What comes to mind when you hear the word 'Macduff'?
If you are a literary or theatrical type, you might think of Shakespeare and 'the Scottish play'. But to the Bertie and Gail household, Macduff is the small town on the Moray Firth, c.40 miles north of Aberdeen, where our dear friends Molly and Neil live, along with their agreeable lurcher pup Maisie.
For the usual boring reasons we hadn't been up there for a long while, but made good on a promise to visit this weekend.
I was so happy to see the familiar cheerful red gate to the old house near the harbour.
But no soon as we'd stepped inside than we headed out again, taking advantage of a rare glimpse of sunshine for a walk along the shore near Whitehills, a short distance to the east.
Maisie, who is the same age as me, does not have her own social media presence and so is unaccustomed to posing. But no worries, I soon licked her into shape.
Can you see how all the grass is flattened, after last week's Storm Arwen droves waves well beyond the usual high tide mark? In some areas the grass was spattered with seashells too.
On Saturday morning Gail took me for a short walk around the town and down to the harbour. It was cold, and raining hard.
What you don't see on the photos is how things nearly went all Mary Poppins when a strong onshore gust caught Gail's golf umbrella...
When Gail paused to take a photo of Neil and Molly's house, I was impatient to be back indoors.
Specifically, to the shelter of the kitchen table.
Sometimes it's the simply best place to be.
Away from the horrid weather Gail and Molly, friends for over forty years, enjoyed a good old natter while Neil strummed his banjo quietly in the background.
Gail thinks some of you might be entertained, as she was, by this decade old YouTube video of Neil and his mates and their version of a well known Mexican tune. Neil's the one in the shorts:
PS from Gail: these days I only take Bertie to visit friends who are tolerant and not overly house proud. I am pleased to report that Bertie did not do too badly - there was no bladder leakage over Molly and Neil's brand new sofa, and just one small and easily mopped up puddle on the tiled kitchen floor!