Saturday morning, bundled against the chill wind, we took Ben for a run down a nearby beach. Out across the Cromarty Firth, standing forlorn against the tide, huge oil rigs stood silent like metal robot monsters, frozen in the cold. Driving past them late last night, they had been brightly lit like so many platforms of party-land in the channel. Now they just looked sad and abandoned.
Grateful to be back in the cars again and out of the never-ending wind, we ventured to the far point of land and "Pauls Lighthouse" at Tarbat Ness, standing sentinel in bright red and white stripes. The tall stone walls lining each side of the road as you approach made it hard to see oncoming traffic and was also a challenge when passing them - millimetres to spare at best!
But the tall stone walls surrounding the lighthouse complex itself provided a lovely warm, windless spot for a family group photo. Although that saying about working with animals and children held true. Hayley struggling with un-born child, and Ben getting in everyones way and constantly turning his rear to the camera, for not quite the shot we wanted. But laughter producing all the same.
The rocky cliff top nearby invited us to explore, and down the slope we gingerly stepped - not Ben who bounded effortlessly of course! Nicky related the tale of Pauls unhappy experience whilst working at this Lighthouse when he was 17. Late one night at the top of the tower, he thought he saw a ghost, and in sheer terror scrambled downstairs to warmth and light and company away from this apparition. In his haste to escape, he fell down quite some number of steps and badly injured his knee, which has been giving him intermittent grief ever since. This of course, was the same knee he had re-injured descending the steps on Staffa.
As we were leaving, Nicky lingered to take one last photo on her phone. The family bad luck at this particular spot continued, as she dropped it and it slid down the slope and under a large rock. Fearing it would end up in a puddle, she dashed after it - luckily no puddle, but sadly a big crack on the screen was a reminder that the Curse of Tarbat Ness continued!
Calum and Hayley needed to get home to put the curry for tea on to cook. The boys went with them, requesting lunch and warm accommodation. Nicky and Karen took a detour into Tain for some 'girl time', i.e. shopping. Here in a park on the main street, they found an amusing, very ornate memorial to a certain Kenneth Murray, who had died in 1879. His large head and shoulders were protected from the inevitable pigeon droppings by a very tall and very spikey canopy - good thinking on the designers behalf. This was not the most amusing part, but the wording, which reads "Erected by public subscription due to his estimable character and public usefulness."
We have had many discussions since on what he could have been so publicly useful for, that was not appropriate or too embarrassing to actually say on his monument. It has been variously suggested that maybe he had large hands to match his large head and could open jar lids for all the ladies of the town. Maybe he was a teetotaler reliably called upon to discretely accompany those under the influence home safely. Maybe he was a poacher and provided cheap fresh meat for the tables of the less fortunate. The debate continues, and all suggestions gratefully accepted.
Our little shopping trip meant that by the time we reached Fearn again, it was nearly 4 o'clock, quite late in the afternoon (even by our Murton holiday standards) to be eating lunch, but we were starving and that lovely curry was still hours away. Then we settled down to watch multiple episodes of Russel Coights "All Aussie Adventures" and show these Scottish relatives how this kind of show should really be filmed. (Paul has some new ideas for camera angles and questioning techniques to try in his show after viewing some of this too. We wait to see the results on TV sometime in the future.)
Delicious supper at 9.30pm was worth the wait, and another day of adventures (although not curse-free) survived by all.