#Scotland 2015 – Sept 15, 2015
We woke to another day of sunshine. Since we were close to the sea, I thought it would be nice to drive along the coast of the Moray Firth for at least part of our journey.
Being the stinker that I can be (I know I hear you saying – “You? Never”) I really wanted to go through Cullen. Travelling from west to east, the 90 degree corner at the bottom of the hill isn’t so intimidating. When we were over in 1997, we came through Cullen from the opposite direction, my husband behind the wheel. After the sharp corner at the bottom of the hill after passing under the railway viaduct, he swore off driving in Scotland for good.
Can you imagine how loud the noise from the train would have been in these houses? How about the shaking every time a train went through? The little white one has a small gate separating it from the viaduct but the one across the street is attached.
Since we were so close to Ladysbridge (the site of the former asylum that I used in my novel, A Shadow in the Past) we drove by it to see if the two boarded up, almost derelict houses had been refurbished. Nothing had been done to either one of them, but two brand new houses now stood in between them. And the old school building on the opposite side of the street to the main asylum (now luxury flats) was in the process of being pulled down.
After seeing Ladysbridge, we headed off to Orbs Bookshop in Huntly. The lady who used to run the shop contacted me in Sept 2013 about getting copies of A Shadow in the Past after I’d returned home (timing is everything, eh?) so I reached out before this trip and arranged to drop copies my novel off and the possibility of a signing. Anyway, the two books the shop could definitely purchase were signed and the transaction completed. We also volunteered our friends who lived nearby to keep the remaining books and take them to Huntly as and when required.
While there, another woman came in. She was involved with the MacMillan Cancer Support organization so I signed and donated a copy to the cause.
Before we left Huntly, we went over to the castle – another Historic Scotland property. We’re members of Historic Scotland so we get in to their properties free of charge and manned properties have toilets… except they were out of order this day.
While we were at the castle at the top of the tower on the left side of the photo above, we met a couple from Belgium. She immediately noticed that she and my husband both wore the same trainers. Obviously, that brand is known world-wide. Anyway, we had a great conversation with them before going our separate ways.
Since we couldn’t bring home our bottle of 18-year old Cardhu on our last trip, we went back to Knockando where the distillery is located. The plan was to cut across the A920. There was a diversion sign on the A96 just before the intersection but the grass was long enough that we couldn’t see exactly where it was on the road we planned on taking. We got most of the way across when the road was totally closed. Mind you we’d met a fair amount of traffic so didn’t give it much thought… until we came to the construction site and the hole in the road. A slight backtrack and across a single track road, and into familiar territory thanks to the diversion because we drove by Fernbank House B&B where we had stayed in 2013.
Our bottle of Cardhu safely in hand and toilets used at the distillery we were ready to drive to Kennethmont. In addition to the diversion due to the closure on the A920, there was also roadworks at Dufftown. To avoid this, we took the A95 to Keith where we hooked up with the A96 which would take us to Huntly.
We made a quick stop at Tesco for supplies – champagne (to toast our friends’ 30th wedding anniversary and our 40th), wine, something for supper, and a pay as you go sim card with top-up card for my unlocked iPhone.
It must have been roadworks season because when we got the B9002 that would take us to Kennethmont, it was closed at the end where it joined the A97. Luckily, there was another road that would take us past the closure without having to go way our of our way.
We spent an enjoyable evening with our friends, drank one of the two bottles of champagne (deciding to keep the second one for our last night with them).