Taken by surprise
It was Baby Sis who sowed the seed – “I’m just telling you that I’ve decided to fly up to Inverness as a surprise for the 70th birthday…” she said in a phone call one day.
Weeks went by. There were other things to consider as well as the October Cleddau-land trip.
Then the Captain made an announcement: “I’ve booked you a seat up to Inverness,” he said, “and I’ll take you to the airport…”
Deal done then…
It was an early start to be driven to London Luton, to catch a 1010 flight to land at Inverness at 1130, to wait there for Baby Sis to fly in from Bristol at 1445…
Perfectly on time Sheepman swept up to the airport pickup point, his errand apparently some agricultural business, to drive his secret passengers back through Inverness, over Kessock Bridge and onward to the Black Isle.
Scottish Sis, meanwhile, was enjoying an afternoon tea at a Beauly hotel, oblivious to the fact that two of her sisters had made an airborne invasion… It’s always fun when someone is rendered speechless!
What next? A mooch round rain-soaked Beauly and a tasty lunch. It’s a good small town for a browse, whether in the high class Highland Hospice shop or the famous Campbells of Beauly tweed shop. (“Yes, the Prince of Wales came here to open our new tailoring department,” one of the assistants explained).
A totally splendid celebratory dinner at Coul House Hotel (west of Strathpeffer) marked the Significant Birthday that evening.
Then there was another road trip. “Oh, there’s snow on the Ben,” (Ben Wyvis) said Scottish Sis as her little car headed down to Cromarty Bridge to take the A9 across Cromarty Firth and on up to Dornoch. The road weaves beside the east coast, reaching Dornoch and its thirteenth century cathedral after some 30 odd miles. It’s Highland Visitor Country – and there are plenty of examples of solid ancient buildings having been repurposed. You can get a good lunch in the former Courthouse.
In an action packed few days craft projects began to dominate sisterly conversation. Nearly finished now is the reupholstering of Boatwif’s small chair. Then there was a look at the Culbokie Lockdown Quilts.
There are three panels, each one comprising 16 patches reflecting the experience of Culbokie residents during the first 2020 lockdown. Scottish Sis has been a major player in the project – and too in the setting up and running of the very pretty but practical village “Sharing Shed”.
It is always hard to leave family – and the adoring eyes and glossy coat of five year old Glen. It’s hard to leave the Black Isle’s soft hills and autumnal shadows, hard to leave the drama of sea, sky and mountain range…
North of the border views of boats were in short supply – but Cleddau remains safe and well. Post Scotland a one-night trip to Cheshire allowed for a Saturday morning inspection: she’s afloat, sprinkled with willow leaves and dry inside.
May she rest happily during her winter hibernation!
Air and car miles: uncounted; boat miles: zero