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TGO Challenge 2009 - A Third Walk Across Scotland

Day 9 - Saturday 16th May
Sojourn in Braemar

I woke early, and immediately checked the window to see what the weather was doing. It was raining, and, even though I wasn't planning to do anything other than hang around Braemar for the day, the sight of more rain cast a bit of a pall over the early morning.

The prospect of breakfast soon perked me up, though, and at 0745 Phil, Colin and I assembled in the little dining room to partake of a variety of yummy things. I think I had eggs with mushrooms, and very good they were too, helped down with a couple of mugs of very good coffee.

Phil had to be back at work a few days later, and therefore he wasn't able to spend the day in Braemar with the rest of us. He'd been a lot of fun to walk with, and I was very sorry to see him go. He, Colin and I parted at the foot of the stairs, and then Colin and I went up to finish our packing.

Half an hour or so later we were ready to leave. Colin was heading for the campsite, but several months earlier I'd booked a room at Callater Lodge for the Saturday night, and so on leaving the B&B I crossed the road and knocked at the door, keen to see whether there might be any chance of depositing my pack until I could move into my room. Fortunately for me, it turned out that the person who'd booked my room for the Friday night hadn't arrived, and so I was able to move in immediately. I therefore took my pack upstairs, sifted out the things I was likely to need throughout the day and left to sample more of the heady delights of Braemar.

I went first to the Old Bakery, where I drank a nice mocha while reading a bit of my book. After that I went to Braemar Mountain Sports, where I was almost sure I detected a half-concealed grin on the face of the male assistant who'd shown me round the underwear the afternoon before. Uh-oh... *blush*

It's a lovely shop, filled with interesting things and populated by friendly staff, and I had a good time looking round. To be honest I didn't really *need* anything, but that's rarely stopped me in the past. I decided to invest in a couple of pairs of the new (to me) Teko merino wool socks, so that I could send my wet and dirty socks home. They seem to have replaced the Smartwools over here, and I very much liked the fact that "No Mulesing" formed a major plank of their advertising package.

After that I returned to Callater Lodge, to sift through my things for the bits and pieces that I was ready to send home. I'd sent myself a parcel there, and now I was ready to get rid of a few maps and some food that I hadn't used up. I'd been able to get hold of a large plastic envelope in the newsagent near the chemist (having failed, once again, to find any sort of packaging materials in the Post Office), and so I packed up my redundant things and set off for the Post Office, to send them home.

On my way back to the B&B I'd run into Humphrey, making his way into the village from the campsite. He was aiming for the Old Bakery for breakfast, and we'd agreed to meet there once I'd finished my various chores. I therefore set off from Callater Lodge for the Post Office at double-quick speed. I met Colin as I sprinted past the cafe, though, and we went in to find Humphrey seated at a table with Andy and Kate, awaiting breakfast. Leaving the others to guard the table I carried my envelope to the Post Office and despatched it, and then I returned to the eat-fest.

Colin, Andy, Kate & Humphrey

Somebody had eaten the last of Colin's chocolate cake, and he therefore had to make do with carrot cake instead. Humphrey had the enormous breakfast...

Humphrey with his brekky

...and I think it's possible that I had more egg and chips. I seem to have lot track of the chronology, for some reason: I know I had them for a second time at some stage, anyway!

As we ate Challengers were continuing to arrive in the village, to take refuge from hideous conditions in the Lairig Ghru and elsewhere. By the time we'd finished and were ready to leave a new stack of packs had accumulated by the door.

Packs by the door in the Old Bakery

We all decided on a communal visit to the kit shop. I'm always happy to visit a kit shop several times in one day, and so I went back and took a closer look, this time, at some of the other Osprey backpacks upstairs.

After that we went our separate ways for a while. I went back to the B&B in search of some sleep, as the alcoholic excesses of the day before were beginning to catch up with me. I settled down on the bed with my book and soon drifted off, and it was late afternoon by the time I woke up. I'd arranged to see the others at some stage at the bash which had been arranged for us at the Moorfield hotel, and so I jumped into the shower, got into my non-walking Icebreaker and trousers, watched a bit of television and then made my way across.

It was a great evening. I spent an hour or so in the bar, chatting with some people I'd not met before, and then went over to the marquee, where I found Kate and Andy, Colin, Bob and Rose, Humphrey and others. The band, Bingo Wings, was excellent, and when they began to play 'Song 2' by Blur I was overcome by excitment and dragged poor Humphrey onto the dancefloor, where I almost broke his hip. Oops! Humphrey retired, injured, but I hung around on the dancefloor having a bit of a bop with anybody who was willing to join in.

Eventually it was time to leave, and so we did, and my annual dance opportunity was over for another twelve months. It wasn't more than a 10 minute walk back to Callater Lodge, and when I finally slipped between the sheets it was almost no time at all before I was fast asleep.

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