Packing in the Touristing

Today is the last day we get to pretend to be Lairds of the Highlands. So this is also the last day we can go souvenir shopping and sightseeing.

After our huge hike a couple days ago none of us fancy walking up the hills so we drove up to the Cairngorm ski centre for the view instead. The funicular railway had only reopened in January and so we thought we might be able to take that to the top of the mountain but they have some strange policy where they only allow dogs to come down on the railway, not go up. It’s a very strange policy and doesn’t bear explaining here because it’s ridiculous. Also the cafe wasn’t open and even if it was there’s a shipping container in the way of the view… So we had a look at the view, turned around and went to make our way out the barrier from the car park. We found that the car in front was having a lot of trouble paying the parking fee to leave so I got on the helpline and chatted with the operator. They very helpfully opened the barrier and didn’t charge either of us to exit which was nice.

Having had a lazy morning and a frustrating time up the hill, it was already lunch and we were a bit peckish. I suggested The Pine Marten bar next to the campsite we stayed in. Last time we came here we enjoyed watching a red squirrel tucking into the nuts on the bird feeder. But he was nowhere to be seen on this occasion so we sat out on the deck in the shade of the trees and enjoyed an excellent lunch with cheesy chips.

We were speaking with Hannah and Nathan about our honeymoon plans and said that we intend to finish our tour on Bali for a week. It turns out they had plans to go to Bali for their honeymoon but because it had to be delayed a year due to covid they changed it to Thailand. They are very keen to go to Bali so we may meet them out there. I’m sure Aimi will be sick of me after two solid months of travelling and need a break!

Following lunch we took a leisurely walk through the grasslands that surrounded the campsite in a circuitous route back to the car. It was then time to let the girls loose on Aviemore to go souvenir shopping. Nathan and I got a milkshake and sat in the sun playing dominoes. It was really hot and I think I started to get sunburn before we left.

We actually found it quite difficult to park in Aviemore because the visitor centre car park was full of tractors and Street sweepers and mowers for some sort of convention. While the girls poked around in the shop, Nathan and I went and found the most dangerous looking machine and chatted to the sales reps. We aren’t going to buy a multi-headed tractor drawn lawn mower, but the engineering was cool and it looked suitably dangerous.

This evening we laid out everything we had from the fridge and the pantry on the big dining room table and sat around nibbling and chatting about the week. It was fun picking out our favourite moments and reminiscing on how perfectly everything seemed to come together on the crucial day.

I had said on the run up to the wedding that brilliant sunshine would be amazing but that slightly overcast or a little bit of drizzle would be better for the photos. Of course the weather decided to add drama by saying it would be full rain. But in the end it turned out to me the perfect combination of dramatic drizzle and mist on the hills in the morning followed by dappled sunshine but mostly overcast to provide good photos on Dun da Lamh. I was very thankful to whoever was out there that we got to be married on that hill. It will be great to come back and visit in years to come.