Report – Summer 2016

Those of you who pay any attention to this occasional blog will know it’s mostly only dragged out to see the light of day when I’m on my travels. You may also have noticed a shortage of posts since early April, when I got back from Sri Lanka.

A combination of things has meant I’ve not been out on the hills much, so there’s been little news in that direction. I’ve also been increasingly busy with amateur woodwork, making a few games for Jo and Ben’s wedding: this was great fun – both the woodwork and the do itself.

On Saturday 6th August our elder daughter, Joanna, married Ben Robinson and she has now changed her Facebook status, so it must be official. Jo’s desire to be delivered to St Andrew’s, Fortrose, in a Land Rover was fulfilled by the offer of friend and ex-colleague Dilys Hartland to act as chauffeur in her own Defender and that got the day off to great start. (Actually, the “day” had started much earlier with the arrival of the hairdresser and the make-up artiste – is that the right term? – much earlier in the day and young women had been scampering round our house in various states of undress and with hair or faces somewhat out of kilter for some hours.)

The service was conducted by “The Rev” – Richard Burkit, a long-standing friend of Ben’s family who has left the ministry to run “For The Right Reasons” – an Inverness-based drug rehabilitation charity. Jo and Ben have been “going out” for over 11 years and “The Rev” ran the cricket club Ben played for. Jo sometimes turned up loyally to watch and Richard apparently referred to “Ben and his bird”, so his presence was entirely appropriate! Richard has a refreshing attitude to dogma and religion generally. It was an entertaining, thought-provoking and engaging service, especially after I’d relaxed from the “walking down the aisle and giving the bride away” bit.

After the obligatory delay – in the drizzle – for photographs, we all headed to Ben’s house, a couple of miles along the road. Earlier in the week, two tipis had been erected, a generator delivered and a couple of portaloos installed. Add to that two spit-roasts, lots of other excellent food provided by the owners of Eilean Dubh restaurant; a marvellously chocolatey “real” cake and a great cheese equivalent; a range of InverAlmond Brewery’s keg beers, provided by Ben’s brother who is a brewer there; some lawn games, firepits and lots of super people: it was obvious there was going to be a good party.

And there was.

The band were excellent and, with a preponderance of young adults in the crowd, there was plenty of dancing after the meal. Jo and Ben had aimed for an informal feel to the day and there was no seating plan, so guests mingled over the meal and standing round the firepit that blazed in one of the tipis. The lighting in the tipis gave everything a warm glow with areas of light and partial shade, which was conducive – along with the alcohol! – to a relaxed atmosphere.

The older generation began to drift away about midnight and later a hired bus with a very helpful driver delivered many of the remaining guests to near their Inverness homes, also dropping the newly-weds off at their over-night accommodation in Avoch.

By now, the tipis have long since been struck, the generator and portaloos have been collected and most of the remaining items have been returned to their homes. Mr & Mrs Robinson have started their Macs Adventures Tour de Mont Blanc (Comfort) trek. This is the very trip Brian Macgill and I did a year ago. I asked Macs to provide a bottle of bubbly at the couple’s first hotel: which they did free, gratis and for nothing, which was very kind of them. (You can read the account of our TMB, starting here.)

So one of the poorest summers for weather that I can remember is coming to an end, with Sonia returning to work on Monday – along with many other ex-colleagues and school staff generally. Despite poor weather much of the time, it’s been a fulfilling summer: my sister’s 60th birthday celebrated in New Lanark, lots of fun projects in the garage and culminating in the wedding.

One job I must now do is find a new exhaust for the Bongo campervan. On my way to Fortrose with a load of stuff, made late by Belladrum traffic and hurrying to a Friday wedding practice at St Andrew’s Church, I heard a bang followed by a roaring noise just as I left Munlochy. The Bongo’s exhaust had finally given up the ghost and I had to spend precious minutes rolling on the road extricating the jammed back box. By the time Malcolm Turner stopped, I had the job partly completed and help was on its way. At least it wasn’t the Saturday.

But I have something to look forward to. At the end of this month I’m going on a walking holiday in the Pyrenees and I can start to focus my attention on that. No doubt I’ll be in touch again from Spain, if not before.

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