The newer Inverlochy Castle, a little further out of town, is a very grand country
house hotel indeed. It doesn't actually have that many rooms but that's because they've
wisely kept the apartments pretty much as they were when the place was a private house;
big. Ann and I once stayed in a room about the size of a tennis court. You had to stand
up and take a good look round - or shout - to determine whether you were alone in there
or not. We've stayed at Inverlochy a few times; once with Mum and Dad and on a couple
of occasions with the McFarlanes. Hearing that the place is occasionally frequented by
some very famous film stars, Les and I always make a point of playing a frame or two
of snooker, just in case we bump into Sean and Clint and get to thrash them in a doubles
game, but it hasn't happened yet.
Usually when the five of us have stayed there we've had a private dining room. No
way is this because we are noisy and might upset the other, more respectable guests.
Our most recent stay at Inverlochy was last year, when Bentley, for some bizarre reas-
on, suddenly took it into their heads to let me have one of their extremely expensive mo-
tor cars for a couple of days. Even the invitation to drive the thing was classy; a framed
piece of art made up to look like the cover of one of my books (back in the black-and-
white days), with the word 'Bentlicity' emblazoned on it. How could I refuse?
A shiny silver-grey Continental T was duly delivered to our house and Ann and I
immediately zapped off to Inverlochy before Bentley could change their minds, inviting
Les, Aileen and Eilidh to be our guests.
The Continental T is by far the most expensive car I've ever driven (with the possible
exception of the Formula One car at Magny-Cours). At not a kick in the arse off a quarter
of a million pounds, this was a seriously pricey machine. And more money - a lot more
money - for less car; the Continental T was the short-wheelbase go-faster coupé of the
range, while the longer four-door version, even with the same turbo engine, cost over one
hundred grand less. I mean, what ?
Went like the squits off a Teflon shovel but you always had the feeling you were ba-
sically torturing the tyres, forcing them to deal with nearly three tonnes of very accelerat-
ive car moving smartly along a twisty road. No sat-nav, bleep parking or room for anyone
older than about six in the rear seats, but it did have a two-stage horn - one loudness set-
ting for Town and another more strident one for Country. As a car for saying I Have So
Much Money I Just Don't Give A Fuck, this struck me as very much The One.
At Spean Bridge we turn right, heading cross-country for Speyside on the A86. This
is another great road (not a Great Wee Road, just a great road). There's a sort of modern
Highland open-country A-road standard which consists of long, usually fenced straights
punctuated by clear sight-lined, constant radius curves and torque-testing gradients, all of
it through impressive scenery, and this baby, from Spean to Kingussie, is an exemplar.
It's a classic example of the breed, too, in that in places its spacey, high-speed wonderful-