Life After Little Else......or Rambles with Reg!

Liz Ju and Jack burn rubber, in campervan Reg, to tour coasts and inland areas, armed with maps, Cobb barbecue and anti-midge cream.

23 April 2017 | Orkney
23 April 2017 | Orkney
23 April 2017 | Orkney
21 April 2017 | Blair Atholl, Highland
19 April 2017
19 April 2017
19 April 2017
07 March 2016 | Nantes, France
27 February 2016 | Lagos, Portugal
07 February 2016 | Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
18 December 2015
14 December 2015 | Port Lockroy
08 December 2015 | South Georgia
06 December 2015
28 November 2015
27 November 2015
26 November 2015 | Buenos Aires, Argentina
22 November 2015 | Home
22 October 2015

Scrabster to Stromness to Kirkwall

24 April 2017
Well the first thing we got wrong was I forgot to switch off the fridge as we laft the van on the car deck of the ferry. Didn't realise, but by the time I did there was no way I coupd go below and fix it. So the battery quietly flattened itself. After a slightly bouncy crossing and a viking burger for lunch, we arrived in Stromness. I have fond memories of arriving there years ago with the girls aged 10 and 8, we were all on bikes, and we noticed two things. One was the poet, George Mackay Brown, sitting on a bench watching the ferry passengers disembark, and the other was the Craigmount High School Pipe Band, from Edinburgh, playing as we arrived. The girls both attended that school later, as we lived in Edinburgh then.

So i them made my second mistake of the day, and set off along the ancient stone-flagged main street, at times only about a foot wider than the van, rather than follow the clear road sign to Ness Campsite, pointing in the opposite direction. Well, readers, I only met two vehicles coming the other way, and all was well. But then it appeared that the low road to the campsite was closed, so we had to take the diversion anyway. Such is life.

We arrived at the wind-blasted site to find reception closed, and the location that Ju had booked on the ferry was on sloping, muddy grass, at right angles to an increasing gale. It did not take us long to go for plan B, to go straight to Kirkwall, and try the site there. It proved much better, hard standing, with terrific toilets, showers, laundry, lounge and kitchen facilities. We booked in and set up for the night. The wind got stronger and stronger, and we debated taking the roof down, as its tentlike sides flap and bang in high winds, and gusts could cause them damage. The forecast was for it to moderate later, so we left it up.

We had just finished dinner when our friend James messaged us, with an invitation to stay at his place, in this inclement weather. We arrqnged to do that tomorrow night, as Tuesday was forecast to be even windier.

Monday dawned cold, and when Ju went to take Jack for his early walk she came back covered in sleet. It got progressively worse until effectively a blizzard hit! We packed up and did some shopping in Tesco's, while Ju went to collect James' key. We then set off with windscreen wipers barely coping with the amount of snow falling, visibility low, and the road ahead whited out and not gritted. The joy of four wheel drive!

We found our refuge without difficulty, and enjoyed a light lunch, then sat and watched the world warm up, the whieout disappear, and the lovely Orcadian sun come out to warm up the poor shivering lambs, for whom this must have been a sore trial.

Blair Atholl to Brora to Scrabster

23 April 2017 | Orkney
Blair campsite stayed really quiet overnight. We both agreed it would not have been so agreeable in high season, in summer school holidays. We did not take advantage of the discount card we had been given to tour the castle, but got straight back on to the infamous A9 for the next leg of our journey.

Weather was mostly fair with slight rain showers as we drove on up this mixture of single and dual carriageways, and road works. We pulled off the road at Newtonmore, and sought out the house of friends Denyse and Lilias. We had not been there before, but found it quite easily, parked, and rang the doorbell a couple of times. When no reply came, and we knew there was no car parked at the front of the house, we gave up and headed on north. With hindsight we should have gone round the back, but hey, that's hindsight for you. Turned out later they had been in, but hadn't heard the doorbell. An opportunity missed.

We drove on north via Kingussie, and moved through country we both knew well, as far as Grantown on Spey, then unknown sections towards Forres. Rolling upland moors, magnificent in sunshine. Our satnav, Jim, took us to our campsite, right beside what was RAF Kinloss, at Findhorn. There, in the corner of the airfield, sits a solitary Nimrod, part of the legacy of the last government (DC's), which decided to ground all the Nimrods while they built newer better ones. Then they decided against that, and scrapped the machines being built. One of the finest long distance ocean search planes ever built.

The campsite is run by the Findhorn community, and while the facilities are a little tired, it suited our needs well enough. It was quite busy, families with small children and lots of dogs. One group had a fascinating wigwam shaped tent, with a cone of tent material at the top which could be raised for ventilation, or closed for rain. There were great dog walks, on the beach of the bay, or towards the sea. I was walking Jack along a gravel road when a four by four towing a trailer with a digger passed me, and stopped. A man got out, wearing country ranger type gear, and I thought I was going to be told off for using a private road. To my amazement he knelt down in front of Jack and started petting him, asking if he was a Schnauzer! We had alively conversation about dogs, after which he got back in his vehicle and drove away. Jack had given him. Great welcome, tail wagging etc.

Saturday morning arrived, and we set off for a rendezvous with an old colleague of mine at Brodie Castle, just outside Forres. Jennifer is an NTS guide to the castle, and had offered us a personal tour followed by tea and scone in the tearoom. It was great to see her after nearly twenty years. She and I used to work on the Women into Management courses for Lothian Region teching staff. She hasn't lost her touch, and the tour of this remarkable castle was a real eye-opener to how the Scottish aristocracy got started. She showed us a tiny fragment of paper with handwriting on it, from the 13 hundreds, written on behalf of Robert the Bruce, granting Brodie his lands. Apparently it had been found by accident when it fell out of one of the many thousands of books in the library. And the family lived there all throught the centuries until 1980 when it was handed over to the National Trust for Scotland. I heartily recommend a visit, the pintings, the books, the ceramics, it is a treasure of all the stuff a family of rich collectors could put together, and because it was handed over in time, those are all still there.

We thanked Jennife for her tour, and the rip to the tearoom, having caught up on her news, the most sensational of which is that her daughter recently became the first female chief adinistrator at Gordonstoun!

The road took us to inversneckie, then over the Kessock Bridge on to the Black Isle, then off again northwards past the Glenmorangie Distillery, over the bridge on the Dornoch Firth, nd on to Golspie, where we stopped at the Coop for supplies. Our campsite was a few miles further on, in Brora, a little hard to find but we got there eventually, despite Jim getting muddled. It is a certificated site of one of our two club memberships, and is pretty basic. Loos but no showers. It is actually in the grounds of a former military radio station, a listening post for GCHQ, no less. The view is spectacular, sea and distant glimpse of the Moray shore.

It is amazing how easily we slip back into the familiar routine of life in the campervan. In Little Else I used to love that part of the day whn the journey was over, the boat was at anchor or moored up, and it had morphed from vehicle into home again. Exactly the same with the campervan. Reg takes us where we want to go, then Ju sets off with Jack for a walk while I pop up the roof, turn the front seats, stow all the bulky items like the dog crate and the Cobb in the roof space, then cover the driving seat with Jack's rug and towel because that is his space when we are parked. Then it feels like home. The electric hookup means we can recharge iPads and iPhones, and run the small fan heater we carry for cooler evenings.

There is no site wifi here, but we carry the same antenna and wifi booster kit that worked so well for us on the boat. And it does work on PCs. Unfortunately we are having a real problem with the Alfa software that came with the kit we have to use with Apple devices, as they have no USB port. We scan and can see lots of local wifi connections, it appears to connect, th n inexplicably drops out half way through the rebooting process. This we are going to have to fix. And soon. Any suggestions anyone?

A pleasant drive from Brora to Thurso and Scrabster across more upland moors, with enough wind farms to power a large chunk of the country, and huge substations to help it all on to the grid. The wind is increasing, but we decided to make the hop today before it gets any stronger, and the crossing was pretty calm, compared to the Southern Ocean!

Blair Atholl to Brora to Scrabster

23 April 2017 | Orkney
Blair campsite stayed really quiet overnight. We both agreed it would not have been so agreeable in high season, in summer school holidays. We did not take advantage of the discount card we had been given to tour the castle, but got straight back on to the infamous A9 for the next leg of our journey.

Weather was mostly fair with slight rain showers as we drove on up this mixture of single and dual carriageways, and road works. We pulled off the road at Newtonmore, and sought out the house of friends Denyse and Lilias. We had not been there before, but found it quite easily, parked, and rang the doorbell a couple of times. When no reply came, and we knew there was no car parked at the front of the house, we gave up and headed on north. With hindsight we should have gone round the back, but hey, that's hindsight for you. Turned out later they had been in, but hadn't heard the doorbell. An opportunity missed.

We drove on north via Kingussie, and moved through country we both knew well, as far as Grantown on Spey, then unknown sections towards Forres. Rolling upland moors, magnificent in sunshine. Our satnav, Jim, took us to our campsite, right beside what was RAF Kinloss, at Findhorn. There, in the corner of the airfield, sits a solitary Nimrod, part of the legacy of the last government (DC's), which decided to ground all the Nimrods while they built newer better ones. Then they decided against that, and scrapped the machines being built. One of the finest long distance ocean search planes ever built.

The campsite is run by the Findhorn community, and while the facilities are a little tired, it suited our needs well enough. It was quite busy, families with small children and lots of dogs. One group had a fascinating wigwam shaped tent, with a cone of tent material at the top which could be raised for ventilation, or closed for rain. There were great dog walks, on the beach of the bay, or towards the sea. I was walking Jack along a gravel road when a four by four towing a trailer with a digger passed me, and stopped. A man got out, wearing country ranger type gear, and I thought I was going to be told off for using a private road. To my amazement he knelt down in front of Jack and started petting him, asking if he was a Schnauzer! We had alively conversation about dogs, after which he got back in his vehicle and drove away. Jack had given him. Great welcome, tail wagging etc.

Saturday morning arrived, and we set off for a rendezvous with an old colleague of mine at Brodie Castle, just outside Forres. Jennifer is an NTS guide to the castle, and had offered us a personal tour followed by tea and scone in the tearoom. It was great to see her after nearly twenty years. She and I used to work on the Women into Management courses for Lothian Region teching staff. She hasn't lost her touch, and the tour of this remarkable castle was a real eye-opener to how the Scottish aristocracy got started. She showed us a tiny fragment of paper with handwriting on it, from the 13 hundreds, written on behalf of Robert the Bruce, granting Brodie his lands. Apparently it had been found by accident when it fell out of one of the many thousands of books in the library. And the family lived there all throught the centuries until 1980 when it was handed over to the National Trust for Scotland. I heartily recommend a visit, the pintings, the books, the ceramics, it is a treasure of all the stuff a family of rich collectors could put together, and because it was handed over in time, those are all still there.

We thanked Jennife for her tour, and the rip to the tearoom, having caught up on her news, the most sensational of which is that her daughter recently became the first female chief adinistrator at Gordonstoun!

The road took us to inversneckie, then over the Kessock Bridge on to the Black Isle, then off again northwards past the Glenmorangie Distillery, over the bridge on the Dornoch Firth, nd on to Golspie, where we stopped at the Coop for supplies. Our campsite was a few miles further on, in Brora, a little hard to find but we got there eventually, despite Jim getting muddled. It is a certificated site of one of our two club memberships, and is pretty basic. Loos but no showers. It is actually in the grounds of a former military radio station, a listening post for GCHQ, no less. The view is spectacular, sea and distant glimpse of the Moray shore.

It is amazing how easily we slip back into the familiar routine of life in the campervan. In Little Else I used to love that part of the day whn the journey was over, the boat was at anchor or moored up, and it had morphed from vehicle into home again. Exactly the same with the campervan. Reg takes us where we want to go, then Ju sets off with Jack for a walk while I pop up the roof, turn the front seats, stow all the bulky items like the dog crate and the Cobb in the roof space, then cover the driving seat with Jack's rug and towel because that is his space when we are parked. Then it feels like home. The electric hookup means we can recharge iPads and iPhones, and run the small fan heater we carry for cooler evenings.

There is no site wifi here, but we carry the same antenna and wifi booster kit that worked so well for us on the boat. And it does work on PCs. Unfortunately we are having a real problem with the Alfa software that came with the kit we have to use with Apple devices, as they have no USB port. We scan and can see lots of local wifi connections, it appears to connect, th n inexplicably drops out half way through the rebooting process. This we are going to have to fix. And soon. Any suggestions anyone?

A pleasant drive from Brora to Thurso and Scrabster across more upland moors, with enough wind farms to power a large chunk of the country, and huge substations to help it all on to the grid. The wind is increasing, but we decided to make the hop today before it gets any stronger, and the crossing was pretty calm, compared to the Southern Ocean!
Vessel Name: Reg
Vessel Make/Model: Toyota Hiace Regius
Hailing Port: Ardfern, Argyll, UK
Crew: Liz MacInally, Ju Randall, Bagshaw, Jack
About: Liz and Ju are co-driver/navigators, and Bagshaw is our mascot. Jack is our miniature schnauzer.
Extra:
We sailed the west coast, round the islands and over the Minch to the Outer Hebrides, weather permitting. From 2008 to 2010 we rented out the house, moved aboard, and sailed south to the Algarve. IN 2011 we sailed the west coast and north as far as Orkney. In 2012 we sailed local waters. In [...]
Reg's Photos - Little Else's Blog (Main)
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About us

Who: Liz MacInally, Ju Randall, Bagshaw, Jack
Port: Ardfern, Argyll, UK