16 October 2010--It's departure day for the lads, and we are up far earlier than we would like to be. Good soldiers, not a whimper
out of anyone. It would only be sensible to have a quiet early night before flying, but it never happens that way. Something inside
rebels at the thought of sleeping away the last hours of a vacation. It takes but the slightest excuse to stay up long past bedtime, and
the presence of a gentleman like Andy is a far better excuse than I ever need. We had a really good night, and we are not sorry. Much.
It's a forty-minute drive to the airport. Time for goodbyes. I've been nagging at Scott for ages to come along for a trip. He's been overburdened with real-life stuff (things I've managed to avoid over the years), which has prevented him going. At the same time, it's why he really needed to do it. I think the trip has exceeded his expectations by half, which is as gratifying to me as it is to him. As we are about to part, he attempts to express his gratitude. Scott and I are very different in some ways, but in others, we think much alike. I feel certain he wants to say something meaningful without being maudlin. I want to tell him it's not necessary, because I understand. "Get out of here before you start thinking about hugging me," I tell him. Well, I fell a little short there, I guess. I hope he understands.
Win had a great time, too, of course. He's easy.
Now what? I never plan anything for these drop-off days. I'm headed back to Fortrose, but have all day to get there. I start up the coast north of Aberdeen, and stop to have a look at Collieston. Good harbors are few and far between on the eastern Aberdeenshire coast. Collieston is the only decent one between Aberdeen and Peterhead, but it's a bit small, so the fishery has passed it by, for the most part. Like so many such villages, it seems to have been given over to holiday cottages. I'm thinking it might be a nice place to retire to, but there's no pub. Dealbreaker.
On to Peterhead. It's not the prettiest town, but as I stroll around, I find I like it, at least for a short visit. It's a resilient place, having reinvented itself more than once--first a spa, of all things; then a whaling port, then herring, then whitefish, and now a supply point for the oil industry. I find a suitably local-looking place for lunch and order Cullen skink. I seem to be on a serious Cullen skink kick this year. Me dear old mum is a connoisseur of New England clam chowder, and she's always complaining about the overly-thickened chowder served in many restaurants these days. She feels the thin broth is more authentic. She'd have loved the skink I got in St Abbs, and she'd absolutely hate the bowl of paste sitting in front of me just now. I'm not so choosy as she is, but frankly, this is over the top. I've seen runnier cowpats. It's reasonably tasty, though.
I drive on up through Fraserburgh and Rosehearty, stopping along the way to see the Memsie Cairn. I passed by here in 2008, cursing the poor signage that had me driving up and down searching vainly for the cairn. Now, approaching from the east, I am astonished to find the cairn standing plain as day a few yards off the road. How could I possibly have missed it? A cairn is a pile of rocks, of course, and to be honest, this one doesn't look like anything more than that. A sign indicates that it has been excavated and a few interesting artifacts found within, but there's nothing to see here other than the pile. Unlike castles and Roman walls, cairns like this tend to get added to over the centuries, as farmers find them a convenient place to dump unwanted stones. Whether that's happened here, I don't know--apparently two nearby cairns have been dismantled, and it's hard not to think the three were simply consolidated--but all-in-all, this site seems to lack any real mojo. Or maybe I'm just tired.
Westward I go, past Pennan and Gardenstown, and through Cullen. I consider briefly stopping there to report the crime against skink I witnessed in Peterhead, but decide to let it go. I arrive in Fortrose under clear skies--I'm told it's been clear here all day-- and take a few photos of the ruined cathedral. The angle of morning light would be better, I think. Never satisfied, huh?