Last time we stood in those spots we had Jessica with us. The four of us posed by the sign; three of us in Little Hearts Matter T-shirts; feeling a sense of achievement at having completed our LEJOG journey. Even then we knew that we wanted to come back here again. If only we could have done it with Jessica again. If only there could have been five of us standing there. Although in a way there was. Jessica was there on the front of our “JoGLE for Jessica” T-shirts. Still with us. Always with us. Just not in the way we want her to be with us.
Sophie had gone from sad and subdued to full of energy. She had great fun climbing and sliding down the metal arcs next to the signpost with the other children who were doing the same. Hubby stayed with her and Thomas while I headed off to the First and Last Shop to get our log stamped.
We had three hours to wait for the next bus to Thurso. John O’Groats is less commercialised than Land’s End. There are several gift shops, a few places to eat and a ferry terminal to get across to the Orkney Isles but not much else. Hubby had spotted a nearby farm shop on the map with a petting farm. Once we’d had lunch we took a little walk down the road to check it out.
Puffin Croft turned out to be a lovely place to pass the time. We picked up some yummy pork pies and fruit from the farm shop along with a bag of carrots for the animals. Sophie loved seeing donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, a hare and some rabbits. Feeding the goats was great fun. She was trying so hard to ensure that each goat got a piece of carrot, but some were definitely more determined than others to get to the food!
The visit to Puffin Croft was just what was needed to help restore Sophie to her usual sunny self too. She’d been in a bit of a funny mood ever since the bus ride from Wick and very out of sorts. I am sure that missing Jessica was part of it.
There was just enough time left when we got back to John O’Groats to get an ice-cream. We loved the choice of flavours and the different types of cones available at Flavours ice-cream parlour. Sophie went for a bubblegum ice-cream in a rainbow sprinkle cone. I had Turkish Delight ice-cream in a rainbow sprinkle cone and hubby went for peach melba, bubblegum and raspberry ripple in a plain waffle cone.
The bus back to Thurso was a tiny 13-seater one. Fortunately there was enough space for Thomas’s buggy without us having to take the car seat off and fold the frame up. Sophie was more cheerful on this bus ride.
We had found somewhere to stay through Air BnB – a two bedroom flat just over a mile away from Thurso station. Sophie was very excited that she had her own double bed to sleep in.
We were all tired from our early start and were asleep by 8.30pm. It was just as well really as I was woken around 2.30am by a very restless and hot Thomas. He had some Calpol and a feed which he then threw up a few moments later. Poor little love. We spent most of the rest of the night sitting on the sofa and snuggling. By the time we were ready to leave the next morning he seemed mostly back to his usual self, much to my relief.
The 08:34 train from Thurso to Inverness was busier than yesterday’s train along this line. We ended up sitting at the end of the carriage near the cycle racks where there was space for Thomas’s buggy (which he slept in for about half the journey) and a table for hubby to do some work at (when not playing UNO with Sophie).
The train from Thurso to Inverness is a single track line which takes a bit of a winding route. It takes about four hours to get to Inverness. The views are lovely along the way. It was a bit too grey and overcast to fully appreciate them on this trip though. Some of the stations along the way are request stops where the train only stops if there are passengers getting on or off the train at them. Stations such as Dunrobin Castle (which looked like somewhere we would have enjoyed exploring) and Rogart (where you can stay in a converted train carriage). Yesterday we’d passed through most of them, but this time the train stopped at nearly all of them.
We reached Inverness at 12.25pm and had a couple of hours to wait for our train to Glasgow. Had it not been raining heavily, we probably would have explored the city a little more. Instead we headed to the Eastgate shopping centre where we enjoyed an all-day breakfast at the Jammy Piece.
There were some foam mats, shapes and letters in the area near the escalators. This was a good place to pass a little more time and play a few games of noughts and crosses. Daddy taught Sophie the secret of how to win while I took Thomas off for a nappy change. It took me a while to work out how to block her and make it a draw.
We also spotted another one of the Oor Wullie sculptures outside the station and a painted squirrel which presumably is part of another trail. Afterwards we realised that there was another Oor Wullie sculpture inside the shopping centre which we’d managed to miss.
The train from Inverness to Glasgow was absolutely packed. We were very thankful that we had reserved seats for all four of us. Thomas doesn’t need a ticket but I knew it would make life easier on long journeys to pay for him to have a seat. It was much needed this time as there was barely room for his buggy even when folded. At least we could put him on a seat in his car seat and still have room for all of us to sit down as well. Trying to get down the carriage to reach the toilet was a challenge though. It was a relief when the train finally arrived at Glasgow. Afterwards we heard about the power outage that had stopped train travel across large parts of England. We were very lucky not to be affected by these.
We’d booked to stay at “the moon” (Premier Inn) on West Nile Street, where we were meeting up with Godmummy Gillian for dinner. This “moon” had the biggest family room I have ever stayed in. I think Thomas appreciated having space to be able to crawl around! It was also lovely to have a catch-up with Gillian and to look forward to a little break from our travels with a couple of nights’ stay in Glasgow.