How to spend your last weekend as a Miss is a pretty tough
decision. You want to strike the right balance between fun and rest
so you end up feeling fantastic the following week, but the
quandary is whether to go hardcore and head off to bootcamp, or go
for feet-up on the sun-lounger catching some pre-wedding
In the end, I opted for a weekend at John O'Groats with my
mother and sister. Neither sun nor run, I know, but three things
blew this Bride to Be up to the windswept corner of northernmost
One: the weekend before the Big Day is a little close to the
line to be travelling abroad. Two: my mother and sister both live
in Scotland (and the wedding is in Scotland). Three: a new hotel
happened to be opening this very weekend and we thought it might be
fun to count ourselves among the first guests at The Inn at John O'Groats (pictured, bottom
We drove up on Friday to make the most of the weekend. It's
three hours from Edinburgh to Inverness, then another three up to
John O'Groats. Not a short distance, but the coastal route is
bonnie as can be and on arrival we were greeted with a bottle of
chilled Prosecco and Swedish massages for three.
Things were looking good, and I certainly didn't envy Groom To
Be who had his Stag Do this weekend where he's taking on the
hairiest and burliest of kilted Scots having been entered into a
Highland Games by his two Best Men. Not that he knows that yet, of
Anyway, back to girly time where it's all about snuggling up
with a hot chocolate (yes, even in summer), going for long windy
walks and visiting castles. I know hot choc and haggis isn't your
typical pre-wedding diet, but this is Scotland and I have to admit
I found myself looking out to sea wondering if a "wind tan" would
give me that bridal glow.
The original 1875 John O'Groats Hotel sits alongside the
famous John O'Groats signpost and from our cosy two-bedroom
apartment, Kitty Lass, we had a winning view of soggy cyclists
arriving for their prize photographs. The large windows also
showcased the break in the waves where the North Sea meets the
Atlantic and a little jetty that sees ferries off to Orkney.
The restoration involved renovating the white fairytale half
(home, so they say, to the White Lady) after it lay empty for three
decades, as well as adding a splash of colour with a new Norse
style extension made from brightly painted planks - blue, green,
yellow and red.
The next morning after coffee, scrambled eggs and locally
smoked salmon we set off to check out the Queen Mother's Highland
pad. Formally known as the Castle of Mey (pictured, top left), this
royal pile was bought by the Queen Mother after WWII and sits in
front of an ancient gnarled woodland looking out to the Orkney
Prince Charles still comes up to his grandmother's former home
every summer, and was in fact here just last week. Luckily for us,
he's back down south now so the castle was open for a good old
For a crazy Saturday night we ordered delicious seafood
platters from Chef Hamish, downloaded Bride Wars on Apple
TV and bunkered in for an evening of making table place marks
(details to come after the wedding) and sewing silk roses for the
More specifically, my sister did the sewing and I did the
place marks - as luck would have it Sister of the Bride a.k.a. Maid
of Honour is a genius with a needle and brought along her sewing
machine for the weekend like it were her handbag.
With cosy lodgings, local seafood and a couple of wee drams
along the way (Chef Hamish quickly diagnosed a Hot Toddy - whisky,
lemon and honey - when he heard me coughing one day) this was the
perfect way to spend my last weekend before becoming Mrs L.
And as for the cough, I'm downing vitamin C like there's no
tomorrow hoping it will scare off my blocked nose and sore throat.
Surely a small dose of flu is all part of pre wedding fun...?
The Inn at John O'Groats has a Special
Introductory Offer with 25% off. Natural Retreats (www.naturalretreats.com) is offering 3 nights
from £200 based on a 1 bedroom en-suite from 22nd August 2013. See
more at naturalretreats.co.uk