Dr D’s practice took the 3rd week in February as one of its holiday weeks. (German GP practices just shut down when they’re taking holidays rather than work short staffed or try to get a locum. Patients are free to go to any GP anyway.)
As she had decided to come to Scotland for the week, the dilemma then was to find something to do here. (Much of the tourism industry is seasonal, so many places don’t open until Easter.)
My Newcastle trips over the last year had made me think about Northumberland. Bamburgh Castle. Lindisfarne. Hadrian’s Wall. It would depend on the weather forecast though, so no advance booking!
Then a few days before she arrived I got news of the death of my last surviving aunt. The funeral would be in Nairn (just east of Inverness) on the Wednesday of Dr D’s holidays. To quote Robert Burns
…The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley…
Dilemma. Stick to plan A for the sake of Dr D, or create a plan B around a trip to Nairn?
Well, we went for the Nairn option. What a success!
We spent the night after the funeral at Old Drynie House – a bed & breakfast just across the Moray Firth from Inverness.
Excellent. Stylish and comfortable accommodation, a great setting and location, a warm welcome and a wonderful breakfast.
Next morning we tried our luck at Chanonry Point with dolphin spotting. The high tide had just turned, so it was the wrong time and nothing appeared – except a seal which stuck its head out of the water about 25m away to see what we were up to.
Dr D was quite chuffed about that, but then if you live 500 miles from the sea it’s understandable.
Then on to Cromarty. A lovely village at the eastern end of the Black Isle. Another walk. Coffee. Good Scottish baking. Dr D learned what a fly cemetery tastes like.
Culloden Moor outside Inverness after that, to see the site of the 1746 battle. It’s an expensive place. £11 each for entry plus £2 for car parking (in the middle of nowhere). A poor example for Scottish tourism in value for money terms, especially by comparison with German prices.
We headed south after Culloden, and stayed a night at Cuil-an-Duin in Ballinluig. Another wonderful bed and breakfast.
Much along the lines of Old Drynie House, but different.
Discovery Point in Dundee was our final stop, on the last leg of the homeward trip. Excellent as well.
Along the way we had lovely dinners in the Mustard Seed in Inverness and Howie’s Bistro in Dunkeld.
All in all, that plan B worked really well.
Leaving aside Culloden, service and quality were faultless wherever we went. A great advert for quality in Scottish tourism. Value for money is more tricky to give top marks for, as I’m always comparing with lower prices in Germany and elsewhere.
ⓒ iain taylor 2016