Janet said I had gone to visit them in Inverness just to see their new kittens! We-e-ll….. they were cute! Rhea is still quite small, going to be a dainty cat when she grows up. Monty is bigger – and not so people-orientated, though he didn’t mind a bit of petting now and again. He’s got beautiful dark eyes, has Monty! Rhea just rolled over and purred all the time - even on Janet’s laptop keyboard. You could say “something’s crashed on the laptop”!
Well, of course they weren’t the only reason I was in Inverness. Janet is one of my oldest friends. We met at school in the 1960s and kept in touch afterwards, meeting up again when I moved to Yorkshire. Janet was living in the next county where she had met and married her lovely husband Ray. Boy, are these two made for each other!
Eventually, they left County Durham for Inverness, and I returned to Scotland, choosing Peebles as my home, but every now and again I get together with the two of them, quite often in Inverness.
On Saturday morning Janet was doing a shift in the Highland Hospice charity pop-up Christmas shop in the big shopping mall, the Eastgate Centre, so I went into town with her, and while she was working I took a walk around the town, greatly changed since the days we used to visit “Auntie” Maud, a friend of my parents when I was a child. A lot of the old town has gone with large areas of concrete buildings, like the Eastgate Mall in its place.
The pillar in the square above is a very modern “mercat cross” or market cross. The mercat cross in many Scottish towns way back in history was the centre of the market trading area, and it was also here that announcements were made to the inhabitants of the town or village. They were often topped by the royal unicorn, the symbol of the Scottish monarchy, which this modern equivalent echoes.
The iconic view of Inverness is of the castle standing on a hillock overlooking the river Ness. There has been a castle on this site since the 11th century, but this one was built in the 19th century and houses the local court house and associated offices.
Behind the castle is a statue of Highland heroine, Flora Macdonald, complete with feathered headgear most of the time.
From the back of the castle you can also see the 19th century cathedral, dedicated to St Andrew, on the far bank of the river. There should have been spires on top of the two towers, but money was tight and it was decided not to build them.
The entrance led to an elegant staircase that led up to the grand hall, where various stalls were selling Fair Trade goods from food to crafts, and clothes.
So having done a bit of shopping and walked a fair distance round the town it was time to get back to the Eastgate Centre to meet Janet. This is the automated clock in the centre. Each hour things birl and twirl; Noah dips his rod and line for a catch; doors open and reveal their secrets; and fish jump out of the waves…. I missed it all by 12 minutes! Oh well!
Talk again soon.