'Highland police are saying not to travel unless it's an emergency...'
The message over the car radio was pretty clear as my Renault Megane slid to an undignified stop on virgin snow. For some reason I couldn't get Simon and Garfunkel's song, Slip Slidding Away out of my head...
Hmm, now let me see... Friday morning...Ross-shire Journal safely out and the main 'business' of the day a staff Christmas gathering at the Red Poppy in Strathpeffer.
Define emergency... No, the journey was not necessary, far less an emergency. Then again, I'd been designated quizmaster for an annual pre-Christmas lunch Ross-shire Journal tradition. It simply had to be done. A general observation: the roads in Ross-shire had been much better treated than those in Inverness. But then more schools in Inverness appeared to be open, judging by the bulletins on the morning radio. Curious.
Compiling a quiz - a job landed on me while I went out to the toilet for a minute two weeks ago - is surprisingly good fun. Attempting to take everyone's interests into consideration, my initial 12-rounder (always ambitious) was pared pared back as soon as I learned that two of my colleagues, Mary-Ann and John, had been snowed in and wouldn't be making it. No John Macleod, no need for a sports round. And one or two aimed at a younger audience (Mary-Ann being the youngest in the office by a good 20 years I reckon) also went out the window. All in all, good fun and keenly contested. Carol and Lynne clinched the honours (after scores were totted up over coffee - and wine - after lunch).
Was gifted a very weclome hat, scarf and Ferrero Rocher chocolate combo by my Secret Santa too.
As one who appreciates food and tends not to be too fussy, I'd have to give a big thumbs-up for the tucker dished up by the Red Poppy. Parcels of haggis as a starter were reminiscent of the dumplings I'd enjoyed so much in China. The lamb on a mashed potato and black pudding bed was perfect and the cheesecake a treat. A convivial atmosphere topped it off. As designated driver I'd had my doubts but they were unfounded.
Here's a quirky quiz question for you. If you're a man and you use the toilets at said restaurant (which is attached to the mighty Strathpeffer Pavilion), which exit door should you take when returning to your table?
The answer - somewhat surprisingly - is the one marked 'Ladies'. And not a lot of people know that.