A Perfect Day With Coffee & Coos

With no specific plans this morning and drizzle on the horizon, we took the time to enjoy a full cooked breakfast. It’s good fun cooking in the van, but with a stuffed belly, we soon needed to make a move, to make a movement. 

We headed back to Laggan, to the 24hr toilets and noticed people in the Coffee Bothy. This wonderful cafe unfortunately closed last year and we were really disappointed because it’s our favourite place to stop up here. 

But now it’s open again under the fantastic new management of Sonya and Kevin. As luck would have it, this was the first day they were open and we were their first customers! We got to talk about all their plans, to stock their own brand of gin and all their meat products from the farm. And we tested their new baristas’ coffee making skills while enjoying some beautiful home baked shortbread. It was such a wonderful chance encounter and amazing to meet such nice people. I’m so glad they are taking it on and I just know it will be a huge success.

We explained what we were doing up here, looking at hills and finalising our wedding plans. They had lots of suggestions of places, some of which we are going to take a look at over the next couple days. But today, we are going up Dun da Lamh again, but this time, via the taller ridgeline behind it. Walking up from Pattack Falls, there is a forest road that takes you about half way up and then you follow a, little used but clear, footpath to the ridgeline summit. This passes through some amazing, thinly wooded and heathery, grasslands on the side of the steep hill. It makes for some amazing views, framed wonderfully by the craggy outcrops and moss-covered trees. The ridge then descends to a saddle before rising to the Pictish Fort at Dun da Lamh

Next time we are here, we will be married on that hill…

This time we had used the bigger car park at Pattack Falls. The idea was to combine 2 locations into 1, testing the plan for the wedding day and getting photographs. But the distance is way too much. Even just the most direct route would be a 6km round trip. Not fun in a full suit or wedding dress.

During the descent walk, Aimi got an email from a job she had been applying for asking for a phone call… It’s for a company she really wants to work for, but appreciates that given our plans to go travelling for 2 months, basically as soon as she starts, that might limit their appetite to employ her. Before today, they had put her through 4 stages of interviews, all which went well, so she was very apprehensive and nervous as to why they wanted a call.

We made it back to the van only 10 mins before the scheduled call. I pottered around sorting the Kayto out while she sat and stewed, waiting… Tension spiked when the phone rang and Aimi looked at me with flat eyes, full of nerves. But then the tension ebbed away slowly as they asked question after question about our travel plans. It was becoming clear to me (dropping eaves all over the place) that they wanted her to work there and they were now focussing on the HR paperwork to make it happen. But there was no dramatic moment of offering her the job. After pointedly asking the question, it was clarified and indeed she had landed the job she had been going for! 

Aimi was stunned and after the nervous build up and no clear moment of release, seemed disbelieving and remained tense. I was super excited and very proud of her as I know just how hard she worked at it and how much she wants to work there. 

We stopped back in at the Coffee Bothy and enjoyed an amazing panini Kevin made for us. Whoever came up with the idea of adding cranberry jam to bacon and cheese was nuts, but it’s AMAZING and definitely my favourite. We enjoyed chatting to him and learning about his farm so much that he spontaneously offered to show us – it was only up the valley after all!

Hopping in his defender, we got a tour up the valley a short way, looking out on his sheep and highland cows (Aimi’s favourite) before casually driving off the track onto the grass and stopping in an empty field. Kevin then got out and yelled “COME ON” into the hills. No more than 10 seconds later, a huge rush of 3 different breeds of deer galloped into the field. The largest, dominant male stag of course, coming right up front and centre to inspect us. It was amazing and a bit nerve-racking to see them all come directly at us, but they all cantered to a stop about 10m from us and just waited (to be fed presumably).

After learning a bit about them, Kevin took us up to his gorgeous horse who ran alongside the car as we drove. It was like filming a movie! Then we went to his cow shed to meet his prize bull, “Odin ”. He is a gentle giant, but will happily crush your hand against the railings in pursuit of scratches, so be aware. He will be touring the UK going to cattle shows this year, Kevin tells us proudly. And, he’s being bred with another prize winning cow, but not the old fashioned way. Oh no. The eggs and sperm are being combined and fertilised in a laboratory and then implanted into another (cheaper) cow for cooking growing maturing. This is because if your prize cow has complications during birth and needs a C Section (yep, they do that on cows) you then cannot show it again. So to reduce the risk, why not use a surrogate cow? It was fascinating, and clear that Kevin loves his animals. We will definitely be back and hope to follow Odin’s progress at the shows.

After our spontaneous farm outing, as we drove to the campsite, everything started to sink in for Aimi. Her eyes got deep again and her smile built up as she processed the great news; she had really been offered the job.

Today has been a truly spectacular day starting with walking up to “Our Hill”. Even more so than yesterday, as perfect as the weather and riding was. Not only have we experienced a chance encounter with the fabulous new owners of Coffee Bothy ON THEIR FIRST DAY, they then showed us all around their farm and are very happy to have us for our wedding lunch!

But most importantly, Aimi has been increasingly stressed about money. We are spending a good chunk on the wedding and then travelling for 2 months. We have sufficient to make these wonderful memories, but seeing it only go out without much coming in, is stressful. Receiving the job offer today not only lands a job at the company she wanted, but also alleviates a lot of financial stress. It will mean she can more fully enjoy travelling without that anxiety hanging over her head which is something I’ve been worried about for her for a while.

I’m very grateful to the universe for such an amazing day, an amazing fiancé and so much coming together for us. 

We are so happy and lucky!