Thursday, January 17, 2013

Christmas Adventures - Christmas on the Moray Firth

After waving a fond goodbye to Moffat, we began the four hour drive to Inverness. The scenery along the drive was so beautiful, and the roads were good - dual carriageways for almost the entire journey. The first part of the drive reminded us of driving through the Mackenzie Country and through the Waikari/Culverden areas of the South Island - altitude, hills, tussock, green grass and yellow fields. Stunning. 

Next was the beautiful (I'm running out of adjectives, Scotland!) Cairngorms National Park. The park has a tourist town called Aviemore, so again we felt right at home as back in NZ, Adam's family go camping at Lake Aviemore each summer! (Also, for any readers who don't know New Zealand - the majority of our place names are carbon copies of UK ones. In both London and Christchurch (NZ) there are suburbs called 'Bromley', 'Bexley', 'Addington', 'Northwood', 'Islington', 'Richmond', etc, and one of our biggest cities is called 'Dunedin' - Little Edin(burgh) - and was closely modelled on the Scottish capital. Another piece of trivia - it is common for sheep farms and high-country pastoral leases to have Scottish names, such as Braemar, Kilmarnock, and Ben Nevis. When we came across road signs pointing the way to these places I must say I felt a little homesick!)

After leaving the National Park we continued north-west, towards Inverness. Our holiday home turned out to be a little bit east of Inverness, right on the shore of the Moray Firth. 

The location was just perfect, and over the week we stayed we loved being able to sit inside and watch such glorious scenery outside. My favourite part was in the evenings when we cranked the fire up, turned the lights off and opened the curtains to watch the twinkling lights around the Firth. I don't think I could ever get bored of living beside the sea.

The cosy bothy
Now to tell you about our Christmas.
When I got out of bed at 8am on Christmas morning, this was what greeted me: 

Looking north-east. The smoke is from a timber factory.
While we were in Scotland sunrise was officially 9am so it was very confusing to wake up at 8am and it still be dark outside. However, it meant that each morning one could watch the sunrise whilst eating breakfast, which felt like a great privilege. After taking some more photographs, we sat down for breakfast.

Looking West - Inverness is further left of the picture
Christmas brunch - coffee, croissants, and fruit.

And then decided to open our presents from each other, and from family back home in New Zealand.

The wee Christmas Tree

Thanks, Mum and Dad!
Yes, after all my hard work unwrapping presents
I had definitely done enough.
We took a break and read for a while, before preparing Christmas lunch. We took the lazy route and bought a basted chicken that came already tied up in an oven bag, inside a foil tray. All I had to do was take it out of the fridge, pop it into the oven, and voila!

Before long we were drinking our French brut (purchased in Paris) and eating a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, potatoes, kumara, parsnip, and peas drenched in gravy. 
What a view!
(My stomach is already longing for next Christmas lunch, when I shall eat yams or die trying!! I have missed them *so* much over the past 15 months. My grocer friend, Mike, tried to grow some and was mildly successful - only a small crop this year, but hopefully next year's efforts will yield more yams. Or 'Oka' as they will be known over here.)

After lunch, we ventured outside for some exercise. Unfortunately, we had about 15 minutes of sun with a bitterly cold wind before a rainstorm swept through and we had to rush back inside to our lovely warm fire. We did manage to take a few glamour shots, though.
Taken with our great 50mm camera lens
See? The lens takes great portraits.
Such a beautiful backdrop
The last rays of sunshine for the day
We shall definitely treasure our memories of this low-key Christmas in its truly stunning location.

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