Onwards around Glasgow and upwards towards Dunkeld, where we’d promised ourselves a re-visit, which didn’t disappoint. This charming Tay-side townlet was atmospherically busy as we wandered its compact streets; marvelled at the quirkiness of Jeffreys Interiors, set inside a converted church and still playing haunting soundtracks to accompany the delightful weirdness of its stock; acquired ice-creams to celebrate a full day of sunshine, then travelled onwards to Blairgowrie, where our one and only arranged social commitment of the whole trip awaited us.
School friendships seem to either swiftly fizzle out during University Freshers’ Week or they endure over years, seemingly never wavering despite long dormant periods, to pick up again without hesitation, deviation or repetition – which is exactly what awaited us in Blairgowrie as we crossed the threshold of a long-term friend of the Navigator Par Excellence.
Offered substantial quantities of food, drink and unwavering hospitality (including a night in a proper bed) we over-imbibed on all counts – and awoke the following morning to find the Knumptywagen exactly where we’d left it, parked on a nearby side-street (always a relief given the high level of thefts reported through motorhome social networks.)
In drizzling grey rain, we were escorted on a guided tour of Blairgowrie’s High Street, where we patronised an intriguing artisan silversmith’s shop-cum-workshop and a well-stocked butcher’s shop, where several unnecessary purchases had to be made.
An extremely well-stocked Hunting Shooting Fishing shop also drew us in, overseen by an imposing and knowledgeable grey-haired owner, who unwittingly amused us with her response to our enquiry about the availability of live maggots – which we’d been sadly lacking during our earlier fishing at Douglas Water. These, she explained, were not readily available in Blairgowrie as they had to travel by train from England, and unfortunately Blairgowrie lacked the requisite railway station, where said maggots might presumably have alighted and wriggled their way – en masse – along the High Street to her shop, where they would divest themselves of their cumbersome luggage and offer themselves for sale to passing anglers.
Leaving Blairgowrie in weather the locals describe as ‘dreich’ (i.e. wet and grey) we headed north to penetrate the Cairngorms, where dreichness soon gave way to snow; roadsigns warned of ice; alarmingly tall snow-poles marked both sides of the road and every habitation had a sign outside to advertise ski-hire at a cheaper price than the house before. And despite the miserability of the scenery, we did eventually pass through Glen Shee to witness at least 3 skiers actually using the slopes – although none of them appeared to be enjoying it.