Another lovely Scottish week, with a mix of sunshine and rain, lots of wide open spaces, dolphins, puffins and Olympic excitement!

We drove up to Cromarty from Millport last Saturday and found our ‘home’ was right by the water and quite spacious. It had two bedrooms upstairs, a big dining living room, a good sized kitchen and a sun-room. I’ve always wanted a sun-room, so that was a feature I really enjoyed – so did the kids!

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Sunday we relaxed and went of a walk in the afternoon, looking for dolphins. We didn’t find any, but we did manage to meet a couple from England with children the same age as Daniel and Amy. They came back to our place for a coffee and the kids had a play. All in all much better even than dolphins!

Monday we debated about going up North for a drive because the weather looked great, but luckily we stuck to the weather forecast which said Tuesday was the best day, because we found out later that it absolutely hosed down up North for most of the day!

Instead we went into Inverness in the afternoon to look around and get some groceries. The main part of town was very appealing and we enjoyed wandering around. We found a other Dollar Value and bought the Cossey staples – coffee sachets for Dad, and tissues for Daniel (his hayfever is really bad over here!). I can’t believe the price of tissues over here in the supermarket – about 5NZD. Thank goodness for the pound shop! Amy loves it for the lollies and I get my hot chocolate!

Ok, just so you don’t think the only exciting thing about Inverness is the cheap tissues, let me say there were also some cool street entertainers!

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It was getting late when we remembered we had to still get the groceries so back to the car we went and made an attempt to leave the carparking building.. Oh uh… someone put a pillar [not a soft one for sleeping on, rather a concrete one] there right while Peter was reversing the car out and well, lets just say it wasn’t going to move…

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Ironic isn’t it, the widest car parks we’ve been in and that’s when we damage the car!

Well, we thought we better cheer ourselves up so we drove to Channory Point where the dolphins are renown for coming in after low tide. It was so exciting to see them! There were probably 5 or 6 and they kept coming up and diving down again to catch their dinner. We stayed there a long time in the rain, just watching them.

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The next day we drove up to John O’Goats. It was just like we’d remembered it from last time we’d been here, 20 years ago. The scenery was all rolling hills down to the sea, old stone buildings and even a castle or two..

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When we got to John O’Groats we met an older couple who had biked from Lands End to John O’Groats in two weeks. They did about 50 miles a day which made our 10 mile around Millport seem like a stroll!

We decided after that inspiration that we better do the short walk to the Stacks and I’m so glad we did. First we walked past steep cliffs which fell away to the sea. Perched on the edge of the cliff where nesting birds, most with them juvenile plummage.

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It was an incredible site to see. Next we spotted the Stacks themselves – they were impressive! I really loved the sight ! It had a big Wow factor.

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On the way back from the Stacks we went past the cliffs again and someone pointed out a puffin! I had a quick look then ran on to try to catch up with Daniel but he was too far ahead. By the time I got to him the Puffin had left.

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So we drove to another spot to try and see a Puffin for Daniel, but no luck…

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Next we drove onto Thurso and stopped and had some hot chips at a restaurant/bar. Watched the Olympics at the same time, Everywhere you go the Olympics is on! We even watch it home, we’re all feeling so much more sporty.. it’s great for our fitness I’m sure..

The next day was Wednesday, and pouring with rain, so we did blogs and a bit of school. Peter and Daniel went out to see the dolphins in the evening but didn’t see a thing!

They talked to someone who suggested they come back early the next morning so Thursday morning we found ourselves standing in the drizzle staring at the most amazing sight – lots of dolphins – but not just busy with breakfast dolphins, playful busy with breakfast dolphins. They kept jumping out of the water. It was surprising each time they did -we stayed there for about an hour until the dolphins had moved further in.

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We headed home to dry out and spent the day inside out of the rain again! Lots of computer time for every one!

Friday dawned with the sun shining! Unfortunately it seemed there was a bit of sightseeing blues hanging over us and it took awhile to decide where to go. In the end we figured we didn’t really want to look around a fort (even though it came highly recommended) so we just went for a drive around the little villages, stopping to see an old ruined cathedral, buy cakes from a bakery and get a coffee. We did attempt to find the Sutor Stacks guarding the entrance the firth. Unfortunately we ran out of path in the middle of a paddock full of scotch thistle which didn’t bode well for Daniel in his sandals. So our attempt was cut short, but it was nice to walk around in the mud and the sun. Reminded me of walking down the back of the farm along the muddy race when I was a kid Amy and Daniel both said they like the idea of being farmer, but only when the ground was dry. ‘Fraid they’re city kids at heart, and after nine months of self catering apartments I’m a bit concerned about how we’ll get them into a tent again..

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On the way home we tried to spot find more dolphins, but none were there. Skipped stones and wrote in the sand instead!

We got home from our exploring and packed up ready to move on the next day. Another fun week, but here’s hoping as we head south the sun shines a bit more…

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View from our window – remains of an oil rig!

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Cruise boat leaving the harbour

(Week 24: Saturday 28 July – Saturday 4 August 2012)