Sunday, June 27, 2010

John o' Groats

By Claire
Yesterday, a Sunday, was supposed to be a lazy, relaxing day at "home" but we spent the better part of the day planning our next 3 weeks. We would not be able to do this without a computer and internet access. For finding campgrounds and making a booking, it is essential. It's difficult, though, figuring out how long to stay in each place, let alone which places we want to see and which we can pass by in order to have more time for others.

It was a good day to stay in. We're finally getting the rains of Scotland. In fact, I think we experienced all 4 seasons today. Sun, rain, sun, clouds, very dark clouds, pouring rain, sun, sun, clouds, rain, sun, pouring rain. That was just one 30 minute period. Naturally, we had done laundry and some of it was just drying when the rain started. We sprinted across the grass to the communal clothes line, snatching out things off the line just in time.

One of the things we've liked about our stay at this campground is the bread delivery guy who comes in the morning, beeping his horn. There is also an ice cream man who drives through the place, music tinkling out of his speakers, announcing his arrival. I've never seen so many people rushing out of their campers and tents making a mad dash for the their dessert. Most of them are grown men, Chuck included.

These potato chips look tasty, don't they?

We drove up the northeast coast of Scotland today to John o' Groats Caravan and Camping, in a place called, of all things, John o'Groats.

All we really had to do was stay on the A99 until it stopped--or end up in the water. I was curious about the name and looked it up on Wikipedia:

The town takes its name from Jan de Groot, a Dutchman who obtained a grant for the ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, recently acquired from Norway, from King James IV in 1496. The lower case and second space in "John o' Groats" are regarded by many as correct, as the "o'" means "of" and thus is not cognate with Irish names that begin with O'; but the name can be found with the capital and/or without the space. People from John o' Groats are known as "Groatsers".

The name John o' Groats has a particular resonance because it is often used as a starting or ending point for cycles, walks and charitable events to and from Land's End (at the extreme south-western tip of the Cornish peninsula in England). The phrase Land's End to John o' Groats (LEJOG) is frequently heard both as a literal journey (being the longest possible in Great Britain) and as a metaphor for great or all-encompassing distance, similar to the American phrase coast to coast.

We appear to be near the same latitude with Stockholm, Sweden and will have 21 hours and 13 minutes of visible light today. The sun rose at 4:01 am and will set at 10:27 pm. I am a fair weather person and love sunlight; it's going to be really hard to go back to shorter days which come all too soon. This has been an unexpected treat.

We enjoyed this very tiny town with its local museum, known as The Last House in Scotland. We toured it in about 15 minutes. I thought this local woman was quite interesting: born in 1824 and died in 1924, she married and moved into The Last House in 1845 and lived there until her death. This picture was taken on her 100th birthday. She died 3 months later. She was a midwife all her working life and was a widow for 70 years.

Cambell Laird

Wandering around, we spotted this threesome who are doing what so many others have done, biking 864 miles from Land's End to John o' Groats. They're doing it for the Heart Association and they were just starting out. We saw many cyclists with loaded paniers making this journey. There was even a lone walker making his way to John o' Groats.

And here's the Last Hotel--falling into ruin, but impressive none the less.

Tomorrow we head to the Orkney Islands, a 40 minute ferry ride from our campground.


punkingee said...

OK. Maybe I'm being dense but...
What shape was the woman in the Last House in Scotland in when she moved there in 1945 since she died in 1924? ;-)

Chuck and Claire said...

Oops! Thanks for catching that. I'll fix it when I have a decent connection. We're literally by the side of the road using our dongle...