To the Beautiful north of Scotland….Glasgow to Inverness

One of the delights of retirement is the ability to make sudden decisions about events or make alterations. And so it was that a two night visit to Inverness a week ago, to celebrate our wedding anniversary with friends, was extended into a trip much further north, and into the north-west of Scotland. As we are now ‘getting-on’, and creaking bones and stiff backs are now unlikely to get much better, we decided that it was a good a time as any to revisit old haunts, and take the chance to see new areas while relative fitness was still available. ‘carpe deum’ was the motto. the Good Lady has a love of Autumn, and if Canada was not to happen this year, then at least this would be ‘something’.

Waterproofs were packed to add to the ‘dressy’ clothes, and off we set…in Imagebeautiful weather. Now this is not unusual in September and the beginning of October, but here we were, verging on November and the trees were beginning to change colour. we took the A9 to Pitlochry, with a famous theatre, and got our first shots of the changes.

Stopping on the A9 is not to be normally recommended but we found a suitable place just before the Pitlochry turn-off and began to see the delicate tones of Autumn. Luckily the clouds in the back-ground did not materialise as rain….at least not then. And the lower sun in the west gave a more-intense background for the colours

Pitlochry itself, is an old spa town, with lovely hotels, walks, and access to much beautiful countryside. Unfortunately, like many such Imageplaces, there is an air of sadness about, as small, niche businesses open and close, and the numbers holidaying abroad means there are fewer beds taken here. Whether the old days will ever return is uncertain, but there are still places where women can browse, often as a group (whilst their men wait outside!).

Of course, this was the day when a terrible storm was to hit middle England, but we saw nothing of this as we proceeded on through sunshine, and cloud towards Inverness. We had planned that we would not be travelling large distances every day so could ‘tootle along’ at a reasonable pace, but without hassle, or shattered nerves. we did see the occasional driving idiot, but mostly it was trouble-free.

It lies at the north end of the great split which divides Scotland into east and west. Known rightly as the Capital of the Highlands, it straddles the River Ness, with OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAglorious bridges. Much of it is flat so it is accessible for easy walks. The River is clean, bright, and wends like a silver thread through the city. You can cross it in many places so the opportunity for photography is endless. You can see Inverness Castle in the photo, but of course it is no longer a fortress.

It boasts excellent hotels and B and B’s offering accommodation to cover a wide Many fine restaurants are situated on its banks, so that dining-out can also be a visual delight. We were staying at the Kingsmills Hotel, courtesy of our son who had given us the weekend as a present……great!

A marvellous meal at the Italian Riva Restaurant (not an Italian on the staff!) with our old friends, and we were glad to lay our heads down in anticipation of the trip to Brodie Castle on the morrow………………………..

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Singing in the Highlands..again

Sunday evening saw our little Choir, Angelus, singing again in the lovely Highland spa town of Pitlochry. We had been invited to return to Holy Trinity Church, (which is just beside the local distillery) this time to take part in a Sung Eucharist Service

Believe it or not, this change was because the Morning Service had to be postponed because of a cycling road race which would be running (or should I say, pedalling?) a matter of feet from the church! The resulting closed-off roads and sheer noise and activity would have precluded the possibility of them having any kind of normal service, and it was put back to the evening.

This meant different music to be prepared and learned, and with two of our members off, one having just had a successful heart operation, and his wife obviously with him, we were somewhat depleted, but with some of the local choir we did well. The church was packed with members from the local Church of Scotland and Basptist churches, and all sang lustily. Great to see such unanimity amongst the community. Of course the great reputation which Holy Trinity has for hospitality also helped! (only joking!).

It is always a pleasure to come to Pitlochry as it carries an air of ‘distinction’. One would not dare criticise it! There are a goodly number of fine shops and hotels, and the Theatre has a high reputation.

In summer it can be very busy, but the best time to see it is, well, any time. Go in the spring and see the ferns and heather on the hills; in the Summer, the gardens of the houses and hotels are at their best and the heather on the hills can be marvellous; in Autumn the bracken, and the colours of the trees can compete with ANYWHERE in the world; and of course when the snow is on the hills in winter, and you can get through the snow-gates, you must have your camera!  DO I SOUND LIKE A TOURIST GUIDE?

The marvellous grey stone which is extensively used here, gives it a very clean appearance and it always looks fresh. The Fish Ladder and the Theatre in its own gardens, are both worth diverting off the A9 to Inverness, to see. Most highland coach trips will do so and you will find many languages on the streets and in the shops.

Unfortunately, with our busy day, we did not have time for a wander round but we invite every-one, especially those from south of the Border to come and see it.

We will be back at Pitlochry if invited!…..some photos will follow….

What a Picture!

The header picture above just shows what a beautiful country Scotland is. It was one of a series of photos taken in an early Spring morning from our room in the Green Park Hotel in Pitlochry. I was intrigued by the movement of the cloud across the hills and this one showed the effect of the reflection off Loch Faskally…fabulous!

5 a day is good for your health

The health fanatics tell us that we need five pieces of fruit every day for our well-being. But we also maybe need five doses of something else each day for our health……Yesterday we were at Pitlochry with some friends to join in a Songs of Praise….and I think we achieved the five things we needed

  • Visiting a beautiful old Church in Blair Atholl 
  • Travelling in gorgeous  countryside
  • Good company
  • A sing-song of old and new hymns
  • Perfect weather
  • A ‘light supper’ provided by Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Oh,dear, that’s six…never mind….That means I can carry one forward to today, now that I’m back at work!

How did your weekend go?

Songs of Praise

Final preparations are in hand to drive north on Sunday,with some good friends, to join the Churches in the Pitlochry area, to meet at the Festival Theatre Garden, and sing some well-kent melodies and harmonies.

For those of us who love to exercise our lungs in public, what is it that makes joining in a large choir so wonderful? Is it the comradeship, the mutual mistakes, the thrill of well-sung harmony, or some strange primitive sensation bringing us together in a common purpose, where no-one is more important than others, and equality is all?

A few months ago I joined over 500 other choristers in the Glasgow City Hall to practise and then perform the Brahms German Requiem, all on one day! Some feat…..and (besides several Austrian holidays) one of the few occasions when I was able to justify the time spent as a youth learning the gutteral formation of awkward long words!

However it was a wonderful event and the sheer numbers of those singing the same part as I was, carried me forward to the right notes (well, at least, mostly!).

So, be prepared for a report next week, on the weather, the singing, and the hardness of the seats (as we have been warned to bring cushions!).