Day's 66 to 68 - On Holiday in Dornoch

Trip Start May 31, 2013
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31
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Trip End Oct 16, 2013


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Flag of United Kingdom  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

5 August

We said our goodbye's to James and Mary reasonably early, so that we could begin our drive up to Inverness. We returned our rental car to Inverness airport (yay - no scratches or dents!) and grabbed the bus to the city centre, where we had arranged to meet our next host Debbie. She would take us further north to Dornoch.
Gary and Debbie Bethune became friends with Grant and Jackie when they had lived in Elgin back in the 80's. The Bethune's still live in Elgin, but often holiday up in Dornoch where Gary grew up. When they had heard of our travel plans, they kindly offered to have us stay with them on their family holiday for a few days. Deb found us easily (not hard with our packs and the recognisable Dabb girl face) and we were soon heading up the beautiful North East Scotland coastline.
Dornoch is a gorgeous, quiet holiday destination, famous for its pretty beach and famous links golf course 'Royal Dornoch Golf Club'. The Bethune's are mad keen golfers and are part of the furniture at the club. Gary's folks are Dornoch locals with Dad being the president of the club, a very prestigious position. The little holiday house the Bethune's were renting off their friends was just a stones throw from the golf course and beach, which the family dog's, Finn and Juno loved also.
Soon after arriving, Gary whipped us off for a tour of the local area, which began with a visit to the whiskey distillery 'Balblair'. This distillery featured in the recent Scottish film 'Angel's Share' (which we would end up watching shortly) and is a small authentic producer. Gary ended up knowing one of the worker's there so she kindly poured some taster's for myself and Lo and gave us the rundown on the place.
We then headed off further inland passing through brilliant scenery, with Gary making a great tour guide as the born and bred local. He took us next to 'Shin Falls' to attempt to find salmon jumping up the falls. The local rivers are well-known salmon fisheries, with salmon heading from the sea up the rivers, to mate.
We managed to see salmon jumping (with me managing to grab a lucky shot of one) which was a great experience. Leaving here, we made our way back towards the coast and Dornoch where Gary then took us on a tour of the golf course by buggy. At this time also, Gary and Deb's son Graeme (14) was caddying for a tourist on the course. The caddies get paid a great rate (including tips most of the time) and it is easy money for the enthusiastic young golfers.
We headed back for a lovely tea, joined also by Debbie's brother William and wife Avril, with their 2 daughters Lauren and Stephanie. They had all driven over from Dublin for their holiday and surprise surprise, they were all keen golfers also. We had a lovely time eating, drinking and chatting, with of course the Irishman throwing in a few jokes where possible. We all headed out for a walk, which ended up being a very short one to the golf club for a night cap.
It was getting on by the time we got home so we all called it a night.

Goodnight all
Brendan and Lauren xxx


6 August

The sun was out this morning so we decided to head out for a few hours to make the most of it. After breakfast, Lauren and I grabbed a couple of bikes and rode around checking out the sights of Dornoch. The golf course and town was busy with tourists and locals also making the most of the good weather. We watched some golfers battling with the first hole for a while before heading back to drop off the bikes and wander down to the beach. The beach reminded us of the north eastern beaches of New Zealand, so we walked the distance down towards the golf course which runs right alongside. The 3 or 4 holes which run adjacent to the beach would have to be among the most scenic anywhere!
We walked up the path which runs through the golf course and managed to spy on Gary, Deb, William and Avril , who were out for a friendly match. Although friendly, they all seemed very focused and serious, so we left them to it and headed back home for some lunch. We decided to head into the town and check out the local museum. We were hoping to find some information on the early train system, as Lauren's Granny had informed us that her grandfather was in fact the driver. Unfortunately the museum was closed, but we walked along the road to find the old station where the train ran into Dornoch. It's now a derelict building in an industrial area, but we could see the old remnants of the track and pictured Lauren's great, great grandfather pulling in on the train. It was pretty cool to know that Lauren's ancestors and her Granny used to frequent this area and were a part of the history here. When we arrived home, Gary and Deb were just in from their golf, and when they asked what we had been up to, we explained about the trains. Gary almost fell over with this discovery and couldn't quite believe that it was Lauren's actual great great grandfather that drove the teapot (that's what the locals called it). He immediately told us about a man, Jimmy Melville, who we would have to go and tell, he too drove the train. Unfortunately Lauren didn't know the name of her grandfather, and seeing as we had no internet up there, we couldn't email Granny to find out. We will follow it up though!
We all got dressed (looked out our best clothes) and headed up to the Golf Club for dinner with William and Avril and their girls. The food that they serve at the club is amazing and we were well full of food and wine by the time we left. We headed home for another night cap before hitting the hay. Tomorrow I am off to play golf with Gary, William and Stephanie and am a little nervous about embarrassing myself in front of them, but am looking forward to getting a few pointers from them at the same time.

Night x


7 August

A bit rainy this morning, but not enough to put off the golfers. Generally at home, if it's raining we will flag it, but not here, it's always raining. Gary set Brendan up with some "wet weather" golf gear, waterproof pants and a jacket. I was going to walk around with them, but decided to hide out until the rain stopped. Debbie and I had a nice relaxing breakfast together, then I suited up with my jacket and umbrella, and headed down to the Museum to research my great great grandfather! I spent quite a few hours, looking over folders off archives, scanning pictures, reading articles and learning a lot about the rail system. However, seeing as I don't know his name, it was a but hard to decipher if I was looking at, or reading about him. It was interesting all the same and I enjoyed looking through the museum at all the other exhibitions about Dornoch's history. Such a special place!
The rain had started to ease, so i headed back to the house, grabbed Juno and Finn and went for a walk out onto the course to see if I could spot the golfers. I found them down on the 13th, and spied through the bushes at Brendan, before Juno and Finn got too excited and pulled me out to meet them. Everyone seemed in good spirits, seeing as the rain had eased and they could now enjoy their golf a bit more. Brendan had apparently been doing quite well, but shanked a few shots whilst I was watching. Whoops, I must have put him off. I decided to leave them to it, and Lauren (William's daughter and I went back to make everyone some lunch. The golfers came in wet and hungry, so we all sat and had some nice warm soup and bread, before getting ready to spend the afternoon at Dunrobin castle. The falconry show (famous attraction at Dunrobin) was due to start at 2pm, so we quickly got ready and jumped in the car with William, Steph and Lauren to go catch it. We had a great afternoon at the castle, it is extremely beautiful and grand, and the falconry show was amazing. That topped it off for us!
We have offered to cook tea for Debbie, Gary and Graeme tonight, so we left the castle about 4.30 to get home and start that. Debbie had been playing in a women's competition all day so we went up to the club before tea to watch her come in and stay for the prize-giving. As Brendan mentioned, the Bethunes are such a huge part of the club, and it was awesome to be there and watch them all involved. We didn't get back home till after 8.30, so we rushed to get tea ready and all sat down for a late dinner. Afterward we all snuggled in to the living room and watched "Angels Share". Such a great movie, however, for those who aren't used to the broad Scottish accent, you may have to watch it a few times to get all the one-liners.
We have had such a lovely and relaxing time up here in Dornoch and have been so welcomed by the Bethune family, we will be sad to leave tomorrow. But at the same time, we can't wait to get down to Inverurie to see Paula, Chris, Cloe and Jamie!!!

Night everyone
Lauren and Brendan x
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