“With summer slipping by rapidly- yes it really is July not a mass calender based prank- our thoughts have turned towards the coming year. So now that you’re all depressed allow us to cheer you up by introducing the Ten Thousand Bulb challenge.
Those of you who’ve visited our site at Townhead will be aware it’s a fair old size so in order to get it looking really good for next spring we need bulbs and lots of them. We are aiming to attract sufficient donations in either cash or bulbs to let us blanket our Townhead and Wilson Street sites in thousands of blooms.
Between now and December 31st 2009 we hope to obtain and plant a whopping ten thousand bulbs and will be frenziedly panhandling for the next few months. If you’d like to help out you can either use the paypal button on this page to make a donation, bring a bag of bulbs along to a dig or contact us to arrange to send bulbs to one of the troops. A no cost donation can also be made simply by visiting our Squidoo page as we earn royalties from traffic, sign ups and purchases made from the page. If you have a blog we’d be delighted if you would spare the time to write a short post about the challenge to encourage as many folk as possible to get involved.”
We spent four days exploring the Banff coast east of Inverness in our first proper adventure with Oswald. Claire joined us too so we got to test the upstairs bed!
The first day was spent getting Oswald over the Glenshee pass. Having stopped for a delightful lunch at the very prim and proper Dunkeld we had our first mechanical breakdown (an anti-roll bar) which a proper old school mechanic assured us was ok for the rest of the weekend. We struck more trouble when we went to pick up Claire off the train with the only road through being closed due to a collision between a police car and an ambulance!
We were wild camping over the weekend so spent a fair bit of time scouring for campsites and then looking for somewhere to shower the following day, but it was much more fun that being stuck in the fairly nasty caravan parks that characterise the Scottish countryside.
We reached the coast at Findhorn and had some great seafood in the village before checking out the hippies at the Findhorn Foundation. We then tootled east looking for a place to camp via a series of picturesque villages. We ended up in an isolated car park on the outskirts of Lossiemouth, with the benefits of the facilities at the yacht club nearby. After a sunset dinner we briefly visited the local bar before retiring in the face of a scary metal band at full volume. Our sense of isolation was broken at about 6 am by a steady trickle of golfers arriving for an early morning round so that by the time we were up we were completely surrounded!
East of Lossimouth the scenery became even more spectacular with tiny fishing villages clinging to precipitously to the base of steep cliffs. Partiuclar favourites were Portsoy with fantanstic old warehouses by the harbour, the incredibly tiny Crovie where the space at the base of the cliffs is only just wide enough for the smattering of houses and can only be accessed by foot, and our finishing point Pennan the star of 80’s scottish classic Local Hero.
Our first test of Oswald’s camping abilities was successful if a little disorganized. Taking off after work on a Friday without proper preparation was our first mistake, as was not practicing our packing – we spent a large proportion of the weekend rifling through the cupboards for the thing we needed for that particular Oswald transformation.
We were headed to the Borders region in Scotland’s south east. We had never been past Edinburgh before, except taking in the fantastic coastal views from the (about to be nationalised) East Coast Mainline but had heard some great recommendations for the region.
On the Friday night we made it as far as St Abbs, descending into the misty harbour to wild camp after a late dinner at the pub in Coldringham at the top of the cliffs that line this coast. As it is a diving centre there were even free showers – a deluxe setup for wild capervan camping.
Come Saturday morning with an early start to clear camp the mist was still thick as we picked out way along the coast through little harbour towns. We made it to the border at Berwick on Tweed for breakfast. Having already skipped through the coastal areas of the Borders we decided to push down into England to Holy Island.
Reachable by a causeway only at low tide the mist was still thick as we ventured across creating a spooky impression with water lapping at each side of the road and the occasional sand dune looming out of the fog. By the time we had wandered about the island, with its intriguing ‘boat’ houses and visited the amazingly situated Lindesfarne Castle (renovated by Lutyens into a beautiful summerhouse) the fog had finally lifted revealing the beauty of the island.
After a farm shop lunch and a little cruise along the Northumberland coast we made a quick dash to the incredible Cragside House (to make the most out of our newly purchased National Trust membership). Although we arrived too late to get into the house itself the grounds were impressive enough!
On the Sunday we pottered back into the Borders this time through the inland route passing through picturesque towns such as Coldstream, Kelso and Melrose. A quick stop in the sprawling Galshiels to check out the quirky (listed) modernist football stadium, before a long lunch and exploration of the delightful Peebles rounded off our trip.