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Saturday, 22 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013: Day 10: To Stan & Bill’s

Sunday morning in a sunny Braemar is rather lovely. We don’t have to head off up to Stan & Bill’s (Callater Lodge, but it will always be Stan & Bill’s) until quite late in the afternoon to get there in time for the party, as it’s only 9km. So that means breakfast and lunch in the Old Bakery for the “Challenge Specials” writing postcards and then a leisurely afternoon in the Fife Arms sitting in the window in the sunshine.

PHIL, DAVID & ANDY, FIFE ARMS

[PHIL, DAVID & ANDY, FIFE ARMS – CLICK TO ENLARGE]

In this picture Andy is busily writing away, but at this point I had no idea what he was up to. But pints of lager seemed to increase the speed of his scribblings. We shall see what he was penning a little later on today. Phil is busily scanning the paper for the latest on ladies’ high heeled shoes and David is pretending he didn’t really buy the Daily Mail.

PHIL'S PIC: ME, MARTIN, PHILIP, GERRY, MORPETH, DAVID & VICKY

[PHIL'S PIC: ME, MARTIN, PHILIP, GERRY, MORPETH, DAVID & VICKY – CLICK TO ENLARGE]

Denis surfaced, looking remarkably chipper for a chap who had been almost carried back to his bed – the man has the constitution of an ox! He was on a mission this afternoon to repeat the performance. But, all good things come to an end and we had to leave for the stroll out of town. Andy & I had a good scout about, but couldn’t find Phil anywhere. He wasn’t in his room, hadn’t checked out, wasn’t in the bar or the shop. So we left a note at reception for him to let him know we were on our way and then strolled out into the sunshine.

TGO2013 DAY 10

[TGO2013 DAY 10 – CLICK TO ENLARGE]

I must have passed the Church of Scotland over a dozen times over the years and had never visited. But with time on our side this time we dropped the packs almost as soon as we had put them on and had a peek inside. It’s a little gem.

CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, BRAEMAR

[CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, BRAEMAR – CLICK TO ENLARGE]

Then we strolled up through the golf course having a little rest in the shelter of a wood and then strolling on to the footbridge over Clunie Water. At this point, Phil caught us up, looking remarkably dapper in his shades.

PHIL, CLUNIE WATER

[PHIL, CLUNIE WATER: CLICK TO ENLARGE]

As it was so sunny and gorgeous hereabouts I called a halt and we had half an hour’s snooze in the sunshine. Quite blissful.

ANDY'S PIC: CLUNIE WATER SNOOZE

[ANDY'S PIC: CLUNIE WATER SNOOZE: CLICK TO ENLARGE]

Then we strolled along the long track up to the lodge, to be welcomed by Bill. Now here’s a really lovely man. Knowing that I wasn’t in the best of shape, he had very kindly reserved me a bed upstairs, and Phil and Andy were also allocated berths. Luxury!

Before too long were were tucking into a hearty meal, with beers and whiskies and singing. Andy popped outside for a short while to take some pictures; Here’s my favourite.

ANDY'S PIC: EVENING, LOCH CALLATER

[ANDY'S PIC: EVENING, LOCH CALLATER – CLICK TO ENLARGE]

The quaich was passed around the room and we remembered Challengers who had passed on and those currently having difficulties.

Then it was on to the entertainment. We missed Doha Jim’s wonderful renditions this year, but in his place Andy stepped up to the plate. Here he is (recorded back at home) re-reading his excellent account of our Challenge Crossing so far. Quite brilliant!

ANDY’S CALLATER LODGE POEM

It went down like a house on fire and there were calls for encores. Click on the “forward” button to hear it. Croydon & Stormin seemed to like it too.

CROYDON & STORMIN, CALLATER LODGE

[CROYDON & STORMIN, CALLATER LODGE]

Then, as the evening was quite late, Bill produced some cheese, my bottle of port and some wine for an impromptu third Cheese & Wine party.

SURPRISE CHEESE & WINE NIBBLES

[SURPRISE CHEESE & WINE NIBBLES]

Over the years Callater Lodge, Stan & Bill’s, has become quite an extraordinary institution. The love and care that goes into making everyone welcome and feel at home is really quite a beautiful thing. Next year is a big one, an important anniversary for Bill, so there is no way I will miss that.

We got to bed quite late, but deliriously happy.

13 comments:

  1. Next year will indeed be good - with even more sunshine than this year!
    Maps are on the living room floor (Mrs JJ is out on a shopping mission) and notes are being scribbled. It's all starting to come together.
    JJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There will be more sunshine, no midges or ticks, cooling zephyrs and the Fife will have ten real ales on tap.

      Yeah. Right.

      Delete
    2. Now, if you can guarantee the real ale at the Fife, I will start sending Mr Manning the monthly bottle of Ard.....beg now :-)

      Delete
    3. Oh - I forgot to mention - they'll be putting on more bar staff at the Fife too, so they can serve you within a guaranteed time period of fifteen minutes...

      "Piss up" and "brewery" springs to mind.

      Delete
  2. Have just caught up, Alan, on a day off. Delighted to hear that your third kidney is settling in to its new home.
    Good to hear that folk are busy planning their next Challenges, but we hope they are also going to enjoy something else in the meantime!
    Sent from M&S in sunny France.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sir!
      Awfully decent of you to drop by, on your hols and all!
      Technology eh?
      Look after that woman of yours. Show her a good time and buy her lots of lovely wine and posh French food!
      :-)

      Delete
  3. Just a wee note Alan. I'm thoroughly enjoying your ongoing descriptions of the journey. I've walked bits of the areas you've been through, but it's genuinely impressive and enjoyable to see you link it all together.

    Btw, I like the pace you're posting at - enough time for the casual reader to look forward to the next instalment. More power to your elbow. (Or kidneys, whichever need it most, obviously.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Scott
      :-)
      It's a labour of love. Walking it is fantastic and writing it up brings back all the little things that you would have forgotten had you not wracked your brains putting it on paper.

      I love looking at back at past Challenges too - so much fun (mostly!)

      I've been really lucky this year in having access to Phil & Andy's photos for the write-up, as they take some lovely pictures.

      The pace of it is largely determined by having to weed out the pictures (between us there are hundreds!), then crop, straighten, adjust contrasts etc and then get them on to the page. Then comes the writing.

      All good fun - and I have a bit of time at the moment as I'm back from my transplant op and recuperating.

      Ta for dropping by and commenting - appreciated, Sir!

      Delete
  4. Now it's a leisurely and triumphal progress!

    In my half-asleep state this morning, I thought you said "Ballater" and wondered why you were pushing away south! Then the penny dropped. Sounds like you are going to be heading for Glen Doll hostel (ah, what memories!). It's closed now, someone told me :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Close, but no cigar!
      You will have to wait & see until tomorrow for our route the next day.
      :-)

      Delete
  5. Hi Alan

    I have to comment on your remark about the top photograph (the one in which I am looking outrageously handsome). I confess I did buy the Mail. But this was only because my paper of choice, The Sun, was unavailable. Thus, for one day I was denied the wisdom of Tanya, aged 23, from Coventry and her views on the topic of the day. Worse, I missed out on Deirdre's Problem Page and photo case book, which is my main source of information and inspiration on how life today should be lived.

    Cracking write up by the way and the photos of Callater and surroundings look just brilliant. It will be on my next route.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...the one in which I am looking outrageously handsome."

      It was the best of a terrible bunch I am afraid. It's interesting how some folk see beauty.

      Tanya & Deidre's feminine charms would have gone well, I am sure, with the assembled throng in the Fife.

      Yes, Callater should not be missed. It's very dear to us.

      Delete
    2. Yes, Callater should not be missed. It's very dear to us.

      SPOT ON!

      Delete

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