I must have got some weird looks today, as I struggled with the mattress. Its not every day you are asked to put “Something Impressive” on your head without using your hands. So as the cars zoomed past the layby, I was headbutting and shoulder barging the crap out of my mattress trying to accomplish the task.
I sort of succeeded, as I momentarily balanced it on my head and ticked off one of the tasks that had been set. Now just remained to “throw a piece of A4 paper in the bin, spectaularly” and do some “extreme reading”. This was all in support of Megan’s plan to e-celebrate Viv’s 30th birthday with a mass Zoom call. With another lockdown looming and limits on who can meet, for how long, subject to it being an improtant event, with candles, on a thursday…. Yada yada yada. This was the logical choice; to get everyone together virtually.
Megan and his brother Mike, had put together a whole afternoon pub quiz / countdown / history of Viv / task master. Obviously we were going to take part, but it meant finding reliable mobile signal to tune in at the appropriate time. Luckily the timing worked out perfectly as we rolled into Ullapool with an hour to spare for a pub lunch.
We shared a pickled herring and horseradish starter, something I’ve never had before. It was amazingly tasty, to the point of overwhelming. The fish was lovely and clearly very fine quality – I’m not sure if pickled fish can be fresh, but it tasted fresh. The horseradish was incredibly strong, very nice, but I think could have been toned down a little. Anyway, pickled herring has become a new favourite!
To follow, Aimi had grilled cod and I had venison casserole. Both just melted in your mouth. Again the fish was the cleanest tasting fish I’ve ever had. It lacked that distinctly “fishy” smell/flavour that permeates the Tesco seafood counter and just had a hint of smoky tang from the grill. It was great – what little Aimi shared with me. The venison casserole I had must have been cooking since dawn, the meat was so juicy and tender it fell apart when brushed by the fork. It had a gamey flavour but it was subtle and very warming and filling.
Approaching the time, I ducked outside to spare the other diners my anticipated guffaws and sat across the road in the sun. Aimi kindly stayed behind to pick up the bill and was there for about 20 minutes waiting – clearly they didn’t want to be paid. (what is it with some businesses?) We spent the afternoon guessing how many people lived in Slough at Viv’s birth, and laughing at grown adults hanging upside down on climbing frames reading books.
I submitted Aimi throwing a piece of paper (with a rock inside) off a dam and me running below to catch it in the campervan bin – that one got the most points of one round. And a video of me reading Northern Lights, Golden Compass with my head and book out the window at 60-ish mph.
We finished the day with a drive to a wonderfully remote valley, right at the top of Scotland. There is nothing here except 1 house, a river and a road. Its blissfully empty. A real antidote to the metropolitan cities everyone has to live around day in and out.
Time for a bit more stargazing.