edinburgh is always such a special place for me, I had a little moment as I dragged myself away from the shops- look at the view from Princes Street- lovely architecture, Arthur's seat- and check out the blue sky!

We opted for lunch at Wagamama's, a treat for me as usually when we go I'm driving- so today I could indulge in my other favourite alcoholic drink, SAKE! KANPAI!

Trying to be sensible (!) we decided to head back to the flat for a nap ready for the excitement of the evening to come.

We made our way back into town 6ish and had a couple of drinks, including one on the mile so we could indulge in some people watching before a delicious curry at Gurkha Restaurant- definitely recommend it there, it's our second visit!

It was now time to head to the castle, I e never seen so many people queuing to get in either! Mark had texted us to make sure we gave ourselves lots of time, he said at the 7:30 showing people were arriving once the show had started. At 9:00 when we were wandering up, we had he previous audience departing and the current audience arriving- so 18000 people and the top end of the mile is rather narrow. Still, the organisation was with military precision, what else would you expect, this is the 68th year!

We were in within 20 mins of he doors opening at 9:45- exceptional!

To show was simply SENSATIONAL. Everything that I hoped it would be and a million times more. The special effects and projectors (all 12 of them according to Mark) casting phenomenal images and patterns onto the castle backdrop, the music obviously, the choreography, THE WEATHER!- everything was just awesome. I will never forget our night there!







We walked all the way home to Leith and to took me about an hour to get to sleep- I had so much adrenaline!
Today has dawned sunny again, hurrah! So we will head back into town. Plans are to try and see the Jacobites exhibition and perhaps see some Jazz.

Then back south tomorrow to see Dad and Jenny, pick up Ruby and Jazz and get some adventures going in our campervan!

Until next time
Lx

Our annual Pilgrimage to Scotland Part 3: A quick stopover at the Lake District 

Ruby the campervan is parked up alongside  Gillside Beck- we arrived here yesterday, Friday, after a fairly longish journey from our Loch Ness Brit Stop. The reason for departing Scotland a day early is stood proudly behind us, and frankly looks scary as hell- perhaps that’s where the name Helvellyn comes from! For a couple of years now, Keith and I have talked about how we’d like to tackle Helvellyn and Striding Edge. For both of us, it’s a personal challenge. Neither of us particularly like hill walking, and I’m terrified of drops, yet I have spent hours marvelling at people’s instagram pics of Striding Edge. I just knew I had to go and give it my best foot forward. Luckily, my husband is also crazy so despite his hatred of walking up hills agreed to attempt it with me, if he weather looked ok on or way home from Scotland. 

So back in February we booked our pitch at Gillside Farm, knowing there was a hefty chance we’d cancel if weather looked bad. We’d been about internet for well over 24 hours and finally picked up 4g as passed through Fort William. Keith as driving and I checked Patterdale – well il be blowed it was only showing full sun for tomorrow. “Off we go then”, I said, feeling the colour draining from my chops! 

Gillside Farm is nestled right at the bottom of the main path from Glenriding up to Helvellyn- so on arrival we decided to check where our oath started, before prepping our rucksacks, making a packed lunch and enjoying a simply cook Murgh Kari curry for tea. The mood in the Ruby was certainly of apprehension! We watched the live election debate before calling it a night. I dreamt that we got stuck on Helvellyn! What a great dream- not! 

Saturday dawned as promised, absolutely glorious. There really is nowhere as beautiful as the Lakes in this weather! Apprehension was again strife! We moved around our daily routine almost in silence- I chucked some venison and a few bits of stray veg into the slow cooker to bubble away ready for our return. Keith packed, double packed and triple checked the rucksacks. By 09:15 we’d had our porridge and cereal bars and were ready to go. I was BRICKING it. 


The first mile is literally uphill. There is no relief from it – it is hard. Really really hard. Loads of people passed us, we were both puffing like a steam train and I was almost ready to chuck the towel in. However-the  views were stunning and that really kept us going. The views to Ullswater were sensational. 

 

After over an hour and exactly a mile- the uphillness became easier! I thought I’d suddenly become super fit but Keith declared “hurray, we are now following the contours rather than crossing them” We were rewarded with great views of Helvellyn and red tarn and actually started enjoying ourselves! 

Before we knew it we were reaching the start of Striding Edge. I gave myself one last talking to and before I know it we were across! Striding Edge if you are not familiar, is a ridge that leads to Helvellyn, England’s 3rd  highest behind Scafell and Sca. It was really, really hard- in fact a man in front of us stopped and turned round- he said he couldn’t cope with it any more- so was going to find the easier path. Keith and I (and jazz!) kept our heads down,took it very slowly and carefully and stopped regularly for photos – AND I DIDNT HAVE A PANIC ATTACK! 

I still can’t believe we walked across that ridge!!!

Getting to the other side my legs were like Jelly. Then we realised we had nasty scramble ahead to get to the summit. It wasn’t a scramble it it literally was rock climbing. Omg. 😳 However the camoradory between all the walkers was fantastic – and as we crossed the last ridge before the summit I had a tear in my eye! We’d done it! Bucket list ticked ✅




After a cheese roll or three we discovered it was as steep if not worse on the way down! Off we set, taking so much care- we even had to carry Jazz over a couple of bits as he refused and dug his claws in! Slowly we descended and 3 hours later we were back at Ruby feeling immensely proud of ourselves! 


We had a swift dram before continuing to the pub for a couple( including a Lake District Gin!!) and returning to Ruby for our venison stew.


Tomorrow we head home (sad face!) we have had a blast and couldn’t have wished for an sweet finish today. We’ve survived 10 whole days in our downsized campervan with no pop top. Ruby is working for us! Hurrah! 

Until next time 

Lx 

Our annual pilgrimage to Scotland, May 2017. Part 2. Wester Ross

Tuesday

 We had such a peaceful night at the foot of the Cuillin Hills and slept like logs! Unfortunately when we woke up it was still not great weather wise, so we wasted no time in packing up and hitting the road. We made a quick stop at the Spar shop in Broadford before taking the Kyle Bridge back over to the mainland. We had a brilliant time shopping in the Spar, it was crammed full of local food and drink- our major weakness! We popped in for some potatoes and some rice, and came out with over £60 worth of goodies, including some local frozen venison, sausages, veg, a bottle of Misty Isle Gin (whoops, that slipped in the basket!) cheeses, chutney, ales etc. Whoops!


Back on mainland and we took the Wester Ross Coastal route, which was beautiful despite the wet weather. We pulled over for some toast and marmalade overlooking Loch Caron, and carried on towards Gairloch. We really enjoyed this route and can’t recall taking it before. We will definitely return to this area, and hope for some better weather next time. Talking of the weather, just as we were pulling up at our home for the next two nights, Gruinard Bay Caravan Park, the rain stopped, hurrah! 
The pitches at Gruinard Bay Caravan Park have a super view, they are right on the beach front. We however managed to be assigned the pitch closest to the neighbouring graveyard… so we decided to park on sidewards so our door was directly facing the sea. Not sure if we were meant to, but no one challenged us, and it wasn’t particularly busy there. Otherwise our door would have been directly facing the graves! It was a nice enough site, but needed a bit of TLC to say the least. Showers were clean, but very small, and actually only one of each sex, and situated in a rickety portacabin. We enjoyed a chill overlooking the sea for the remainder of the afternoon, and a hearty Spag Bol for tea before having an early night. 


Wednesday arrives and still no sign of rain, so we enjoyed a full cooked breakfast outside before driving off pitch 8 miles down the road to visit National Trust for Scotland’s Inverewe Gardens.


 We enjoyed their pinewood trail first with Jazz, then left him to sleep in the van whilst we wandered round the gardens. They are billed to be the best botanical gardens in Europe. We enjoyed our visit although I think we were perhaps a couple of days late to enjoy the best of the rhodedendrums. Still worth a visit. 



On our way back to the campsite we followed signs for “The Food emporium”, which turned out to be a little smokehouse where we picked up some delicious smoked cod and smoked cheddar cheese.


 By now the sun was back out in force so we scuttled back to the campsite and set up base again. Tonight we enjoyed a lovely BBQ, this time on the gas one as it was bit drafty, consisting of our smoked cod and couscous for starter then steak and chips for main. Yum! Keith washed his down with some very local ales from a small craft brewery down the road, one of which he said was the best he’d had! I also managed to get the drone up a couple of times. A happy afternoon and evening. 


Thursday 
We decided to make an earlyish start as we’d got a few miles to cover today. We skipped our morning cuppa and breakfast, choosing to stop at viewpoint further into our journey to enjoy those. 

Somehow, despite a breakfast stop and a top up Tesco shop, we managed to arrived at our Brit Stop location almost an hour before our first eta! We are now at BritStop no. 841, a tea room and farm shop situated on the quiet side of Loch Ness. We’d never taken the B852 road on the other side of Loch Ness before, and Keith tells me the road is called General Waide’s Military Road. It was a lovely alternative to the much busier A82 . After introducing ourselves, we had a quick bite to eat and set off for a little walk down the road to the Falls of Foyer. What we didn’t realise was that Robert Burns based his poem “Waterfall” on these falls, and they are set within a most spectacular gorge. 

It really was a lovely walk, and we worked up a good appetite to enjoy a nice afternoon cream time on arrival back at the tea rooms. 
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent chilling, tomorrow we have a longer drive towards the Lake District as we have a date with Hellvelln and Striding edge (weather permitting!) on Saturday. Dinner tonight was a very very tasty Simply Cook Haddock risotto. Yum! 

Until next time 

Lx 

Our annual pilgrimage to Scotland, May 2017. Part 1. Norfolk to Skye 

Thursday (into Friday!)

Ruby the campervan is parked up at our favourite Scotland Border crossing, Carter Bar, just before Jedburgh. It’s 00:30 (Friday morning) and we were working until 7pm in Thetford. It’s been a funny ol week, we’ve battled illness, workload and a new (unplanned!) motor for Ruby’s habitation sliding door, but somehow we’ve made it here and in record time! If that doesn’t warrant a beer I don’t know what does. Unlike previous stays here, tonight we have company in the form of two other motorhome. Trying to be as quiet as we could, we set Ruby up for bed and crashed out for a hefty deep sleep. 

Friday 

Friday dawns the most spectacular of day’s. We were up by 07:15 and enjoyed actually seeing the view! Usually it’s misty! Not only is it ☀️- it’s also HOT!!! At 07:30 I’m parading around in shorts and a vest top- with NO FLEECE! We had a quick chat with our neighbours before hitting the road again just after 08:00- destination, Loch Lomond, via New Lanark, a UNESCO heritage site near to Glasgow. We followed the Tweed Valley all the way and it was so beautiful, all these years of coming, it’s always a great treat to discover a new gem and has earnt a place on our “next time” list. 

New Lanark was lovely. It’s now looked after by UNESCO but once was a Georgian Mill village. All the buildings have been kept original, and you can go inside many for a fee. We chose not to as it was such a sunny day it seemed a shame to be inside. Instead we took advantage of the 5km woodland and waterfall trail along the banks of the River Clyde. Parking was free which was a nice touch and there is no entrance fee if you are only wandering the village without going inside. Parts of the walk along the Clyde reminded us of being in Colorado. After our walk, we enjoyed some of the New Lanark ice cream which is made on site. 

After a quick lunch we hit the road again passing through Glasgow and onto Loch Lomond. Always an exciting moment for us getting that first view of Ben Lomond. We stopped at the farm shop near to Luss, stocked up with local cider, cheese, venison- all the essentials! before carrying on to the main car park in Tarbet. Recently wild camping in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs has been banned, however they have introduced a fair system of pre purchasing a permit for the evening at £3 per night. We were keen to support it and duly paid our £3 online 30 days in advance, choosing where we wanted our permit to be valid. Sadly, on arrival at 5pm the car park was packed. We managed to squeeze in a space but the area was heaving. Obviously the sunshine and the bank holiday was bringing the world and his wife out, and although we gave it a good hour, we decided it was far too busy for us, and so we set off again, this time heading for the viewpoint at Black Mountains, just beyond the Bridge of Orchy. It was a gamble, would we turn up and find no space, as it was going to be near to 7pm. It was a tense journey, but luckily we arrived to find bags of room, with only one other van there. We bagged the best spot too, so we went about setting up a BBQ and went on to enjoy a fabulous evening. During the evening several other vans arrived, including a caravan, all stopping for some rest before heading north again early the next morning. We had a wonderful evening and slept like logs! 

Saturday arrived and the sunshine was still here. Hurray! The forecast however was not so optimistic, so we set off, stopping for breakfast at Glencoe, always a favourite- good lord, it was SO BUSY! We’ve stopped there every year for breakfast and this year without a doubt was the busiest we have seen. We squeezed on to the end and managed to have our breakfast, I decided to make the bagpiper a cuppa which he enjoyed. Good deed done so off we travelled again, towards Fort William.


 Again, it was PACKED! We squeezed into Morrisons for a top up shop, there were queues everywhere, not too dissimilar to the Christmas Eve shopping experience! I managed to get some local gin, which cheered me up, so shopping loaded in, we set off along the road to the Isles, our destination being one of our favourite sites, SilverSands at Arisaig. We tried to stop at Glenfinnan Viaduct, but couldn’t get parked. Are you noticing a theme here? 

Onwards we went, arriving at Silversands just as the rain began. A spot of rain does not take away the beauty of this place, and once again we were lucky to have a sea front pitch so we settled in, had a long nap and woke in time for the rain to have gone. 10 steps away from our pitch we had the most gorgeous white sand beach. It really is idylic. We enjoyed a beer on the beach, and met our neighbour, Charlie, who turned out to be a lovely fella- always checking if we needed anything from the shop when he went in his car. That evening I cooked us a delicious Simply cook prawn linguine and we went to bed around 11- it was still light! 


Sunday- the weather forecast wasn’t good, which was disappointing so we decided to have a lazy morning. I cooked us a cooked breakfast and just as I was serving up, the sun came out! “Quick”, I said to Keith, “get the outside chairs out, it may not last”! We enjoyed our sea view and watched as people fled to the beach, kayaks and dingies in hand, everyone desperate to enjoy the sun whilst it was there! 

Last night we discovered that the midges are here! Booo! Apparently it’s the long mild winter, but they are here, and in force. Keefy has been eaten alive! And guess what, we’ve left all our sprays at home! During a morning chat to our neighbour, he got brave and asked if they had any repellent he could borrow. Cue Charlie giving us an entire full spray of Smidge, insisting we keep it. What a nice man! 

Ruby is getting a lot of attention. Keith gets stopped several times as he is getting the bikes off! All these years of motorhoming and barely anyone ever speaks to us, yet now we have Ruby we seem to be attracting people for chat after chat! Not that we are complaining, it’s nice to be sociable, and everyone here is just SO FRIENDLY!

 We finally manage to get off, we are cycling 2 miles down the road to Camusdarach Beach- where the film Local Hero was filmed 35 years ago. We came a few years ago but the weather was dull and murky then.


Today, the sun is hanging on in there, so we optimistically pack a picnic and keep everything crossed! The weather gods are certainly on our side it seems, it’s a picture perfect day. This beach is simply stunning. It stretches for probably nearly a mile when the tide is out, as it was when we visited today. When the tide is in, there are 2 beaches not reachable without getting wet! I tried to send my drone up but it wasn’t happening, a badly timed update request means I can’t send it up which is annoying but can’t be helped. 😡 We had a lovely picnic though of cheese, venison slices, fresh baguette, and of course a beer and cider to wash it down. We had such a lovely visit! 

 
The sun was still shining on our cycle back, and it continued to shine the remainder of the day and evening. We sat outside taking in the ever changing view from our pitch- we watched as the tide came in and then went out again.

We had a lovely chat with next door, and shared a drink together. As the evening went on we were joined by several other couples seeking out the best views of the site. Seems we were on the best pitch going- we were happy to share it. I also managed to override my drone so I sent that up to capture the phenomenal sunset. Next door also had a drone, a DJ phantom, so he sent his up too! 

The atmosphere on site was electric. Everyone having a drink, toasting the sun, it was just such a happy atmosphere. There were even people doing yoga on the beach! It’s a really really special place! Obviously the local gin helped of which I managed to make quite an indent and Keefy’s whiskey must have evaporated in the heat 😜 but we soon realised it’s was gone 9pm and we still hadn’t eaten! Whoops! Dinner was quickly cooked and eaten and we enjoyed the last of the sunshine. 


The whole campsite came out to see it dip below the horizon, I almost felt like applauding! Off to bed we went, tipsy but on a massive high to say the least! The next thing I know, and it’s 3am and K is raiding the fridge, rubbing the contents of the the fridge on his legs! Turns out he is in agony with his bites. 😞 An advantage of having Ruby is that he can’t pace any more, however tossing and turning in bed and grumbling is as bad for me to hear. At 4am I suggest we go down to the beach and he goes for a paddle! The seawater helped soothe his legs earlier and I know he must be in agony cos he agreed quickly, so at 4am we were on the beach having a paddle, like you do! 


The seawater must have helped as of course, he managed to get straight off to sleep, whereas I lay away awake for 2 hours! 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄 mind you hearing the sea lap beneath you and the dawn chorus is not the worst way I’ve spent a couple of hours. 

Monday arrived and as forecasted, the rain decided to make an appearance. Next door, bless them, gave Keith some antihistamines to help his itching, and also a couple of cans of Tennants for our fridge as a parting gift- how nice was that? We had another couple of people stop by Ruby interested in her conversion, and admiring her, it’s really a very strange sensation for us as unlike many others it seems, we were not drawn to VWs cos of their image! It was just the van which worked for us! Hey ho, it’s really nice to have chats with lots of different people and something that has never happened to us before in 7 years of motorhoming! We waved a sad farewell by 10:15, and rolled into. Mallaig for our ferry to Skye just before 11. “Are you booked on?” the man cheerfully asks. “Er no….”. “Sorry but we are fully booked ALL WEEK!” You could see the colour drain from our faces. What an epic oversight. We’ve done this crossing three times before and never booked. What’s going on?! The man offers for us to queue in the reserve queue for the next ferry at 12:00 although he says there is no guarantee that we will get on. We decided to go for it. Luckily, Lady Luck was on our side and they fit us on, what a relief, neither of us fancied the journey back to Fort William retracing our steps! 


We arrived on Skye thanks to a smooth crossing (unlike last time!) and it’s been raining all afternoon. Can’t complain though, we’ve had our share of good weather for Scotland. We drove to Tallisker, hoping to park somewhere local so we can have a few drinks and a meal in the pub opposite the distillery. Like everywhere else, Tallisker is heaving with people and we struggle to park. 😔 in the end we manage to get a space but we are unable to stay overnight. So we opted for an early dinner in the pub, which was delicious before driving on to a large lay-by on the way towards Sligachan where we settle in for a chill. 

Until next time 

Lx 

On the road with CoPilot Caravan App

Getting from A to B in Bluebell the motorhome is quite different to getting from A to B in our little Yoda the Skoda. We need to consider many different factors when planning our jaunts in the motorhome, but mainly the issues we run into (sadly literally in one case back in 2010!) are our height and weight. We’ve used the standard Garmin satnav for 4 years now, and don’t get me wrong, its been ok, but this year we found ourselves looking at new satnavs and particularly one which we can input our vehicle dimensions in, so that the best route is found having taking these into account.

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For the last year or so we’ve used Google Maps as a secondary sat nav, although because it uses data to download the map it relies on having a decent internet signal, something which we are not blessed with sadly, even in not so deepest Norfolk! We enjoyed using the phone as a sat nav, finding the screen on my iPhone 6 a good size for clear mapping.This led us to looking into an App based sat nav,which works offline and more specifically one which we could enter Bluebell’s vehicle dimensions into. Enter “CoPilot Caravan Europe”

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At £49.99 I wondered if it was a bit pricey as I don’t tend to pay more than £4.99 for an app, but then Keith reminded me that actually having looked into Caravan/Motorhome/HGV sat navs, we were hard pushed to get one for less than £100. We decided to give it a go, and trial it on our recent Scotland trip- a handy test as most of the time we were without Mobile data.

Set Up

After download, a user friendly screen prompts you through set up, with clear and easy instructions to navigate through. There are lots of options to tailor the app to your own personal requirements, something which we found useful- we could even personalise the welcome to say “Welcome Lydia and Keith” – not the most important factor on a sat nav I realise, but a nice touch nonetheless- (I’m such a girl!!) You have the option to display safety camera alerts (and change how much distance ahead you want to be warned of them) and set it to save battery, another useful tool when you’re doubling your phone as your sat nav. Finally it’s time to enter those important measurements- the app allows you to input your Height, Width, Total Length and Total Weight. You can also select how it should naviagate- the fastest route or shortest.

Map Choice

I like the fact that you have the option of which maps you want to download- having got the Europe version of the app, I had the option of downloading “Europe”, “Eastern Europe”, “Western Europe” then the individual countries as separate maps. This was useful for me as I have limited storage on my iPhone 6, so I was able to just download UK, although when we go to Germany over the summer I have the option of downloading “Western Europe” or just “Germany”.

 

 

 

On The Road

With CoPilot you have the option to save certain addresses as favourites. For those one off entries, its easy to input, especially if you have the postcode of your destination. You get the option to select a “cross street” too, making pinpointing your destination much easier.

There are several ways to view the app whilst navigating- the one we preferred was the larger instructions with a mini picture of the next junction and a countdown to the next junction. This made navigating really easy. Other options included a smaller instruction but more details for future junctions. I guess this would be useful for the passenger if they are navigating you. It reminded you several times which junction to take on a roundabout and although that was a bit annoying, it was useful and saved us going round roundabouts several times…ahem!

We LOVED the fact that it was easy to change the proposed route by a simple drag of your finger. For example- our route up to Loch Lomond from Norfolk wanted to take us up to Edinburgh on the A1. We wanted an overnight stop at Carter Bar border crossing near to Jedburgh so simply dragged our finger to the route we would rather take and it automatically updated. Fab. Equally you could add via’s etc and also it comes with an extensive list of POI – even more when you are online.

Traffic Updates are included for a year, however depend on Mobile signal. Our journey home was affected by a huge accident on the A1- we were delayed for nearly 3 hours (ouch) but sadly it didn’t do a great job in prewarning us (and we had 4G).

Verdict 

We travelled nearly 1500 miles using the app and in general we were extremely happy with how it worked. The only criticism was that sadly it did still try and take us on single carriageway A roads near to Inverness rather than the duel carriageway A Roads (it wanted us to take the A833 to Beauly to cut off the corner of Inverness, rather than staying on A82 then A9. It thought it would save 30 mins but when we ignored it, suddenly the ETA decreased by nearly an hour!) If we could get an update to make sure that duel carriageway roads take priority then for us, it would be 5*. Until then, we give it a very useful “does what it says on the tin” 4*.  We look forward to using the app in Germany over the Summer.

In Summary– yes it’s nearly £50, but it made travelling round in a great big motorhome much less stressful and we were confident we weren’t going to find ourselves in a tricky bridge situation! We will still continue to use a road map alongside the app, but, find me a motorist that doesn’t do that!

CoPilot Caravan Navigation App is available from the Apple App store for iOS devices or Google Play store for Android devices.

Additional Accessories to make life easier

Phones are so much more than phones nowadays aren’t they? Here we are using my phone to guide us 300 miles up to the Scottish Border, whilst using Spotify to serenade us- what happens when we arrive at the border at 01:00 – I have no battery left to take the obligatory “we have arrived” selfie! This was a worry for me- read into that what you will… ;0)

Our Solution – a decent Apple Certified Car Charger and Phone Holder for Air Vent, Magnetic Cradle Car Mount

Everywhere we went, despite using my phone as our sat nav and DJ, my battery was 100% charged and ready for #selfie action!

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01:15 at Carter Bar England/Scotland Border following a day at work and a 7 hour drive north!

*Disclaimer*

I was given this app for free by CoPilot Caravan in return for an honest review of their product. All opinions are strictly my own having extensively tested the product. 

Scotland May Half Term – Part 3

Tuesday morning saw us saying a reluctant goodbye to Glen Nevis Holiday Park and Fort William. We were heading North, to Clachtoll, which is about 40 miles north of Ullapool. The journey was due to take us about 5 hours as the direct route is still smallish roads ( not duelled). As it happens It took us more like 8 as we stopped for a few picture stops en route! Our first stop was a detour off the A82 towards the Glen Garry viewpoint, always a favourite of ours for a quick cuppa and slab of tablet.
Glen Garry viewpoint, the best weather we’ve had here
Glen Garry from the Drone camera
We followed that road back round to Loch Ness, stopping at an additional view point just after the Glen Garry one- with a fab view but also lots of what looked like to us, self built Japanese Shinto shrines. We are unsure if the hill is believed to be a sacred place- maybe someone reading this can fill us in!
Shrines in Glen Garry
Shrine
An amazing place for a spot of reflection
Next stop was near to Urquart Castle on Loch Ness, then Corrieshalloch Gorge near to Ullapool, which is where we had lunch before going down (again) to see the 300 ft gorge, billed as the largest in Britain. We’ve been several times before, and I can report that despite me getting across the viewing bridge, I am still terrified of it!
Loch Ness
The viewing platform across the Corrieshalloch gorge. Gulp. And that’s not the deepest section 
Jazz was as scared as I was and laid flat on the floor so had to be carried!
Corrieshalloch Gorge

By this point it was nearing 4pm and we still had to get to Ullapool for some fresh supplies, before heading the further hour onto Clachtoll. It was foot down time, and by 5.30pm we were passing Ardvreck Castle, only half an hour from Clachtoll and somewhere we’d passed 3 times and never stopped at. For future reference this looks a fab place to wild camp. We had a play with the drone camera and the SLR.

Ardvreck Castle, Assynt

 

Ardvreck Castle, Assynt
Can’t resist a selfie
A place of tranquility

We made the final approach to Clachtoll along a single track mountain pass (although it’s large enough for a caravan if you travel from Ullapool direction and have nerves of steel). You pass Lochinver and descend into the tiny oasis of heaven, known to us as Clachtoll Bay. We were booked onto Clachtoll Beach caravan site for 3 nights- it was £20 pn for a fully serviced pitch and we were lucky as ours was right on the front over looking the beach.

View over Clachtoll Beach
Our own slice of heaven

The campsite is in a tiny hamlet although there is a small beach shop stocking essentials and the campsite has free wifi although we struggled to get it strong enough to download or upload the blog. There is also an immaculately clean shower block and the ladies even had GhD hair straighteners!

We had a BBQ however despite it being glorious sunshine, it was very drafty and too cold to sit outside so moved inside to eat- however we could still enjoy the view from Bluebell. The joys of a motorhome eh? I felt sorry for those in tents.

Next day and somehow it was still sunny! Perfect for our day up at Stoer lighthouse and the Old man of Stoer sea stack. We drove the ten minute journey from campsite as it was uphill and also chilly still, so we wanted a warm base to whale watch. On arrival we were directed to park up the top by the lighthouse and we were thrilled. We were sure we had the best view in the world!

 

Stoer Lighthouse

 

Stoer lighthouse

 

Again, we’ve been here before 6 years ago, but enjoyed the cliff walk to see the impressive stack nonetheless. We also enjoyed watching bluebell get smaller and smaller, and larger and larger on the way back! We can see why he’s called the old man, don’t you think he has character?!

Can you spot Bluebell the motorhome? 

 

The Old Man of Stoer

 

The old man..
Jazz got photobombed

 

After our walk (4 miles) Keith got the chairs out and I cooked the most amazing lunch I’ve ever cooked- I know that sounds big headed but trust me, it was yum. We had steak and Stilton wraps, from my camping cookbook. They were so delicious – made with sandwich steak which was about £3 from Morrisons. Yum. Terrible pic, cos I was itching to try it as at this point Keith was making all sorts of appreciative noises!

Lunch with a view. The best motorhome lunch I’ve made and a top view too

we sat for an hour or two whale and dolphin watching but didn’t spot anything, I think it was a bit rough at sea. We did see an artic skua though.

A perfect spot for a picnic and whale watching (despite not seeing any!)

 

We headed back to the campsite for 4pm as it was Wednesday and the fishmonger was due to visit the site.

Bang in 4:30 he arrived and attracted a large queue (us included). We stocked up with fresh mussels, scallops, smoked haddock and prawns – all for £12- and that evening after a pre dinner stroll, I cooked us a delicious seafood linguine. Yum

Fishmonger arrives at Clachtoll
Enough fish there Lydia?!
Pre dinner walks don’t get better
So happy, we love it here- can you see the mountains at sea? 
Clachtoll Beach
Homemade Seafood linguine for dinner

Thursday arrived and we had a lay in. The weather had turned, and although it wasn’t raining, it was grey and gloomy, so we decided to have a work from the motorhome morning, preparing invoices and timetables for our return to work. After a large brunch we loaded up a geocaching location nearby and took a stroll stumbling upon a secret beach!

Secret Beach near Clachtoll only accessed by foot
Secret beach

We had a good chill as we decided to attempt the drive back to Norfolk in one day the following day, as we had a gig to perform at on Satirday night and we didn’t want to get caught up in end of half term traffic the following day. We left Clachtoll at 06:30 as quietly as we could, which was fun, not, and set off on the 650 mile journey. Actually, it was a really good journey, we split the driving into strict 4 hour slots. All went well until we hit the A1 and then we got stuck for 3 hours, moving a grad total of 7 miles! There was a nasty accident which resulted in the road in front of us being closed. Still, with the delay we still made it home before 11pm, in total a 16.5 hour journey. We were tired but satisfied and had had such an amazing week! I bet we will never be that lucky in Scotland again. Oh, and not one midge bite. We survived armidgeddon.

I will do a seperate post about our experience using the Co Pilot iPhone satnav , otherwise known as Colin, another day, so keep your eye out.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Scottish adventures

Until next time, which possibly will be our 4 week Germany trip in August.

Lx

 

Scotland – May Half Term 2016 Part 1

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up admiring the views, and boy, are they special. We are up in the Highlands of Scotland, and, wait for it……. It’s glorious sunshine! Hurrah!

 
The last week has been ridiculously busy, we bought a house, moved in, had two big gigs, not to mention our normal teaching schedule. When we booked this jaunt to Scotland in January, we hadn’t in a million years thought that we would be house hunting, mortgage shopping, moving in the 4 months that would follow. There have been several times during the process that we nearly cancelled our Scottish trip, the house completion date was earmarked as Fri 27th May or Friday 3rd June for the  majority of the journey, but we never got round to it, then in a last minute supermove by Nationwide, our mortgage lenders, it became apparent it was moving quicker so we pushed for 20th and the rest as they is history. Or mayhem, as I’m going to rename it. 
 
Anyhow, in a swift move in/unpack manoeuvre, Thursday 7pm arrived in a blink, and we put down our teaching hats, got straight into a pre packed (as in pre packed at the start of May, just in case!) and hit the A11 from our school in Thetford. By 9pm we were in a lay by on the A1 near Newark picking up Jazz the pampered pooch, who had had a week with mum and stepdad whilst we moved, and by 01:10 we were sipping on a cold beer at Carter Bar Border Crossing, near Jedburgh! We had a good sleep and woke up feeling almost shell shocked that we had managed to get away, but very excited about the days to follow. Scotland is probably our favourite place to travel, and the weather looked promising. 
 
1am on the Scottish border
We had a leisurely start, and enjoyed listening to the piper who turned up minutes before a coach load of Americans! We had a nice chat with him before hitting the road towards Loch Lomond in time for lunch. The traffic wasn’t brill between Edinburgh and Glasgow, but we were in no rush, and the weather was drizzly, so we settled in for the journey eventually arriving at “our” layby for a late lunch (* our layby because we’ve stayed there then, then, then and then
Morning from the border
Scottish piper!
 
Farm shop treats

We stocked up at the Farm shop on the A82 near Luss just before lunch, always risky when you’re hungry!  “Our” layby is the second one Loch side before the Inverbeg hotel, now named The Lochside Inn”, where we have enjoyed many a dram. Happily, the litter problem we encountered here last time has improved, however selfish (in our opinion) parking hasn’t. As soon as we arrived we noticed a Winnebago parked lengthways taking up 3 spaces and a motorhome parked with a marquee up and the chairs the other of the marquee leaving not much room for any other vehicles. We squeezed in next to her, she wasn’t amused and was obviously saving the place for someone else arriving later.  Selfish parking here is going to ruin it for everyone. Wild camping is allowed up here, but setting out your stall like this, in our opinion takes the Mick.
Campfire quesadilla’s
We had campfire quesadilla’s for lunch, not on a campfire I add, but still yum. Then sent the drone up for some pics before moving on up the road to the new viewIng platform beyond Tarbet. 
Drone pic of Loch Lomond
 

 

 

 

 

Bluebell and Loch Lomond
Moody skies above Loch Lomond
New viewing platform/Pyramid
Head of the loch
 

Loch Lomond
The pyramid shape was an interesting design and it was nice to see a different view of Loch Lomond, this time from the head of the Loch. 
Pyramid viewing platform
 
We carried on towards Glencoe, stopping at the Black Mountain view point and sending the drone up again. there were a few vans parked up for a night there and it bought back happy memories of our night there two years ago.
 
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We carried on though, although I could have easily stayed there! We were booked onto Glencoe Mountain Resort campsite for two night. When we booked this trip, we decided to travel less and make more use of campsites in order to relax more. Ironic given that we had no idea what lay ahead of us! So around 6pm, we rolled onto the campsite, checked in with a grump receptionist and on to our pitch. First impressions were …. Meh. A gravel carpark, not in the most picturesque area of the valley. But, a fully serviced pitch. £15 pn. At least we are here. 
 
What followed over the next 10 hours was horrendous. What we didn’t know when we booked, or until we arrived, was that our visit coincided with a Scottish Downhill Association mountain bike event. This resulted in HUNDREDS of mountain bikers and their cars/vans/trucks/caravans/campervans turning up right through the night. I’m really not exaggerating here. From 9pm to 6am ALL we could hear was cars arriving, people directing each other into every last space there was, bike pumps pumping tyres, wow, that’s an annoying sound when it’s right on your pitch at 5am. At 07:00 the resort switched on their music and by 07:30 the decision had been made to abandon the campsite. I marched off to reception to explain we were leaving a night early and why, was met with a stubborn manager who insisted it was normal activity for cars to be arriving right through the night on a campsite, and I explained  it wasnt for us, way too noisy and we wouldn’t be back. 
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We drove down to the main Glencoe viewpoint, where we’ve had to retreat to before(!) and had a leisurely breakfast of haggis sausages, bacon, beans, eggs and fried bread, which helped to restore sanity and we looked at new plans for the night ahead! The haggis sausages by the way were sensational! Our Britstops bible saved the day- we realised there was a Inn down the road that welcomes motorhome stopovers, so after a quick emergency phone call we booked ourselves in, and relaxed a little while more at Glencoe. The view here will never get old. We simply love it here. 

 

Scottish breakfast at Glencoe
Glencoe ❤️
Glencoe
GC Drone
Pap of Glencoe

 
After a while, and a drone flight, we carried on down the A82 and crossed Loch Linnhe via the Corran Ferry. Despite driving this road many times, this was entirely new to us. The short ferry crossing took 5 mins, and cost £8.20 but saved nearly 40 miles of driving. The views across the Loch Linnhe towards the Great Glen were super. 
Corran Ferry
Corran Ferry
 
We soon found our Brit Stop, number 838 right upon the Lochside and said hello, had a couple of drinks each and pootled off for a leisurely bike ride. We have been Geocaching for a few weeks now and had a fun afternoon finding geocaches – a bit like a treasure hunt! The road was flat and on the banks of the loch. It was breathtaking. 
View from Britstop
Britstop
Bike ride from Argdour
Picnic
Beautiful ❤️
Paddle
Jazz
We had a picnic and a paddle, much to Jazz’s displeasure- and mooched back to Bluebell for a nap. We didn’t eat at the pub, but went in for several more drinks and whiskeys before a late walk (10pm – and still light!) along the loch. 
 
Nap time
Aerial shot of Britstop. Can you see Bluebell?
10.30pm
It’s simply beautiful and we are thankful to Britstops for guiding us here. We’ve lost count the number of times we travelled here and missed this spot. For us, this is the reason we love BritStops. Yes, wild camping is legal here and our back up would have been exactly that. But we feel happy that we spent a bit money locally, in return for a pitch with a view like this in an area we usually miss. Happy days. 
 
Sunset

 

 

Easter Holidays 2014: Pt7 Dundee – home

Bluebell the motorhome is safely parked up back home after an immense journey south from Dundee to Newark, then Newark to home.

Our last night in Scotland was spent happily parked up at a farm shop Brit Stop close to Dundee, where we were able to stock up on Aberdeen Angus burgers and sausages (we literally filled the fridge with meat!) and have a very quiet and relaxed evening enjoying the sunshine.

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Bluebell parked outside the farm shop for the night

The next day dawned a sunny one, and not wanting to waste the sunshine we decided to stop at Tentsmuir Forest/Beach, just south of Dundee, for a walk in the sun, before hitting the road back south to near Newcastle.

Tentsmuir Beach is without a doubt the best beach we’ve been on in the UK, and that includes all those fantastic white sandy beaches on the Hebrides, the white sands of Morar- all of them are beaten by this magnificent stretch of golden, perfect sand which literally goes on for MILES. It must be a mile at least in depth, sea to sand dunes, and then it stretches round a headland for well over 2 miles I’m sure. Have a look at this aerial pic I’ve borrowed from Tentsmuir.org

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We were literally the only ones on it, we saw not another single person on the entire beach. Incredible. The weather was gorgeous, the beach was amazing – we felt like we were in heaven!!

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What is lovely about this amazing place is that there is the beach and dunes to explore, a pine forest nestled behind, and loads of way marked trails to follow, be it on bike or foot. Hidden in the forest was an 18th Century Ice House, and a World War 2 Pill box, that was actually only discovered recently as it was hidden beneath the sand!

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18th Century Ice House,

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WW2 Pill box

We had a brilliant time exploring this area, and couldn’t believe it was free (apart from £2.50 all day parking- bargain!) We reluctantly hit the road after lunch and had a smooth journey south, arriving just north of Newcastle around 6pm at a pub stop. Naturally we went in for a taste of the local ale, and after a pint of the 7.something % cider I nearly needed carrying back to the van! Keith however enjoyed a couple of pints of very reasonably priced local ale, coming in at UNDER £3 a pint- and half of that went to the local lifeboat charity. Great idea.

Next morning we were on the road before 9am, aiming for Newark for an Easter Sunday meal with Dad and Jenny which was lovely. Easter Monday, before leaving dad’s house, we borrowed his power washer, to get some of the sea salt we’d accumalated on our 1500 miles off!

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Keefy with his hose, ahem

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A nice and clean Bluebell, all ready for her next adventure!

Our final mileage was approximately 1600 miles, we filled with diesel 5 times, and are dead happy with the mpg we got (although we don’t know how to work the actual one out, we are pleased with our fuel bill!) we stayed on only one campsite during the 17 days away, and managed to fill with water/empty our loo every day!

We ate and drank some fine local produce and came back needing to shed a pound or two, that’s for sure.

Anyway, next trip is a mini break in Essex next weekend, the. We’ve got ten days in France to look forward to at the end of the month! Hurrah for school holidays

Until next time
Lx

Easter Holidays 2014: Pt 6 The coastal trail – Aberdeenshire

Bluebell the motorhome is parked at Brit Stop 810 not too far from the fairy tale Glamis Castle.

Thursday
We set off from Brit Stop no 828 at 8am in the pouring rain with the intention of following the coast road east. Aberdeen council have very handily provided a brown sign tour of the coast road, which is well signposted and takes in many places of interest between Nairn and Aberdeen. This has proved to be the basis of our tour today, following the route through the extremely pretty fishing villages of Portgordon, Buckie, Findochty and onto Portknockie to see some interestingly shaped sea rocks named locally as the Bow and Fiddle.

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We then carried on the coast road to Cullen, which is, as it’s name suggests, where the fish soup, Cullen Soup was devised. sadly as it was breakfast time we didn’t get to have any soup today but next time we will make a point to!

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Viaduct and seaside at Cullen- a nice spot for breakfast

Next stop, 10 miles or so down the road was the charming 17th century fishing village of Portsoy, which we thought rivalled the picturesque fishing villages found in Cornwall and Devon. The tall warehouses that stand next to the waterside have been restored into quirky shops and cafés and we spent a happy hour wandering around here.

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The old harbour at Portsoy surrounded by warehouses. You can see the newer harbour on the left.

It was then on through Whitehills, Banff and Macduff where although the housing wasn’t quite as pretty, the harbours were small and all had character. Gardenstown was the next stop, which was different to the other places we had visited today in that the village is built on a series of terraces which are set into the cliffs rising up behind the harbour. It was steep drive down into the village and in the end we couldn’t find the parking so turned round and came back up, stopping to admire the views half way up.

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The terraced fishing village of Gardenstown

Next stop- our most anticipated of the day and tour- the small handsome village of Pennan. The hotel and telephone box were featured in the film local hero (you may remember we found the beaches last week on the west coast) and finding the village was every bit as exciting as we’d hoped! Again, it was a very steep drive down, with three hairpins and a tight negotiation round the hotel itself, but even this was exciting as the drive down also features in the film! The village is gorgeous and although the weather was changeable we loved our visit here! We didn’t go to the pub- mainly because dogs weren’t allowed, but the interior scenes were filmed elsewhere- this and the frosty welcome we received when nipping our heads through the door meant we didn’t mind missing a pint here.

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Pennan

After a quick lunch, and a careful drive back up the steep road to the main road, we headed to Fraserburgh- home to the first lighthouse, Kinnaird Head, that The Northern Lights society introduced in the 1700s. It’s unusual in that it’s built into the structure of 16th century Fraserburgh Castle. Although the original lighthouse is now “retired”- a new automatic one lights up the shores these days- there is an excellent visitors centre and lighthouse museum, plus you can have a tour of the old lighthouse. We absolutely loved it- for a very reasonable £6 each we spent almost an hour in the museum, and another 45 minute on a particularly interesting tour of the lighthouse.

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Trying on the light keepers uniform!

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Looking at the different methods in which the lights work.

Once on the tour (we were lucky to be the only ones as it was the last tour of the day) we were taken right up to the very top- and shown the light, how it worked and even allowed to go into the light room where the lens was. Unfortunately the high winds meant we couldn’t go on the roof (90mph gust had been recorded the hour before!!) but we were allowed on the balcony where we had a great view.

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inside the lens! Amazing experience

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The outside of the lighthouse- we were at the very top on the previous picture!!

It really was a brilliant tour, and we learnt some amazing things!

We are now at our BritStop for the night, which is perched up on a harbour wall of a town near Aberdeen. It’s got an amazing beach, but we are too snuggled on Bluebell to go out now, it’s been a long, but brill day exploring and sightseeing, we can’t believe how much we managed to fit in! Tomorrow we are heading for Glamis Castle.

Friday

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BritStop ao4

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Panoramic of the beach we were overlooking- truly spectacular

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enjoying being on the beach in the sun!

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Glamis Castle

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The beautiful gardens at Glamis Castle: The walled garden, The Pineteum and The Italian Gardens

Easter Holidays Pt 5: the East Coast of Scotland

Monday
Bluebell the motorhome is tucked safely behind BritStop 824 whilst her owners enjoy the ale from the on site brewery!

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We left Skye this morning via the bridge and headed to the pretty town of Plockton for coffee and a wander. Plockton enjoys a micro climate and is totally sheltered, therefore there are palm trees that line the sea front- it’s quite a sight to see!! The sea front is very pretty, and hosts a hotel, a small shop where we picked up some delicious highland blue cheese, and a number of b and bs. I should imagine in the summer it’s heaving! We enjoyed a coffee outside the Plockton hotel- it was a bit early for anything stronger and we’d got a long drive ahead of us.

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Next stop was the Eileen Donan castle, for elevensees- a tradition of ours that started 5 trips ago on our maiden voyage in Daisy. We visited that year, and enjoyed it- but these days we just pop into the car park for the obligatory pic of the outside and a brew.

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From here, we took the stunning road towards Inverness – which takes in some breathtaking scenery through the 5 sisters mountain range, with a brief stop to take in the battle site of Glen Shiel; and we were lucky with the weather today, resulting in a gorgeous drive.

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We got as far as Loch Ness, Brit Stop 824- a hotel and micro brewery. Let me tell you, the outside doesn’t look too much, but the food and beer is amazing. We’ve stocked up on bottled beer for the van, fed on haggis- Keith had a haggis pizza and I had haggis in the traditional form with neeps and tatties. Delicious! What’s more- if it hadn’t been for Brit Stops, we would never have found this place as it’s nested behind some houses, off the beaten track. For us, this is what we love most about this scheme. It takes us to places where we can have a true experience rather than a touristy/mass produced one.

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Tomorrow we continue with our exploration of Brit Stops/ food tour- we’re heading to a cheese farm!! Sounds right up our street!

Tuesday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked at Brit Stop no: behind a cheese farm, near Inverness.

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We couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome today, our hosts are lovely, and from the minute you pull in this is evident:

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Our taste buds are going bonkers- we’ve been sampling (and buying) the cheese that is made here this afternoon, and it is delicious. The main cheddar they make here is voted in the top 10 in Britain, and I can see why. It’s creamy, but also mature- and as soon as I popped a taster in my mouth I knew it was a winner. We bought three variations in the end; the lady told us that the crumblier one was made from milk taken in the winter months, which then needed to be left to mature for longer. It was very interesting, and we can see why the shop/cafe have been awarded 5 stars from Visit Scotland. We especially enjoyed watching through the glass partition to watch cheese being handmade!

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Other purchases that we picked up here were Scottish oatcakes with garlic and rosemary in, also lovely, and some ice cream from the nearby Black Isle dairy which was am.maz.ing!!! Keefy’s honeycomb flavour especially! And Jazz loved it!! Cheeky mutt!

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Other than eating- which we started at Loch Ness this morning with a ginormous bacon baguette with this lovely view……

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we did a little walk to a pretty village nearby, on the banks of the Moray Firth to try to spot some dolphins, as this stretch of water is popular with dolphins. Unfortunately despite a lovely hour sat waiting, we failed to see them this time, but will definitely return next year.

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Whilst we were chilling tonight we saw 2 barn owls hunting for their tea and the beekeepers came to collect the honey from the nearby bee boxes. It’s been fantastic, and yet again another favourite spot has been born! Thanks Brit Stops 🙂

Wednesday
Bluebell the motorhome is perched on the seaside behind Brit Stop 828. Excitement is lingering in the air, as word in the van is that tonight is Fish and chip night! Yum yum.

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We were on our way early (well… 9am) this morning, and just like the old saying goes- the early bird catches the worm- or in our case, lots of sightings of dolphins! We headed to Nairn harbour for our brekkie, and whilst cooking up eggy bread and beans (you can imagine the smell in our van this week!) Keefy exclaimed that he’d seen a dolphin! Eggs abandoned, I joined the search, and sure enough over the next hour we saw several sightings – one was pretty close too. I failed miserably on the photo taking- I was too busy squeeling every time it reappeared. However, that’s one thing to tick off the list, as it was an amazing sight to watch these beautiful creatures playing in the wild. Apparently bottle nosed dolphins are called this because their long snout is said to look like an old fashioned gin bottle. It made me smile- I wonder how much truth is in it.

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From Nairn, we drove east to Burghead, where they celebrate two New Years- the 1st and 11th Jan under the Julian calender and to discover about the Clavie tradition and also see some Pictish stone engravings. The visitors centre (donation entry) is excellent and enjoys a panoramic view from the roof. There is also the remains of an Iron Age fort here, as well as the Burghead Well. It was a nice place to visit, and we are glad that we made the journey off the main road to get there.

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We then took the coast road east, towards Lossiemouth, making one final surreal stop at the small fishing village of Hopeman. It’s got a pretty harbour here as well as an alladins cave type shop/gallery that we nipped into. Half an hour later we emerged £60 lighter but having gained this bad boy for our living room (at home not in the van!!) luckily we are traveling in a large vehicle as it’s got a few miles to cover before it’s installed with a couple of malts next to the sofa at home!!

So now it’s time for fish and chips after a great day exploring this lovely stretch of Scotland.

Until next time
Lx