At the end of the last post I was describing how well Bonnie took to her new diet. It was slightly harder for me, a longterm vegetarian. Butchers shops are not comfortable places for me and ordering things in Catalan was difficult. I felt I had to pretend the meat was for us humans, especially if I was ordering steak. Buying lots of human grade meat for your dog is not a common practice in Catalunya, maybe not anywhere.
But I did get borrowed kudos when I started enthusiastically asking for less popular animal parts. Livers, kidneys, hearts….heads and necks….I even spent a few weeks searching for raw tripe only to find the EU has banned its sale.
Did you know that dogs like raw fish – whole and straight from the freezer? Mackeral was popular.
Finding and storing fresh raw meat is harder when you are on the move. In July we set off yet again in the camper van, this time with our noses pointing north to explore the Highlands of Scotland. Bonnie was in the best of health and so I took a flexible approach to her diet – dried food here, sausage and chips there, a chicken wing, half a rabbit.
The weather was very hot right from day one and as we drove north we looked for cooler days but it seemed never to happen and the sunshine followed us all the way to Inverness and beyond. We were so lucky to always find inviting waters
Rivers in France rarely disappoint
Punting in Cambridge. Bonnie was the Queen of the Cam – tourists took photos of her
We passed through London and I showed Bonnie my old home in Stoke Newington. We were going to sleep in the van but our neighbours were still in the same house and invited us to stay overnight. Next morning we walked through the Victorian cemetary that stretches along the back
My Catalan partner finds this interest in old graveyards totally incomprehensible but I like them and loved the view from the back window of my house
It was like living beside a nature reserve and in Spring the dawn chorus was amazing
I have a story to tell about this sculpture but will save it for another time
We met family all along the route – without planning it we visited almost everyone, even those who are no longer with us. One niece lives near Folkstone where we landed. Then in London we went to my brothers old home, still full of memories both happy and sad after his death the year before. Then to my sister in Cambridge. Up to the borders and another niece and nephew and grand-nephew. After that we headed north with the sun still blazing and met another of my sisters in Newtonmore in the Cairngorms. Close by is the river where my fathers ashes were scattered and as we were also visiting many of his hydroelectric dams we felt that we were really on a family odessey
We were heading for Inverness where I was born but first we took a right turn to Findhorn Bay. It was still incredibly hot and we stopped for some more river swimming before we reached the coast
I was born on the east coast of Scotland but we moved to the west when I was 6. I hadn’t realised it before but my deepest sense of home is in this north eastern corner. So good to take Bonnie there.
The light feels just the right sort of light and the beaches seem like proper beaches
We stayed at the long established New Age Centre and Ecological Community, Findhorn, famous at one time for its huge vegetables grown in sand and apparently aided by nature spirits
Of course we visited the house where I was born in Inverness and also went to see the Dolphins that live in the Moray Firth. Every day there are groups of visitors and professional photographers waiting at the point for the tide to come in bringing fish, and dolphins close behind.
All the coast line is magical.
This is Rosemarkie where I first learned to walk.
My mothers ashes were scattered here so the place is thick with memories and feelings
For the first five years of my life we spent the summers in Rosemarkie.
The Fairy Glen is just as mysterious 50 years on
One day we met a look-alike puppy even more foxy than ours
We headed west through spectacular mountain scenery. Every day was better than the last
Some fellow campers at Fortrose had recommended the free camping at Shieldaig
Heaven on earth – apart from the midges which finally began to attack us at nightfall
Now we were driving southward and stopped to camp on the Silver Sands near Arisaig
Here began the part of the journey requiring Ferries – Caledonian MacBrayne took us from Skye to Mallaig, Mallaig to Rhum, Ardnamurchan to Tobermory on Mull
And finally from Mull to Oban.
Bonnie is used to boats after all her trips to the Scillies and was a natural island hopper
On Mull we camped wild, spending some nights alone in the car park above spectacular Calgary Bay
There is a nature reserve with sculptures nearby – Calgary Art in Nature.
Bonnie with recycled sandpipers
We stayed with my other sister in Port Appin and then slowly made our way out of the mountains down to Glasgow, stopping off to visit the spirits of our aunts in Tighnabruich.
In Glasgow we parked the van and finally had a rest from driving. Too late I realised that over 4000km of driving is hard on the legs and I developed tendinitis in my clutch foot which took more than three months to resolve. We visited my niece who lives in a flat overlooking the River Clyde and I felt amazed that this journey had so cleverly wound its way around all the family as well as many of the special places of my childhood.
In early August we arrived in Cornwall – in spite of my ankle we managed to climb Carn Galver
After a month in our lovely cabaña we set off again for Folkstone and the journey through France. My ankle problem meant abandonning the camper van in Cornwall and we bought a little Spanish car in the UK which carried us home.
No more camping so we stayed in hotels.
One rainy night we went dripping into a family hotel in who-knows-where mid France.
They welcomed us and Bonnie with smiles and I had one of the best meals in my life.
Trout with almond sauce.
We took a new route south and passed over the Millau Viaduct
When I was passenger I could have Bonnie with me.
We got home in time for the big Independence demonstration on September 11th.
They took my name! – Via Catalana or The Catalan Way!
I really expect the next episode with be the final one but please don’t avoid it thinking it will be too sad. I leave you today in the late sunshine of that September on the coast road near Sant Pol. There were many more lovely adventures to come. I hope you will accompany us to the gentle peaceful and beautiful end of the story. Till tomorrow my friends