Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yards and Inches

What a blast into the past. Miles, yards, inches, gallons, pints. Well that last one is how you order beer at the Old Blackfriars where Tracey and I meet after work everyday. They do a nice pub meal. We have nearly worked our way through everything on their menu. Only two of these tet a tets left as Tracey flys back to Oz on Saturday. She will return with the boys once things settle down here. I won't bore you all with the various issues that we have had to face since arriving in Aberdeen, and there have been a few, but I will tell you about a little trip we did last weekend.

We hired a car for the weekend, and on Saturday we took a little trip to the Loch Ness tourist trap. Very nice day even though it started out with bucketing rain. By the time we got to Inverness the rain had stopped and the weather was starting to clear. A generally gorgeous drive with lots of the green beauty you expect from Scotland. Black faced sheep and hairy brown cattle are quite popular. So is wheat!! Ah hae ne'er seen so much wheat. Even though Australia probably grows more wheat than Scotland can dream of you come face to face with it here. Wheat, potatoes and barley. Mile after mile of it. I suspect the farmers are gauging when to harvest though as it all looks prime. In fact it seems very little of Scotland is not farming in some way. If it isn't agricultural crops its forestry - hundreds of acres of forest. All very picturesque.

Inverness was a lovely little place, a nice relief from the grey of Aberdeen. We stopped there for lunch and a look around. We passed a shop window which was decorated with rain coats and funnily enough some of them were advertised as being water proof, but not all them. It seems that a notable couple were being married in the church (kirk) at the centre of town and there were lots of interested bystanders hanging around outside waiting for a glimpse of the bride and groom. We moved on but later as we were leaving and walking past the church again the skirl of pipes began and the bride and groom appeared to general applause and celebration from the waiting throng. The bride looked delighted and the groom emanated a touch of "how embarrassment" before accepting it all good naturedly.

By this time it was quite sunny and warming up. We navigated our way out of town and onto the "A" road leading to Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness. This is the favoured spot for concentrating tourists and has a museum, tourist shops and the Urqhart Castle ruin. The drive down the west side of the lake, oops, I mean loch, was really lovely. A relief not to see wheat fields :) I took a number of film photographs and you will have to wait until they are processed printed and digitised before I can show you.

We saw a rather large bronze statue of Nessie in a little pond near the museum however I think the real thing probably had her fins up watching the football somewhere. We bought a number of little gee gaws for the boys but not a single Nessie as they were all crap furry numbers for tiny kids, not for budding-almost-teenagers-in-a-couple-years type boys. There was nothing plastic that would roar, bite, gouge or spit and shoot projectiles across the room; something they could take to. Oh, I did actually get them a pen each which had a floating Nessie in the barrel. Hahahahaha. Tracey persists in trying the coffee here but sadly Drumnadrochit, like the rest of the UK, makes crap coffee. They do however make a superb [ice cream] cone with double flake. Mmmmmm. It's called a cone here, you don't need to say the ice cream bit. Similarly you only need to order chips to get hot ones. The packet stuff are "crisps".

On the Sunday we went south of Aberdeen. Once again the day started out wet and grey with passing storms but cleared by lunch time. We had no real itinerary for the day just drive where the fancy took us. So we first stopped at a sea side village called Stonehaven just south of Aberdeen. Pretty enough with a lovely little harbour, and a ruined castle. I saw my first car boot sale market happening there. In fact people advertise stuff in the newspaper as being appropriate for a car boot sale, hoping that someone will buy it for re-sale in a car boot. Hmmmm. Makes you wonder. It started to pelt down rain again when we decided to drive to the ruined castle so we didn't see it.

We headed off down the motorway again and turned off to a place called Montrose. When we eventually got there after driving past an interminable number of wheat, potato and barley fields it was a bit like stepping back 50 years. Nothing was open and the place was dead as a dodo. We kept on going and eventually arrived at Arbroath. We got out here because we were getting fairly hungry. Once again it was a bit like stepping back 50 years and just about everything in the high street was shut. We thought we were going to expire from starvation when we found a mini-mart of sorts where you can buy the ubiquitous packet sandwiches. We got one each and a drink and bolted to the sea side to eat. They were shocking things to eat but we were so hungry that even dead donkeys ran away from us.

Arbroath has a lovely little harbour, and after eating those shocking sandwiches and subsequently not feeling hunger at all, we found a nice little fish and chip shop that was really well patronised. Ho hum.

Ah weel, thaat is ma wee story for noo. There are some scots ah cannae understand at all but for one or two words in ten. I must sound very strange to them. I know now that if I am asked to repeat something it's not because they didn't hear me. They heard me perfectly well but understood nothing I said. Hahahahaha