Saturday 1st October 2022
Overnighting at Perth, Scotland still. Got up around 7am and were getting ready to go down to breakfast, which in virtually Holiday Inns was pretty good and you could choose between a hot breakfast or continental, or both. We set off about 9:30am and headed north for Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. We were fortunate in that the hotel was in close proximity to the A9 trunk road that ran north to Inverness and way beyond. Started off as a nice day with sun and clouds but after about 20 minutes driving the rain came and the heavens opened and stayed that way for most of the trip up to Inverness. I guess it was a good job that we weren’t hell-bent on sightseeing this trip. Our trip was more to let Betty experience some of these places and areas without having to delve right into the places and their history, and this is was her preference too. Eventually we pulled into Inverness around 12 noon. We were in the city centre, as usual, and saw a sign for multi-storey car park which we entered and wound our way up to the 6th floor before we saw any parking spaces. We eventually found one and decided to reverse in as it was easier to drive in as you could use your door mirrors which you can’t really door going in forwards. We were just a couple of inches from a concrete post so it was a bit tight but we passed the post and there was a little more room allowing us to get out OK. Not a lot, but enough. Feeling pleased with ourselves for getting into a tight space, we were stood outside the car and noticed a lady 2 cars away trying to reverse into her space and using her daughter to help her. Her daughter was only about 8 or 9 so she couldn’t help much. I spoke to the lady and helped her back into her spot and she was happy. Damn! Who designs these multi-storey car parks? Probably designed to yield as much revenue as possible from them for the local government.
Walked down to ground level and noted that the library and rail station were close so we could find our way back. Being Saturday, Inverness center was quite busy with shoppers milling about all over the place. We saw several Scottish Pipers busking in several areas and thought that most of the tourist would like to see that. I know that we did. As we wandered around town we came across a group of people – mostly 20s to 30s age group who were dressed in black and huddled around doing something. We stopped to watch and a nice young lady wandered over and asked how we felt about eating meat. I said I had just had bacon and egg for breakfast. They were protesting about the human race killing animals and fish to use their meat for our survival. Yeah, yeah, we see these groups in the USA too. They seem to be everywhere. Anyway, I told her that I didn’t really share their opinions or views on this but tapped her on the shoulder and wished her well, in the nicest possible way. She immediately turned nasty and shouted: don’t you ever f***ing touch me again. Jeepers, what brought that on… probably the bacon and eggs. Anyway, shocked at her outburst, we walked away and carried on wandering through town. We came across a nice cafe and went in and had a nice lunch and relaxed for half an hour or so. Came across another piper piping just down the road and watched him for a while. We had a pleasant stroll around town and after a couple of hours we started getting a little tired – as is our wont. There was quite a large Marks & Spencer there so we dived in there and bought a couple of items and headed back to the car… well in that direction we thought. Ended up we didn’t know where the hell we were but eventually found the bus station which was next to the rail station which was next to the library which was next to… you got it, the multi-storey car park where the car was. We wound our way up to the 6th floor level, got into the car and headed down to the ground floor exit to pay and leave. If only it were that simple. Oh no! Not for us. We got to the barrier to pay and put our ticket into the machine, thinking it would calculate how much we owed so we could tap and pay and head out. No such luck. The machine read the ticket and told us we hadn’t yet paid and had to go back to the main ticket machines on the ground level, pay there, then come back and exit. We saw those machines on the way out and thought no more about it. So we had a line of cars behind us wishing to exit, but they were local and knew how it worked. I got out and told the driver behind that I had to back up a bit and get out of the line. He knew, so he made a little room so I could back out. I parked in a maintenance area, left Betty in the car in case we were in trouble for parking there, and ran over to the machines, once I found the bloody things. Put my ticket into a machine and it told me I owed about £3. I tapped and paid, took my ticket back and went back to the car. Nobody had stolen Betty! Back to the exit, up came the barrier and out we went into the street. It was good to be out of that place.
We drove around the city center looking for signs for Fort William and quickly found them and headed south-west towards Fort William. We weren’t actually going there but that road would take us alongside Loch Ness and Betty wanted to see it. Being late in the season, and nearly finished for 2022 there weren’t many tourists around clogging up the roads, only one or two coaches with seniors aboard. We came alongside Loch Ness and stopped to take some pictures etc. Nothing much to see only water and the bank on the other side. No sightings of Nessie unfortunately. Even the Loch Ness Tourist Centre was pretty deserted with only one coach parked there. So there was nothing much going on around Loch Ness. But at least Betty was now able to say she had been and seen Loch Ness. We carried on south and the map indicated that we would eventually come back onto the main A9 again just north of Perth where our hotel was. Boy, this was quite a drive on narrow roads and we were stuck behind a couple of coaches heading the same way.
In the UK when faced with this sort of problem being stuck behind something, you would normally hang back just a little so you could see around the coach ahead and get a better idea of what was coming or when the road ahead was clear to do a quick overtake. Trust me! It is not for there faint-hearted and a lot of American drivers would not have been able to handle this very quickly. There were a couple of local cars in front of me and I could see how they were going to do this and as long as everyone remained patient we would all get past the coaches safely by using the “hang back” technique. Sure enough, the first car swung out put his foot down and was gone quite quickly. After another 5 minutes or so, a straight stretch of road was clear and the next car strutted his stuff and was also disappearing over the horizon. We were next and had a stroke of luck as one of the two coaches in our way, pulled off at a viewpoint leaving just one coach left. It didn’t take long for a long straight and we were past chasing the two cars in front.
We saw a sign that said Perth 95 miles. Hell, it seemed we had just done 50 since we left Inverness and it was 110 miles between Inverness and Perth. Oh well, not to worry, it could be worse. It did get worse, in fact! The heavens opened again and it pissed down all the way to Perth and our Holiday Inn Express. We wandered down to the bar / lounge area and ordered pizza and beer for our dinner, then watched a little TV and called it a day.
This has been part 12 of a series of posts highlighting the trip of a British ex-pat in the US when he returns to the UK for a vacation. He shares the experiences with us here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next few weeks. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have, and seeing the areas he (and his lovely wife) visit, through my friend David’s eyes. ~ Sherry
David invites you to visit his eBay store while you’re in the neighborhood!