Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Pennan, Findhorn & Lossiemouth

Slept in today. I'd had some problems with my mobile phone SIMM card, so after a quick brekkie, headed back to Elgin to find an O2 dealer. I get the problem sorted, but it means buying a new SIMM card and 2 days before I have access to my old number and details.

Now we head east again along the coast. My real destination is the tiny hamlet of Pennan, where Local Hero (1983) was filmed, butwe begin by tracking a bit further to the most north-easterly town along this coast, Fraserburgh. Along the way, I notice how the names of small villages differs slightly from English names. Where the sassenachs might opt for Flossing Nightly or Winning Scratchie, up here the tendency is for phrases like Moss of Barmuckity, Hill of Maud, Noyse of Caralarms or Get of Yerhairyarse. Disappointingly, Fraserburgh is a couple of words short of anything interesting. It's a drab fishing port, buildings lined up like granite pews facing the sea, itself an altar to a silent pagan god. It does have a Lighthouse Museum, but this appears to have only one lighthouse in its collection. Maybe the curator is only just getting started, but I appeal to you all to send in your spare lighthouses.

Pennan is a delight, accessible only by a narrow road curling into a deep cove. The Pennan Inn is for sale, but I lunch on some bacon & leek soup out the front, next to that red phone box. Pennan is smaller than I remember, but I'm sure the camera adds 20 houses.

After lunch it's a rapid trip back to Lossiemouth and slightly further west to Findhorn. I want to get to their Heritage centre, only open 2-5pm. We pass Kinloss RAF base (is that where all those noisy planes are launched?) and initially turn into the Findhorn Foundation community, looking somewhat like a new age caravan park. A resident with new age driving skills cuts in front of me without signalling and then pulls up abruptly at the intersection of the trunk road to change clothes at the wheel. She's oblivious to surrounding vehicles, so I scoot around her and along to the main village. We get to the Heritage Centre at 4.30 and talk to Tom, a volunteer manning it today. Findhorn has been settled for about nine centuries and the small centre tries to reflect the human and natural contributions to the area. I add a Sydney pin to the wallchart of visitor origins, and Bondi is big enough to qualify for a pin on Seattle. Tom's wife takes me through the nearby Icehouse, built in the mid 19th century to store ice for packing salmon to London.

I pop into Findhorn village's Kimberley Inn for dinner, and Bondi is welcomed inside too. There are several dogs at tables around the bar. A fox's head mounted over a doorway sports a cigarette in its mouth. Over dinner I call around B&B's and guesthouses in Edinburgh. Some event in the city has filled them up, so I widen my search to surrounding shires. Fife is very expensive - too many wealthy golfers courting the fairways of St. Andrews - but I find a house in Tillicoultry Clackmannanshire, about 20 miles NW of Edinburgh.

Even though the temperature has not yet cracked 20C, everyone in Scotland thinks it's sooo hot. Hoo doz yer weee bonnie doggie cope wi' tha turrible heat??

A second night at Lossiemouth (our new record northern latitude). We walk around the harbour area and go home early, so I can sleep more before tomorrow's drive south. I turn in too early to see it, but apparently the moon is bigger than last night, and is the largest apparent size of the moon in twenty years.

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