Welcome to Scotland, folks! I'm aware that I'm egregiously behind with the blogging; I apologise, and I'll make it up when I have time. At the moment I'm in the Highland town of Fort William, known in Gaelic as 'An Gearasdan', or 'The Garrison'. I'm on my second HelpX placement as the daily cleaner at the Fort William Backpackers, and it's pretty fun so far. I'm working with several different people, including Pablo and Javi from Spain, Laureen from France and Reggie the night porter from England, as well as Caroline the manager from Canada, and the work's pretty straightforward - stripping and remaking beds, washing sheets, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, vacuuming and mopping.
I'm done by lunchtime while the four-hour cleaners finish up, so I've had afternoons free to do my own thing. My first day I curled up miserably on the couch all day drinking orange juice and jelly while my body pulsated with a flu-like virus I picked up on my travels, but thankfully I made a full recovery overnight and since then I've gone for cruises on Loch Lhinne (Fort William sits on the shore), hiked the substantial Cow Hill behind the hostel, explored ruined Inverlochy Castle and rambled through the town.
Fort William started in the 1600s as a defensive settlement, built by order of and named for William of Orange. It's right at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain, so a lot of the people here are hikers doing the 6+ hour trek up and down. The whole area is full of beautiful mountains with lochs in the valleys. We had some great, clear views of 'the Ben' from the loch cruise, and again today up Cow Hill of the whole Highland region. Oh, and today I met some Highland cattle! I gave them and their lovely horns a wide berth :)