Bernie Bell: Bernie & Mike’s Road Trip – Spring 2017

Bernie Bell (small bear) and Mike go on a road trip

Aaaaaall sorts!

 Friday 5th May – continued.  To Fortrose – it’s golfers, caravanners and municipal tidiers saying “No” – we mustn’t’ go here, and we mustn’t go there.  Come The Revolution…………..

Rosemarkie Fairy Glen woods

Photo B Bell

On to Rosiemarkie, which is Fortrose’ much nicer counter-part.  Walk at Fairy Glen, paying respects to Spirit of Place at waterfall at head of valley.

Talk with man who used to own the big house in the valley, and his great little Jack Russell, Corry .  He says she “has no vices, but hates cats”.

Excellent veg curry at The Plough Inn , Rosiemarkie.

Gaze briefly at vast expanse of red-brown sand at Udale Bay before departing for Helmsdale.

 Arrive at Belgrave Arms Hotel, given same room we have had before – can see it’s half of what was a much larger  room – evident from the shape of the ceiling and position of the ceiling boss. (BB – The Belgrave Arms is a building of much history – an old coaching inn – if you stay there, and get the chance, talk with Wendy and hear about the canon-ball found under the floor when they had work done on the bar. Also – what was found under the floor-boards in one of the bedrooms!  Honestly – it’s a hoot!).

Dinner at ‘La Mirage’ – substantial!

Place lacks the mad charm it used to have, becoming more ordinary each time we go there.  Resolve to eat elsewhere next time.

Music from the bar still thumping away on our return to the hotel.  Bernie asks friendly bar-man if he could turn it down, which he does.  Bar quietens anyway, after we settle, and we get a good night’s sleep.

Saturday 6th May – Wendy, landlady of Belgrave Arms, tells us of her holiday in Vietnam – it was to celebrate her birthday. Interesting parallels between current social traditions in Vietnam, and some Neolithic practices. Bernie’s Stories: Death Days – Past and Present

Spent morning exploring the surroundings – harbour and north up the coast, following path past the lobster ponds.  Mad knitting brightening up the tree trunks and fence posts outside ‘The Garrison’ craft and curios shop

Yarn Bombing

Photo B Bell

Bernie gets glass paper-weight and discusses collecting ‘crap-off-the-beach’ with the proprietor – shows her the treasure we have picked up on the beach that morning.

(BB – another fellow ‘junk’ collector).

Lunch outside , by the river at ‘Timespan’

Then over the bridge to find the beach “covered in egg-shaped stones of many colours” described by the lady in ‘The Garrison’.  This we find, and it’s very lovely, though the stones are not quite as perfectly egg-shaped as advertised!

river at Helmsdale

Photo B Bell

Bernie and Mike continue their road trip.  Follow the Orkney News to keep apace with them …….

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4 replies »

  1. I was up through Fortrose and in the Fairy Glen a while ago. Lovely part of the country.
    And La Mirage. Such a bizarre place. There should be a sitcom based around it. Way way too much food.

  2. I’m not sure if the sitcom would work, now, but it might have been a good idea, some years ago! Do you know the story of ‘La Mirage’? The lady who owned it and set it up, was a friend of Barbara Cartland, and shared her flamboyant tastes. When she died, he son took over the restaurant. He’s a bit of a character himself – I don’t think he’ll mind my saying so – you could have a look at the website for his B&B, the ‘Shangri-La’ which is just up the road from La Mirage. Unfortunately, when he sold the restaurant, he took a lot of the interesting/fun items with him.
    To be fair, anyone going to La Mirage for the first time, now, would be pleased with it – it is a pleasant place, bright and cheerful, with good food ( if a bit wasteful) – but we have the memories of how it was, so …………..

    And, talking of strange encounters – here’s a true story of a somewhat surreal experience we had, here on Orkney, at the Broch of Gurness. I’ve already ‘written it up’, as I sent it to Martin Carruthers, of UHI – archaeologist and ‘Brochman Extraordinaire.’

    A strange juxtaposition………
    A couple of years ago, Mike and I were meaning to walk through the Broch of Gurness, to go along the coastal path which can be accessed through the gate at the far side of the Broch. As we entered the Broch enclosure we saw a number of people, some with film cameras, and there was a general air of activity and anticipation. A man approached and asked us would we mind waiting a little while before continuing our walk. He explained that Jedward were in the broch, and were about to emerge any minute, and, as the cameras would be filming, it would be best if we’d stand aside. This seemed like a pretty strange proposition – Jedward/Iron Age fortified dwelling. But, we stood aside and chatted with the man, then……sure enough, Jedward emerged from the Broch! and started to skitter about, as Jedward do. Picture it – I think surreal is the right word for what we were experiencing!
    After a short flurry of activity, the man thanked us for our patience, and said it was OK for us to continue on our way.
    He’d completey fallen in love with Orkney and, while we were waiting for the emergence of Jedward from the Broch ( did you ever think you’d read that sentence?), he was asking what life is like here – work opportunities etc. We were very positive and enthusiastic, as always. I don’t know if he followed up on it, or if he was kept busy following Jedward.
    Truth really can be stranger than fiction.

    • The editor of this very esteemed publication was filmed with Jedward at Skara Brae taking them round the village. Lovely lads who were amazed at my hair!

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