How many times can you sing, “I’ll take the high road and you take the low road” in a faux Scottish accent over a 4 day period? Ditto the word ‘Stoneybridge‘ in the style of Naked Video? Quite a few as it goes…
The Griswold Family Highland Tour 2011 began with a 9 hour road trip North, which from around the 3 hour mark, I had to endure listening to Bman bemoaning the price of 2 fruit smoothies purchased under duress for the children.
Word of the entire holiday was ‘Midgets’ and the theme of the entire trip transpired to be that of spotting road kill and dead wildlife. I had optimistic hopes of Pine Martens running freely through the campground and Red Squirrels sharing their nuts with us for breakfast, while majestic Golden Eagles soared above our heads posing for photographs atop the tent. Instead I had to make do with a Tawny Owl, some tiny wee frogs and 2 dead badgers, a dead doe, a dead cat and a half a fox in the road on the A82.
Bman’s pal, who invited us up to Fort William for a visit some months ago and who was the reason we were that far north at all, seemed strangely reticent to make arrangements with us after telling Bman a few weeks ago that there was no room at the Inn & that if we did come we would have to camp. He didn’t even let Bman know his address! They were friendly some 20 years ago in the Boro and my guess is that the lad invited us up there, we called his bluff and then he remembered what a lairy drunk my husband can be and decided to play that game of hiding behind the couch and closing the blinds when the carol singers come round. Needless to say, we didn’t actually get to meet up with him. Nice one, crappy friend who shouldn’t make offers he doesn’t mean.
We took ourselves off for a walk up the mountain opposite Ben Nevis, up to Dun Deardail Fort. The ‘Ben’ would have been too much of a challenge for the wairns although it would have been great to get at least half way. TBH they moaned like buggery on the forest track that we walked on and that was a proper cinder track with just a 5 minute scramble at the top.
The weather changing tack every 20 minutes didn’t help. The layers came off, they went back on again, we got soaked, we dried out, we got wet again and broke the monotony of the whining and protesting by promising jelly beans at 15 minute intervals as an incentive to keep going.
Emergency supplies for the frustrated parent for once the scotch has all gone and the wine box is empty perhaps?
On Monday morning we hit the local Morrisons to stock up and to fuel Bman and the childerbeast’s constant obsession with what was to eat for the next meal. After 2 nights tent-bound by midgets, I decided against buying myself a bottle of wine and opted for a 3litre box instead and feared that it may not actually be enough…
And so to the Ben Nevis Distillery Tour. Whisky made same way as beer, flavoured by different waters and peats, yadayadayada, let’s just cut to the tasting my good man. Very nice, I’ll take a bottle of that then please.
Onward then to Fort Augustus. Beautiful scenery and every possibility of a sight of the elusive eagles, wildcats, deer and pine martens and what were my Childerbeast doing? Faces stuck into their DS’s, wired for sound on their MP3’s & merrily singing along. Nothing makes you wish you had not packed the scotch in the boot more than 2 girls in the back, one singing along to Bruno Mars. ‘Grenade’ for the umpteenth time while the other sings Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag and the Bman plays one of his infamous mixtapes in the front. For the uninitiated, the running order of one of these tapes could go something a little like this (and all at slightly different volumes):-
1.Black Sabbath – Paranoid
2.Blondie – Heart of Glass
3.Theme tune from ‘Minder’
4.Theme tune from ‘Ulysses 31’
5.Cramps – Garbage Man
6.Theme tune from ‘Rab C Nesbit’
7.Theme tune from ‘Metal Mickey’
9.Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Ooh
10.Theme tune from ‘Around the World with Willy Fog’
I’m not making this shit up. There were several times that I considered throwing myself from the car into whichever Loch or Gorge we were driving past at the time. Never, never, under any circumstances allow my husband near the decks or stereo at a party after a few drinks. Particularly not in his own home with his own CD collection.
Fort Augustus was small but very busy. As the first point you see Loch Ness if coming from the North it was full of coachloads of Japanese and/or old people going for a cruise on the Loch. Let’s face it, if there was no such rumour as the Nessie legend no one would bother much other than for a Kodak moment for yet another breathtaking view. The Scots aren’t doing badly out of us tourists as far as Nessie tat goes though. My kids have come home with bookmarks, pencils, rubbers, ‘wee monster’ socks, flags, soft toys and even I got myself a fridge magnet and an inflatable Nessie (to add to the camping menagerie).
Bman opted instead for the ubiquitous ‘Jimmy’ hat, which he wore all the way around the Loch Ness Trail, although I put my foot down and wouldn’t let him get out of the car with it on at Urquhart Castle.
The castle, I might add which is cunningly designed by the Heritage Trust or whoever, so that to get a half decent view of it, or the Loch from it, you have to pay £7.20 per adult and £5.30 for child to get in! Screw that man Jimmy lad canny bag o bollocks! I had just been fleeced in the gift store of the Loch Ness Exhibition at Drumnadrochit for 2 bags worth of Nessie kacka so I wasn’t forking out any more. We lifted Allie over the wall and got her to take some pictures through the bushes instead. Job done!
On the last day we too hit the Royal Scot Cruise on the Loch for a bit of Monster spotting. They had on board sonar equipment so you could see exactly how bloody deep it was. There was also a bar so a wee dram helped to take the edge off the biting wind on the top deck.
We then looked around a weird farm, which despite the sign. had no children in it at all. Perhaps they had been take off to slaughter? Who knows. A giant rooster like Foghorn Leghorn took a shine to the Bear and she now has a fear of poultry after it chased her round. Traumatising for her but quietly amusing for me and the Bman. Not so discreet her little sister who is threatening to print out this photo and blow it up to life size and stick it at the end of Bear’s bed. (Where does she get that kind of devilish humour from I wonder?)
I enjoyed the trip despite disappointment at not seeing a Pine Marten or a Red Squirrel. Thoroughly loved the walks, although we won’t mention the fact that we went wrong a few times and it was nothing to do with me because someone else, (male, Caucasian, 6ft 2, scruffy looking, late 30’s) was in charge of the map. The scenery was superb and the natives very friendly. I’ll be honest though and say that as much as I had fun; next year my idea of a relaxing holiday will be one without childerbeast or a husband. Then I can eat what I like, when I feel like it, not spend the entire holiday listening to others obsessing with meal times or moaning continually about where it is we are going or what it is we are doing. I can buy something for myself other than just a fucking fridge magnet because I don’t have to spend all my money (and money I don’t have) on overpriced shite in every single shop, museum or exhibition that we look at.