The Call of the Wild
Trip Start Apr 11, 2011
18Trip End May 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
The School House B&B
We are up early and ready for our train journey on the 10.11 from Glasgow to Inverness. Derek has been to the station yesterday and booked our seats, the free shuttle from our accommodation will drive us to the station.
This part of our journey is Derek’s doing, he wanted time in Scotland and a train journey but it seems that I am more excited than he is. We arrive at the station and look around and I feel a child-like glee bubbling up and over
Being early means we have to wait about half an hour before we know what platform to go to, but soon it is up on the board and we gather our belongings and after a quick happy chat to the attendant on the gate, we are onboard and in our seats.
The landscape looks not dissimilar to Tasmania and New Zealand, craggy mountains, bodies of water, the evidence of spring is everywhere, flowering bushes, and more sunshine. Across from us in the train, two sets of seats facing each other with a table in between, sits an older (than us) woman who tries hard to keep her belongings in one space, unlike us who have spread out maps, books and cameras over the table and our luggage is taking up two seats beside us. I try to rein in our stuff, but to no avail.
Our neighbour is not chatty and it takes a while before she starts talking to us and, our short conversation covers her beautiful country, the unusually warm weather, where we have been and will go, and whether we are here for the wedding tomorrow. No, we emphatically reply, we are here for our own families.
The journey is about three hours, we disembark and our next challenge is to find the airport where we will pick up a rental car. Now you may ask why we are going to the airport to pick up a rental car, surely that can be done in the town. Well the complication is that we need one-way hire of a car, pick up here in Inverness, drop off in London and that is not as easy as it sounds, not all companies can give this service. It costs more both here in the UK and on the continent, but is the only alternative that fits in with our travel plans.
Derek wants to ask someone, I consult the printout of directions from the internet to a bus, in the end neither one is very helpful and it has started raining. A taxi is quicker and easier and probably not much more than two bus fares and no waiting.
Again we have a friendly helpful taxi driver, but an Englishman this time who gave up working in London as a computer programmer to live here and work as a taxi driver so he and his family could have a quieter and better life in the country. He said he made a good living from the taxi and that his wife did not have to work. He mentioned property and I wondered if he had other means of income. This was the first taxi driver we had met who was prepared to admit to making a reasonable living from taxi-driving
Inside the terminal, we look for a Hertz booth and instead there is a man carrying a Hertz sign who takes us outside (again) and loads the baggage (again) into his mini van and off we go to...yes you’ve guessed it, the Hertz depot we drove past earlier.
Every time we stop and put the luggage down anywhere I am counting, one, two cases and...Where are the backpacks? A leopard never changes its spots and Derek has lost his backpack once already.
This time we have a Vauxhall, a silver one, with four doors, and a smaller boot than the Fiat, which I didn’t think was possible. This poor little car has more dents than I have seen on a rental car ever before, so we checked carefully and added a few to the diagram that being offered. Out comes Lady TT, she is briefed and we head off to explore the highlands
Our route takes along beside Loch Ness, a beautiful long, narrow at times, body of water. The weather is quite still and the water reflects the trees and mountains. The terrain is often harsh, no trees, low shrubs, dark in colour with bright yellow flowers. We will see these bushes throughout Scotland and England, gorse bushes I am told later.
Tonight we have booked accommodation at The School House B&B in Dornie, which turns out to be pleasant. Twilight is long here so we have plenty of time to sit a while, looking out over the loch, a charming place for a couple of scotchettes before dinner at the local pub. Haggish for me and the safe option-fish for Derek, a pint or so of the local brew, and Derek charms the waitress who gives us a bar mat to take home.