Sunday, 26 August 2007

Hazlehead Park - Well worth a visit

Hazlehead Park is one of the main parks in Aberdeen. It's a pretty cool place, with a maze, putting, crazy golf and a wee zoo, to list a few but probably not all of its many attractions. I seem to remember trampolines and a massive play fort from my childhood but they've gone, replaced by a large play area of climbing frames, slides etc. It's the sort of place where everyone who lives in or near Aberdeen goes from time to time, to play, or have a picnic, or get a snack at the cafe, or just generally chill out. I'd be amazed if I was to meet anyone from round here who had never been - they'd have to be crazy.
We were at Hazlehead on Saturday, partly for something to do, partly to reward the boys for not breaking more than one phone despite being dragged round the shops so Vikki could get her new phone, and partly to see the Aberdeen Blooms flower show. The flower show seemed to have a lot more people selling crafty stuff than I remember previous years, but they did have some excellent Bonsai trees, remarkably large vegetables, some nice flower displays, and some cool stuff done by kids including a pepper made to look a bit like Shrek. Please click on the photos below for the full size versions.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Mmmmm, chips!

I'd like to bring your attention to this article, simply because we've eaten from two of the establishments mentioned within the last couple of weeks. While staying in Fort William, we sampled the fare at Sammy's in Caol. The food was good, and there's a great view of the whole Nevis range from outside the front door. However, I don't seem to remember the staff being particularly friendly. To be honest, the staff at The Bay in Stoney tend to be polite and efficient rather than friendly, but it is still one of the best chippers around where they do a great haddock supper and various daily specials. I can't comment on the other contenders but local bias dictates that I'll be supporting The Bay. Whatever happens, it should be a Scottish chipper that wins because you generally can't get a decent red pudding supper south of the border.

Skool Daze

Yesterday was a big day for the boys - the start of a new school term, Lachlan's first day in P4, and Calum's first day at school. They both looked very smart in their uniforms - the simple act of wearing a polo shirt and a decent pair of trousers has made Calum look a lot more grown up, I think. He seems to be settling in well so far - hopefully that'll continue.

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

A Dreich Day at Dunnottar

Our friend Faye (who has been Vikki's friend since school) paid us a flying visit over the weekend. It was good to see her, especially as it's been a couple of years since we last met, mainly because she's been living and working in Brunei. We all went up to Dunnottar Castle on Sunday morning. It's always well worth a visit, but can be a bit exposed in poor weather, as Calum lost no time in pointing out. Afterwards, we warmed up by having a bar lunch at The Marine which was nice, but they didn't have any hot chocolate which was a big disappointment - I had to have a beer to cheer me up.

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Happy Birthday, Andy

The last full day of our holiday coincided with an anniversary of Vikki's dad's 29th birthday (to borrow a phrase). Despite getting two cakes we still didn't have quite enough room for the correct number of candles. We were worried he wouldn't have enough puff to blow them all out. Fortunately two volunteers turned up to help with the candles and with eating the cake.

In the afternoon, we went down to the Nevis Centre to go 10 pin bowling. If you ask me it's one of the most difficult sports to get decent photos of, but I thought this one of Calum posing was worth sharing.

In the evening we went to this place for a meal and a couple of beers. It was very nice and a fine way to round off our holiday.

We went home via Glen Coe where I was hoping we might be able to stop and take some photos of the spectacular scenery around there. However, low cloud and rain scuppered that plan, but nobody was sick so that goes down as a remarkably successful journey.
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Monday, 20 August 2007

More Mountain Climbing

But this time, we took the easy way up to 2150ft and got a nice hot chocolate from the restaurant. We walked all the way to Sgurr Finnisg-aig (about 10 minutes walk) to take in some decent views and get a lungful of mountain air. There were a lot of other people there, many of them with bikes and wearing a lot of protective clothing. Not surprising since the downhill track looked mental - we were treated to the sight of a couple of crashes as we made our way back down in the gondola.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

A message from 4406ft

This message was recorded on the summit of Ben Nevis using my camera phone. It is fairly awful - my voice sounds dreadful and the camera work is of the lowest quality. I think Vikki looks pretty good in her pink hat though.

Vikki, Amy, Dave and I went up Nevis on the Wednesday. We kept it simple and went up the Tourist Route, starting from the Visitor Centre at 9am so we could get an update on the weather forecast; bit of cloud, chance of some showers, close to freezing near the top. It turned out to be fairly warm and sunny for much of the climb, with the clouds nearer the top giving us brief glimpses of the views, and making it cool but not really cold. Our trek back down was fairly slow thanks to some sore legs and, sadly, Vikki didn't see anywhere she felt was going to be private enough to try the SheWee, so the Ben Nevis Inn at the base of the mountain was a very welcome sight - a chance to relieve bladders and slake thirsts before heading back to Fort William for a barbecue.

In case you're wondering, the boys spent the day with their grandparents at the beach. I'd like to include some photos from their day out but I think they're still on Andy's phone. The best of my photos are here:

Friday, 17 August 2007

Dinosaurs, Gem Stones and Waterfalls

On Tuesday morning, we had a visit to the Treasures of the Earth museum in Corpach (more pictures here). It was fairly good with lots of gem stones and some fossil stuff including Diego's skull.
After lunch we drove down to the end of the Glen Nevis road, and following advice from Dave's parents, walked along to the An Steall waterfall. The wire bridge looked a bit ropey in the wet so we stayed on the North side of the river and took a few photos. It was a very enjoyable walk which I'd recommend to anyone in the area. It's also a good starting point to many of the big mountains in the area - I've got a vague notion in my head for a multi-day walk in this area taking in several Munros and a few extra tops. It'll probably never get off the ground, but I can dream.

Train in the Rain

The train journey from Fort William to Mallaig passes through some great scenery which has featured in a number of films including Highlander, Local Hero, and (most notably if you're Japanese and have a camera it would seem), Harry Potter travelled across Glenfinnan Viaduct on his very roundabout route from King's Cross Station in London to Hogwarts (aka Alnwick Castle). This is also the area where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland and raised an army in 1745 and where he hid after the Battle of Culloden before fleeing to Skye and thence back to France.
Once we got to Mallaig, we decided to go on a wee circular walk which, according to the Guide Book, would have given us nice views of the islands of Eigg and Rhum, had the weather been a bit better. As it was, we could just about make out Skye through the rain.

Here are some pictures. Some of them have been nicked from Amy and Dave's collection so you might have already seen them:

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Happy Birthday Lachlan

Today is Lachlan's 8th Birthday so, as you'd expect, he got some presents and we had pizza and cake for tea. As usual, Lachlan got some great presents such as a Pirate Ship, Spongebob Squarepants Lego, a Lego cake/jelly mould, and an Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. The Evel Knievel stunt cycle is great - it's just like one I remember from when I was a kid with a big handle you turn round until it makes a really loud noise and then goes shooting across the floor and crashes into the nearest item of furniture. It makes me feel young again.

For those of you on the edge of your seats, waiting for more pictures and stories from our holiday, they are coming but don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Cow Hill-abunga, Dudes

In the afternoon after we got to Fort William I decided to leave everyone else to get on with cooking tea and go for a run as part of my training for the Aviemore Half Marathon (despite my good intentions, this turned out to be the last run I managed to do for a whole week which is a bit of a set back but shouldn't be a major problem). I decided to follow the track up Cow Hill which sits between the town and Ben/Glen Nevis. It's a tough wee hill for a run but it felt good after being stuck in the car for so long.
The next day, we decided to all go up to the top and see the views which were pretty good although partially obscured by low cloud. Unfortunately, it was a last minute sort of thing and we didn't take any bribes for the kids, so they moaned a lot - even lots of splashy puddles didn't cheer them up that much.
Anyway, here are the photos - some of them are from my run and some from the walk. The smaller ones are from my phone so the quality's a bit iffy.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Another Holiday In The Highlands

Fear not - this blog has not been hit by a general malaise and neither have its authors been abducted by aliens. In fact, we've been away gathering new material for the blog or, in other words, having a holiday. For the last two years we've stayed in Scotland and been relatively lucky with the weather. Last week we were in Fort William (at this house which is here) and our luck ran out; it rained every day except two and was generally dreich for most of the time. We still had a lot of fun and took full advantage of the few spells of nice weather. I'll add more details and photos later but for now please enjoy the views from Dalaraban House:

The picture above is our view of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. Most of the time, it was shrouded in (or completely obscured by) cloud so this was a rare glimpse of the summit.

This autostitch panorama shows the view looking over Loch Linnhe. The hill on the left is Meall an t-Slamain. The towns of Corpach and Caol occupy the centre and Cow Hill is the one on the far right with the communications mast.
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Friday, 3 August 2007

One for the ladies

My dear husband bought me a present last week which may be of use especially since he insists on dragging me up hills every weekend. It's a SheWee. I've got to say I do recommend it! I've tried it while in the shower, and I know I should try it with clothes on but I can't bring myself to do that yet. It will come in handy up Ben Nevis I'm sure since I can't keep it in for 7 hours like I did before now that Shanks #3 is getting bigger. Everything is going well so far with the pregnancy and the bump is surprisingly small so far. People keep saying it must be a girl because of this. I think it's more likely that I'm smaller because I started from a size 10 rather than a 14, it does make a difference! It's bound to be a boy. So now I'm going on our first holiday with my parents, sister, her boyf, (and Iain & the boys of course) without the aid of alcohol. Wish me luck...