Back in my own home once more and boy does it feel great to be back where everything makes sense.
As you know my flat was having a new bathroom fitted so I took off for Inverness during the renovations and I had a marvellous time. I stayed at the Youth Hostel in Inverness and this is the story.
The youth hostel in Inverness I know well so thankfully no smartphone require, it can be very confusing – Confucius say local knowledge is better than a smartphone.
Inverness itself is a gorgeous town, clean and inviting, all the big name shops have been relegated to the out-of-town shopping centre so the town has been given back to the local people and the numerous visitors that flock to the town, that was once the capital of Scotland.
Arriving late afternoon and after my bus ride, I decided to stretch my legs along the banks of the River Ness. Passing under the Ness Castle which was closed off as extensive work was being carried out;
you come to Edith Cavell Garden.
Edith Louisa Cavell was born on 4th December 1866; she was a nurse and is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides in the First World War 1914 – 1918. She did not discriminate between the two sides of the conflict and helped 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium, for this she was arrested under martial law, tried for treason, found guilty and shot by firing squad on the 12th October 1915. Her last words were
“Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred of bitterness towards anyone.”
It is not a big garden but kept in emasculate condition, as is Inverness itself, holding its head up alongside any European town or city.
Further along, the river bank I could not resist crossing the little bridge to the magical secret island, well maybe not so secret but certainly magical.
Crossing the river I walked back to the opposite bank
I visited the cathedral on the way. It is distinctive in that it has no spires and there is some controversy over whether it was designed in this way or as a cost-cutting exercise. One thing for sure is it has all the hallmarks of French architectural beauty, which you see all over Scotland when so many masons from France worked on the great cathedrals and churches, you will see similar fetchers at Dunfermline Abbey, Leuchars, and St Andrews.
Back to my billet for a freshen up then back into town for a meal and visit The Galleons, a pub in the centre of town with a reputation for good live music. On a large board were displayed the names of all the artists and bands that would be performing nightly over the month of July. Underneath it said,
‘All dates subject to change – Bloody Musicians’.
The next day was a special trip that I had promised myself for ages, a visit to Fort George. After Culloden and to stop any further risings the English built garrisons right across Scotland and Wade built his roads to move men and materials around the highlands, this was an Anglophone social structure acting as a form of cultural control and representing the main force of national and colonial oppression, intended to keep the Scots ‘doun – hauden’ (held down), in their own land. This was not unlike the experience of numerous other indigenous peoples such as the Maori, the Australian indigenous people, Bushmen and native North American,
They had taken by the sword and in the name of their lord.
So it was that I made Wetherspoons my first stop of the morning a large mug of tea and the promise buy one get the rest free, I was now set up for the short journey on the number 10 bus for Ardersier. This is a terminus for the bus so the next 2 kilometres would be on foot. The Ardersier Common would once have been just that common land that villagers could use to graze their animals, today it is a wildlife haven.
I followed the path that skirted the Moray Firth, the shore was pebble rather than sand and mostly the pebbles were flat, I could not resist skiffing stanes over the placate waters, boys will always be boys.
Nothing could prepare me for the size of the structure here at the extremities of the Ardersier peninsula; it is out of all proportion to the land it commands. Entering over the drawbridge the esplanade is vast and sheltered by high embankments so you are cooried down out of the wind that can blow fierce in these parts. The guard house as you enter through a tunnel under the wall, on the right the enlisted men and on the left the officers quarters,
Officers and men – In the Catherine Cookson novel The Wingless Bird, the young officer asks – Officers and Men, are Officers not Men? No, he is told we are young gods come down from Olympus.
Fort George is still an Army falsity but the more significant part is open to visitors and when I was here there were plenty of them. The main building is a military museum with regimental regalia from the time of Culloden to the present day, the guns that stand silent on the battlements are much as they are here in St Andrews made from fibreglass – replica which reminded me of the Goon Show sketch Dartmoor Prison.
Sound effect – feet stomping, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
Prison Guard – The prisoners are restless sir; they want to go on holiday
Warden – we can’t let the prisoner out to go on holiday
Prison Guard – no sir, we will take the prison with us
Warden – will it not be missed?
Prison Guard – we’ll leave a cardboard replica.
On my return, I took my fishing rod down to the river and cast from the bank. My second cast caught a lovely trout, and as I was about to put it back in the water, a lad standing close by asked, “If you do not want that fish I will have it”. I added two more to his plate – maybe I should have joined him for dinner.
My trip to Inverness was a great success and although the skies were mostly overcast, the winds were light and no rain spoiled my trip.
Arriving home is always welcome no matter how well the trip went, I really wanted to make a proper meal so armed with my trusty fork it was off to the garden to dig up a potato shaw or two. After dinner, I settled down to ‘In the heat of the night but by around 10pm tiredness had caught up with me, so it was time for bed.