Click on photos for best effect.
Docking at Invergordon - snow on the hills.
A sedate little town - special to us as every summer Al's mother would take the long journey from London with her three boys and spend the summer on the grandfather's farm. She told me once after paying the fare she had just a few pence left for a cup of tea or a cigarette and she chose a cigarette. Different days.
The church - I had a peaceful morning wandering around, buying post cards to send to the Mackays and spotting the little jewellers where Alastair bought me some leaf- shaped gold earrings which I have managed not to lose.
Our lovely ship Boudicca. 462 cabins, 880 guests, 372 crew.
Forward pronounced 'forrard'.
Our next port of call was Scrabster near to the
castle of Mey and John O'Groats. Above is the beach where the Royals would picnic before visiting the Queen Mum in her summer home.
The Castle of Mey having a bit of a face lift. Part of the gardens - so beautifully tended. No photography allowed indoors but a lovely experience in the home that reflected her charm and sense of fun. Nothing stately about it. There was a tailor's dummy dressed in her faded blue tweed suit with a battered soft felt hat. She always had a perfect posture. By the dining table was the stool where she used to rest her gammy leg - damaged by a boisterous young Prince Andrew on his scooter
The guides were very helpful and loved giving you snippets of gossip. The pretty blue bedroom for Princess Margaret was never used by her. Too cold! So she slept elsewhere in the village.
They got one thing wrong when they said she only drank Champagne. Her favourite tipple was Gin and Dubonnet. Tea and shortbread in the café and then a stop at John O'Groats. Not so interesting.
As we retuned to the ship we were piped a farewell.
The rain came but it was good to get back to our welcoming ship and a delicious dinner.
Next off to the Isle of Mull where we anchored off Tobermory and took a tender to the shore. Al and I once spent a week on Mull and the weather prevented us from reachingIona where I hoped to see the Abbey and retreat.
A coach took us to the other side of Mull.
Across the water you can see the precious Isle of Iona. Only a short stretch of water but not to be taken lightly. Many people have drowned.
This time we'll make it safely.
A ruin en route to the Abbey
There it is.
John Smith's simple grave - easily missed.
Part of the grounds. Walking back I stopped to have tea - quite an hospitable island but not as wild and remote as I had hoped.
Back we crossed to Mull. I did a crossword - forgetting it was a short trip and missed everyone vacating the ferry but managed to get off in time!
Only a short distance from Iona but now Mull was misty and murky
Back in Tobermory and there is our lovely Boudicca.
On board the tender. I put my complete faith in the lovely young men when getting on and off the ships - one of the most hazardous times.
Oops! my untidy cabin.
Always nice to get back to friendly faces and swap stories over dinner. We were all single and both men were named Bob which was handy.
This Bob had been a miner from the North East - great fun to tease:)
C'est fini! I really enjoyed the cruise and didn't miss 'abroad' at all.
OOh I forgot to say: the penultimate day was a very long one - next day was Belfast - I hadn't booked an excursion so I stayed on board and chilled. Next time Belfast for sure!