Day 9 of my Scotland holiday arrived without fuss; I just opened my eyes, and there it was.
The weather today was surprisingly accurate, based on the IPhone Weather App's predictions - cloudy, but little chance of rain, and relatively warm.
One by one we all surfaced and gathered in the dining room to have breakfast, make no decision about what to do today, and be generally distracted and rubbish. Today's distraction came in the form of You Tube - and the particular talents of Mr. Tim Vine. We wasted a good hour laughing at a few videos of Tim's songs such as 'My Marvellous Metronome', 'Alarm Bells', and my personal favourite 'Allergic'. But the biggest laugh we got came from 'Flag Hippo' - about three minutes of pure genius. I appreciate that on just their descriptions alone you can't appreciate how funny they are, but if you go on YouTube and type these words in, and watch the videos, you will see just how funny they are.
Also, I just said "appreciate" twice in quick succession. I just hope you appreciate that this isn't a regular occurrence, and your understanding would be greatly appreciated.
Eventually we decided to try a hitherto untried walk near Loch Ness. We set off - but within 20 minutes, we had stopped because Jim was hungry. Now, Jim is a big lad and is rarely seen without something edible in his hands, and although he had eaten breakfast not one hour beforehand, he was feeling weak from lack of sustinance.
We had stopped at the RedBurn Cafe, which was about 7 miles from Loch Ness. We piled into the small cafe and were all ready to eat again - appetite is contagious. Various breakfasts were ordered - eggs on toast for Leigh, Bacon and Egg on toast for Jim, Ben and Cain, and I was very good and only had a full Scottish breakfast; 3x Bacon, 2x Sausages, 2x Potato Rosties, 2x eggs, Haggis, and Baked Beans.
Well, I am only a small bloke.
The breakfasts at the RedFern Cafe were awesome. We all loved it, and I would definitely stuff my fat face - I mean pick delicately at that food again. Once we were suitably full, we hit the road again.
The walk we were to try was at a small place called Invermoriston, and took us past some falls, that were very nice. After Invermoriston, we went over to Drumadrotich, and the Loch Ness visitors centre. We had a mooch round the various Nessie themed shops, and popped into the shop / booking office for the Loch Ness boat trip. Amazingly, the woman who runs the shop and takes the bookings remembered Leigh and Jim from last year (we went on a boat trip on the day they got married). She must see thousands of people every year, and yet she could remember Leigh and Jim. Mind you, Jim was eating a kebab, and probably was a year ago - so that would have stuck in her mind.
We didn't have a boat trip this year, and just came back to the lodge. But Ben was hungry and had no food at the lodge so wanted to go out to eat. Leigh and Jim had food at the lodge to use up, so they stayed while me, Ben and Cain went a short way down the road to the Kintail Lodge Hotel.
And a good job we did too! The food was amazing - large portions, great tasting food, and desserts so tasty you would leave your family for them. I had Venison and Red Wine Pie with chips and peas, and Ben had Haddock and Chips. Cain had Chicken Wrapped in Bacon stuffed with Haggis in a mushroomy type sauce. For Dessert Ben had Hazlenut Meringues with berries and cream, and I had Chocolate and Walnut Brownie with Ice Cream. Delicious just doesn't convey how good it was - and if it tried, I'd punch it in the face and send it packing.
Now we are back at the lodge about to
watch a film. Tomorrow we leave Ratagan and head back to Tillicoultry. I cannot emphasise enough how much I do not want to leave this place. I know I have family and friends in Essex, great friends and people I love dearly in Dorset, but I love Scotland so much. The scenery just takes my breath away, and to spend time here with my best mate and his son and Jim and Leigh who have known for over 20 years (and who have known me at my best and worst throughout those years) I have just had the best time ever. I couldn't ask for better friends.
Yes, we swear, belch, fart, bicker, argue, take the mickey, and wind each other up - but above all we laugh. Everyday we laugh, and that is a glorious thing - and I can only do this in this way, with these people. I never laugh like this with anyone else.
If tomorrow never arrives, I won't complain.