Travelling the North Coast 500

Day 2 of our ‘Northcoast 500 in Scotland trip has started fairly well. We’ve waved off MrytleBank Guest House in FortWilliam. The staff were very friendly, with their ‘wee this’ and ‘wee that’; the view from our room was stunning; and the facilities were excellent (just as well as we were all obliged to stay inside yesterday afternoon and channel hop between the cricket and the tennis.) The tyre swing was a hit with my kids (yes, I know they are allegedly grown up), so all is well in our world. The locals keep telling us to enjoy the beautiful weather, but I did nip into the town this morning to buy a new, very reasonably priced fleece, just in case the breeze picks up. We are in Scotland after all. We are really enjoying travelling the North Coast 500 with our grown up kids. 

My plan had been to wear my landrover t-shirt (a gift for Mick that was too small!) for a departure shot each morning in front of Lazarus, but I’ve realised that this will create a whiffy rather than cool vibe so I’m having to rethink that idea. I’m feeling a little nostalgic as I love this time with just the four of us, and travelling the North Coast 500 is great, but I’m wondering how much of this ‘same same’ we can have with the kids before the ‘different’ starts. I’m starting to wonder if we are quirky ‘holiday makers’ or if all families are like ours. What do you think?

Photos on this post all taken by the Flint Smith family.

How to Enjoy the North Coast 500

Same Same – Family

  • The Boss – Although Googlemaps can give Jane on the TomTom a run for her money, Mick stays loyal to Jane and resents any intrusion from Googlemaps (even though it is better!). In charge of driving and directions it is his task to find fun things to do, stop at viewpoints and point out landmarks and points of interest. All of which instead of being grateful for, we mock. As fount of all knowledge he knows what places are known for and why they are important. I seldom listen. This morning for example he explained to Betsy the intricate engineering of the locks at Neptune’s Stairs. Betsy listened politely, and I dare say even with a modicum of interest, but me and Annie wandered off! Let’s be honest, that was a reasonable thing to do.
  • The Food – I am in charge of car snacks, though I seem to have relegated this task to Annie. I have her in the back seat preparing, cutting, and making sandwiches, (or this morning, buttering my mum’s marvellous plum bread) for everyone. It has been noted that I perhaps eat the lion’s share. The others have actually just left the car to enjoy the view at one of the aforementioned beauty stops, and I have been specifically told not to eat the whole pack of the bite size twirls we’ve just opened.
  • The Photos – Family photos have always featured a lot on our trips, but what with all the family having their phones to hand and Mick having not just a phone but also a camera the size of a small fort, (phone for people, camera for views!) the photo taking is never ending. ‘Annie’ on her own, ‘Betsy’ on her own, ‘Annie and Betsy’ together, ‘Mum, Annie and Betsy’ together, ‘Dad, Annie and Betsy’ together and the occasional dodgy selfie, means we outstay our welcome at all beauty spots! 
  • The Young at Heart: Harry Potter – We’ve based many of our trips around the kids’ and our love of Harry Potter, visiting the theme park in Florida and Warner Bros Studio just outside London. A highlight of our drive this morning was a deviation to Glenfinnen Viaduct which features in the Chamber of Secrets film. It is the moment where Ron and Harry find themselves driving to school and losing control of Arthur Weasley’s blue Ford Anglia. Mick and I were overcome with excitement (I nearly wrote nearly wetting ourselves, but decided it was too coarse) and the girls enjoyed it too.
  • The Irreverence – Part of lots of our trips has been museums, galleries, castles, forts and so on. Mostly they are fun, but sometimes to be honest, you can have too much of a good thing. Today I was heartened by our whole families’ irreverence to the important historical monument in Glenfinnen. A look from afar was sufficient. Does it matter if you go to a POI (Place of Interest) for its original reason or because of a Potter association? It looks like I’m going to have to amend yesterday’s post and add being a Grade B tourist to it. Though, perhaps I can just claim that I’m being authentic!
  • Music – The same dodgy collection of The Sound of Music, 80s hits, and Mamma Mia (replaced Abba) songs are belting out as sing-a-longs. I love this part of road trips. Betsy has introduced Elton John after her and Mick recently enjoyed the film Rocketman at Mega Bangna in Bangkok.

Different – Family

  • The Environment – So nothing much changes on our holidays. But this trip I’ve noticed that we are a bit more aware of the environment (yes the irony that we are travelling in a fuel guzzling vehicle is not lost on me.) We have been filling our reusable bamboo-made cups, (I’ve noticed they are for sale in all gift shops too and motorway service stations), refusing straws and suggesting to guesthouses that they relinquish their use of  individually wrapped butter sachets and condiments.
  • The Swearing – It has come to my attention that Betsy swears like a trooper and even Annie has started to slip the odd word into the conversation. This never happened when they were small. Their father is unimpressed, but in my attempt to be down with the kids I’m just joining in -or setting the example!
  • The Better Tempered 50 Year old Mum – I have to admit when the kids were little I might have occasionally got a little bit grouchy-only a bit honest! Mick’s bossiness (I mean great organisation) used to irritate me, whereas now I really am grateful that he cares enough to plan us fab holidays. It is also hard work looking after two little kids, whereas now they look after me! What’s not to like?

Times ticks on, circumstances change, but just for now as we drive along a very windy and quite bumpy road to Loch Carron I’m going to focus more on the ‘Same Same’ and not think too far ahead to the ‘Different.’

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