Everyone knows I went to Orkney on holiday right? I may have mentioned it once or twice... Ahem. Because we were driving up, Tam and I decided to set off a couple of days early and meander up the country. I'd not been any further up than Inverness before (something a lot of other people also admitted to when I mentioned it!) which is just crazy. There's so much more country up there waiting to be explored, and I was ready to explore it.
Our first stop on the mini road trip was Nairn, where Tam's cousin lives with her husband and a very fluffy cat. They kindly offered us a bed for the night and we said yes on the assumption that it would be too rainy to camp, because... Scotland. It turned out to be a completely beautiful day and, after a quick wander around the nearby Brodie Castle, we decided it was high time for a proper paddle in the sea. Tam was all set for an actual swim in there but I was ready for my dinner! It was chippies all around then off out for a drink.
The next morning we went a quick nosy around Nairn then hit the road again - although we actually went back on ourselves a bit because we'd heard great things about a scone place just along the road. Verdict? Good not great. I think that's the problem with places that have a huge hype around them - they rarely seem to live up to it when I actually get around to visiting! Anyway, we got back in the right direction eventually and made it to the top of the country.
The weather changed substantially by the time we got to the most northerly point in mainland Scotland. Still, we had to do the tourist thing and get our pictures taken by the sign. After another chippy (with the most freaking delicious chips - if you visit and see the van next to the sign, that's the place) and an Orkney ice cream (also delicious, and slightly earlier than planned...) we pitched the tent on the campsite and got down to the serious business of drinking whisky and writing postcards. Oh, and taking a walk up to Duncansby Head to look for non existent puffins.
Since we were so far north, the sun only went down for a few hours, so sleeping required a scarf over our heads and the ability to keep it there. We sort of succeeded... It wasn't the worst night I've spent in a tent anyway!
The next morning we packed up the slightly soggy tent in good time and headed into Thurso for a look in the charity shops and to meet Andrea for coffee. She took us to the most amazing cafe by the harbour - the cake there was possibly some of the best cake I've ever had. So good was it that we went straight there for lunch on the way back from Orkney. I had a piece of coffee and walnut cake roughly the size of my head, and it was one of the few times a cake has defeated me. I took the rest away and had it for first dinner though. It was too good to leave leftovers! As you can see from the picture, the cafe was so cosy and steamy that all I got was one blurry photo of awesome cake, but I tested Tam's brownie and Andrea's chocolate sponge and they got an awesome verdict too.
After a couple more charity shops (Andrea showed us some hidden ones) we drove round to catch the ferry at Scrabster, just next to Thurso. Now that my stomach seems to repel all kinds of boat travel I was apprehensive, but figured a bigger boat would be fine. Well...I didn't feel as sick but I couldn't look out the window or move very far from my seat. I seem to have some kind of late blooming motion sickness. Yay.
And then...Orkney! More on that soon.