October Holidays

Over the last 20 years as the tots were growing up, our October holidays would be a wee cottage up north. The three criteria were as follows: must allow dogs, be near a pub and have a real fire.

However, when the tots were tiny (and we were skint) we went in a caravan for four nights. I think it was a £9.50 Sun special offer thing. The best one was in 2000 :Grannies Hielan’ Hame at Dornoch. Right on the beach is always a winner, sandcastles and kite flying too. The kids club at night was great: we got them in their pajamas and they zoomed about the place wi their new wee pals. One tiny bairn was asked to tell a joke on stage and it went like this. Knock knock .. whos there? .. Brazil .. Brazil who? … Brazil keep your boobs up.

I mind of watching Scotland get a draw away to Croatia in the bar, celebrating with my new pals (weegies/jaikies) and suddenly two tots appear in their pajamas. Think Elaine sent them through to chase me up aha. The gemmes a bogey!

We also went to Seton Sands (nice) and Wooler (dead town with nothing open don’t go there ever). In fact, the Wooler experience put us off caravans forever.

After that, we got a cottage every October. First time we went to Lairg, a great wee stone cottage at the top of the village. Lairg was great for day trips in the car : north to Tongue, east to Helmsdale or west to Scourie. I forget now but I think Sean learned to ride a bike down the grassy hill below the house and Amy lost her first tooth there so it was maybe 2003. That was the first time we had marshmallows on an open fire too and we saw salmon jumping at Falls of Shin nearby so it was a lovely week.

Another October was Craigellachie on Speyside. Its a beautiful area especially in Autumn, plus theres lots of distilleries! Also the Craigellachie Hotel has a whisky room which is like a library with bottles! Then there was an old farm steading near Rosehall in Strath Oykel which had an Aga (we made pancakes) and a real fire. There was also a hatch through the stone wall from the kitchen to the living room. The kids loved that. That house was perfect except the bedrooms were damp and the local pub was shut.

Little Garve was a wee stone house by the Blackwater. Again it was great with a real fire and the stars at night were amazing. The Garve Hotel was nearby but it had no atmosphere (we had to switch on the lights in the pool room). It was a perfect base for day trips to Applecross, Gairloch and Ullapool tho.

From 2009-2013 we went to Pabbay Cottage in Harris which of course has a woodburner plus underfloor heating but The Anchorage was only open Friday and Saturday nights in October. A Friday night lock in before an 8 hour trip home (ferry included) next day is not a good idea … but that’s another story.

In 2014, we went to Tomintoul which after Harris was a shock, especially on the Sunday. We went a lunchtime walk and the village was busy wi tourists, shops were open and there was a whisky shop giving out samples. That was a good day. We had a lazy week, baking cakes, toasting marshmallows and going nice walks. Tomintoul had two pubs but they were completely dead all week : it was like a retirement village.

Recently we went to Gardenstown which is a great fishermans village with steep cobbled lanes (no cars). The pub was 20 seconds walk away, olde worlde too if only they’d lit the fire grrrr. We got fish (wrasse) on the pier from a local and baked it (wrapped in newspaper) that night it was delicious, esp with a dram. That’s what a holiday is all about : doing things you would never do at home.

So thats been our October holidays. This year sadly we are not getting away but, judging from social media, plenty folk are still getting up north to enjoy Scotland in its autumn colours. Just don’t go south to Wooler.

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