During our holiday last week - when Padra so kindly covered this page for me - we had a few wonderful days in red squirrel country, not far from Aviemore in the Highlands. Quite apart from unexpected autumn sunshine, we saw squirrels everywhere. They were very busy, running about digging holes and collecting nuts. Every time I see them I'm stunned all over again by just how beautiful they are, so small and elegant and athletic.
Not far from the Rothiemurchas estate is Drake's Alpine Nursery, but the plant nursery is only the beginning of it. They also have a coffee room which serves tea, coffee and cakes. Not biscuits, not scones. Just cakes, as in, to die for. And while you enjoy your coffee and cake, you can sit at a wee gallery just at treetop level and watch the squirrels and any number of species of wild birds, all giving the bird feeders a good reason to be there. It's one of the most amazing hidden gems I've ever come across and is popular with the locals, which is always a good sign.
Local. Oh, if only.
PS Mistmantle readers may like to know that Sepia was there. She didn't sing - you can't, while you're eating - but she has the most beautiful table manners.