Things were a little anticlimactic after we left the Highlands as the landscape became flatter and less interesting. We did enjoy a visit to Castle Dunrobbin where we watched a very impressive falconry display. We have seen similar shows before, but nothing that matched this. The display involved a number of different birds of prey and was accompanied by an excellent commentary.
Further south the Spey Valley gave us a chance to visit the Glenfiddich whiskey distillery. There is a well travelled whiskey trail through the valley which has any number of distilleries. I am by no means a fan, but still found the tour interesting, and even enjoyed the tastings.
After farewelling Heather and Robert we had three days in Aberdeen as Chris wanted to check family records there. It is a very grey city, built entirely in the local granite. On a sunny day it was attractive, especially around our leafy suburb, but the effect was gloomy when the mist settled in. We were there three days and on each, the day ended with sea fog coming in from the east and enveloping the place. Out on the coast visibility was virtually zero.
A bright note in Aberdeen was added by a Kaffe Fasset exhibition at the local art gallery. He works primarily with textiles and in very lively, cheerful colours which I love – weaving, tapestry, knitting, embroidery, patchwork, rugs… It was all fun, though some of the embroidered pictures I found bordering on kitsch.
Chris continued his checking of archives in Edinburgh while I wandered the streets and gardens. Edinburgh is a city I have never really warmed to. As with Aberdeen I find the greyness dampens my mood. I walked down a long pedestrianised street which in any other part of the world would have been full of cafes, sun umbrellas and general cheer. Here it was full of pubs, mostly empty during the day though theoretically open for lunch and drinks. Some outside seats, no umbrellas, and a faint seediness. Princes St gardens were a better option for relaxing, especially with the sun shining. On a free morning we walked up Arthur's Seat hoping for a great view. It was certainly expansive, and it was good to be in the fresh air again, but the interesting parts of the city were quite distant.
Our last few days were marred by major problems with the rental car company. We have since heard that the company in question, Europcar UK, have a bad reputation, and strongly recommend that people avoid using them. We will certainly never do so again.