Published: May 21st 2011April 4th 2011
And they're off
Our first car ride out of town. A little grey but gorgeous. We learned to dress better too.
Well, we've been in Inverness for a long time and figured we've posted about a lot of our trips out, but very little about the time we've actually spent in and around our temporary home. Here's a wee shout out to this town, and the wonderful people we've met while here (unfortunately not all of them, just some who left the biggest impressions).
We arrived here September 4th, 2010 with no plans other than 'find work' and 'find somewhere to live'. We were exhausted after our 2 months of traveling and wound up lazing around most of the time. While slothing around the hostel we got to know the lads that worked there a little; there was managing Aussie Jeremy, Welsh Hywel (pronounced 'howl' from what we could tell), and another Aussie Lachie. There were also a couple others that had been staying at the hostel for a long time before we arrived that we got to know; Geoff and Max. Geoff was a great guy who could live off of the 20 hours of work a week that he did. As a result, he could always tell you where the best deals on food were, and where the best
Ooo, Ooo, a Cooo!!
Yup you betcha. A real picture of a real live highland Cou
walks were. There was no equal to living cheaply and staying off pogey. Geoff also gave the impression that we was as close to being OCD about cleanliness as one could be while still living in a hostel environment. He had his other particularities (but who doesn't??) and they all were all things you would learn to get used to, or ignore. Max has been here for a long time as well. No one really knows what he does, but he seems well educated, and definitely has strong opinions about anything he's knows a little about. He tended to keep to himself mostly and only rarely spent time in the common areas of the hostel.
By the time we had been in Inverness a few weeks, we'd both made a few applications for jobs; a couple cafes, a restaurant or two, kiltmakers. Neither of us was having much luck until Ashley was walking down the street and saw a help wanted sign in a window. She went in, dropped off a CV and spoke with Colin; she was to go back that afternoon so that she could meet his better (or other) half, Sandy. Since Ashley was set the
At least the Zig provided a good photo op; no??
day after her walk in, Dan figured it was time to get his butt in gear. Hywel was leaving the hostel and Jeremy and Lachie had been suggesting Dan take the job. Wanting something a little more authentically Scottish Dan had been hesitant, but the hammer'd come down and the money was... well, money. He applied an low and behold he got it!!! Now we could live in the staff room; Dan 'working' full time, and Ashley cleaning for accommodation. We shared the room with Lachie, who would come in later than us usually; and took a while to get comfortable with Dan's asleep head lifts and grunts when he got back.
We spent the first little while very excited about all the things we'd be able to do in the highlands; walk the Great Glen Way, climb Ben Nevis, catch Nessy, eat Haggis, all the finer things in life. Mid September we headed to the Colluden Battlefeild where the Government finally won a (and the
) battle against the Jacobite uprising of 1745. It would have been a crappy place for a fight, but the exhibit was exceptionally well done; showing the history of both sides in great detail.
Start your engines
Not really. This was the 'end' of the Great Glen Way. Just so happened that's where we started from.
We spent nearly 4 hours there, Dan engrossed the whole time.
A couple days later we took a ride with Lachie and one of the guests who had rented a car. We didn't know where we were going other than 'west'. It was our first taste of the remote Highlands, and we were thoroughly hooked. It was also Dan's first meeting with a Highland Coo, and driving on the wrong side of the road. It wasn't the most beautiful weather, but it's Scotland and we expected a little greyness and rainyness.
In early October we went on a highly recommended (by Geoff) walk to the end of the canal in town. Well, almost. Dan insisted on taking a zig where we should have zagged and we wound up at the Old Ferry Port; also a beautiful view point, just not the one we set out for. October was also the first of too many farewells; Jeremy (or Jezza; aussie's are weird like that) was leaving. While we only spent a month living and working with Jeremy, his coconut-haircare, guitar playing, and massive appetite have most definitely left a grand ol' imprint on us. It did open the door
I want to ride my...
Just a couple hour ride from town to the Loch. Of course we did it on the most dangerous day that week.
however for Scott (the Kiwi) to come back to Inverness and become manager; first things first, a proper bed frame for the manager's room (no more mattress on the floor but it broke days later). Scott quickly left a mark by getting the first officially unofficial pub crawl of the season going. We started the Great Glen way near the end of the month, making only a couple hours progress before turning around due to shortening daylight hours; But we did find the Xylophone at the picnic area in the Dunain Forest that we couldn't believe that Lachie, Scott, and Rosi had found. We also visited 'Malice in Wonderland' at Halloween which was held on the Ness Islands (those in the middle of Ness river). Ashley had gone opening night and returned to show Dan, and pet a giant dog. It was a great little evening put on by the artsyist of the fartsyiest in Inverness.
November began on a high note with a hike with Wow-Scotland, run by Gordon, a friend of the Hostel. He took us and a crew up to Glen Affric (not to be confused with famous persons of a similar name). Again, the weather
Ashley and Mom
Our first overseas visitors were Ashley's mom and Nana. Here they are on our first big drive.
was less than stellar, but Gordon pulled it off by getting us to the drier areas and giving a great commentary. This also happened to be the month of the returning tree planters. We got to meet Loic, Rikki, and Danny for the first time. All great guys and awesome artists; all musically, some in the kitchen, others on paper. Such a cool group of guys, definitely enriched our lives. Ashley's mom and nana were our first visitors in November. It was a wonderful week with them there. We loved having the opportunity to share a slice of our alternate life with them. They were also able to show us around to parts of the Highlands we would have been unlikely to visit otherwise. Nearer the end of the month we took the 8 mile bike ride out to Dores, on the southern, less popular side of Loch Ness. It was a tough ride, but well worth it. Dores is a teeny-tiny town with the one inn (delicious food and great drink) right at the beginning of the loch. There we survived a duck attack (silly us for pulling out the cookies) only too risk our lives on the bike
In November when we hadn't seen snow here yet. We were just looking in the wrong place; needed to be checking in the Cairngorms.
ride back when the fog and flurries rolled in (don't worry we didn't die). Dan was able to try out a guests bagpipes during this month. There's a movie, but it's painful to watch. If we figure out how to edit it down from the 9 minutes and rotate it we'll see what we can do about posting it somewhere.
December culminated in a grand feast at the hostel. After a hearty night out Christmas-Eve, we staff set to work preparing a Christmas feast. Who-pudding, roast beef, and who-hash. Dan had begun preparing the egg-nog the night before and it was ready by mid day. Most people hadn't had egg-nog before, and the recipe/ingredients had most people skeptical. After the first sip most people could hardly believe it; it was delicious but filling, most people had a hard time finishing their pint... wusses. Lachie and Scott worked on sangria, for those watching there waist lines and wanting to pretend drinks can be healthy. Unfortunately Ashley's Christmas eve festivities were debilitating and she wasn't able to help much with prep. We wound up having ham, chicken, and turkey, salads, and 3 or 4 types of potatoes. Ted, Mark, and Olessia
Whip it good!!!!
Lachie finally using his pipes for good; EGGNOG!!!!!
also helped with prep, and Markus did desert. All told we fed around 20 people and made more than a few peoples' Christmas away easier to bare; it definitely made it more bearable for Dan, who's probably never had a Christmas of less than 15 people. For hogmanay (New Years) we gathered a crew from the hostel to head down to the park in order to see the Red Hot Chilli Pipers
!!!!!! We were a little late for them, but we caught the Peatbog Faeries
who played us through to the new year.
January was when we had our first big trip
out of Inverness (well, we did go to Nuremberg in December but it was only a couple days so it didn't really count); a week in Gran Canaria. January we met Paul who livened the hostel up with his all day drinking. We're pretty sure he was up all night and would usually offer whoever was on reception a morning beer. Those who weren't working were usually asked to go to the bottle shop for him. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't a fall down drunk, just always a little rosy cheeked; fun guy though. We also
Part of the Christmas Buffet
One counter just wasn't enough.
started getting into Cricket. Scott is a big proponent of the sport and the Ashes Tournament was on. You could count on the TV being tuned in most mornings to catch the action. As North Americans we'd had so little exposure to the game, but it really is rather entertaining. The main event for this month however, was Lachie's departure. He had some important traveling around South America to do before heading home, but that's hardly any excuse (nevermind that his visa was going to expire so he would've been booted out the country anyways). We would quickly come to miss Lachie's candor and all his strange stories; and something that sounds like 'I'll go'!!! Fortunately (?) where one Aussie leaves a space, another is right there to fill it; enter Matt stage right. We hadn't had a chance to meet our new roomie before he was hired, but we knew we could count on Scott and Lachie to make the right choice. Matt was another traveler, fluent in guitar, and of an age with the rest of our crew. He accidentally enjoy a few nights at one of the clubs in town, Love 2 Love; but he was new
One more satisfied customer
Mr. Mark (or just Mark to his friends) plated up for Christmas.
so we let it slide.
February was a low key month with our trip to Portugal breaking up our attempts at saving money. Upon our return we meet Jan. She was a lively kiwi who helped out a lot around the hostel. She spent a few months long terming and left shortly before we did. We also had our 1 night trip down to Stirling.
March was crazy busy. First off it was the World Cup of Cricket, in which Canada did have a team. Unfortunately due to the way cricket is not funded in Canada, the team only gets together to play in the World Cup; no practice time. We didn't do a lot of winning, but we certainly did a good job calling successful challenges; best in the competition last I heard. It turned into a big thing around the hostel, there being so many different nationalities. It was amazing how far New Zealand made it, must have been a lot of match fixing (I joke, I joke, I kid, I kid). Tente and Juan showed up during this month as well. Two Spanish blokes keen on learning English. Tente could nearly make you mad with
Let the feast begin
No one actually had to say it, it just sorta happened. Talk about a family substitute; all shapes and sizes were there.
all his questions; until you took the time to help him out and understand him. It was fun trying to teach him tongue twisters and proper use of words. You never really notice how ridiculous the English language is until you try to explain it expression by expression. Dan is probably one of the most confusing people to learn English from since he doesn't always use real words or expressions. With St Patrick's Day came a party of course. Car bombs and Guiness to your heart's content; but Ashley preferred the Bailey's (we still had some leftover from the half price bottles at Morrisons's a few weeks before). Our last adventure with the crew was a walk around the Black Isle (from Fortrose, along the beach to Rosemarkie. Scott showed off his inukshuk making skills trying to outdo the girl from Prince Edward Island. He was working so hard on it he even let Tente feed him a sandwich while his work kept his hands busy. The hard part of the hike was an uphill climb for about 10 minutes and then we ran into some horses. Everyone got attached to them and wanted to pet them for hours on
Down, Down we go
This was the first trip by the drinking club with a walking problem; headed by our very own Jan Donut.
It was up and around Fortrose.
end. Our walk ended with a pint at the pub. What better way to end the day. That is until we thought of walking to the Black Isle Brewery which brews organic beer meer miles from Inverness. The walk was long but the end result was a tour of the brewery and a modest tasting. And the boys bought some beer for the way home.
April was short spent in Inverness, but we did meet Gus, Dan's replacement. Another Aussie (surprise!!!!!) who is not a girl. Jan left very early in the month :_(, but we did get to say good-bye to her.
On the fourth we left Inverness after a great lunch with Scott, Matt, and Nicolette at the Mustard Seed.
So all tolled, we met great people and had a blast.
So, a final recap of our favorite things to do in and around Inverness (in no particular order):
- Rent a car and get lost
- Try to see Dolphins by the Lighthouse in Fortrose
- Walk, walk, walk
- Try whisky (a few, there might be one you like hidden in there somewhere)
- Enjoy a Crabbie's Ginger Beer while watching Billy Morrison play in Market
No leggy, leggy, leggy; but the boys at our farewell meal at the Mustard Seed.
- Have a 'Black Isle (Blonde/Red Kite/Heather Honey/Yellowhammer) Ale' in Hootanannay's while enjoying the live music
- Enjoy any and all sunshine to the fullest
- Chat with the locals
- Try some samples at Oil & Vinegar
- Eat at the Mustard Seed
There are more photos below