The November weather gets ever murkier. So naturally my thoughts are drifting towards next year's holidays! One trip will be another tour of Scotland, a place not visited since June 2013.
Last time I kept to East Lothian and Edinburgh, with one foray into Fife. The journeyings in 2015 will be more ambitious. I plan to have a jolly good look at Aberdeenshire, and most of north-east Scotland. I'm talking about that big wedge of land north of Dundee, between the A9 and the coast, but excluding the Grampian Mountains.
Within this extensive area, which I'm thinking will need a full two weeks to do justice to, I'll be pitching the caravan at three centres: Cruden Bay (on the coast near Peterhead), Huntly (in the centre), and Culloden (for the Moray Firth area). I particularly want to visit the coastal towns and villages between Fraserburgh and Forres: for me this is something of a pilgrimage, postponed since childhood, to finally see these places for myself, in real life.
Some bits of the area won't be new to me. On my very first visit to Scotland (with M---, in 2002) we went to Banchory (and the Dee valley generally, plus excursions into the Grampians - for example Glen Muick), Dufftown, Alford, Aberdeen, Findhorn, Nairn, Cawdor, Ardersier, and Fort George. Then in 2010 we returned and took in Aberdeen (the Gordon Highlanders Regimental Museum), Cruden Bay, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Huntly (especially Kinnoir, where M---'s great-grandparents had crofted) and Old Meldrum. So in a way I've already travelled across the entire area, but not really in depth except places connected with M---'s family history.
There is an awful lot else to see - even though, compared to other parts of Scotland, this isn't really a prime tourist area. Of course there are the many whisky distilleries, but nip-nipping at whisky won't be high on my list of things to do, especially as Fiona will be kept very busy every day, and will need a scrupulously sober driver! It'll be a mixture of visiting places already seen, but with fresh eyes; and discovering others for the very first time, with all the thrill of an explorer whose time is her very own.
Here are some personally memorable scenes from the past. Aberdeen, Fraserburgh, Nairn, Fort George, Huntly Castle, Loanhead of Daviot stone circle, and a yummy dessert at the Redgarth Inn at Old Meldrum:
On the way up, I'll be pitched near Edinburgh and St Andrews. I'm not yet sure what route I'll take to get home, but I'm guessing that I'll feel inclined to head towards Wigtown Bay before saying farewell to Scotland. The shelly sands and the seagulls call. Cue some shots from 2002.