Etape Caledonia 2013, Preparations

Saturday 11 May , 2013
Shopping for bike things is first, cycle shorts and leg warmers, and bars and gels and sun cream. All this time it is raining, and as soon as it stops we go for a walk to see Pre Historic Pitlochry. Picnic on the ‘wrong ‘sandwiches (we got someone’s moulded turkey sandwiches instead of hummus and roasted pepper) by a pond, with our umbrellas up and carry on in the woods and heavy rain which blows sideways at us across the unfenced small byway. There is a standing stone and the Old Mill at Moulin, and an interesting French connection in the name. (To reinforce this connection, later in the restaurant, two French people are dining in full kilts and all the extras)
We dive gladly into this ancient hotel, dark, woody, warm and busy. They have their own brewery and we sample beer and whiskey when we see that the rain is continuing. In the whiskey -enhanced sunshine that follows, we find paths to the remains of Black Dubh Castle and then paths through beech forests to Black Spout Waterfall. The leafless trees look sculpted against the dark grey sunlit sky. As we pass Bells Distillery we see that all the trees are black as ebony every part except for the leaves.
In between these activities there is plenty of preparation going on over in Jims side of the room, – which jacket, whether legwarmers, new shorts needed? or long tracksters. How many bars to stuff in the pockets which shoes, cap or no cap and so on, while I make cups of tea and photograph the yellowhammers and serins from the window, which congregate on the ground under the tall dark trees.
A bit more last minute clothing shopping ensues before the shops shut then showers and out for the second mystery meal that turns out to be at Fern Cottage, next door to last night venue, a very good menu and meal. There was some live music in a pub before time to go home in readiness for tomorrows early rising.

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