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To Findhorn and visiting a garage

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 30 & 31 August 2006

Wednesday 30 August, to Findhorn and visiting a garage

We wake up quite late today, but fortunately there are no set times for breakfast. If we want breakfast at 12 o'clock it is possible too! Today we do not have to go anywhere except that we want to make an appointment with a garage. That's why we have plenty of time to chat with Iain and Cathy after just a year of email contact.
We make an appointment at 4 'o clock with a garage in Lossiemouth, about 75 kilometers from Beauly. There are few garages specialized in gas installations and those who do not have a gas certificate do not even want to look at our engine. Fortunately Iain also has a land rover running on lpg and he knows the right person.
Traffic sign Beach at NairnIn the afternoon we drive to the east. We have often been this way, but there are still a lot of undiscovered roads to drive. In Nairn we drive to the harbor and the beach. Nairn is one of the driest and sunniest places in Scotland and we have to admit that we have not had such good weather in the past week as today. Last night was even the first one without rain.
This part of the coast is also known for its sandy beaches. Not that you can spend many days a year at the beach, but still, there are beautiful sandy beaches in Scotland! And golf courses, of course, which you will find here in abundance. Golfing is a real national sport in Scotland, and not at all elitist as it is in the Netherlands. In the hotel there are also several people who, for example, first go fishing in a river or on a loch in the morning and then hit a game of golf in the afternoon. We still have to try it out.
Rodney Stone Brodie CastleWe passed by Castle Brodie last year (then it was closed) and on the road we pass a Pictish stone, the Rodney Stone. We overlooked this 9th century engraved stone last year. On one side is a celtic cross, on the other side there are Pictish symbols and so-called Ogham inscriptions, an alphabet that was mainly used in Ireland and Scotland. The pictic symbols are by no means all deciphered, but after the sixth century most probably have a Christian meaning.
Beach at Findhorn Beach at FindhornWith detours we finally arrive in Findhorn, best known for the Foundation with the same name. It is a new age commune that has grown considerably since the 60s in the 20th century, with about 100 people living there permanently and many people visit it for all sorts of courses. An important goal is creating a viable future and with things such as solar panels, ecological sewers and so on, this is applied in practice, but of course there are also enough opponents who think it is more a sect or envy the members wealth (there are indeed quite a few expensive cars around!) We are not here to join the commune but sit in the sun and enjoy the beautiful weather and the view.
Findhorn BayThere is a large inlet here, Findhorn Bay with a small exit to the sea. The water is therefore always reasonably calm and there are many boats in the bay. In the past, Findhorn was primarily a fishing village with a fairly large fishing and trading fleet, nowadays the boats are used more for tourist purposes. We walk through the dunes for a while, but then we have to set off again for our appointment with the garage in Lossiemouth.
At the garage we tell the story and the owner is surprised about our system of combined gas and petrol. Do you not often have gas explosions in the Netherlands, he asks. In the UK it is customary that when converting to gas the petrol tank is removed from the car so that the car can only run on gas. Well, frankly, we have never heard of an exploding gas car in the Netherlands. Soon we find out that the gas evaporator is broken and the mechanic even wonders if our leaking head gasket may have been caused because of this. The garage in the Netherlands assured us then that we could save € 150 by not replacing this part because it still seemed good and so we had to pay 'only' € 850 instead of € 1000 to replace the head gasket. A new gas evaporator must come from London and it can take 2 days. In the meantime, we have to drive as little as possible, otherwise the head gasket can break again.
Haymaking timeA little disappointed in our car (and the repairers in Holland!) we drive back through the flat agricultural landscape back to Beauly. We are glad that we stay with our friends otherwise the holiday would be very boring when we can't make long tours. And the car, it was expensive to purchase and this year the bills are accumulating, although we must admit that we have driven it two years without any problems. We try to forget about it and enjoy the landscape that is pretty beautiful.
Back in Beauly we meet some nice new people at the hotel, David and Pat from the Orkneys. Elisabeth is convinced that she has seen his face before and later it appears that they are journalists and that David can be seen on the BBC sometimes when it comes to the Orkney Islands. We forget the car problems and enjoy the people we meet in the pub.

Thursday 31 August 2006, a short drive around Beauly

We do not have to go anywhere today, because our car has to be repaired first. Teije goes with Iain to Inverness in search of a new computer and the hours they are gone Cathy and I look at the pictures we have of our granddaughter Esmée on the laptop. When Iain and Teije finally return, we decide to make another short tour, the car must be able to do this.
A gate lodge Bunchrew House hotelAlso in this area there are still roads where we have not driven before and the coastal road along the Beauly Firth on the north side is one of them. On the other side of the inlet we see a little castle that we have never noticed before. It turns out to be Bunchrew house, a hotel that we definitely have to look at some time. There are many castle hotels in Scotland, but they are a bit too expensive for us.
The bridge at Inverness Clouds at BeaulyBecause we are not allowed to drive too far with the car, we limit ourselves to an afternoon of shopping in Inverness. Today it is a bit cloudy, but clouds belong to Scotland, they give color to the landscape and we are already happy that it is dry. We drink a cup of coffee along the Ness river but do not stay in the city for too long.
Clouds at BeaulyDue to the car problems today feels a bit like a lost day, but as soon as we are back in Beauly, that feeling is soon forgotten. In the pub there are so many interesting people with whom we exchange stories that our setbacks quickly disappear. I am really happy that we are here and not somewhere else in a place where we are unknown. Being at Beauly is a bit like 'being at home' for us.
Beauly BagpipersFor some time we have seen some activitiy outside in the square, but at 9 o'clock we also hear bagpipe music. In the light rain, which has started to fall, a number of bands are performing and of course we are going to have a look. But we go quickly back inside because it is quite cold at night. And there are enough stories to hear in the pub that we will not tell you here because some of the regulars are really gossipers and we do not want to participate in that.
But it remains fun to sit in this pub as a kind of local, even though we have to go outside whenever we want to smoke. 26 March 2006 the general smoking ban went into effect in Scotland and Iain and Cathy have made a balcony where people can smoke outside and where almost everyone is continuously seated. We too, because we still share this addiction even though it is cold to sit outside. We get to hear the weirdest stories about police that stop car drivers to check whether there is smoke in the car when it is a company or rental car. They are not allowed to go on the smell, only when caught in the act they can fine the driver, we hear from someone who regularly has to go to Carlisle, just across the border with England and who lights up a cigarette in his car after he crosses the border.
There are many nice people in the hotel and the evening flies by. A few drunks are quickly worked out, alcoholism unfortunately still is a big problem to Scotland. Iain arranges a taxi for them so that they can not do any harm in traffic and it would not surprise us if he also pays the bill for them. And that is also Scotland, the helpfulness and care for each other. Maybe these things happen also in other places, but we think it is unique, we see it quite often here. Our newly acquired friends David and Pat from the Orkenys translate it very nicely: Iain and Cathy are the parents of this whole town. We think they should become mayors of the village!


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