Just back from a long week in Scotland, my main holiday of the year and a particularly delightful one this year. It's been a long while since I had a proper holiday up there, and this year I decided to exploit the generosity of friends by taking up their kind invitations to visit two very different places.
The first half of my holiday was four nights in the little hamlet of Opinan, right next to Mellon Udrigle in Wester Ross. Otherwise known as the end of the road. I guess this is a bit vague since there must be a lot of places in the Highlands that match that description, and I've already been to quite a few!
My friend Dee, whom I met about 15 years ago on a conservation holiday in Derbyshire, was my host, and she welcomed me the first night with cold beers and an invite to walk along the beach. I even paddled!
Her lovely cottage was decorated with autumn flowers from the gardens and surrounds, including mint, Devil's Bit Scabious and rowan berries.
Each night we lit the wood burning stove, mostly for amusement value rather than heating requirements, and sat drinking local beer, talking late into the evening and creating our own session of made-up songs that got more vulgar as the night wore on.
We spent some time working in the garden, cutting back the overgrown shrubs and burning all the bits in a massive bonfire; the sea offered a brief, refreshing dip to wash away all the fire smoke and sweat, the stunning location marking it out as one of the most glorious places I've ever swum.
The rocks are a major feature in this windswept area, I loved the shapes and textures and colours that they add to the landscape, and the beach was littered with lovely orange shells of all hues.
Another day we walked 5km along a track to the deserted Slaggan Bay where I dipped in the sea once more before turning back at a quick pace to try and outpace the gathering rain clouds.