[This post is sponsored by John Clark Motor Group]
Guys: can you even imagine what kind of absolute idiots would drive all the way to one of the most scenic parts of Scotland, only to get there and realise they’d left the memory card for their camera on the desk at home?
Thank goodness for iPhones, eh? And cars with USB ports which allow you to charge them on the go, when you get half a mile from home and realise that, whoops, already almost out of juice!
Last weekend, you see, Terry and I were given the opportunity to test drive the new Volvo XC60, and we figured it was as good an excuse as any for a bit of a road trip. It turned out to be a pretty good plan, too, because last weekend turned out to be one of the sunniest of the year so far. So, we had sunshine, we had snacks, we had this babe of a vehicle to make the trip feel a whole lot shorter:
What more could we want? Er, other than a camera with a working memory card, obviously? And, to be honest, I quite fancied a packet of Fruit Pastilles, but when I yelled that request to Terry across a petrol station forecourt, this is what he came back with:
Apparently he thought I’d asked for a packet of PASTA? And, well, they didn’t have any dry pasta – you know, with it being a petrol station, and all? – so he figured these were the next best thing. I’m not gonna lie, they were pretty damn tasty, but I still want to know what he thought I was going to do with a packet of dry pasta on a road trip? I mean, the Volvo XC60 has a ton of great features, sure, but unfortunately a kitchen isn’t one of them, so who knows!
Anyway! So, we had our car, we had built-in Sat Nav, we had a packet of finest quality chicken bites, and we were headed over the Queensferry Crossing, en route to Perth, to see a man about a telescope. No, seriously: it was Terry’s birthday last week, and he’d decided to buy himself a telescope with the money he’d been given – the only hitch being that the one he’d found on Gumtree was located in Perth, and we were very much NOT. It was at this point that I started to realise how very fortunate we were to have chosen this particular weekend to test drive an SUV, because, not only did it just swallow up the miles between us and Perth, it also had a boot big enough to carry what turned out to be a very large, very heavy telescope. (It’s now in my living room, along with the 45 boxes that came with it. Every so often, Terry gestures vaguely in its direction and says, “I WILL tidy that up soon, but, well, we’ll see how “soon” is SOON…)
Some other things we liked about the car (And I just want to be clear here that I am Not a Car Person, so this is very much a layperson’s “review” – if you’re looking for a “proper” Volvo XC60 review, check out the John Clark website here…):
Keyless start: just touch the button in front of the gear stick (Handily marked START), put your foot on the brake, and you’re off.
Super-cool sensors, which are activated automatically as soon as you get close to another vehicle, and then draws this 3d map for you of the surrounding area. I spent a lot of time on this trip going, “But how is it DOING it? HOW?”
The huge sunroof, which stretches the entire length of the car, and made it REALLY good for taking selfies in. Because that’s important, right?
This was my attempt to take a photo of the sunroof from inside the car. I know, I’m awesome, right? Here it is from OUTSIDE:
With our telescope safely stowed in the boot, we headed for our next stop, which was the pretty little village of Falkland, in Fife: or “Inverness” as you probably know it if you happen to be an Outlander fan, because this is yet another Outlander filming location, and is the place Claire and Frank stay on their ill-fated honeymoon, right before Claire finds herself falling through a rip in the time-space continuum and waking up in the 18th century. Happens to us all, doesn’t it?
This is the very hotel Claire and Frank stay in in the series.
This is my sad attempt to recreate this photo of Claire walking towards the hotel. Yes.
This is my failed attempt to take a photo of someone taking two miniature ponies for a walk down the street, like it ain’t no thang. MINIATURE PONIES, PEOPLE. Well, you can imagine how I felt about THAT, can’t you?
If you’re an Outlander fan, I’m sure you’ll have instantly recognised these scenes. If you’re not, meanwhile, and the miniature ponies didn’t swing it for you, I would still very much recommend a visit to Falkland, because it’s one of those picture-perfect little places that makes you thoroughly annoy your husband by insisting he stop and take another photo of you on every street corner. For the ‘gram, you know?
It’s just gorgeous: so much so, in fact, that I totally forgot to take a photo of the whopping great palace (Falkland Palace) that sits right on the main street. So you’ll just have to go ad see it for yourself, I’m afraid. As for us, it was time to head home to pick up Max from my mum and dad’s place – and to prepare for our next adventure, to Seacliff beach, in East Lothian.
Now, I’ve written about Seacliff a few times now, and, if you’re a regular reader, you might know that it’s one of my favourite places in the world. I’d been really looking forward to taking Max there, and so had my parents, who’d asked to come along for his first visit to our favourite beach. The problem with that, however, was that our car only has four seats (The back seat has a pointless piece of plastic in the middle of it which serves no purpose I can see, but stops anyone actually sitting on it), and while my parents’car is a 5-seater, it’s a little too cramped for all five of us to travel in it for anything other than relatively short trips. The Volvo, however, was much roomier, and my mum and I were able to fit comfortably into the back seat, alongside Max’s car seat:
The boot, meanwhile, was filled with this little lot:
“Well,” said my mum, looking at it, “It looks like we’re Those People, now. You know, the ones who can’t go to the beach without taking ton of STUFF?” And, indeed, we were Those People. As we learned early on in our parenting journey, you just can’t travel light with a baby, so as well as Max’s changing bag, containing all of the usual paraphernalia, we cart around for him, we also took a small pop-up tent to feed and change him in, as well as keeping him out of the sun (Seacliff is an awesome beach, but it’s very much a ‘rough n’ready’ one, so there are no baby change facilities, needless to say…), a wind break, a cool box containing food for us and milk for him, plus… honestly, I have no idea what the rest of that stuff even is, seriously. What I DO know, however, is that there’s no way it would all have fit into our own car, along with four adults and a baby in a car seat, so yeah: high five to the Volvo, once again.
Oh, and one more high five: the road to Seacliff is basically a dirt-track, which takes a precarious route along the edge of a cliff. Our car is a bit of a princess, really, so I’m not sure how well it would’ve handled it: the Volvo, however, made nothing of it, and, before long, we’d arrived at our happy place, and I’d realised that, in addition to being the kind of people who take everything they own to the beach with them, we’re also the kind of people who keep inadvertently dressing the same, because, remember that time Terry and I went to Portobello, and ended up looking like we were in a cult? Guys, it happened again:
Oh, and my dad wore yellow, too, so only my mum and Max managed to look normal. Awesome work, guys!
(I feel I have to explain that this was NOT planned, and, in fact, when we left the house, Terry was wearing a sweatshirt, so I didn’t realise he was wearing the same colour as me. He, on the other hand, obviously DID know, so there’s a part of me that suspects he did this deliberately, and that it’ll happen again. Note to self: AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS. GOD.)
Still! Max has been to the seaside before, but this was the first time he’d actually made it onto the beach, so, once we’d unpacked all our worldly goods, we all gathered around and took 50,000 photos of him, like people who’d never seen a baby before:
Once we’d settled in, I decided to take him down to the sea for a paddle:
I’d had an idealised version of this scene in my head, in which the waves would lap at his little toes, and he”d laugh in delight, just like we were in a movie:
Yeah, not so much.
He did find the water both fascinating and hilarious, though, and, a little later, and I think he enjoyed himself:
I, meanwhile, spent a lot of time worrying obsessively about his temperature, and keeping his precious skin protected from the sun, but I enjoyed myself too: as I said, we’ve visited this particular part of country many, many times now, but I think this was the best weather I can remember getting there, and it was so nice to be able to enjoy it with Max and the rest of the family. Huge thanks to John Clark Motor Group for sponsoring this post, and allowing us to borrow the car for the weekend, without which this trip wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun! Oh, and if you want to know more about the car, you’ll find some links below…