We have a very sociable few days coming up. First, we’re meeting up with some quasi-distant relatives of Mike’s and then an American couple who we’ve met online through the travel twittersphere.
We drive back via Loch Tay and Glen Lyon, as we can’t get enough of scenery like this:
We do a walk on the way to meeting Dennis and Janet (the relatives), which promises fields of bluebells. The walk turns out to be fairly underwhelming; a few bluebells at the beginning and then just pretty standard woods and fields.
We pop into the Taybank Hotel, hoping for a night of traditional music, but today is Sunday so it was all happening last night. This is something I really hope we get to do whilst we’re in Scotland.
It’s time to meet the relatives. We’re unsure of our welcome, as on the phone Janet didn’t sound too thrilled about having us over and explained that she’d just had a mild stroke! We’ve staked out a free camp nearby in case we don’t feel comfortable staying the night.
Ours concerns evaporate as Dennis and Janet greet us in their driveway. They’re just as lovely as all of Mike’s other elderly, quasi-distant relatives who we’ve met in the UK. Janet seems to be fighting fit, as she takes us on a brisk walk across their massive property, all the while regaling us with comedic banter about the neighbours and what-not.
They take us out to a nearby hotel for dinner and then we sojourn to their place for a nightcap or two or three. It’s Dennis’ turn to regale us with tales of his time in Kenya and sailing across the Irish Sea.
I awake the next morning ever-so-slightly seedy. Janet very kindly offers us the use of their shower and washing machine, which we merrily take full advantage of. We leave freshly laundered and showered — a joyous combination, as any traveller would attest.
Our next destination is Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairngorms National Park to meet Keith of Traveling Savage and his wife, Sarah. We’re really looking forward to meeting them as, going by our interactions on Twitter and Keith’s blog, we get the sense that we’ll get along really well. It’s also a rare treat to spend some time with people our own age — you don’t see a lot of people in their late 20’s/early 30’s amongst the motorhoming crowd.
We had planned on doing a hike in the Cairngorms, whilst we’re here but the weather has
freed us deprived us of this wondrous opportunity. We’re beginning to think we should adjust our expectations of what weather is and is not conducive to outdoor activities or we might not be seeing much of Scotland at all! For now, I’m quite content to hold onto my soft Australian standards, however.
We get to the local pub a bit earlier than our planned meeting time so we can have some dinner — homemade pies with chips and an elderflower ale, which tastes quite a bit like lychees. Keith and Sarah arrive and we immediately click. They’re our people. We have a fantastic night of good conversation, sampling the local, boutique ales on offer and Keith selects two different varieties of whiskey for Mike and I to try. Keith recommends I try a whiskey aged in a sherry barrel rather than a bourbon barrel and he’s spot on, it’s not bad at all.
The next day, Mike and I speculate whether or not we’d look like crazy stalker people, if we were to suggest we catch up again tonight. It’s funny how making new friends is a lot like dating. We decide to take the chance of looking a bit too keen, and suggest dinner. Turns out, they were thinking the same thing! Woohoo, the feelings are mutual! Three bottles of wine and a cheese platter in hand, we rock up to their holiday apartment for another night of frivolity.
Sadly, we don’t think we’ll see them again after tonight. We’re both heading in the same general direction, but we at a much more sedate pace. Easily, the biggest casualty of this gypsy lifestyle of ours is our relationships — or lack thereof — with other people. Granted, we wouldn’t have made all of the new friendships we have if we weren’t doing this, but it really is damned inconvenient that our new friends live rather a long way from Melbourne, Australia.