We're still both pretty exhausted and looking to spend some more time in the area before returning south. Removed some nasty ticks from Bondi - I hope that's the last of them, but the tick repellent drops he's had seem to have had no effect.
No agenda today. Just rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest. I want to stay another night in Inverness, but my current B&B is booked out and I can't locate an alternative in the area. I look forty miles east to Lossiemouth, a small town in the shire of Moray*, and call a B&B more or less at random: it's dog-friendly, inexpensive and there's a vacancy!
I look around downtown Inverness in the morning. A guy at a market stall has a young malamute pup "Odin" and is keen to learn about Bondi. I scratch one of his ears and a tick comes off in my hand. Ugh. I spend the next 15 minutes with some tweezers and tea-tree oil removing more of the buggers. The anti-tick measures I'd taken have clearly had no effect. I'm sitting astride Bondi - who is remarkably calm - making for quite a sight in central Inverness. Finally I think I'm done and head to the tourist information centre next to Inverness Museum for some touring tips, and more importantly get my first real espresso in over a week from the Italian restaurant on the street one level below. We visit a vet to get some more Frontline for the ticks and head out of town.
We pass castles and forts, history to the right and left, and even forgo Cawdor Castle - linked forever to a certain Scottish play. Pollen count is high and I sneeze through Nairn and into Elgin. I finally get a late lunch, pick up groceries and then it's a quick 6 miles to Lossiemouth on the coast.
It doesn't take too long to locate the B&B on an eastward facing bluff with a remarkable view. I'm smitten, looking down to the beach. The weather is great, we're both tired: surely we can stay for two nights. Bondi hits the floor and I pass out too until late evening. When I awake, I set out Bondi's food but he doesn't seem interested. I scratch his belly - and oh no - another tick. Another hour of searching, and I'm almost beside myself with another 9 removed. After being rather patient through the search and extraction, he's now ready to go out.
It's nearly 10.30pm and a great sunset is developing. We hobble west, zigzagging down one street to get a clear view, chasing the sun. The buildings here are remarkably uniform in colour and height, as though they had been hewn out of a single block of stone and minutely decorated. Sometimes the only colours on a street are the reddish tones in the paint of the window frames. Following the sun, we see the red sky caught in some window reflections, and finally a view across the water towards Inverness and the Great Glen.
11pm and still quite bright. Yellow sodium streetlamps are turning on, a striking contrast against the ultramarine waters of the western beaches. We return to the B&B slowly, Some kids are sitting in the central city park, with a car radio blaring a remix of Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang". Back onto our street, and I can see the hint of a big yellow moon on the horizon, and the town below the bluff really looks like a model village set below an indigo screen. It's a beautiful night.
*Moray is ancestral seat to the Murray Clan, whose motto is "Always ready". Hilarious ;-).