The mornings in Beauly we start quietly, only at 10 we start with the breakfast that we prepare together. Now that Iain and Cathy are retired (for a number of years) we can hardly expect them to serve us although they like to prepare the dinners in the evening and we like that because they can cook deliciously. After a week here we always have gained a few pounds and that will not be any different now.
After that we drink tea and coffee together for a while and usually we only leave after twelve, letting us to be guided by the weather forecasts and the unexplored roads on Teije's map. The problem is that we have been here so often that we have to go further and further away to explore new roads.
This Sunday we drive first the A96 towards Elgin, about 80 kilometers away and then the map comes out. There is a lot of farming in this area and everywhere you see the bales of straw lying in the fields. But we also see a number of pig farms that present themselves as organic. The animals have at least a lot of space and their own house but eventually they end up at the butcher and on our plates anyway.
Somewhere south of Elgin we pass a field where people are doing archery. And then suddenly I notice that there is a skeleton in the garden. We drive back for a picture because you do not see such a sight every day. And that is a nice side effect of driving all those small roads, that you encounter the most unexpected things. But sometimes we don't see anything interesting for hours and however beautiful the (most) Scottish landscape, then a long car ride can become very boring, especially at the end of the afternoon when I am getting tired.
Just outside of Elgin, a lot of houses are being built and to the south-east a completely new neighborhood is being built up. But what are they going to do with the ruin of this former church. If you search in street view (57.637088, -3.286568) you see that it had already become part of a barn so no longer was the original church. When we drive to the back of it we see that really only the facade is still standing. Probably it is a monument that can not just be demolished but we are curious how they will integrate that into the new housing estate.
It is cold (12 degrees) but most of the time it is dry and regularly the sun shines but occasionally there is also a shower somewhere so that we see beautiful rainbows again. You often hear that it would always rain in Scotland but nothing is less true, we have even experienced heat waves and last summer it was, just like in the Netherlands, very hot. But I have to admit that it is usually colder than we would like and we also had a few years when we had bad luck with rain, when it continued to fall for days at a time.
We do not see a lot of nice things today, but when Teije sees Pictish stones in a meadow, he has to see them form nearby. But those are not particularly interesting and there are no inscriptions or drawings to discover. The Picts were tribes that lived in the east and north of Scotland in the early Middle Ages. The Romans called them Picti (painted) because of the blue tattoos they had. They have left symbols everywhere with images and sometimes letters in their socalled ogham alphabet.We spend the evenings in the cozy living room of the former Caledonian hotel and we get very tasty food again, so nice that every time we eat too much. I have a lot of fun with Rachel, a former teacher with a fantastic sense of humor. They have been coming here for as long as we have, almost 20 years. Occasionally people from the area that we know from previous years also come to visit. Very nice and very cozy but we are also happy when we can retire to our room.