How are the mighty fallen – 13 March 2019

Unlucky 13th?  It didn’t affect me, for once, well it did, but only marginally.

We drove in to Glasgow after lunch to show off our new-found confidence in Quickstep. They do say that pride comes before a fall or as the Bible has it: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Either way, that’s what happened. Michael, as usual picked us up on a few little things we were doing wrong in Jive, then proceeded to tell us we weren’t doing one of the moves correctly. That might have because you hadn’t taught us it yet, Michael! It’s no use arguing with him, because he uses his deafness as a shield and just ignores complaints. I’m not convinced he is as deaf as he makes out. I’m going to get him one of those ear shaped erasers from CassArt and give it to him as a present. Rubber Ear indeed.

Anyway, we survived Jive and also the ridiculousness of Rumba and Cha-Cha which start on beat 2. Whoever decided that was lacking in the numerical department. We waited impatiently for the Quickstep music to start because we knew we’d ace it after two hours of practise between Friday and Saturday. It was a disaster. For once it wasn’t me making the biggest mistakes, Scamp just couldn’t put a foot right. Now I know how she feels when I screw things up. A cup of coffee in Nero made things better. Drove home and Scamp made the dinner, but managed to drop her fried egg on the floor. Maybe she should have had a Large coffee in Nero!

Drove in to Glasgow for the 6.30 class. CITRAC claimed the time from Cumbersheugh to Glasgow Airport was 42mins (on a good night it’s less than 20). It looked like the motorway was going to be a carpark again. Fifteen minutes later we were in the STUC building. Why have a display system like CITRAC if it’s totally inaccurate? Anyway, the 6.30 class was great fun as was the 7.30 class, but as it is closing soon, the numbers were low, although the spirits were not! Maybe it was that, or a footbath to ease her feet, or maybe it was a stiff G ’n’ T that put the smile back on her face, but whatever it was, she’s gone off to her bed looking a lot more like herself.

Today’s PoD was taken outside the GOMA this afternoon. I think this one is much better.  It was taken near Duntulm on Skye last Saturday.

Tomorrow is a tying up loose ends day, I hope.

Sleet, snow, hail and rain – 10 March 2019

Set off around 9.30 for the long drive back home. It wasn’t looking like it would be a pleasant drive and it lived up to that estimate. Driving down through Skye was ok with the snow keeping mostly to the mountains and higher hills. I managed to grab a shot of the Old Man of Storr just emerging from a blizzard. That became the PoD.

Carried on down to the biscuit tin also know as Eilean Donan castle at Dornie and stopped there for a coffee and a scone each. Suitably refreshed and after I’d had a quick look at some of the paintings for sale in the shop, we got on our way again. The weather worsened quite a bit and when we passed Loch Cluanie it was down to minimal visibility and the snow was beginning to lie on the road. I expected worse would be to come when we made the turn off to climb up to the Glen Garry viewpoint because the road is very exposed. I needn’t have worried because the snow clouds didn’t break and we had a fairly easy run over to Invergarry. From there it was on and off sleet and rain all the way down to Fort Billy where we stopped for lunch.

Refuelled at Fort Billy (oh how I wish the Juke had a proper petrol tank) and set off for Glencoe. Glencoe itself was fine, but when we got up onto Rannoch Moor the snow started again in earnest and we joined a conga line of cars battling down the road. The snow and sleet stayed with us all way down to Crianlarich and eventually faded out, leaving us free to drive down to Stirling and the welcome wide lanes of the M9. We had had a blue van following us all the way from Fort Billy. He/she seemed in no hurry to pass us and we kept a steady pace all the way. Just before they turned off the M9 heading for Embra they flashed their headlights and I gave them a wave. Hope they got home safe.

The rest of the journey was thankfully boring and pedestrian compared with the highlands. Enjoyed the time with Jac & Murdo, but it was good to be home.

Tomorrow? Gems and Salsa that’s about it.

A much brighter day – 9 March 2019

Ah, this was more like it. Today we’d drive round the top.

Bright sunshine with just the prospect of a few showers too to keep us honest. Drove down the drive and turned left. Found this interesting PoD at Duntulm. Taken with a wide angle lens it almost looks like a panorama. The light was kind to us me for once and showed up the textures nicely. It also shows the remoteness of the landscape. I was looking for a new road to travel, but couldn’t find one that looked interesting, so we just continued to Uig, but when we got there the weather closed in again and we didn’t stop. We just continued on our way round to Portree.

We’d seen Portree yesterday and I doubted that there was much more to hold our interest, so after getting some fuel we drove down to Slighachan then on to the Fairy Pools on the Glenbrittle road. Unfortunately the brand new carpark looked full and at £5 flat fee was a bit expensive for what it was. We turned and drove back to Portree where we had lunch in Aros. For once I had a decent toast there. Bacon and Mushroom. I must remember that if we’re ever there again. Usually everything is slathered in heavy, oily cheese but this was just what the description said. Coffee was great too – it always is. Scamp wasn’t so impressed with her Tuna melt which seemed to be more melt than tuna. Such a pity after mine being so good.

Drove back to Staffin and went for another dancing practise. This time we filmed it to see how we looked when we were dancing. Learned a lot, especially that our posture isn’t as good as we thought. Also we must remember to look forward or to the side, not at our feet. We even entertained Jackie and Mairi with our waltz steps. They were kind enough not to laugh!

Scamp went back with Jackie and I drove down to the slip to get some moody sea shots. Couldn’t quite manage to find the right subjects. Saw this woman laying out what looked like a rolled up canvas on the ground behind the boat sheds and holding it down with rocks. Later I found out she is the Dutch landowner. At least that’s what Jackie and Murdo think after hearing my description of her. Finally got some shots from the ‘beach’ and I might, just might have seen the famous dinosaur’s footprints.

Home for dinner and to prepare for tomorrow’s journey back down the road.

A Grey Day – 8 March 2019

A good day for dancing the greys away.

It was too dull a day for taking the Juke round the top end, so we just drove through the rain down to Portree, the big city. We headed for Jan’s Vans. A real find in Portree. Jan’s Vans is really just a big hardware store. Nothing fancy, but everything from a needle to an anchor. I’ve never actually seen any anchors in there, but I’m sure if you looked long enough you’d find one. We really were there for lunch, because it’s decent grub. Certainly not anything fancy, just good food. After lunch we went for a look round the shop part of the establishment and found lots of interesting and cheap stuff. Laces for my dancing shoes, memory foam insoles for the same. Bottle brushes that Scamp had been searching for everywhere. We passed on the ride-on mower for £2400 because it would be difficult to get it home. I suppose we could have ridden it, but it wouldn’t have been a comfortable journey.

We had a look in Skye Batiks to see if they’d any nice shirts. They did have, but not at a nice price. £50 for a short sleeved shirt is a bit expensive for me. A quick trip to the newsagent’s and that was it for Portree. We headed back up the road through the rain showers. Scamp had arranged with her sister that we could book the hall in her outdoor centre for an hour or so of dance practise. It was indeed a good idea and we got some useful dancing practise in and I grabbed PoD which was taken from one of the windows onto the wild Skye landscape.

Back home and after dinner we had a fair bit of excitement when the chimney in the house caught fire and the fire brigade had to called. As it’s a volunteer group the men had to be assembled and driven up to the house in their brand new fire engine. It didn’t take much more than fifteen minutes and the fire was out by the time they arrived, but it was quite a worrying time. The guys were really efficient and put everyone’s mind at rest when they checked the chimney and the wall with their heat sensitive camera. Later we managed to settle down with a G&T for some and a dram for others to calm us down. It will be talk of the township tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for better weather and less excitement.

Coming Down – 27 May 2018

“Coming down is the hardest thing”. That’s what the late Tom Petty said in “Learning to Fly”. It’s true and it’s even more true when you’re driving away from Skye and the sun is shining.

We left early, just after 10am, because we were ready and there seemed no point in prolonging the agony. The drive down was amazingly quiet, at least until we reached Rannoch Moor where we picked up some traffic. We stopped at the awkwardly named Lochan na h-Achlaise which apparently translates as Loch of the Armpit, or Loch Oxter. Anyway, that’s where I got PoD. It took a little longer to process than I’d anticipated. The basic levels and stuff was done in Lightroom and then I handed it over to ON1 for some more delicate make-up. The result went back into Lightroom for the final cropping and I’m more than happy with the final result.

Loch Oxter got quite noisy too with a collection of BMWs, Subaru Imprezas, Audis and assorted low riding Peugeots about 10 in all showing an impressive turn of speed as they turned the A82 into a drag strip. Noisy, dangerous and quite exhilaration, although others of the ‘blue rinse brigade’ were heard to say that “there’s no need for that” and “shouldn’t be allowed”. True, but that’s only because they were never young once. Some folk are born old.

Back on the road stopped for lunch at Morrisons in Fort William The next drag was a real drag. For about a mile and a half outside Callander we crawled forward in a long queue held there because of two sets of traffic lights. One set was true traffic lights at a junction and the other was a set of pedestrian lights where the ‘grannies’ were crossing and re-crossing the road just to annoy us drivers. Can’t they find somewhere better to spend their Sunday afternoon? I think it’s the same ones who where hissing and harrumphing about the folk of the testosterone brigade up at Loch Oxter.

Once we were past there, it was plain sailing all the way home. About 6 hours driving with half an hour out for lunch and half an hour out for Callander. That’s about average. It’s a long day and a long drive, but it has to be done and at least there weren’t very many potholes on the road.

Tomorrow is a relaxing day. Very little or no driving planned.

The Oyster Shed – 26 May 2018

At breakfast today Mairi was talking about The Oyster Shed.

Basically The Oyster Shed was simply a shed where they sold oysters and other seafood in Carbost. We looked for it on the web and discovered that there are two Carbosts in Skye. The one we were looking for seemed to be the furthest away (It would be, wouldn’t it) That was today sorted. We were going to Carbost, the far away one, to get some seafood.

Drove down through Portree to Sligachan and turned right, then drove through the Cuillins. From there we eventually found Carbost, but struggled to find the shed. We climbed a hill and stopped the car then stood watching and listening to a cuckoo being mobbed by sparrows. My satnav was directing me to a single track road that would allegedly lead to the shed. We got most of the way there when it looked as if the road was blocked by a van at the bottom of the hill. Not that way then. We reverse, turned and drove back down to the village. We found a sign pointing up a hill to The Oyster Shed. We seemed to walk for miles up the hill, but it was only a fifteen minute walk, but it was a steep walk. When we got to the Shed, I realised it was where the van had been parked earlier. We did get some shellfish. We got some cocktail crab claws, some crab meat and I got a mug. We got a can of lemon and mint drink which tasted like medicine as far as I was concerned. Not something I’d have again.

Walked back down that really long hill and had a picnic lunch of crisps and the lemon and mint. It didn’t matter really as the scenery and the sun made up for a lot. Watched a bunch of German teenagers hiring a boat and just managing to steer it round a couple of buoys before sailing off.

Came back through Portree and dropped Scamp off at the house then I went to see if there was room for one more at the slip. There wasn’t. That’s just ridiculous, isn’t it? No room at the slip for me. What’s the world coming to. Drove back up the road and stopped at the wee Loch Langaig to get some photos. That’s where today’s PoD came from.  Eventually came back to sit in the sun at the back of the house.

Tomorrow we pack our bags and turn the Juke to face south again.  Had a great time, but really, there are too many visitors on Skye and most of them shouldn’t be at the wheel of a pedal car, far less a real one.

Going up country – 24 May 2018

We were on our way north today.

Waited for the bin men to empty our bins and then we were off with a quick stop to fill up with the £1.30/litre gold plated, diamond encrusted petrol, (Well, it should be at that price.) then we were off up the road. First stop Fort William for lunch and a comfort break. Back on the road and the next stop was just outside Kyle just to stretch my legs. After that it was Portree for a quick top up of slightly cheaper (!!) petrol and then the last leg up to Staffin. The roads were fairly clear most of the way with the occasional slow tourist to pass, but drop a gear and press the ‘sport mode’ button and they’re history. That button will now be called the ‘overtake button’. Hit one big heavy pothole just before Staffin and after that, became ultra cautious which was just as well, considering the chasms between Staffin and Digg.

Dinner tonight was chicken stuffed with haggis and chicken stuffed with black pudding for me and just plain pan fried chicken for Scamp. All were excellent. Washed down with a pint of McEwan’s Export.

Later a wee dram to ease me to sleep. How quiet it is and how light, with just a glimmer in the sky at 11.10pm. Skye is a marvellous place, despite the potholes.

Things to remember today?:

  • The crowds of tourists around the Commando Monument at Spean bridge.
  • Seeing a plane (Tucano?) flying low above the loch on the Caledonian Canal.
  • Pressing the overtake button in anger for the first time.
  • That can of McEwan’s Export – how well did it go down?
  • PoD – the stacked up trolleys at Morrisons in Fort William.
  • Scotland in the sun.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to drive round the top end.

Flying Home, Going Home – 9 April 2017

We were going home, but unlike Yes in “Ritual: Nous Sommes Du Soleil”, we weren’t flying home, just driving, driving for just over six hours.  That said, I thought it would be good to finish this little break like it started, with a song quote.
It’s always a drag, the journey home.  It’s like flying, sailing, driving home from any holiday, you just want to be there.  When teleportation becomes viable it will immediately become the most used form of transport for coming home from holiday.

We only stopped twice.  Once at a wee cafe in Spean Bridge.  I don’t know what it’s called but it wouldn’t be hard to spot, it’s the only cafe in the town as far as I can see.  It used to be a Little Chef, but re-opened as, what looks looks like a family run cafe.  It’s a great place to stop coming back from Skye because it’s roughly half distance.
The other stop was at Balachullish to stretch my legs and check the tyres when I accidentally bumped the kerb.  Legs were stretched, tyres were deemed ok and the above photo was taken.  On with the journey.

Once back on the road it was a straight run home with very light traffic.  Weather was dry for the most part with just a couple of light showers, not the downpours that were predicted.  Jackie did send a text to say that it was pouring in Skye.  So for once, we brought the dry weather to Skye and took it away with us!  Murd will not admit that.

So, after 761.3 miles and 17.8 gallons of petrol, we were back where we started.  Thank you Jackie and Murd for the hospitality (and the mince ‘n’ tatties and the ‘wee’ drams).  Thanks Mairi for the entertaining stories and for being a foodie in the making.  Nice to see Jaki again, even if it was just for a few minutes.  We’ll be back DV.

 

Happy Birthday to Me – 8 April 2017

Another year older.

After I opened my birthday prezzies this morning (thank you all!) and had my breakfast, it was time to head out.  My choice of destination.  I chose Broadford and that’s where we went today.  It’s ages since I’ve been to Broadford.  Obviously, we’ve passed through it ever time we come to Skye, but we rarely stop and get out of the car there.  Hazy phoned me just as we stopped and parked.  Had a pleasant talk with her, even if the temperature she was talking about down there was almost twice what we were enduring.  That said, they have the weather, we have the scenery and we were staring out  the windscreen at that sort of scenery.  Out across the water was the pier  and the youth hostel.   But, as Scamp said, no dolphins.  You can’t have everything.

We went for a walk along the shore walk, then down the road before Scamp found a coffee shop where we stopped for a coffee and a scone.  Unfortunately, it was a cheese scone and I ordered it with butter AND JAM.  Apparently, you don’t have jam on a cheese scone.  Coffee was the best I’ve had on the island with the exception of Jackie’s of course.  It was just after I started it, I discovered that I didn’t have my phone.  Oh dear, did I drop it on the walk or did I leave it in the car?  Only one way to find out.  I had to curtail my coffee and go find out.  It was in the car.  Thank you, the birthday fairies who look after lost phones.

Drove back up the road and parked ourselves by the slip to watch the waves and listen to the birds.  Went looking for photos and found that there were even more wee men parked around the boathouse.  I don’t know who is planting them there, but whoever they are, they have a great supply of araldite to weld them to the stone.

Drove Scamp back to the house and dumped the day’s photos on the Mac before venturing out for the last sortie of the week, up again to Loch Gangaig.  On the way there I caught sight of a couple of walkers up on a ridge heading for the Quiraing.  I was cold a couple of thousand feet below them and with the comfort of the car beside me, I’d imagine they were much colder and less comfortable where they were.  Got a few photos of the loch and one or two of the wee lochan I’d visited yesterday.  After that, there was nothing for it but to head back to Burnside for a dram and a plate of Mince ’n’ Tatties.  Superb.  Thank you Jackie.

Tomorrow, we drive south.

Drive to the end of the road and turn left – 6 April 2017

As usual, on the first day of our stay on Skye, we drove round the top end of the island.  Up to Uig and then round to Portree.

Stopped off at Duntulm to take what is an iconic photo of the telephone box there.  After that, I walked out to the ruin of Duntulm Castle.  It’s a ruin and there’s a warning at the padlocked gate to say “We advise you not to come any closer”.  It’s a bit like the warning on iPlayer that asks you “Do you have a TV licence?”  Easy to lie, easy to ignore.  Just do it.  I’d walked for 15-20 minutes in a bitterly cold wind to reach this ridiculous sign, so I just turned around and went back to the car.  AYE RIGHT!  It’s an interesting place, really remote on this finger of land that sticks out into the Minch.  Although the castle is a ruin now, the solid walls really protect you from the worst of the wind that blows in from the sea.  Took a few photos and then went back to the warmth of the car.

We drove in to Uig, but there was nothing interesting to see, so we headed on to Portree.  Lunch was in Jan’s Vans which is, for want of a better description, a gigantic hardware store.  Scamp browsed the ‘toys off the rack’ and eventually settled on a plant for the garden, but I’m pretty sure she has a list of things that we’ll be bringing back with us.

We tried to park in Portree itself, but all the carparks were full, so we drove back to Staffin and sat and watched the waves for a while.  After that I drove Scamp back to the house and I went to take some more photos.  Initially up to the wee lochan up at Floddigarry and then back down the slip again.  Saw the wee Captain model firmly glued to a boathouse there.  Went for a walk along the rocks and when I got back it was time for dinner, and a wee dram.  A fine way to end a fine day.

Tomorrow?  Probably more of the same!