409-412: Rain Nearly Stops Play

409 – Sunday 3rd July 2016:  Rain Stops Play

The heavens opened and the rain kept on coming.  We had breakfast watching the muppet Irish man get out the awning on his motorhome and put chairs under.  None of the group wanted to sit out, so the wife’s brother had to put them all away again.  The muppet then wrapped the unwilling labrador in a padded coat and tied him up outside.  He also, was unwilling to comply, and bolted back in side.  Last night he’d left wife and niece in the downpour whilst he DROVE down to the toilet to empty their cassette (it must fill up at least daily with 5 of them and i don’t suppose they have a pee pee bottle!) … we offered them shelter but shed been told to save their prime pitch!  At least he provided some form of entertainment, even if we felt sorry for the wife!  I wanted to tell her to bin him, but J restrained me.

The grey skies and constant rain have started to get to me … I just need to see a blue sky for part of the day … is that too much to ask?  But others have said it before me … when the sun does come out here, boy o boy, in’t it beautiful!

The rain being well set in, we decided to head for a campsite – getting due for a shower .. the washing kind!  Glen Nevis campsite it was.  There’s the chance for a climb tomorrow if the weather improves.  On arrival we did the laundry.  Even paid for the tumble drier for most of it.  I must look poor, as one kind chap gave me some 20 pence coins for the spinner for my bit of hand washing!  The awning came out so we could dry it under … since the awning was out, out came the BBQ and a fire log.  Nice.


410 – Monday 4th July 2016:  Ben Nevis Rained Off

No break in the weather, so we lazed in bed.  The ascent of Ben Nevis will have to wait till next summer.  Too wet for a run … all this rain has played havoc with our running routine.  I resorted to Pilates  in the laundry room … it was dry and Radio 2 was being piped.

We found Lidl in Fort William and did a mega shop.  My last fortnightly Lidl shop was £114, today’s was £117 … some pattern of consistency there.  Morrisons for the remaining items and a full cooked breakfast 🙂  Tried square sausage and potato cake for the first time … not my fav!

By this time it was 3.00 p.m. …  A short drive and we stayed in a lay-by along side Loch Lomond.  We’d tucked up well into the hedgerow, but that did not stop a large flat bed thundering past us, inches from Chard’s panels.  A gasp moment.  It became apparent that it is normal for trucks and vans to use these lay-bys with in and outs as a way to pull over the let faster traffic past without reducing much speed.  It did quieten down and we had a peaceful night.


411 – Tuesday 5th July 2016:  National Maritime Museum – Irvine and Iamthegooddan

No run again as a busy road and no footpath.  Grr!

We visited the Scottish National Maritime Museum in Irvine. The building was a ship yard from Glasgow, rebuilt stone by stone.  Inside were some notable boats, such as one that was dropped over sea during WW2 for ditched pilots to climb into and another that was moored along the bomber routes … not much used except by a German who spent the rest of the war interred!  Quite a lot of paddle steamers were made on the Clyde, including the Waverley which always does a week in Bristol.  Clydebank was at the foremost of ship building technology, but the managers became complacent (lack of marketing and innovation)  and were beset with strong and militant unions …. overseas competition killed ship building in the area.

A few other facts:

  • 90% of the world’s freight still goes by water.
  • Singer sewing machine exported 36 million machines between 1885 and 1943 from its Clydebank factory.  In the 1960s it employed 16,000 workers.



Lots of massive pieces of machinery.



The timber yard and ship building here had long gone leaving the area very run down, but the council built these houses and flats in the 1990’s in the old style, making the area really attractive.


One of the few remaining WW2 air pilot rescue boats.  As they had no engine, they were mostly used for target practice after the war.  A tough of humour, the sign inside saying to relax, smoke the cigarettes and food, but not in the first day and hopefully you’ll be picked up soon!


Part of the ticket price was a guided tour around an old wrought iron cargo ship and a tenement flat built by the timber yard owner for his workers.  Compared to the central Glasgow tenements, these were considered luxury.  What made J and I chuckle was the gasps from the children on the tour at how people lived 100 years ago … and the similarities with our life!

  • live and sleep in the one room … we do that!
  • only bath about once a week and strip wash the rest of the time … us too!
  • clothes washing is done by hand and air dries … yep, most of the time and inside the ‘van if its wet!
  • no dishwasher … well, I have James!
  • and wait for it … they had a guzunder (chamber pot for night time) … yep … we have our pee pee pot!!!


The main room where it all happens … bigger than Chard though, but we are only two people.


J with Irvine harbour.

We had pre-arranged to meet Dan, who we met in Sicily in December.  He travels back home to Bonnie Scotland every summer and shivers until it is time for his next 6 months in Sicily.  He’d given us a wealth of Scotland info, especially places, but we’ve not had time to explore them all this trip.  We met in Troon, not in either of my guidebooks, but a solid town, a small beach and best of all … the BEST FISH AND CHIPS I’VE EVER TASTED.  Dan and I had sole, with the lightest of batters and J had salmon fishcakes, with identifiable pieces of salmon.  If anyone is in the area, this place is really worth a detour.  We ate the lot, with Dan’s homemade tartare … and drank too much!  He even laid on the sun for us … a superb viewpoint over the estuary watching the ships pass.


412 – Wednesday 6th July 2016:  Culzean Castle

No run – by the time we got up, the rain had started … again.  As we said goodbye to Dan, who we plan to meet up with when we cross back to Scotland from Belfast in August, he told us he’d read that one of our compatriots from the wild camping.co.uk Highland Gathering mid June had lost his van to an engine fire.  We’d met Pat again at Helmsdale Harbour … he was doing the North Coast 500 too, but generally a bit slower than us.  He’s OK but the van is a write off.  The frightening thing is that he’d had a fire extinguisher on board, but it was not man enough to kill the fire.  Checking ours!

We really enjoyed Culzean Castle (pronounced Cullain).  Robert Adams was given carte blanche to rebuild and then rebuild again the castle.  A later extension was done in his style and it is remarkable that the Victorians did not rip it all out and go Gothic.  It has been seriously renovated … millions of £s … and nearly bankrupt the Scottish National Trust.  It is their second most visited property.


The Game Keeper arrived to feed the Red deer to bring them to the fence for the visitors. The velvet on the stags’ antlers could be harvested as a Chinese aphrodisiac!  In some places, you are not allowed to pick up the cast antlers, as the stags will eat them to gain enough calcium to grow new ones.  The fawns of Red and Roe deer are always spotty to act as camophlage, whereas Fallow deer remain spotty … didn’t we learn a lot!


Robert Adams design … a ruined arch leading to the viaduct and thence to the new side entrance of the castle. 


Orangery, castle and then the stables.  The Adams Home Farm, further away, was also in the same style.


View of the viaduct.


Part of the interior … the Earl had mustered a local army in case Napoleon invaded … wall decoration is a much better use.

We overnighted within 5 mins of Cairnryan, with another 3 motorhomes.  Just as I was cooking supper, the Port Police came around … I’m sure he reported all the number plates over his radio … but I did go and ask if we were OK to stop the night here.  He assured me we’d be safe :).  J reckons he was checking for illegal immigrants.  With the 4.00 am crossing tomorrow, we were in bed before 9.00 (unheard of), but then woken at 10.00 by Maddy!  She rang from Aya Nappa to say she and ‘Nig’ had arrived and it was bloody hot!  Cheers for that information!

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