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Saturday 15th September 2018

Left home just before 10, pretty much on schedule remarkably enough . . . .

Had a pretty clear and easy run up the M1-M6-M74, stopping a bit north of Birmingham for tea/coffe/snack and again in Cumbria and just south of Glasgow. Nice roads to Comrie and the Satnav took us right to the door.

Flat is very nice - clean, comfy and spacious with everything we need and more. Rustled up steak and new potatoes and a mountain of cabbage that needed using up plus more veg for a right good feast. Fairly early night after a long-ish day.

A good day - pretty easy and relaxed journey - weather mostly ok with a few showers.

We're keeping a close eye on Storm Helene that is curently forecast to bring 40-50mph winds right on top of our first planned ferry journey on Tuesday. Possibilities of either a very rough crossing or even a cancelled crossing.

402 miles today: 402 miles total

Sunday 16th September 2018

All slept very well. Quick coffees and teas and loaded up and on the road about 1030.

Very nice relaxed and gentle journey to and through the Cairngorms. Stopped for an excellent soup/roll lunch at a cafe/hotel. Got a bit low on fuel with no garages anywhere, but made it to Elgin ok. Filled up fairly empty tank with pricey fuel = £90!

We'd arranged to be met at the Lossiemouth flat for check-in at 1530 and all was ok. Flat is again very nice - and again, clean, comfy and spacious with everything we need and more.

Had a cuppa and settled in and Dad phoned Sandy to arrange a visit - in 20 mins. We'd already noted that we're very close to Sandy, closer than I'd thought. Drove up the road to Sandy's road to look for his house, and found it immediately - right there ! Our flat was still clearly in sight down the road - barely 100m away !!

Had a cup of tea and a good chat with Sandy, and left after an hour or so with plans to pick him up around 7 to go out for a meal. Back to the flat for snoozing and getting ready.

Picked Sandy up at 7 drove round the corner to The Stotfield Hotel. Had a very nice meal and chat, and headed across the road to the Golf Club for a couple of drinks and more chat. Packed up around 1030, dropped Sandy home and back to the flat. Very nice evening. Total 4-stop evening drive was probably less than a mile :-)

Showery and rainy most of the day/evening but not terrible.

Arranged to have a day out tomorrow with Sandy, picking him up around 11-ish.

Prospects for Tuesday's ferry are looking slightly better today. The worst of the winds seem to be later now with "only" 21mph winds forecast for our crossing, and the 40+mph winds starting just a few hours later.

150 miles today: 552 miles total

Monday 17th September 2018

Up the road to pick Sandy up at 1115. We set off west to see the Covesea lighthouse but confused each other with directions and missed it. Carried on through the coastal villages of Hoperman and Burghead. Had a little walk around the point at Burghead, looking down at the harbour and briefly visiting a tiny museum. Stopped in Burghead "The Bothy" cafe for tea. Carried on through Hempriggs and Kinloss and out to Findhorn with Sandy leading us down obscure roads and explaining the history of the villages. Drove around Findhorn bay and into Forres where Sandy directed us to the very nice, tucked away, Mosset Tavern, and treated us all to a very nice lunch.

Back in the car and took a more inland route through lovely countryside back to Lossiemouth via Raffid, Kellas and Elgin. Dropped Sandy at home about 1630, with plans to pick up again at 1930, and went back to the flat. Dad snoozed, Mum crossworded and rested. I went for a walk on the beach and went up past the lighthouse to Primrose Bay and back. Very nice walk, not too wet, not too windy, sea was flat-calm, seals bobbing their heads not far out, loads of birds, etc. - 6 miles.

Picked Sandy up at 1930 and went to Golf Club for drinks (nobody hungry after our big lunch). Had a few drinks and chatted for a few hours. Took Sandy home and got home ourselves about 2200.

A very nice day. Sandy really seemed to enjoy his runabout and lunch, and we did too.

Prospects for Tomorrow's ferry are about the same. The forecast suggests that we're due to arrive on the Isle of Lewis about 3.5 hours before the strong winds arrive.

61 miles today: 613 miles total

Tuesday 18th September 2018

Mum and Dad were up in good time and ready to go when Sandy arrived about 1100. I caught up and joined them for a coffee and a last chat. Dad showed Sandy the video of his Royal Navy recruitment ad, and Sandy told us he'd appeared in one around 1960 or so. Said cheerio to Sandy and he went on his way.

Loaded up the car and got on the road at midday as planned. Gentle drive to Inverness where we stopped and shopped to stock up the next house - not very sure how far the nearest shops will be.

Relaxed drive through lovely scenery including mountains and lochs, etc. The weather was fairly solid rain but got a bit better as we went along.

Received a text to say the ferry was delayed by 90 mins. Oh well, at least it's sailing. Received another text to say, ignore that, the ferry is delayed by just 30 mins.

Arrived in Ullapool around 1500 so have 2 hours to spare. Filled the car up - expecting fuel to be expensive on the islands. Checked the car in and went to get something to eat. Stopped at the first pub as it was raining and had a decent pie n chips, pie n mash, fish cakes lunch.

Onto the ferry and we set off about 1815. Found some comfy seats on the Observation Deck and settled in. I was just pointing out to Dad that we were running over someone's buoy when a dolphin jumped across in front of us. A comfortable crossing - we, thankfully, did beat the weather.

Got off the ferry at Stornoway around 2100 and had an easy 40min journey over decent roads that narrowed down to single track towards the end. Found the house easily and quickly got in. The wind was blowing quite hard by this time so we had to be a bit careful going up the exposed steps to the house.

The house is fairly basic/rustic but it's very nice - we love it. Put the heating on and it very quickly warmed up and got cosy. Wind got stronger, rain got heavier, and there was quite a storm blowing by midnight.

Another good day. Saw Sandy off nicely, good car and ferry journies, and we made it to Lewis ! And the house looks great - can't wait to see the views in daylight.

120 miles today: 733 miles total