Arrive on the Caledonian Sleeper, after waking around sunrise and opening the window shade in the narrow bunkbedded room to see the rust-coloured ferns and mossy trees of the Cairngorms National Park outside.
Wander downtown in the cold air, bundled up in every layer of clothing and woolies, stopping for breakfast at a cute cafe after poking around the massive Leakey's Book Shop in an old church, where the man minding the place stacks wood inside the stove heater.
Stroll onwards, sufficiently warmed from cups of tea at the breakfast place, heading up along the Ness River to the Islands, where hardy gents stand hip-deep in the flowing waters, casting their lines.
Wander onward, alongside the Caledonian Canal, past the series of locks where ships ladder up and down, past the cluster of schoolkids getting kayak lessons out on the smooth waters. It's cold cold outside, brisk, but there's a pub up ahead with a roaring fire, a cluster of friendly locals having a chat at the bar, a pub dog making friends with everyone inside, and a plate of smoked Scottish salmon and a first taste of haggis with neeps and tatties (turnips & potatoes) - - it's good!