Here we are, in the home stretch! I'm sure you're about as happy to stop reading about this as I am to stop writing about it. I'm still finding my writing groove….
Day 8 - This was a DRIVING DAY. I hate being in the car for longer than a couple of hours at a time, so this day was not good, mostly. We had an early breakfast at the guesthouse, after another mediocre night of sleep, then we hit the road! We took a different route south than we had on our way north, driving through the Cairngorms towards Perth. All went pretty well, except for the odd bathroom break, until our GPS tried to direct us off our beaten path onto a route which appeared to lead northwards again. Well, we were having none of that! We decided we knew better and turned back around so we were heading toward Perth again. What we didn't notice until a fair bit later was that the time to destination on the GPS jumped 2 hours when we did that. Yeah, that's how we roll. We stopped for lunch somewhere in the Lowlands, close to the border. Andrew ordered scampi (I think) & I ordered a burger. Turns out the burger takes 30 min to cook, which they bloody well could have warned patrons about on the menu. If I'd known it would take that long I'd have ordered something else, as we were anxious to get back on the road. We asked some fellow patrons in the pub for directions as to how to get going towards the west coast again (our self-imposed detour had us heading towards the east coast) and hit the road yet again, our GPS taunting us all the way (telling us to head the way she wanted us to go). We finally turned the GPS off until we hit the motorway. After leaving Inverness at 8am, we finally arrived in Hereford at 7pm. Blech. Anyway, as luck would have it, I had booked the best accommodation for that night, a small boutique hotel (Castle House) that I believe was made from 2 or 3 18th century townhouses. It was an oasis to us. They showed us to our room, carrying our suitcases for us. In the luxurious room there was a bowl of fresh fruit, a decanter of sherry, sparkling mineral water & a toiletry bag full of luxury toiletries (body butter, liquid soap & shampoo) - all on the house. We quickly freshened up & headed downstairs for dinner. We sat outside on the edge of the water (the only remaining part of the castle that was destroyed in the mid-1600s) for drinks & nibbles, and the waiter even took our order down by the water. Once our meal was ready he called us inside. The dinner was very yummy, most of the meat & produce was from the hotel owner's farm. After that it was an early night - Andrew was exhausted from driving and I was tired from having slept in the car most of the day. My life is so hard.
Day 9 - After a nice, but quick breakfast, we walked just down the street to Hereford Cathedral (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hereford_Cathedral). This is my favourite cathedral I've visited. It was fairly quiet, being a weekday & fairly early in the morning. I mean quite people-wise, not noise-wise. Almost the whole time we were there someone was playing the enormous pipe-organ, which was really spooky, kind of. It's hard to describe, but it really produces an emotional response in me, walking through a place that has been a house of worship for almost a thousand years, listening to music that sends chills up your spine. While we were there I lit another candle for my father (I had lit one at Westminster Abbey as well). Then we went to see the special chained library & Mappa Mundi exhibit. I just find it amazing to look at books & maps that people wrote & drew so long ago, to see the world how they saw the world. After that it was back in the car, on our way to Dorset, to see the attraction that was the whole reason Andrew brought me on this trip - Monkey World. To give you a little background, ever since we moved back to Canada I've been watching a show called Monkey Business, whenever it was on. This show is about the inhabitants of Monkey World - rescued chimpanzees, orangutans, gibbons, macaques, capuchin monkeys & other primates. They've been rescued from lives as photographers props (drugged, sometimes with their teeth pulled), pets, laboratory subjects, etc, and brought to a place where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace. We only got to spend 1.5 hours there but it was great to see the monkeys in person. They're so cute you can see why people would want them as pets, but it's just not the right thing for these wild animals. Then we checked into our B&B, headed out for some dinner, came back & watched a special Time Team episode about Stonehenge, and crashed.
Day 10 - Had a great home-cooked breakfast (for me - porridge - I love it, it doesn't love me back, not sure why I had it that day - fresh fruit & a freshly made croissant; for Andrew - poached egg, farm sausage, toast, mushrooms & tomato) and loaded our bags into the car for the last time. Managed to get to Gatwick in record time (well, less than the GPS said), offloaded the car, checked out bags in & had some lunch. After lunch we hit the duty-free shops (Andrew got some scotch & some cologne, I got a little something for myself) and then waited for our flight to be called. Then it was on to our not-so-nice flight (which I mentioned in a previous post, no need to revisit it here).
We picked up the kittehs the next day - Pippin was happy to see us & went straight into her carrier for the ride home (she loves her carrier, that one). Willow was a different story. She sat at the very back of her kennel & howled the riot act at us. Eventually Andrew had to crouch down & go in to get her. She's used to spending our vacations at my parent's place, but that wasn't possible this time, with my dad's surgery & all.
Now you're up to date!