We arrived at Aberdeen with a suitcase full of dirty clothes. The first point of business was to find a laundromat, which we did in a shopping mall and left our washing there on the understanding that we would collect it the following day.
In Aberdeen we were to meet an old (in every sense of the word) policing pal of hubby’s who now lived on the Island of Yell in the Shetland Islands and was making the 12 hour plus ferry trip to spend a few days with us. If you have ever watched the television series Shetland you will have some idea of the rugged isolation of the Shetland Islands saved from constant icy conditions only by a warm North Sea current.
We had not organised accommodation since we would be with a “local” who surely would know somewhere to stay. However, we could not find any accommodation in Aberdeen for love nor money as everything was fully booked due to a long weekend and the workers from the oil rigs in the North Sea had descended on the mainland. I went to the Information Center for assistance and it was confirmed that indeed there was no room at the inn but if we were prepared to travel inland for about 50 miles we could all stay at a B&B in Ballater. And so we arrived in beautiful Ballater on the Dee River and just a stone’s throw away from Balmoral Castle.
The Queen was in residence at Balmoral so we were unable to tour the castle but the guard at the front gate informed us that once a year The Queen came to the front of the castle to review her Scottish Guard and as luck would have it, that once a year day was tomorrow. It was pretty spectacular and I got as close to Dear Liz as I am sure I will ever be.
We drove over the beautiful Cairngorm mountains to the Locks in search of Nessie, visited the Royal Lochnagar Whisky Distillery near Balmoral Castle, went through the Crathie Kirk which is the place of worship for the Royals whilst at Balmoral and throughly enjoyed the beautiful people and scenery of Ballater, population approximately 1500.
Whilst in Ballater I had my hair trimmed and the hairdresser said that the Royals, particularly the younger ones, are often seen on the street in Ballater and the lovliest part about that is everyone just accepts they are there on the summer break and visiting grandma and they are given the space to simply be.
After four days of exploring the Scottish highlands we were ready to turn south again but first we had to make a detour into Aberdeen to collect the clean laundry.