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Windy Islands, part 11 – Garvault stay

Winter in the Scottish Highlands. Keep surprising myself. 😄
Let's see what part 11 of the Windy islands brings... 😎 Here are the part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9 & part 10.
You can also fallow the trip in Polarsteps.
Not to overload the post with pictures, most of the photos you can find at the end of it divided into galleries.

5 December 2023 – Helmsdale, Scotland

Because of some health issues with my leg, I had to visit a doctor. So my GP, Dr Sutherland (a very nice lady, btw), had booked me in for an ortho and an x-ray. (Here you get a letter about when your appointment is and where.) On the same day, but predictably a few hours apart. Perfect, as they were in different hospitals a decent distance apart.

At Timespan - the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands
At Timespan – the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands

The orthopedic surgeon was at Helmsdale first. A very nice lady who we chatted to about quite a lot of things and I even got some new free insoles on top of it.

Helmsdale Museum

We had 4 and a half hours until the x-ray and Ollie let me look around the museum. In fact he insisted, and as we suspected it was paid for and I don’t go to paid for places, he even handed me £5 note and insisted I take it and go have a look. I accepted, albeit a little reluctantly. It was a history museum and it was definitely interesting.

At Timespan - the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands
At Timespan – the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands

Sliding towards the museum (it was a beastly icy and cold and the roads were like glass! Good thing Ollie was good experienced driver…) I saw a lady sliding in the same direction and unlock the Museum’s door. Just as she was about to close it behind herself, I spoke to her.

At Timespan - the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands
At Timespan – the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands

She turned out to be the curator. It also turned out that the museum was closed. It turned out as well that I was given a special privilege of seeing the whole museum for myself and for free (and with a clear conscience to give Ollie’s money back). The only inconvenience was that my pretty ass completely froze – a non-working museum is not heated…

At Timespan - the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands
At Timespan – the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands

We chatted with the curator, who invited me to a Christmas concert next week. I mentioned to her that my transport was extremely complicated, at which she said – no problem, if you can’t arrange it, just give me a call and we’ll take care of it – we provide transport on certain occasions…

The last wolf in Scotland - at Timespan; the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands
The last wolf in Scotland – at Timespan; the local history museum in Helmsdale, Highlands

I am very tempted. Not that I’m dying for Christmas carols (Ollie already gave them a try happily annoying me 🤪), but as an experience it would be interesting. We shall see…

River Bothy, Berridale

At River Bothy with Ollie / Bossy 😝 for a breakfast between my medical appointments
At River Bothy with Ollie / Bossy 😝 for a breakfast between my medical appointments

Before that, though, between the orthopedist and the museum, Ollie had the great idea to take a slight detour in the opposite direction towards Berridale. And treat us to breakfast at River Bothy, where I dried my bum last time.

At River Bothy, Berriedale, Highlands
At River Bothy, Berriedale, Highlands

This time I was dry, warm and comfortable as we were with the Mercedes, not the big grauling beast. So I completely enjoyed my time at that beautiful cozy place. Even managed to take some photos and videos.

At River Bothy for a breakfast between my medical appointments
At River Bothy for a breakfast between my medical appointments

And of course – a breakfast on the hotel account as a Christmas treat. Scrambled eggs with salmon! Mmmmmmmm… 😋

Dunrobin Castle

At Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands
At Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands

After the Helmsdale Museum, which I had a full 1 hour for (and it turned out to be too short) we drifted over to Golspie where I had to have some X-rays. However, we had about an hour and a half and Ollie continued my historical tour with the castle, which is still home to Sutherland’s Duke.

Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands
Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands

The castle is closed to tourists during the winter season, but even just from the outside it was still worth the visit. And the weather was sunny and beautiful, so it only added to the fairytale feeling.

Golspie Hospital

After the walk around the castle, it was time to go to the hospital to make an x-ray. And this doctor was super cool and we had a great chat.

An element of Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands
An element of Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands

Everyone is curious and surprised about my location (the hotel is registered as my address and it’s on all my medical records) and that lady was no exception. What was different about her was that she had been there in the middle of nowhere and just like me, she had fallen in love with the place

Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands
Dunrobin Castle near Golspie, Highlands

We finished quickly and on the way back Ollie passed by the castle again without stopping. The idea was to take a video of a full car round tour. The sun had already dropped low and the rays were gilding the landscape – fabulous!

23 December 2023 – First snow at Garvault, Scotland

Sunrise over Garvault hotel
Sunrise over Garvault hotel

Finally it snowed. On the northern edge of Scotland. It was wet and heavy snow, so I gave it no more than a day to last, but it was snow after all!

Long day, huh...
Long day, huh…

What a fun – post cars this side of the country don’t have winter tyres! Some clever bloke has decided there is no winter in the UK. Some clever person for whom the whole island boils down to London (As for some people Bulgaria, means Sofia and that’s it!).

First snow at Garvault
First snow at Garvault

I do completely agree about England, but we are talking about the Scottish Highlands here. Same people need to go back to school…

The first Highland snow and we had to meet the postman halfway with the big beast
The first Highland snow and we had to meet the postman halfway with the big beast

Here, in the middle of nowhere, it’s a bit like Bulgarian mountain villages – everyone knows everyone and everyone helps everyone else. So, the postman called to say that he couldn’t get to us in that slide…

Lots of presents and cars here - all for me! 🥳
Lots of presents and cars here – all for me! 🥳

A day before Christmas – we had to give him his Christmas present (and to get our mail of course), so we got to meet him half way with the big beast!

Just one of those isn't mine, but the deer was too pretty to extract him from the tribe
Just one of those isn’t mine, but the deer was too pretty to extract him from the tribe

Then birthday and Christmas. The hotel was almost full, but only with friends (there was only one outside guest for one night – the 24th), so the atmosphere was up to par, despite the loads of work.

First snow at Garvault
First snow at Garvault

Now, there was a dark side too. There was a tension, there were some down moments, but I just don’t like to think about. It was a time for smile and laughter!

My Birthday at Garvault among some new friends
My Birthday at Garvault among some new friends

Mick and his wife Lynn, and Ken – special friends of the house. Andrew – another old house friend. And my host and friend from Glasgow – George, who drove all the way to here just to be with us. That was an amazing amalgama of amazing people!

A Christmas brunch at Garvault among some new friends
A Christmas brunch at Garvault among some new friends

Every person was completely fitting into the group. Like the peaces of a puzzle.
I hadn’t laughed so much in years!… 🤗💖🥂😁

Rainbow at Garvault on 24th of December
Rainbow at Garvault on 24th of December

3 January 2024 – Thurso, Scotland

Yeeey, Haircut!

And finally a hairdresser. For 1 year and 2 months since my hair had last seen professional scissors. It usually had an appointment with my tiny manicure scissors and once I had arranged for it to meet Melinda, my host in Limerick, with kitchen shears. 😆

My first haircut in more than year time and it is at the most remote north part of Scotland - Thurso
My first haircut in more than year time and it is at the most remote north part of Scotland – Thurso

The hairdresser was a little stressed by what she saw, then a little unnerved by my insistence for her to repeat the procedure and shorten the length further (no other haircut was on the cards for many months to come!). In the end, after 40 minutes (my hairdresser at home does it in 10, damn!) I came out with approximately what I wanted.

Cold... 🥶🥶🥶
Cold… 🥶🥶🥶

Well, approximately – it’s always a challenge to explain what I want and why I want it that way. One of the two of us usually gives up in the end – either me or the hairdresser. In this case it was the second… 😁

Another medical exam

In the meantime, Ollie made sure to arrange an eye exam for me. Interesting thing about Scotland is that even I, as a temporary visiting foreigner, was entitled to free medical care. They probably have some kind of limit of it, but so far I’ve been to the doctor 4 times, been prescribed medication twice (by prescription it’s completely free!) and had x-rays twice. All this for a name and a temporary address, which they only need to be in contact with me and assign me to the right area. I have an National Insurance Number from when I worked in London, but no one asked for it either…

Cold crispy sunrise on the road
Cold crispy sunrise on the road

So, we weren’t sure if the package includes an ophthalmologist, but there’s nothing stopping us from checking. It was Ollie’s idea. He’d even ordered glasses for my birthday, but of course, without a medical examination it was a shot in the dark and were a loss.

Roberto has another souvenir
Roberto has another souvenir

So anyway, we were in Thurso for my hairdresser (that’s right, he drove me 70+ km to the hairdresser…) so we stopped by the ophthalmologist office too. Well… I left with an appointment for an eye checkup… 😎🥳

6 January 2024 – Bettyhill, Scotland

I have to send my camera for maintenance at GoPro. But, I bought it in the Netherlands, so I have to return it there. Aghh… It would easily be 2+ weeks without a camera, and those are the weeks when the hotel is closed and I have time to hang out.

On the way towards Bettyhill, Highlands
On the way towards Bettyhill, Highlands

Well… It is what it is… 🤷🏻‍♀️ I’ve been postponing this for almost a year, it just has to be done and that’s it!

A street sign for Twatt, Orkney
A street sign for Twatt, Orkney

So, one last push before I sent the camera to Holland. The weather is wonderful. We are free. So Ollie and I jumped on the snarling beast and headed for Bettyhill, where I had never been before.

Farr Bay, Bettyhill, Highlands
Farr Bay, Bettyhill, Highlands

Beauty!

8 January 2024 – Glen Loth, Scotland

I was supposed to send the camera today, but just couldn’t do it!

Trip through Glen Loth
Trip through Glen Loth

I have a doctor’s appointment in Helmsdale. The weather is beautiful and the forecast is wonderful. So I have postponed the shipment until tomorrow…

Trip through Glen Loth
Trip through Glen Loth

We set off again with the beast with the idea of taking a dirt road high up through the mountain on the way back. The doctor didn’t tell me very good things, but I will live, she said, and booked me again for X-rays and rehabilitation (those two never happened as it took too long and my time in Garvault was over). Well, it is what it is, right…

Trip through Glen Loth
Trip through Glen Loth

From there we stopped to see Mick and Lynn – what a laughing and fun… 🤪

On the way with the big beast
On the way with the big beast

And through the hills back towards Garvault! Mmmmm, beautiful! 😍


GALERIES

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