Hogmanay 2018 Carrbridge

So it was early 2018 that we decided that a family trip to Carrbridge for New Year would be a great idea! After securing the perfect accommodation we were counting down the days until our trip.

The original plan was that Graeme and I would spend 6 nights with Mum, Lincoln, Clare and Anton staying 4 days. Unfortunately, on the lead up to Christmas Clare’s cat Charlie hadn’t been well so their plans were left open to change.

In true Monika fashion though, the itinerary of our days out was created along with a Tesco delivery for our date of arrival with lots of tasty treats to keep us going during the break. It was great being able to do this as if you had seen the amount of luggage we took for the week there was zero room for anything else! Camera gear takes up a lot of space and nothing could be left behind!

Day 1. Depart to Carrbridge

Ironic that the lead up to the holiday was filled with worry about Charlie that on the day we were due to leave we had to make a swift trip to the vet with Mr Hamish, blood test and a once over confirmed that he was all ok and we were able to depart.

Mum, Lynx, Mr Hamish and I headed up together leaving Graeme to drive Mum’s car up with all the luggage! If we had left Mum to drive herself, she might have got their the day after lols!

The drive was lovely and not too busy for a change, no backseat driving from Lynx either who was content listening to a 90’s playlist, having major throwbacks to nights out with his old friend Ian and eating pizza at 5am!

Arriving safe at our accommodation with Graeme only a couple of minutes behind we were welcomed into the warmth of our cottage for the week!

After quickly unpacking Mum and I headed to the local for a cheeky prosecco while Lynx and Graeme waited on the Tesco delivery. Fajita’s for tea, some more prosecco and an early night for waking up to Clare and Anton arriving the next day.

Day 2. Poor Charlie

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7am and messages coming through from Clare that Charlie had taken very unwell and was being rushed to the vet. Charlie is a sensitive wee cat and as he is getting older, a bit like ourselves doesn’t take well to changes in his environment. Seeing Clare and Anton packing suitcases was enough to stress him out leading to medication and an overnight stay at the vet. With great disappointment and sadness they were forced to make the decision they wouldn’t be able to come up to join us for New Year.

However, being in the safety of the vet and nothing else they could do until morning, Clare decided that she would come up for one night and be back in time to spend New Years eve with Charlie and Anton.

Waiting on Clare’s arrival, Mum and I headed to Lochan Eilean in Rothiemurcus to look for some Red Squirrels. As soon as we arrived in the car park we were treated to one diving about the queue of cars waiting to pay, then a second on the feeder next to the car park hut, then running across the path walking down to the loch, then up a tree as we walked into the forest! Wow I hear you say!……

Heading into the forest to set up in our usual spot after seeing 4 in the space of 5 minutes I was excited that Mum would have a really good chance of seeing them up close.

So, we waited, and waited, and waited….nada! Decision made to cut our losses, camera stored back in the bag, then…..yep, you guessed it our furry little friends appeared. Swiftly set up again and before we knew it we had 4 squirrels chasing each other about and munching all the nuts we had brought them. One very happy Mum and some shots in the bank.

Next stop, we headed to Rothiemurchas Farm to pick up the beef joint and venison sausages I had pre-ordered a few days before for our dinners during the week. I was really impressed with the service and was a bit doubtful at even being able to make an order for New Year at short notice but everything was ready for me to pick up when I arrived, taste results later!

Back to the cottage we made up some sandwiches and picked up Lynx, Graeme and Mr Hamish to head out for a walk to The Green Loch, An Lochan Uaine.

Mum kindly bought Clare and I an Akaso action camera for Christmas so it was the ideal opportunity to try it out and start capturing our family holiday on video - first video recorded, bag of Mr Hamish Poop swinging from Mums back pack lols!

We had a lovely walk and Mum and Lynx were thoroughly impressed with the Loch, think Lynx wanted to go for a swim to find out why it was green - maybe next time when its a bit warmer! Mum walked the sensible route back to the car whilst the rest of us climbed up the scenic route through the trees to get the best views of the Cairngorm Mountain range. Lynx loved it!

Thoroughly walked out we headed back to the cottage to meet Clare after she had spent some time with the Red Squirrels in the afternoon.

Time for some amazing venison sausage casserole and a prosecco!

Like a lot of people, we are a family who love the show Friends, we are also extremely competitive and had purchased a trivial pursuit game about the show to play during out trip. Mum had been swatting up and Graeme half paying attention to episodes in the weeks running up to the game, so we split into teams for the showdown. Clare & Lynx against Graeme, Mum & Me!

In the end it was me against Clare & Lynx as Mum & Graeme were as useful as Joey speaking French! With Clare & Lynx winning in the end it was unbelievable at how many minute details Lynx had stored away about the show! It was good fun and didn’t end up in WW3 as we thought it might lols!

Clear skies we finished the evening standing outside in the grounds of the cottage staring up at the milky way. Not the clearest we have seen it but still astonishing and gave me the chance to try out my new wide angle lens. Astrophotography can be tricky and is something that Clare and I are hoping to expand our skills around during our next trip to Mull in February…watch this space!

Day 3. Mountain Hares and Hogmanay

After being warned not to talk to Lynx until he’d had his coffee (actual grumpy pants) Clare and I dragged him away to find Mountain Hares mid morning, leaving Graeme and Mum in the warmth of the cottage with lazy Mr Hamish. Border Terriers and Mountain Hares also don’t make a good match!

Man it was windy but we headed out anyway to see if we could see anything. As soon as we arrived Clare spotted a Golden Eagle soaring along the ridge, a good sign that there were Hares around. Wrapped up in lots of layers we started trekking up the hill.

Shortly after, we decided to trek back down as the wind was just too much.

However, a good spot by Clare we found a Hare! Swinging round so we were down wind we crept towards the Hare who was hunkered down against the heather. Lynx kept his distance while Clare and I moved closer to get some shots. We spent about 45mins or so just watching him, although he was intently watching the three of us and didn’t relax much. Managing to get Lynx up to us for a closer look we decided to leave him in peace and head back to Carrbridge.

Lots of sad hugs, Clare left us to head home to see how Charlie was doing, much better after regular updates from Anton but it was time get home to see them both.

For us, it was time to get ready for Hogmanay celebrations Carrbridge style. Mum took on the task of dinner with the beef joint cooking away in the slow cooker and the potatoes ready for roasting.

Table decorated, Moet opened we sat down to enjoy our New Years Eve roast dinner which was absolutely delicious! Thanks Mum and thanks to Rotheimurcus Farm for the amazing Beef joint, it was so yummy!

Fed and watered we headed out to join the locals and other holiday makers bring in the New Year at the brilliant Cairn Hotel. Unbelievably we managed to squeeze in at a table with a lovely couple and quickly got chatting to them and the other revellers out for the festivities. The pub was bouncing with a live band and everyone was up for a really good time.

It’s the second time I have danced on the tables at this pub and every time we go we have such a good time. The locals really treat you as though you are family and welcome you into their environment for the short space of time you are there.

It is actually hard to describe other than what my mum keeps saying as a truly Scottish New Year. Everyone was dancing and singing with hardly room to move as we got closer to midnight. Count down to the bells and everyone came together to celebrate the New Year, auld lang syne lead us into more music and dancing until the early hours.

After things fizzled down in the pub we made our way back to the cottage and continued the celebrations. Graeme and I commanding the speakers blasting out James and Leon Bridges before falling into bed totally knackered but buzzing from the night.

Day 4. Family Memories

Dad always had a camera on him be that still or video. We are lucky that he invested so much time in capturing our lives growing up that every so often we can sit down and watch the family videos he made.

Now, these are no Spielberg movies and consist of blank screens, naff camera tricks and what we call ‘no dad’ moments when he hasn’t turned the camera off and all you see is his feet or the back of a sun bed for 5 mins before he realises and switches it off! These are our dad moments though and despite the fact that he is rarely in them, it’s nice to know that he cared so much to capture these moments for us to remember.

It took us the whole day to watch them all and it was so nice to just curl up, slightly worse for wear and reminisce about the past while eating the last of the Christmas chocolates.

Day 5. Red Squirrels & Goodbye

Mum and Lynx last day we decided to head back down to Rothiemurchus to see if we could find Red Squirrels for Lynx.

After telling Lynx that the film The Outlaw King (which is actually amazing, it's on Netflix if you haven't seen it!) was filmed at Lochan Eilean, we had to wait first while he took a million pictures of the Loch - we’ve now taken to calling him “SSP Bro” in light of his new found photography bug!

Again we headed into our usual spot in the forest with nuts laid out we didn’t need to wait long this time before 2 squirrels arrived for their lunch. Lynx and Mum were treated to one of the wee squirrels running around their feet, much to their delight and an excellent way to finish their trip.

It was so amazing to be able to show Mum and Lynx all the things that Clare and I get up to when we are on our trips. They both thoroughly enjoyed themselves and are still buzzing even now, I’m sure that another family trip for New Year will be on the cards soon!

With Mum & Lynx heading home, Graeme and I headed back to the cottage with Mr Hamish for some chill time.

I nipped out in the afternoon to put the new lens to work again and finally take some photos of the actual Carr-Bridge, the namesake of the town.

The bridge was built in 1717 and is the oldest stone bridge in the Highlands, it was severely damaged in 1829 which left it in the condition seen today.

I was looking to achieve some fast running water shots with the river, this means long exposures with the camera using lens filters. It was absolutely freezing and after spending only 30mins and capturing about 5 shots I couldn’t feel my fingers so it was time to head back!

Log fire on with Mr Hamish curled up in front of it stealing all the heat, Graeme and I had a nice quiet evening stuffing our faces again with pizza and watching the TV.

Day 6. Last Day

Graeme and I spent the last day taking it easy. We took a walk back up to The Green Loch, less a slow Mr Hamish this time to try and get some long exposure shots. Rubbish lighting, we gave up and headed back to the cottage, not before stopping back at the Rothiemurchus farm for more sausages lols!

All packed we had our last dinner out at the Cairn Hotel which was considerably quieter than Hogmanay but still a lovely evening with an amazing dinner!

It has always been a wish for us to spend Hogmanay up in the Highlands with our family. Disappointing that Anton couldn’t make it and that Clare could only spend a little time with us, it was still everything we expected it would be. From seeing my brothers face light up being around the squirrels to dancing on a table with an old Scottish guy in a kilt, this trip has created so many memories for us all to cherish.

Clare and I are blessed to have such an amazing wee family, from our ever supportive husbands, a mum who will without hesitation carry our gear (and dog poo!) and make us homemade macaroons for our journey’s, to our brother who is in awe of what we have achieved and who was absolutely thrilled to be able to spend some time in our world. We love them all and can’t thank them enough for their support, here’s to the future and continued journey into 2019.

Whilst the story of our trip is captured in this blog, we have created a video of our combined photos and videos from our Canon's to phones and our new action camera!

Watch our walks, the wildlife we encountered and our celebrations in the Cairn Hotel, not to mention the swinging poo bag!

We would love it if you could check it out, hit the like button and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos in the future!

Best wishes to everyone in 2019 xo

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