Bettyhill to Thurso

Day 48  15 April:  As far as we could tell,  nobody had been murdered before we’d checked out of the Bettyhill Hotel this morning. Disappointing really. In the hotel dining room last night Phil and I were convinced that we were part of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. This was the perfect setting. Remote hotel,  13 guests, all of whom would have shared the same motive for murder.  Problem is, none of us had the courage to do it. As far as I’m aware, the potential victim still lives. The guest pianist. A lovely chap, desperate to please and entertain. And he did, for a while. We were initially very amused at his charming, stumbling style. Most of the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. We laughed a lot.  We played advanced level “Guess that Tune”. Alas, the novelty wore off. Never before have I exchanged such knowing, pained looks with every other paying guest. We eventually adjourned to the bar to sample the local whiskey. Honestly officer, I don’t remember the rest. Apart from Nicola, the lovely barmaid who deftly kept Phil’s glass topped up. Quite a challenge.

The forecast for snow was not completely wrong. Just a light flurry but bitterly cold, still blowing in from the north. I enjoyed today’s long, hard climbs more than the downhill dashes, simply because I was warmer when pedalling uphill. The approach to Thurso,via Dounreay nuclear power station, was not the most scenic of routes today. On a warmer, clearer day the view of the Orkneys are probably wonderful.  The setting for the Thurso Lifeboat’s berth in the port of Scrabster was more industrial than most. But this is a serious ALB Station in a demanding environment, covering a huge sea area, from Cape Wrath to the notorious fast flowing currents & tidal races of the Pentland Firth. It was a privilege to meet Wing, the seasoned (salty?), wicked humoured Cox’n. Thanks so much for my latest trophy, perfect for a cold day like today. According to the embroidered badge on my cosy new jumper,  I am now an honorary member of the Thurso Lifeboat Crew. Thankfully,  I wasn’t issued with an pager, so I can sleep well again tonight.

On that note, if any of you kind donors out there can subtly spread the word with your friends, family,  workmates etc., my fundraising is slipping a bit. At well over 2,000 miles cycled but only just over £1,500 raised, I’m a wee bit behind my £1 per mile target. Every little helps. ALL donations go directly to the Lifeboats. Thanks.

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