Sunday, July 16, 2006

Day two -- The Games at Forres

We were very lucky to have a Friday-Friday checkin at the resort, as most people have a Saturday-Saturday checkin, and miss the Highland Games, which are always on a Saturday. I had to work out the logistics of getting to Forres, for we decided not to hire a car. (That's "rent" a car for you Americans out there--I'm returning to my Scottish roots already!)

On Friday night, I called several local car agencies and none of them had cars available for six people, nor even any for four people. The only car available was a large van, but it cost £280, and I had to pick it up in Inverness. So we were stuck taking the train, which the front desk people told us was quite inconvenient. How wrong they were! They must be as spoilt as most Americans.

We walked to Aviemore (about one mile away) to get breakfast and catch the train. Breakfast was splendid. We ate at the Mountain Gate cafe. Becky and Luke had porridge, and Eddie and I had the All-Day Breakfast, so name because it sits with you all day: one fried egg, sausages, black pudding, hash browns, baked beans for Eddie, bacon and a grilled tomato. Delicious!

The train from Aviemore to Inverness and then connecting to Forres was great! And it only cost £80 for all of us round-trip. The train cars were immaculately clean (even the toilets), and from the train we could relax and watch the landscape roll by.

Upon arriving in Forres, we had a lovely walk through town, ate some lunch at a small cafe. Eddie and I had fish and chips with peas, Luke had chicken nuggets, and Becky had a nice looking quiche. Kathleen had her ubiquitous (for her) tuna salad, and Ed had sausages and chips.

After lunch, we completed our walk to Grant Park to attend the Games (for only £20 for the group)!

The Games at Forres were great fun, and it seems best that we chose a smalltown venue to attend. They have larger Games in Stirling and Glasgow, but they're heavily produced affairs, more like going to an O's game in Baltimore than going to the Potomac Nats in Woodbridge. Here, most of the competitors were from Forres or its neighboring towns. All were competing to advance to the world cup games in Inverness and Aberdeen.

The games were run a bit like a big outdoor circus. Several events were happening at the same time in a very large open grassy ring. Heavyweight events included putting the Rab Ritchie Stane (a large rock), tossing the hammer, a 28 lb weight, and tossing the caber for accuracy and distance. There were also track and field events, cycling events, bagpiping competions (both solo and group competition), and traditional dancing events. Contestants ranged from 11 to 65-ish, both lads and lassies.

Around the ring were festival attractions like shops, moon bounces, trampoline jumps (which Eddie enjoyed greatly!), paintball target practice (Luke got 12 targets in about 20 shots!), and, of course, military recruiting for the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Army, and Royal Air Force.

After games, Eddie spotted a tower peaking out of the wooded mountain near us, so we headed up a path and discovered "Lord Sir Admiral Nelson's Tower." The tower is a monument to the Battle of Trafalgar, and serves a great view of the town of Forres and the North Sea. But do mind your head coming through the last door at the top, as I gave mine a terrible whack coming through.

Tomorrow is Sunday, a free day, and we'll probably sleep late and do nothing at all. (Which is lovely!)

© Copyright 2005-2014, Scott E. Harris. All Rights Reserved.
Please do not reproduce or copy without the permission of the author.