The drive down from Orkney was relatively uneventful, but from Inverness to Aberdeen Airport (to collect Second Born) it snowed and snowed and snowed. Fortunately, at the low altitude of the immediate area, it wasn't making much progress at covering the ground.
The holiday cottage was nestled away in beech woodland, surrounded by birdsong and bud burst, as Spring's coming crescendo was beginning to turn up the volume. We sat by the lounge window, watching the snowflakes falling and letting out yelps of delight at the exotic ornithology visiting the bird feeder. There were finches and tits of every stripe, all investigating what was on offer. To be honest, it was meagre fare, as I hadn't considered feeding the birds whilst food shopping. Undaunted, I spent an inordinate amount of time sorting out some nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower hearts from a packet of muesli, to share with our feathered neighbours.
The photo above was taken early on the Sunday morning. No snow, but a bitingly cold roar of a wind was making the trees sway. Behind the cottage was a conifer (I was later told it was a Lawson Cypress), whose foliage was very photogenic.
Unfortunately, the gardens at Pitmedden were not yet open to the public for the tourist season, but we spent a pleasant morning wandering around the environs, exploring the paths and woods.
Before returning to the cottage, we ventured to the next village to visit the Coffee Apothecary for some refreshment.
On the following day, which was warm, sunny and simply shouted "Spring!", we drove to Stonehaven and walked along the clifftops to Dunnottar Castle. Unsurprisingly, there are centuries of history within its walls, with just one of its claims to fame being the defence of the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels) in 1651, when Oliver Cromwell besieged the castle for 8 months. When the surrender finally came, it was discovered that the Honours had been smuggled out. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, it was revealed that the Crown Jewels had been hidden in a local church.