HAVING spent our honeymoon in Scotland, Mrs Hextol and I decided to return to the land of heather clad hills, tumbling streams and glittering lochs to celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary.

And as a happy reminder of our wedding day at Hexham Abbey all those years ago, the weather for much of the time turned out to be as it was then – bucketing down with rain.

When we crossed the Firth of Forth in the Hextol mini then, the Forth Road Bridge was only a few years old, while this time, it was the massively beautiful Queensferry crossing which carried us over the firth.

We were heading for the Kingdom of Fife, to meet up with some old friends and to explore the stamping grounds of Gordon Brown, Jocky Wilson, and Raith Rovers, not to mention the superb home of golf, St Andrews.

We were given a warm welcome to our olde worlde hotel, complete with four poster bed, but were a little startled to learn that as it was a Sunday, the latest we could take our evening meal was 6.45pm.

It was called High Tea – a Scottish tradition which I thought would involve delicate sandwiches and dainty cakes on a multi-tiered plate – but in fact it was roast beef and Yorkshires, followed by a slice of cake.

It was a little odd, but satisfying enough, and we set out to find our friends with full bellies.

With a little help from Sat Nav lady and much more from a map, we eventually located them.

We enjoyed a most convivial evening, before deciding to return to the hotel for a nightcap.

We returned to the hotel car park at 9.30pm, and were somewhat concerned to note that the whole place appeared to be in total darkness.

“They must have thick curtains,” I ventured, but when we got to the back door, it was locked.

The only light emanating from within was the ghostly glow of a computer screen.

I hopefully rattled the door, but there was no response, and then read a sign that said: “If locked out ring a number many miles away.”

Fortunately, we had taken our room key with us, rather than depositing it at reception, and a second key on the fob fitted the door.

However, a much anticipated pint of Tennants was out of the question, as there was no-one to serve it in the Mary Celeste of Scottish hospitality.

I suppose I could have helped myself to the malts behind the bar, but I am much too honest for that.

It had been a long day, so we decided to go to the room and watch a little television – only to find that the TV had come out in sympathy with the hotel staff.

The only channels that appeared to be available were pay to view affairs, some of them offering material which was not my idea of ideal Sunday night viewing.

So we went to bed, and enjoyed only a fitful slumber both harbouring thoughts of all the staff lying in a loch of blood in the cellar, while mad axe man Big Jock McTavish honed his claymore for more mayhem.

The next morning, we went down for breakfast in some trepidation, but people had reappeared, and we were served an excellent cooked breakfast – although I laid off the black pudding just in case.

It was only later that we discovered that the young bartender on duty the previous night had apparently become bored because of a marked lack of customers, and decided to shut up shop early – quite forgetting that residents might wish to return the establishment they had paid handsomely to visit at some point later that evening.

But it was not the first time that Mrs Hextol and I have experienced problems whilst staying at a strange hotel.

Some years ago we booked a late deal at a Lunn Poly shop – shows how long ago it was – and after dropping our bags at the hotel, made a beeline for the beach to catch the last few rays of the rapidly sinking afternoon sun.

It was twilight before we tore ourselves away from the seductive sands – and then realised with some horror that neither of us knew the name of our hotel, and only had a vague notion of where it was

We wandered the streets of the Algarve for what seemed hours, and were contemplating a night on the sands, when we blundered across our hotel quite by accident!