FROM LIDL TO LOCH WATTEN AND THE LIGHTS
I decided to move on northwards and nearer to the Gills Bay ferry so if the weather is good we can take the boat to South Ronaldsay, but first I needed to empty the tanks. I had looked at where the waste point was and thought I wouldn't easily get in close enough but the site owners thought I could and offered to see watch me on the approach. As it happened Thebus was just to long toso I decided to try out the “macerater” for the first time, as that has a much longer hose. Disaster, well for me at least.
It is quite a heavy sort of thing and it has to be put on at arms length then twisted – do you remember the chapter 'My Wonky Arm' ? Well it was a reprise. What happened was the macerator must have not been securely fixed to the outflow, so when the chutes were released instead of going through the macerater and down the pipe it went everywhere. Luckily I had decided to run the shower and sink water out first just in case so it could have been much worse, but in the panic to switch it off I reached in with my bad arm and really wrenched it out of true. There was nothing to grab to pull it back into line but suddenly I saw the back of the scooter rack and grabbed that (its making my arm ache just thinking about it) and got it back into line. I felt a bit sick but managed to get the rest of it all done and tidied up ready to start off.
The run to Wick follows the coast so as you drive the sea views on the right are lovely. It was a greyish morning and mizzling a bit, but still a nice run. And as I got to Wick there was a nice big Lidl, with a huge carpark, enormous entrance and nice row of double spaces in the middle which by taking up two together gave us almost enough room. Excellent.
I did some shopping though a lot of the things I needed had already been delivered by Asda earlier in the week, but I still found some extra things to tuck in odd corners. Its surprising the different stock on offer compared to the stores in them Midlands. Ready meals of Stovies, and Haggis with Neps and Tatties, plus lots more fresh fish than 'down south' as well as venison products. Mind you I was less impressed having passed a Venison Farm on the way with a few muddy deer well past their fetlocks in some badly poached paddocks (and I mean that in the farming sense, not the gamekeeping sense) When one buys Venison, rather like buying Salmon, the product in the mind's eye is different from the product in reality.
So back to Thebus to stow it all away, and make myself a cup of coffee and have a slice of their carrot cake before starting out – some things about motorhoming can be quite civilised.
I needed to get to Loch Watten, as that is the last place before the ferries with any LPG and there is nowhere on either Orkney or Shetland that stocks it now. Well at least I hope Watten Services still stock LPG – for some reason I couldn’t get through on the phone on Saturday, and they are closed all day Sunday. But I thought if I got to Watten I could park up and be ready for my fill up first thing Monday morning.
Perhaps the wind will have dropped by then to make for nice ferry crossing for Phoebe’s first sea journey. It is apparently only about ninety minutes on a good day, so I am hoping it won't be too long for her to be left.
I have been trying to increase the amount of time I spend away from Thebus whilst she is in there alone. Probably about an hour or so is the longest I have been away, we will see. But I am happy to say she seems less stressed on the journeys now, and mostly is content to stay in her bed – which makes me more relaxed.
I found the garage - Watten Services, and could see the Loch in the distance, so decided to drive down, have a look at the Loch :-) and see if there was anywhere we could spend the night. Right at the very bottom end where the water rushes out over a kind of weir, there was a biggish layby so I decided that would do us for the night. We got setteled in, Phoebe had some mince from Lidl and I had a steak sandwich, and guess what.
I had looked to see which was North and as darkness came on it seemed brighter than it should have been as there was no moon, but I convinced myself that it was nothing, just a glow of lights in the distance, probably from Thurso, but then on the internet someone over on Outer Hebrides said they had been watching the Northern Lights. So I got Phoebe and we walked out over towards the Loch edge. No it was still just a faint glow and certainly not green. We hung around for a while then went back to Thebus.
I decided to switch off all the lights and cover the endless little lights we seem to get on every bit of electrical equipment these days, and sit in the dark on the settee looking out of Thebus window and over the Loch which was pretty well northwards. So I made myself a cup of coffee, put on a Billie Holiday CD and sat with my feet up looking out of the window. Still just the glow, then a small bank of clouds built up by the horizon, and ..... it was the Northern Lights........ because out from over the tops of the cloud bank came pale green searchlights – switching on and off and varying in intensity
I am sure it was not the most spectacular of displays of the Aurora Borealis, but it satisfied me for a first (and hopefully not last) viewing. I took about twelve photos and am now the proud owner of twelve totally black pictures except for two house lights on the opposite shore of the Loch. I had already been told that you need specialist equipment to take photos and at the very least you must use a tripod, but I am more of the point and shoot school of photography, so I don't hold out much hope for photos of the event, you will just have to take my word for it.
Thebus settee was perfect for viewing. When I was certain it was the Northern Lights I was seeing I opened the window and knelt on the settee. Kneeling for me is normally most uncomfortable because of the arthritis in my knees, but Thebus' settee was just right and not only that I had a really good view without being outside in the cold. Spot on!!!
When I get further north and maybe have more choice of how I can park Thebus my intention is to line up the bedroom window to the north, so I can watch through the from the bed at night to see if there is any activity. And I also intend to set the alarm through the night if anything is forecast.
The Loch waters hurry down a channel and under a small bridge
which must have once carried the roadway, but is now part of a layby
End of Loch Watten
where the water rushes over some sort of weir and under the road
Insert body text here ...
View of Loch Watten