Morning in Lossie is bright and clear and Heydays is calm and restful in the early sun.
The fruit has been looking at us balefully for a few days now and we decide that we ought to eat some of it. Breakfast is a positively healthy affair given recent meals in which variations on haddock have played a significant part….smoked, fried, in bradies, in pies and with cream as skink.
The bus to Elgin is easy as it is a circular route… ‘ye canna gae wrong’. Except we do as we get on the bit that starts with a fascinating tour of the Lossiemouth council estates (never-ending pebble dash) followed by a tour of the Elgin estates…(more ~*@% pebble dash). Elgin itself has a kind of lost grandeur, but has become like so many towns, a mix of big chains (the only coffee is Starbucks or Costa) and poundlands.
Gordon (of India) imposes on the town, as does a (rather effete to our eyes) warrior with a sword….we have been unable to find out who he is or was.
The SNP are out in force and we wonder idly why they are there and yet no-one seems to be making the emotional case for the union…. It is also a town which provokes grumpy old men in to wondering why the bus station is on the exact opposite side of town to the rail station.
The train to Inverness was packed with a motley bunch of schoolgirl hen party, Saturday shoppers and teenagers out to impress….plus three elderly sassenachs. Paul resists the temptation to join three schoolgirls in the loo! We stood all the way but were impressed with another old bloke in a black goth T shirt with ‘Sons of Arthritis – Inverness Chapter’ in big friendly letters.
Inverness has the feel of a bohemian city including an impressive Victorian market. Despite the odd juxtaposition of classical Victorian architecture jarring against heavy modernist concrete, we have an abiding and unanswered question…why does it manage to support so many barbers, Turkish Barbers and wet shaves? We wander off down the river and have lunch in the Waterside Arms on Egg Bap with potato scone for James, and Bacon Haggis and Potato scone for John and Paul.
The Ness is beautiful even though we can’t see the ‘plentiful salmon’. A dolphin breaks surface and we marvel at the idea of not seeing a dolphin for hours at sea, and yet with the council estate behind us we see one swimming lazily up and down catching his lunch.
The view across the firth to the snow capped hills beyond is a magnificent backdrop to the city and we wend our way down the early stages of the canal before heading back.
We find ourselves in a rather artistic quarter with a fantastic old bookshop in the old Gaelic Kirk,
…a music venue called Iron Works which we sadly don’t have time to visit and a great pub and micro brewery called Black Isle Bar. It does great beer and great pizzas too and is packed. We ponder on the fact that we have seen too many empty soulless bars selling fizzy beer and peanuts and yet when someone does good nosh and good booze the punters will come.
Back in Elgin we miss the bus to Lossie and take a taxi instead. Rum and a trio of Scottish cheese and chutney round off a perfect day. We even find some Orkadian fiddle to get our cultural juices flowing. The weather is set fair for a few days so our plans are to stay here one more day before heading ever more north towards Wick and our destiny with the Pentland Firth.
Footnote. It wouldn’t be Paul if we didn’t round the evening off with some Grateful Dead…So Many Roads (to ease my soul)…the very last of Jerry Garcia…