Nicole and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary this past weekend (it’s a great fortitude that our anniversaries are on the same day, really). We’ve set a pattern of taking it in turns to organise a surprise for each other, and last year I took us to Austria. This year was Nicole’s turn and she chose one of the prettiest parts of Scotland, the dramatic Applecross peninsula.
Before getting there, though, we spent a night in a hotel north of Inverness. It was lovely, but I’ll keep them anonymous as I’d like to have a dig at one aspect. In their luxurious lounge were some bookshelves filled with a curious and entirely unrelated collection of books, seemingly acquired in an entirely random way over time.
The oddest were the Usborne Guide to Hamsters (“with internet links”) and a book that looked out of the 1970s and featured Terry Wogan on the cover. I only wish I’d gone back to my room for my camera.
There was also a 19th century book titled “Why I Am A Christian” written with all the colour, verve and cheer you could imagine emanating from a dour, hardback Victorian-era epistle. Besides all that, there was, for some inexplicable reason, a large number of novels translated into German, including a Dan Brown I’d never heard of and a science fiction novel or two. It was quite the oddest collection of books I’ve seen for a long time and perhaps leaves some clues as to the sorts of people who have stayed at the hotel over the years.
When we got to Applecross, we stayed in a beautiful and snug wee cottage for a few nights, enjoying the occasional breaks in the rain to go for walks, drives and expeditions to the (justifiably) famous Applecross Inn. But the cottage rivalled the hotel for its curious reading material, principally in the form of entries in its guestbook. Among the numerous glowing comments were some that led me to really fear for this country’s city dwellers.
One guest complained about the steep gradient to the cottage, saying it was “not good for people with disabilities (heart condition)”. Another objected to the fact that the cottage’s view was of a “farmyard” (when it was actually of a modern house on a croft – a bit of education about the differences between farms and crofts needed there I think); though someone from the same town as that writer thoughtfully though unnecessarily followed up a few comments later with an apology for his brethren. Someone else complained that their two year old had been caught trying to escape through a skylight. Another person even thought it fair to criticise a bed in a particularly cosy and snug bedroom for being too small: despite the fact that if the bed had been any bigger the room would have been less of a bedroom and more of a dojo.
Quite how these stupid people survive outside the limits of the city they come from (and why they bother venturing furth) is a mystery to me. Much as, I imagine, the “countryside” (as everyone except those living there seems to call it) is a mystery to them. One of the strengths of Inverness as a place to live is that you’re always able to appreciate and understand both rural and urban Scotland. This beautiful part of the world was barely a couple of hours’ drive from home, and a gorgeous drive at that.
Enough of the rantings. Beyond all that, it was a lovely weekend. I’d been to Applecross before, but really enjoyed taking the time to relax, explore with the camera, and see a lot more of the peninsula than I had before. Here are the photos.