Memorable travels and vacations were mainly with the children, the three of us would often take off on vacation whenever the opportunity presented. We were outdoor types (perhaps they never had a choice)! I was keen for them to experience the natural wonders on our doorstep here in Scotland and to get out and about and simply enjoy the great outdoors.
The first occasion I introduced them to camping was 2001 when we had a week of glorious weather at Sands Holiday Park, near Gairloch, Wester Ross. Shorts and t-shirts, on the beach, sandcastles, flying kites, water pistols, playing tennis and having a kick about.
We were not so fortunate the following year when we encountered a week of strong winds and driving rain. That required a trip north to Ullapool to buy wet weather gear and good waterproof boots. We did manage to entertain ourselves, hiked the path Poolewe to Loch Maree (we referred to it as the midgie walk)! The weather however got the better of us and with the tent regularly flattened by the wind we returned home early.
On many occasions thereafter we were fortunate enough to have loan of a caravan from my brother Stephen and his wife Diane. In 2003 I acquired a caravan from a dealer in Kincardine, we picked it up en-route to start an Easter holiday at Craigton Meadows, St Andrews, Fife.
What luxury the caravans provided compared to the tent; heat, electricity, beds, our own shower and loo. It was hard work though packing and unpacking. That first week of our own caravan was one of trial and error, with water pump and electrical problems to resolve.
That caravan gave us 6-years of adventures, bonding and memories. We returned to St Andrews for a week each year until 2009 and we often stopped off at Aviemore en-route north west to Gairloch and Scourie.
Snow didn’t stop us, we always had bikes with us and often an inflatable boat, canoe or kayaks. We once paddled a canoe on a 10-mile return trip just to find a fish and chip shop, our holidays were always great adventures.
Scourie was always a good base for activities. We were often to be found on the football pitch having a kick-about, or on the beach in the boat and kayaks or on the rocks with the fishing rods. Catching crabs at the pier was always very successful!
We travelled to the north coast of Scotland for a round of golf at Durness and also to Oldshoremore to undertake the 10-mile return hike to the iconic Sandwood Bay. I’ve never been forgiven for not bringing along sufficient drinking water on that hike! We took a boat trip to Handa Island, walked the bird reserve and we climbed many hills.
And of course I toasted the Scourie sunsets!
At weekends we often found time to sail on Loch Lomond along with extended family and friends. I owned an Arran 16′ fishing boat and that would take us and our gear to the islands for weekend camp. We did find the resident population of wallabies!
By 2009 the boys were outgrowing the caravan, it was a hard decision to make however we agreed that the time was right to sell. They were also on the cusp of carving out their own lives.
Our last caravan adventure together was back to St Andrews that autumn!
I then returned to motorcycling after an absence of some 18-years …………