Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Down Time

Sat 21st

Well after a few hours of being blown side to side, I started to feel sick, so I got out of bed and moved the Hobby head to wind and because of the positioning of the rear bed, I was then in the wind free zone. The bicycle stopped rattling and I stopped worrying about the cycle cover being ripped by the onslaught and just as when I am board a boat I was gently rocked to sleep and slept deeply.

The wind had not abated by morning, but Carly had arranged to meet me at 0830 and I was ready to dolphin watch, only this time I was breakfasted and had my wits about me. When we got to the edge of the fort I spotted the pod and we all became excited, me most of all I think. This time there were at least five and a feeding frenzy was going on in the middle of the estuary at high tide. The bottom had been churned up by the action of the wind as the water nearest shore was a muddy brown, so what affect this had on the fish only the dolphins knew, but if the breaching display was anything to go by, a great deal. It was an awesome sight and one I shall not forget. No matter how many times one of these sleek intelligent creatures jumped clear of the water, my soul never tired of watching. It is carved indelibly into my brain

We decided to follow the pod down river and to do that had to walk down the beach, but were cut off by the tide on the corner of the fort, so I took off my shoes and socks and carried Fin around, with the crashing tide sucking my feet out from under me and hitting my thighs. My short long, long shorts were soaked and as I had worn my down filled body warmer I was glad the water wasn’t any higher. It was not cold as expected, but the wind chill was hence the body warmer. My trousers were dry in about half an hour, not that I noticed as I was totally consumed in watching the dolphins.

The walk along the beach continued to the end of the fort wall where a short climb up the steep bank brought us to some scrubland and a fence to get onto the grass at the top. As the firing range was in use that day, we were not aloud to go to the headland as we planned to see the seals that we spotted there through bino’s.

Then it was back to pack and make ready to move on to Culbin Forest and out of the wind. On the way there I stopped at Brodie Castle carpark. I needed potable water and hoped to get some there and maybe a look at the 17thC treasures on display. To get to the castle I had to go through Nairn, which was hosting a Highland Games day. I had originally wanted to see it, but having seen the web site I discovered that it was more an athletics event and there was no caber tossing, no hammer throwing and no haggis chucking…hmmm…nope, not for me. I would have loved the bagpipe competition as for some reason I feel massive amounts when I hear them, but only live, not enough to buy a CD!! The castle carpark wanted £2 for parking. It explained to me why the carpark was mostly empty. I left at that point and thought I should look up the website and check out the details of admission prices for another day and got back to trying to find water so I could go to the forest.

In the forest carpark is a toilet block that has to be the cleanest toilet block I have ever encountered. I could have cooked my dinner in there. Most impressed. It is a lovely place and not a no parking sign in sight. I intend to stay for a few days as I can cycle, check out an otter hide, climb Hill 99, a look out tower on a 99 foot sand dune that overlooks everything, check out the seal sanctuary in Findhorn Bay and generally carry on chilling out. As I write this it is beautifully silent outside and Fin is snoring under the table on his bed, a gentle, comforting snore that does not make me want to elbow him in the ribs and say ‘lay on your side’!

Earlier a man called Gary who is cycling the length of the UK going to RSPB sanctuaries and writing a blog about it, arrived. I was making sweet and sour on noodles and invited him to join as he said he was eating jam sandwiches for his dinner. We had a pleasant meal and he pitched his tent in amongst the trees nearby. I admire anyone daft enough to pedal massive amounts of miles without reprieve for good causes, especially in the middle of midge season. Ooh talking of the wee beasties, I have not had a problem with them since I came east. I am being bitten occasionally, but not with the same relentless piranha style fashion as those on the west coast. I am however scratching a great deal unconsciously and then regretting it. We didn’t have a fire and marshmallows tonight as I made my excuses for a early night. I hurt and need to lie down. I am in need of a massage, so I will just have to be gentle on myself or I won’t be able to play in the next few days. Ooh I just heard the hooting of an owl, don’t you just love nature?

Sun 22nd

I don’t do much today as I have a weary going on. Andy arrived with Brenda, his wife and fitted my new wing mirror and he became deeply intrigued by the electrics in the Hobby and wanted to figure out why the alarm went off. We ended up after coffee and chocolate, dismantling the sofa and taking all the wiring off the batteries and tested them for power. Eh? The lights still work even though all the batteries are disconnected, even the engine one. Much scratching of heads ensued, until we (Andy) found a third leisure battery under the drivers seat. Now this means that I have three leisure batteries, making four for the vehicle all together, two under the sofa along with a 110litre water trank. There is no way I should ever have an alarm sounding. By the end of the morning Andy had figured that the last battery in the line of charging was duff and disconnected it as it was just leeching power from the rest. After that I have no problem with the lights and as long as I don’t try to run the TV again until I am on hook up I will be ok. We agree that when I get home he will figure out the whole thing properly and fix the wiring as the solar panels have been wired in incorrectly. It makes such a difference to me having a friend around today and particularly one who had helped me fix something I couldn't do myself. Andy tells me this is a van for two people. I agree on some level but it's just me and Fin. Anyhoo, I am happy to wait another 5 weeks to watch a movie, I may even treat myself and go to the cinema, hey hey, bring out the popcorn!

The rest of the day I rest. I am like my batteries, under power. I allow myself to read my book and not do anything. I don’t even leave the car park. I had a text today that to tel me I have sailing to look forward to when I get back so I am cheery, even if a little weary.

Mon 23rd.

I get up early and go for a cycle with Fin. I intend to ride to the view of Finhorn Bay and see what I can see. I reckon by the map it is two miles away. Wrong. It’s just under five. Poor Fin. I had to ride at about 8 mph to keep up momentum and as I have stated previously he runs naturally at 7, so he is working and when we get back he has done just under 9 miles so is pooped, poor wee chap. All I saw on the way is pine trees and moss covered sand. It was good exercise, but not much else. The bay was hard to see too as I was in the wrong bit and to get to the right bit meant running Fin another five miles, so I turned back. As I rolled into the car park it started to rain and didn’t abate. I got a shower and an early night and crawled into bed and read my book. It is bliss.

I have loved the last week and hanging out with Carly, Bob and girls. I have laughed a lot and I had forgotten how easy it is to laugh this much. My life had been too stressful for the first half of this year and laughing was not high on my list, but now it seems that I spend a good deal of time in delight. I never get to see the Otter pool or the look out tower, which I am informed just shows the tops of trees. I do not feel like I have missed anything as I have had a chance to recharge my batteries, a bit like my Hobby.

Tue 24th

I saw goodbye to Carly et al with hugs all round and a promise to meet later in the week at a coastal resort or at the Pitlockry games for sure. I drive off and wonder what today will bring. I take myself off to the Findhorn Community. They set themselves up as a diverse group, living life spiritually and caring about the planet. I had heard good things about them, so found myself an emergency camp across the road by a bird hide and go in open minded. I spend a few hours looking at the eco friendly houses and find a lovely wooden house that I could see myself in and also round houses claiming to be made from beer barrels. I have a very nice coffee and almond croissant in the cafe, but somehow don't feel that I want to stay and explore any more. I have to say, there is a nice 'feel' to the place as I was told there would be, but the people working there are just a little too at peace with the world and it feels odd. It is probably more about me than the place, but I just wanted to leave. I even said to myself before going that if there was a day course that I may enjoy I would have signed up for it, but I was sadly disappointed by it. I drove away.

I drive past Nairn, the Culloden site and Inverness and make my way into the Cairngorms. Just before Aviemore I see a sign for the Strathspey Steam Railway and go to have a look for tomorrow. A very enthusiastic enthusiast tells me how much prices are and where the train goes from and to and just then the last rain rolls into the very pretty nostalgic train station and I decide that Fin and I should have a go. The station is just out of the railway children and it will give me a different view of the Cairngorms than I can get from the Hobby. I speak a little longer to the enthusiast and he tells me that I can park on the QT in the golf club car park at the bottom of the hill, with no bother. I walk back down to the hill where I just happen to be parked and settle in for the evening and determine to finish the book tonight. I have plenty more to read queuing up.

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