Sunday, 31 July 2011

Scotland, day 2

Sunday 17 July 2011

We had a good lie in; down to breakfast about 8.30am. Smoked haddock and poached egg – as good as I’ve tasted anywhere. I couldn’t get a signal on the wi-fi this morning and when I checked with the front desk, the receptionist said it was only available in the lounge and foyer on the ground floor. She was amazed that we had got a signal on the second floor.

Oban Harbour

We set off for Oban but had to wait until noon for most of the shops to open. Weather cool, windy with rain blowing in. We looked around the shops avoiding the rain, bought a map of Mull and booked passage for Monday to Craignure. Marea particularly wants to visit Tobermory.

McCaig's Tower over Oban

We thought of visiting Crarae Garden near Inveraray but the rain was rather persistent so we drove into Inveraray itself. I bought some Loch Fyne whisky – one that I particularly enjoy. Marea bought another French necklace like the ones she bought last year. We were pleased to see that the Parisienne lady who owns the shop was still in business – it can’t be easy, even in a tourist spot like Inveraray. We checked where the Highland Games were (for Tuesday) and went back to Portsonachan for dinner and The Apprentice final.

Smoked haddock is a real treat here – it’s undyed very fresh and juicy. The only problem is that it’s a long way to Oban so deliveries could be more frequent. When available, it takes away the temptation to have a ‘full Scottish Breakfast’ with bacon, egg, sausage patty, white pudding, beans, toast and jam... etc.

Rain is a constant hazard in Oban – i don’t think we’ver ever been there when it hasn’t rained, though it rarely stays; clouds pass relatively quickly leaving the streets warm and damp with that Victorian seaside town feeling familiar from childhood holidays in Southport, Skegness, Cromer, St Leonards, etc.

Wonderful old-fashioned toilets near the ferry terminal in Oban

Inveraray doesn’t seem to have any real reason for being where it is at the top end of Loch Fyne – though it is the traditional county town of Argyll and ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll. The present town was built in the late 1700s after the then Duke moved the population of the existing village to improve the view from his rebuilt castle. This is one of the most prominent features of the place – the Duke and Duchess (new ones of course) are still in residence – together with the gaol, now a museum together with the floating maritime museum, neither of which I have to confess to not having visited. This is not because I don’t like museums but because the majority simply don’t come up to my ideas of what a museum ought to be; I have, unfortunately, been trained on the best.

Inveraray is a place that most people visit. (I’ve only just discovered that much of this is due to the regulation that bus drivers must take a rest after 2 hours driving. Inverary is exactly 2 hours drive from Glasgow so all services connecting Campbeltown, Oban and Fort William to or from Glasgow stop at Inverary for a 20 minute break. The real giveaway that it’s a real tourist trap is the fact that the public toilets cost 30pence rather than the Scottish norm of 20pence.

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