742-745: Isle of Lewis Body Parts … Butts and Fingers!

742 – 6th June 2017:  Finger Fun

We completed our services before we left the Laxendale campsite – unfortunately, I lifted the grey waste manhole cover a bit quick and dropped it on my finger – the one we caught in the hab door in France!  I think I said “goodness gracious” with a bit of “feck” thrown in…. this after K had sliced her finger nail into the white cabbage a few days ago. At work (what’s that?), we hade a spate of hand injuries and introduced compulsory safety gloves – should we?  My guitar playing is on hold for some days – but we applied the magic Arnica cream and the Mebo gel from Jordan.  

Stornoway Lewis Castle Museum was free – and hugely informative – again, amazing staff.   En route to the western side of Lewis, we continued listening to the audio version of Peter May’s book, “The Black House” – set in Lewis exactly where we are headed – a real local flavour…  the Ness Historical Centre was also a must. For the night’s ‘wilding’ we looked at Ness Port but it was far too windy – so back a short drive to Eoropaidh – secluded spot in front of a children’s play area – with mini golf – and a donation box. Perfect pitch but still windy – all portholes closed for the night…

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K’s – Never did find the missing bit of nail amongst the cabbage!

P1140413J’s – the Finger Prince!

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The Eoropaidh Dunes Play Park, complete with a pirates ship and 3 hole mini golf course!  Respectfully asked to not use on a Sunday.  Also sign up to mind the uneven ground and the rabbit holes … the rabbits seem to be bigger here than on Harris.

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I walked Oscar up to the tiny chapel … shut, but I could see through … bare stone walls and ancient wooden pews.  A small stained glass window over the alter.

742 – 7th June:  The Butt Of Ness

Back to am running – why not in such awesome surroundings!  A good breezy walk also for 2 hours along the headland – to the most north westerly point in Europe!  Stevenson-built red brick lighthouse – needed no paint protection since 1885…  Visited the restored Black House – large and very roomy – heated by a 24 hour turf fire – black smoke everywhere – hence the name.  The replacement houses were called ‘white houses’.  Apparently the family of this black house moved back in, letting out their white house as it leaked, flooded and was draughty … progress!  Along the road is a Whalebone gated house entrance – immense

Lovely small campsite for the night – hardly any breeze – laundry, blogging – and chilling – La Dolce Vita – or what?

Oscar Here….

“I feel the need to make an interKection at this point – with my owners’ recent digitantix, I am keeping my paws neatly wrapped in gaffa tape!  Oh shit – how do I scratch my balls, now?  Bugger, how does one remove gaff tape?  I can’t even Koogle the answer – there’s no Kifi connection!  La Dolke Rita, indeed!!!!”

Yours in glue…..  

K:  Oscar if you use language like that, I’ll gaffa tape your shnout – that lingo is owt!!!

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The bus shelters protect from wind in any direction.  They need to as the wind, Margaret assured me, circles in Scotland … true you cannot get a leeward side.  The Peter May book said the locals call them Giants’ Picnic Tables.

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The start of our walk.

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A memorial to the 12 fishermen who lost their lives late C19, leaving 9 widows and 22 children with no means of support.  It was especially poignant as it happened in daylight with the villagers watching from shore.  They attempted to launch rescue boat but the undertow almost took that crew too.  One chap was seem to be hanging onto some wood for 2 hours, wiping the salt from his eyes and mouth, until he too, finally slipped away.

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Oscar inspects the Best Butt of Lewis!  He refused to do a moony!  I suggested we both do one and ask fellow walkers to take the pic … but strange, he wasn’t up for that either!

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Sniffing the peat turf … bringing back memories of turf cutting as a child in Ireland.

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The restored Black House.  

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Huge whale jaw bones.  Apparently the blacksmith was seriously injured removing the unexploded harpoon, which is now Damocles Sword like, above J’s head!

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An immaculate campsite with a pleasant view – the grass was artificial!  Full serviced pitches and washing load done!

743 – 8th June:  Ancient Settlements and Free Falconry

On our way to ancient settlements, we spied a man in a field with a bird of prey – stopped to have a look from Jez. To our amazement, he called us over – to have free personal interactive demo! K obliged and I took photos… One of those truly ’gemstone’ encounters – huge thanks to Ian. We met him again on the road after our village visit, hitching a lift, but we were turning off the road in 200 yds.  The mill/kiln, iron age fort and the blackhouse village visits were inspirational – bonus for Oscar – he was allowed to come along, too.   The Callanish Stones are really special – Stonehenge-esque but bigger over 3 sites – and completely free to enter. And no fences so we can get up close.  Indeed the cattle did to Callanish Stones III, churning up the soil by this ancient monument!  Again, spectacular sunsets – lots of folk capturing the images – up to 11:00 pm!  We overnighted right beside the Stones with a German van for company – try staying at Stonehenge overnight free in your motorhome!   

What a busy and amazing day!

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Norse Mill and Kiln: barley grain into meal powered by a diverted stream … a left over of the Scandinavian past of Lewis.

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We stopped off at the Blue Pig gallery as I’m always looking for gifts … I treated myself … again.  The knitter takes local pix and then chooses the colours and patterns to reflect the image.  Most were inspired by the coast and seaweed and “Easter Snow” inspired me into a purchase!

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OK, so how often do you see someone training a Harris Hawk in a field, pull over to watch and then then get asked “Who’s first?”  An absolutely phenomenal piece of luck … J not keen as worried about the bird on his injured finger, so I got all the goes!  Ian wants to set up Falconry experiences on the island.  Oscar was not amused! 

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village:  restored cottages – some are to rent.  There were informative films about Harris Tweed production and turf cutting.

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The black faced local sheep are no longer used to make the tweed as consumers want softer and lighter cloths, so Cheviot wool is brought onto the island but carded, dyed and woven here, to make it authentic Harris Tweed.

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There are remains of blackhouses all over the island.  

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Carolway Broch: An Iron Age fort.  The iron age lasted longer up here as the Romans did not make it this far.  Brochs are only found in Scotland and this is one of the best preserved.

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They are made from two concentric circles with stairs between the walls to what would have been three floors.

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Callanish Stones:  5,000 years old.  One of the most significant and important megalithic complexes in Europe and we had to stop Oscar from peeing on it!

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Two satellite sets of stones are walking distance from the main stones … Callanish II has good views up to Callanish I.

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We moved Jez to park up for the night right next to the stones … so close this view was taken out of the roof light!

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We were not the only evening visitors waiting for the sun to set, but at least we were in the warm until 10.38 … we could could’ve made a fortune selling hot toddies as the wind was bitter.

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744 – 9th June:  Beauty in Bosta, Great Bernera

Over a bridge to Eillean Bernera – the locals succeeded in getting the bridge built by threatening to blast rock for a causeway – innovative?  Our nights stop was at Bosta beach – how many times have we used the word ‘stunning’?  Lots and we expect to continue in the same vein.  Sun, sea, sand – lovely neighbours – sitting outside with wine – how much more can we ask for?  The photos speak (again) for themselves – the site is so popular that 9 vans were with us overnight… many small campers as there was a water tap and toilets.  Our walk to the next village was nicely up and down – we needed to guide Oscar past a serious ram with horns that would have made a giant corkscrew/wine bottle opener. 

We visited a Iron Age house which had been buried under tons of sand – hence well preserved – a guide who ‘lived’ the story and brought the detail to life. K wants to buy it for when Mr Trump uses the atom bomb to wipe out the planet – our personal air raid shelter!  Our van neighbours live on Hoy next to Orkney and they invited us to visit in the next couple of weeks – fantastic – thanks, Catherine and Michael!  The colours of the sunset were blue, gold and white with the dark dunes beneath…

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Another amazing view from Jez.

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In 1992 a storm removed a lot of sand from the beach revealing a stone wall … this led to the identification and excavation of some of the iron age houses that had remained hidden.  One was beneath a Viking house.  The houses were round and built underground, with only the roof showing.  All the walls were still intact and when they built the replica further up the beach they were able to work out many of the building techniques and how the buildings had been used. As usual, it is the staff that make the difference … a local lady opens up the house foe visitors only Monday – Friday 12.00-4.00 in the summer and was very informative and enthusiastic.  She pops down a couple of times in winter to light a big turf fire and air it.

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Not to be messed with … Oscar was promptly put on the lead.

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The beach has now totally covered over the iron age settlement … probably the best conservation for it.

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Views of our walk.

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Oscar was not amused when he fell into the muddy bog.

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Our cup floweth over again … sitting, for once, protected from the wind, in sunshine, with an amazing view and a glass of wine.  What more can one ask for?

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Our view of the setting sun.

745 – 10th June:  Uig

Another day – another part of Lewis – Uig – another adventure….  How could we be blasé about all this?  Some people ask (when they learn we are full-time) – are we not bored?  Our answer is always emphatic!  Bob Dylan – “The answer is blowing in the wind”. 

We are on our own overnight on a small pitch overlooking the sea, beach and the hills beyond.  Who sang “The hills are alive – with the sound of music”? Answers on a post card to – “Jez, Outer Hebrides, Heaven”!!!  

Oscar 

Me again, readers. Today, they made me swim! In the ocean!  It was 50 fathoms deep with whales and sharks (I’m sure I saw Jonah)!  When I dragged my near drowned body from the briny, I rightly shook myself over K and jumped up at her in relief.  What did she do in her gratitude?  Tell me off and said “you little fecker”.  I’m taking her to the Hebridean Court of K9 Bites!  I’ve appointed my lawyer – Mr Anguish McFarts – of McFarts, Bizzybizzy and McPoos, from – Kolihull, my home town.

Goodnight, boyos (that’s Welsh, you see).

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OK, so just a small river to wade across.  We removed socks and boots only for this.

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Our view from Jez … just as well we came back from our walk when we did … we’d have had to swimif we’d left it another 30 minutes.  As it was, the tide was coming in the small river and we had to remove trousers and wade across.  Much to the amusement of the two couples drinking wine on the deck of a holiday cottage … we again considered doing a moony!


737-741: An Inspired Perspiration!

737 – Thursday 1st June 2017:  Aye Aye Skye

Collecting the emergency laundry, we turned the van into a mobile dryer.  Farewell briefly to M&S as we shall see them in about 2 weeks at a motorhome meet in Brin, near Inverness. 

We headed for Mallaig to catch the ferry to Armadale in Skye.  We could’ve taken the free bridge but it would have been a 3 hour detour instead of a 15 minute jaunt down the road.  Fortunately someone on the site had warned me that they had been turned away from the ferry as fully booked for that day, so I’d pre-booked our crossings to Harris too.  We arrived too early, so parked up and wandered into the small supermarket and a second hand book shop … always a lure.

On the ferry, which was similar to those in Norway, where you can stay in your vehicle, I was able to catch up a little on some shut eye … having not fallen into a fitful sleep until 4.00 the night before.  Poor Oscar had been ill numerous times and kept prowling trying to get comfortable.  Lucky James slept through it all!

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Leaving Mallaig.

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I had visited Skye a hundred years ago with a boyfriend.  British Rail had a February offer – for £10 you could travel anywhere.  Mark and I thought of the furthest place we could get to for a long weekend and trained overnight to Fort William and onto Skye.  All I remember was that we saw people camping … in snow.  

We stopped at Talisker Whisky Distillery … a small site with small parking.  Jez straddled the pavement whilst J went in and purchased the last two tickets for today at 3.45.  Having recently been to Bushmills Distillery (and J to Jamesons) in Ireland, we pretty much knew the process, but it was very interesting to taste the effect of peat smoke drying the barley.  The Talisker had a definite peaty pong and taste.  Good though, that production still takes place here and at full capacity.

Still being shattered, we parked up in a lay-by with another 4 vans and James cooked, washed up and walked Oscar.  I was in bed by 8.30!

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738 – Friday 2nd June:  Hairy Harris 

Our ferry to Tarbert on Harris was not due till 2.00, so we stopped off at Portree, the main Skye Town.  It is given over to tourism with craft and gift shops, but we managed to buy what we wanted … meat for the freezer, a capo (thingumybob for the guitar) and some surgical spirit to harden up …. J’s fingers!  This ferry was more like a small English Channel ferry … you could not stay in your vehicle, BUT there are dog friendly zones inside and on deck.  So Oscar got to come too.

A fellow motorhomer gave us some great advice about Harris and Lewis and told us about a great beach with overnight parking not far from where we headed … so a slight detour and yes the beach at Luskentyre is truly magnificent.

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Leaving Uig on Skye.

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View down to the firth where we are headed …

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… and we’re not the only ones.

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Luskentyre Beach stretched for miles and changed colour in the estuary as the tide ebbed.

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739 – Saturday 3rd June:  A Planning Day

K ran on the firm sand of the beach whilst J preferred the hilly tarmac road.  A slow start on such a beautiful environment … eventually we headed into Tarbert – the only TIC on Harris.  A really helpful lady … she told me where all the Harris Trust free / wild overnight parkings are (you are requested to donate £5 to the Trust), where all the campsites are and which have chemical toilet facilities.  She advised me to book campsites for emptying our black and grey waste as they only provide these facilities for resident motorhomers and not all campsites have black waste services.  With all the lovely spots she recommended, we have again come to the woeful conclusion that we are NOT going to be able to take it too easy and we will not see everything.  So we headed not too far to Tarbert to a viewpoint she recommended with views over the island of Scalpay and the ferry into Tarbert.  Room for one large motorhome … US, picnic tables, views and a bin :).

So a planning afternoon ensued and campsites booked … mobile and phone signal here as we were close to a mast.  Supper was partly Margaret inspired and partly a fellow blogger inspired, as both had slow cooked beef.  I tend to avoid beef as I find it chewy, but slow cooked it is so tender, so I pressure cooked a cheap topside joint … beats roasting which turns it to shoe leather – scummy with enough to last 3-4 meals.  

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Our bench and table – perfect for views and an Oscar kiss.

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The other direction and you can just make the arrival of 4.00 Calmac Uig – Skye ferry.

740 – Sunday 4th June:  The Sabbath in Hushinish 

We had been warned that everything closes on the Sabbath.  You are even requested not to hand out washing and children’ playgrounds have signs requesting that they are not used.  I’m not religious, but I do like the marking of the end and start of a week, although here may be a tad too restrictive.

Knowing all the visitor attractions would be closed, we headed for Hushinish Beach, which a few people had recommended.  We had been told that although the road was only 14 miles, it would take 45 minutes … I didn’t fancy facing too much oncoming traffic, despite the numerous passing places, so we set off at 8.45.  it was a little hairy in places as it was literally van width with the ground sloping away from the tarmac.  As I drove, I had to be mindful of the long wheel base and where the rear wheels would follow!  Our new Bradt Outer Hebrides (liking the Bradt format and have just ordered some used ones from eBay for our Autumn Balkans trip :)) guide book states ‘the road twists and turns simultaneously’ and ‘this feels like the road to nowhere, the kind you might expect to encounter at the bottom of Patagonia’.  Quite!

Along the route, we missed the old Norwegian Whaling station … will look out for the tower on the return.  Lord Leverhulme, Unilever money, invested heavily in Lewis and Harris.  He bought the old whaling station with ‘the well intentioned plans to create employment.  Although machinery was overhauled in 1923 and three new vessels purchased to catch whales in the Atlantic, the scheme haemorrhaged money.  This was due to Lord Leverhulme’s unusual business plan: he intended to produce oil but, turning his eye to the traditional smokers of the islands, mused on whether smoked whale meat and whale sausages could be exported to the interior of Africa.’  Wonder why this business concept failed!

We also passed what is claimed to be the world’s most remote tennis court!  And Amhuinnsuidhe Castle.  Built by the Earl of Dunmore in 1868 after several people commented on his modest dwelling at Rodel.  I wonder how he reacted to his son’s finance who claimed his house was smaller than her father’s stables!  I am really liking this guide book for these little snippets.

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Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, with Jezn’belle, who travel with us.  The road crosses right in front of the castle, now a hotel  Apparently, no locks on each room on a point of principle, and dinner is a 3 course set meal with all the residents on one long table.

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Another ‘where we are headed’ shot.

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A traffic jam en route!

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You don’t mess with those horns, so I took it mega slowly.

Breakfast on arrival and then we set off on a walk to beach described as one of the most beautiful and remote (another theme here), but along with several other walking parties, missed a turn and found another stunning beach.  Ho hum, it was a fair old clamber and slither up and down, with some cliff edges, but we only got one drenching.  On the return J had his inspired perspiration … had we any cream on board?  An Irish Coffee?  Oh yes!

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The island in the background is Scarp and was inhabited until 1971.  Whilst the water width is only 400 metres, it can be very rough and the island can be cut off for days.  A story goes (this great guide book again) that in ‘late December 1934 .. a woman pregnant with twins went into extended labour.  An 85 year-old midwife delivered the first of the babies but insisted the mother be ferried across high seas to the mainland to deliver the second twin.  She was driven to Tarbert and onto Stornoway.  She finally gave birth to the second twin two days later, on a different island, and in a different year’.

Another snippet about the island … ‘Gerhardt Zucher, a German rocket scientist, had persuaded the British government to fund a research project to deliver mail … to the island.  The plan was to attach mail to a rocket and launch it across the waters … in July 1934, a rocket stuffed with thousands of letter marked ‘Western Isles Rocket Post’ spectacularly failed to deliver, exploding at the first attempt … The British Government then deported him to Germany, deeming him a ‘threat to the income of the Post Office and security of the country.’  

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Look, what a big one!

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Well, are you gonna throw it or what?

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741 – Monday 5th June: The Bridge to Nowhere

We left Hersinuih – one of the best ‘wildings’ – do we know any other kind? No. Back on the ‘hairy’ road which didn’t seem so scary the second time – still took 45 minutes for 14 miles, though… on to Tolsta and the “Bridge to Nowhere” – Lord Leverhhulme built a bridge too far. But stout reinforced concrete in 1925 – maybe BS 5400 wasn’t around then – oh dear, work sneaking in – “out damn spot, at once”!   The museum was shut, so on to the Laxendale campsite – for some unexpected ‘fingerprince’ – more of that anon…  

 

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Are overnight pitch 🙂

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The traffic jam on the way out … a whole family, who would not move.  J got out and braving risked a goring by waving his arms about … not budging!  Only the horn finally induced a sedentary bovine move.

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All that remains of the whaling station … we spotted it on the return.

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The Lewis Moors dropping into the sea … prone to wind!

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The Bridge to Nowhere.

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The view from the Bridge.




 

730-736: Ayr’rival in Scotland and Arisaig

730 – Thursday 25th May:  ‘Ayr We Come’

Today would have been Nicky’s 52nd birthday – Jimmy and Ian were kayaking to celebrate the day – always spent as a fun day.

We overnighted in Bentra Golf Club car park, an official aire.  Not knowing when our next shower might be, we made full use of the services.  But, a 1:30 am awakening!!!  Belfast Ferry at 3:30 am – driving in thick fog – in the widdle of the might!  Oscar:  “What are my owners doing? I hardly had my head down and they were crashing and banging all over the shop! – a bit of dogsideration, please!”  We landed at 6:00 at Carnryan and bolted for the nearest wild spot to kip for a few hours…Zzzzzzs…   Ayr beach was the next stop – wilding by the beach – stunning spot. Evening came and we supped a glass outside Jez – just along from us a lad with a beer was was fined £40 for drinking in public – a bit unfair?    Apparently some councils in Scotland have banned drinking in public places and the police can be a little dogmatic in applying the law.  Our wine glasses promptly went inside.  A sunshine afternoon and evening – very warm.      

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Does anyone know what variety of jelly fish these big buggers are?  There were a hundred of them on the beach.  Fortunately Oscar showed no interest.

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The view from our door!  One chap I spoke to said he spends all summer parked up along this beach – we can see why.

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731 – Friday 26th May: The Hottest Day

We had planned to head up towards Troon to meet up with Dan and for the best ever fish and chips, but he was up to his eyes in moving house / van, having just purchased a Rapido … finding things he’d forgotten he had!   With the hottest day of the year – 27 degrees Sentmygrade forecast, we decided not to move!  I didn’t wear sun lotion or my hat – and got dehydrated with a dodgy tum… I should know better…. Oscar fur cut by the gorgeous K… on the pavement outside the van.  A good breeze seemed to make the volumes of cut fur ‘disaparate’ – Harry Potter again.  Lots of passersby stopped to admire Oscar or for a chat.  Oscar swam a few strokes – first time ever!  K wadded in, called him and he minced in so far … scratched her legs in trying to get close and then he tried to pull K out of the water catching her hand with his mouth!  What a Local Hero.

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Trying to entice Oscar to swim. 

732 – Saturday 27th May:  Heading North to Midgesville

Long driving day – stayed outside Fort William in the North Face car park facing Ben Nevis – not tempted to climb.  Megamidgesville – who tried to share our bed!  During the evening and the following morning we watched bods arrive and kit themselves out with serious walking gear.  K took Oscar for some really pretty marked walks along streams.

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Would not ordinarily post a pix of our duvet cover … but this is the result of spraying the inside of the van.  They’re so small they even get through our fly screens … apparently you can buy midge mesh.

733 – Sunday 28th May:  This Must be the Most Beautiful Campsite Location in the World!

A quick descent into Fort William for a shop and diesel, driving past tourist tat shops belting out Scottish music and the odd kilted tour guide.  

Oscar – “We had arranged to meet Poppy and Boo at Silver Sands campsite on Monday (and M&S too!) but we arrived a day early so the owners could wash themselves and their laundry – why bother? It’s only clean dirt after all…”

This is one of the best sites ever – the views are fantasmagonical!   The campsite is on a small headland with beaches either side and lots of islands dotting the inlet.  The owners John and Karen are extremely helpful and hospitable …. it was almost a pleasure to hand over our money.  We were treated to one of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen.  Every second the shades changed hue.  K later  discovered that the couple from another blog she follows were also on this site, one of their fav’s.  Such a shame to have not realised and especially as the wine flowed that night on their pitch!  They posted some stunning pix of the area and sunset using a drone – https://adventuresinamotorhome.com/2017/05/31/our-annual-pilgrimage-to-scotland-may-2017-part-1/

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734-736 – Monday 29th to Wednesday 31st May:  Oozing Time in Arisaig

Mags and Shags arrived on time – mega wet hugs, as we were just back from a very rainy walk, followed by a meal chez elles.…  over the next few days we chilled, chatted, walked ….  can’t believe how the time just oozed away.  Helped by the views that change very few minutes:  colours on the water and hills and the effect of the tides.

       We did a clamber up and down rocks to the Local Hero film beach – but came back via the road which seemed really short in comparison.  A film K watched years ago and has forgotten, but we will download.

One evening saw the deadly game of cards “Danish Barsteward” – Margaret threw wine over Shirley which caused her to strip naked and dance on the table (I averted my gaze) – but who are these ***tards, anyway?  The girls were a pittle lickled… a dry day followed.   Oscar – “Do all dog owners get wissed? I really must speak to Robby and Moo about heir owners – and Skatherine and Seamas!” 

Shirley and I played golf – in the most beautiful surroundings on the planet Earth!  One Tee had a sign up “Where would you rather be anywhere else in the world?”  Actually, in the sun – nowhere.  My game didn’t quite match the scenery – but, it’s only a game? Shirls won by a narrow boreen – but we enjoyed it and the company – cheers Shirley!  M and K were doggyshitting – sorry, sitting…  K managed to spill some duck fat on the sand just outside our door and Oscar managed to eat a fair proportion of it … we won’t describe the effects both ends, but needless to say K had a disturbed last night here, clearing up and putting on an emergency duvet cover and rug washing machine!!!

What a life, eh?……..

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J on a post Golf cider, but the girls are on rehydration … I gave my husband moral support with a Leffe!

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IMG 8294 Heading off on another dog walk – literally paces from our pitches.

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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.

 

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Lots of massive pieces of machinery.

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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.

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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!!!

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

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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.

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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!

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

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

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View of the viaduct.

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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!

407-408: Getting Wet!

407 – Friday 1st July 2016:   Deer  & Gardens

Has our reader ever seen deer doing Pilates? Honest – K and the little ‘dears’ were boogying on the beach – to a rendition of – ‘Pilates of the Carideen’ !!!

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The doe and her two young grazed for ages opposite the carpark.  K pilates’d here and the carried on grazing.  At one point two cocked their heads on one side, pricked their ears and gazed at me as if I were doing something never seen before … possibly not!?

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This one caused the car park to jam, by grazing here.

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When the rain did cease, we were rewarded again with more lumps and bumps.

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Sandstone on quartz … millions of years old.

Inverewe Gardens – no deer  in sight this time. Wonderfully disorganised organised planting, Last of the many varieties of Rhododendron – pure art all around. Osgood MacKenzie (had to type this, as love his name), inherited the estate, planted Scots Pine to protect his garden and started planting in the 1860s.  Free to us, as we used our Italian National Trust equivalent again.  The rain pretty much held off and we wandered the many paths, trying to avoid the Germans and some Dutch.  Honestly, Germany in particular, must be empty as there are so many here.

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A couple of unusual plants in the Africa section…

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… this one looked plastic.

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View from the gardens over the bay and hills.

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Trunks that caught my eye!…

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A fine specimen of a trunk; one sporting a rough bark of a beard!  A slight incident with a half shaved beard this morning, when the battery died.  

We stopped for a wander around Gairloch in the rain and found another charming bookshop come cafe (Margaret and Shirley had also recommended this).   The Mountain cafe roasts their own coffee and the bookshop stocked an amazing selection of tombs from walking and climbing to latest fiction and mindfulness … we could have left with a wheelbarrow full.  

Few wild camping spots in Gairloch, so we moved on a few km up the road.  We’d just parked up and were congratulating ourselves on another fine night time pitch, when Nick pitched up.  He’s doing the North Coast 500 on his bike in the opposite direction to us.  As we chatted and marvelled at his 60 mile ride that day, we admired the view.  He joined us for a few bevvies in Chardonnay … I happen to mention that I’d bought Maddy’s wet suite up with me, but not had the courage to test the icy waters.  Nick (sadly) did not hold back … we’d both go for a dip – tomorrow at 10.00!  All night I dreamt I was swimming and boating around loch after loch, lost,  with no money or phone signal, trying to get back to James.  I think I must have been quite concerned at the impending drenching!

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Our night time viewpoint over Loch Bad … not BAD at all!


408 – Saturday 2nd July 2016: A Tad Too Much Water

K ran early – wearing her ‘halo’ firmly on her head….. minor hangovers?   Not she!   K and Nick (our delightful visitor of last evening) braved the ’n-icey’ temperatures of Lough ‘Good”  for what they claimed was a triathlon swim, but actually was a ‘miniathlon’ dunking!  It was actually not as BAD as predicted.  Both Nick and K felt very virtuous.  I wonder who it was that stayed shore side and took pix?!

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Idyllic – Loch Bad.

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The temperature is NOT so idyllic!  Thank goodness for the borrow of Maddy’s wet suit.

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Come on in, the water’s lovely!  Or is that a Nick grimace?

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Hangovers cured.  We did it!

We had thought about a walk around Beinn Eighe, near Kinlockewe.  We even stopped at the Visitor Centre, but we made a bad weather call and we justified within 5 mins.  One drenching a day is more than sufficient.  

We drove onto Torridon and had a 3 mile amble through a National Trust for Scotland Deer park.  A very welcome lunch stop of cheese toasties and a shared bowl of chunky chips.   Oh so tasty!

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Torridon Bay.

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The scenery just keeps on coming.

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A vantage point over Loch Torridon.

On to Sheilag and again a most popular wild camping site overlooking the sea… common land that is used as a campground with an honesty box for donations.  Again lovely views.  We were politely asked to move forward by motorhome novices (3 adults, 2 children and a large dog in a Rental motorhome – rather them than me!), so they could have the same vantage point.    We ended having to get out the Chocks to get level.  And then they went and moved away from us anyway – I won’t hold the fact that they’re Irish – County Cavan and Donegal, against them!

If the rain eases, we may venture to the local Pub to see Germany v Italy. (We talk quietly about Iceland v England…).

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Our perch of a pitch over Sheildaig.