We left early on Friday and headed East, then up to Inverness. We had a short stop-over at my Aunt and Uncle's holiday home at Portmahomack. It has two cottages that sit at the bottom of a lighthouse and as you look out towards the peninsula the Dornoch Firth is to your left and the Moray Firth to your right. On a good day you can see dolphins leaping out of the sea and there are seals on the beach, but not today. We are going up to stay there for a weekend in August when my Aunt and Uncle come over from America.
A couple of hours later we were in Ullapool on the West coast and had booked into the Harbour Lights Hotel that looked onto Loch Broom. Very nice.
As we arrived at the hotel, we discovered that unfortunately some other guests were arriving to check in at the same time. We were lucky enough to be staying in the same hotel as a bunch of big hairy bikers who were away from their wives and girlfriends for the weekend. The looks on their faces as they saw Susan told me that there was going to be trouble ahead, and I wasn't wrong...
Anyway, we booked into our room, spent some time together then got showered and headed downstairs for some dinner. The meal was nice and after we had finished our three courses, we headed through to the lounge and had a seat beside the coal fire. It took me three cups of coffee to get myself "unrelaxed" enough that we could head into town for a drink.
Unfortunately, we ended up in the same place as the bikers. One of them came up to us and was chatting away, but as the night went on more of them joined in and were showing Susan a bit more attention than I was happy with. She tried to play it down with them, but by this time they all had their beer heads on and were not backing off.
Things came to a head when I went to the toilet and returned to find one of them trying to give Susan his phone number. Another arsehole was trying his luck too and I told them in no uncertain terms to "fuck off". I did think for a brief moment that they were all about to lay into me and I was up for that, but Susan saw sense and escorted me out of the pub and back to the hotel. I was seething.
We opened a bottle of red wine in the room and got back to our happy place before finally falling over around 2.00.
Breakfast the next morning was an experience as our new friends were sitting a couple of tables away. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife, but I don't suppose it helped that I was growling at them.
We decided that we needed to blow the cob-webs away and go for a cycle. We bought a book from the tourist information office and found a cycle route that was nearby.
We headed up a steep hill that ran past a quarry and were thinking of heading back when we turned a corner and saw Loch Achall in the distance. We carried on cycling round the to the side of the Loch and even though it was raining the scenery made it worthwhile.
We returned to the hotel and got showered and ready to go out. A night in town with our new friends did not sound very appealling so Susan suggested that we take a trip to Nairn. As I looked at the map I noticed how close it is to Burghead, where my mate, Mark lives. I suggested to Susan that we pop into see him as we have kind of lost touch recently.
As we drove down I phoned his mobile several times but could not get a hold of him. I sent a text to my friend Jim asking if I had the correct phone number but by the time Jim got back to me we had already been driving around Burghead for half an hour and were on the verge of leaving. As a last resort, we stopped the car and I rolled down the window and asked a man standing outside a pub, "do you know Mark Langlands?". "Yeah", he replied. "He's standing at the bar in there". He dissappeared for a minute and emerged with a bemused Mark who took a minute or two to get over the shock. His face was a picture!
We went into the pub and I had a couple of beers as we chatted and caught up with old times. Mark took us round the corner to show us his new house and suggested that we stay overnight as his girlfriend would not be in from work until about 10.00. It didn't seem fair on her to come in from work to find two strangers sitting in her living room, especially when she would be up for work at 05.30 the next morning, so we declined.
We headed back to Ullapool and had a chippie on the way. It was late when we returned so we crawled into bed and watched Wayne's World on TV, until we fell asleep.
The next morning we were up early for breakfast and our friends were there again, all looking a bit worse for wear. We checked out and started the long drive. We weren't in any hurry to get home so we decided to visit some of Susan's favourite places on the way.
We went to Pitlochry and Susan showed me the loch that has "steps" for the Salmon to make their way up so that they can avoid the dam. Very cool.
Then we went onto her favourite place, Kenmore where we stopped for lunch and shared it with the local duck family. It's absolutely beautiful and I can understand why it means so much to her.
On then to Gleneagles where Susan has a holiday home. She gave me a wee tour of the hotel. Very nice.
Back home then to reality. Im sorry that we never got to see Brian and Fiona but I am glad that we had a fab weekend, nevertheless.