Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Emerald Isle

It was quite a way down the coast to where our ferry for Ireland was departing so we headed off early in the morning passing Glasgow and heading down the coast. We had a moment of panic when we realised we couldn't remember which of two port towns we were actually leaving from (yes, that's how organised we can be) but it turned out they were only 15 minutes drive apart so all was well.
The weather was clear and sunny if not quite as warm as Mum and Dad are used to and the crossing to Larne was very quick. By mid afternoon we were in Ireland, and having it on good advice to keep driving once hitting Larne we began our drive up the Antrim Coastal route.
We were in the area of the Glens of Antrim, lovely broad, green valleys which run down to the coast and are very pretty. We detoured from the coast to the Glenarrif forest park which had a boardwalk along a river with loads of waterfalls and lots and lots of greenery, they obviously have as much rain here as they do in Scotland.
It was good to stretch our legs after the long drive but by now it was getting on in the day so we headed for our first pit stop of the trip, Cushendall. We stayed in a B&B owned by an ex-captain who had some pretty impressive photos of the area. That night with dinner we enjoyed our first truly Irish Guinness- very refreshing- and capped off the night with a game or two of doms.
The following morning we continued along the coastal route passing through Cushendun and heading up to the causeway coast, we stopped for a walk up to an out of use weather station overlooking the rather turbulent sea and being able to look across to Scotland. We worked out that had the sea not been the obstacle it was we probably could drive to Inveraray in a matter of two hours.
The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge was our next stop, traditionally fishermen used to string the bridge up to the rocky outcrop to better fish the salmon heading along the coast but it has become quite the destination for tourists wanting to test their courage crossing over the deep ravine... It really wasn't that scary, high, or unstable but we all enjoyed a rest on the other side nestled in tufts of soft grass away from the wind.
The Giant's Causeway after which the stretch of coast is named was really spectacular as we hope some of the photos show. Apparently there are 38 000 columns but we didn't stop to count as they were much more fun to clamber over. The uniformity and structure of the rocks was mostly hexagonal and we spent some time looking for a 'perfect' example. Thankfully we only had to share the Causeway with a handful of tour groups but judging by the coach parking at the visitor centre Summer must see a lot more tourists.
For lunch we had the first of many picnics overlooking Dunluce Castle, perched upon a crag over the sea. The castle was in ruins and apparently at one point the whole kitchen (staff included) had dropped into the sea.
Our final destination for the day was Derry, or Londonderry depending on which way you lean. Not too hard to guess which is which. Another B&B with a resident Bulldog (British) was our home for the night and we set off for a wander about the towns walls, the oldest intact walls in Ireland although rather updated. Derry's history is close to the heart of all the troubles in Northern Ireland and it was apparent in the huge fences around the town that there are still tensions. Eva had trouble believing the fences were for defensive purposes until we leaned out and saw all the paintball marks on the other side.
As we continued along we looked down on Bogside, the Catholic area outside the town walls and saw all the murals and the sign saying "You are now entering free Derry". It was about this point that dad realised his Somerton sailing jacket he had brought along for warmth was in Navy blue, white and red...... Whoops!
After completing the circuit and a pit stop at the B&B we headed out for a Guinness before dinner at "Flaming Jacks", one of the most filling meals ever! Derry itself was a pretty run down and dire looking place, the walk along the walls was interesting historically but there wasn't much to appeal otherwise, the next day took us away to the West Coast.
Photos: Happy times, Walking across the rope bridge, View across the glens, The Giant's causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Giant's causeway (bizarre shapes), They were let out for a day, The Bogside, Dunluce castle.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Welcome to Scotland!!!!

So quite some time ago now Mum and Dad T came to visit us in Sunny (yes, really) Scotland. We're kicking ourselves for taking so long to blog as it's amazing how quickly you can forget little details but here goes....

It had been about 20 months since we'd all last clapped eyes on each other (not counting web cams) so it was really something quite special. On the Thursday they arrived we had to keep reminding ourselves that they had just come out of something like 30 hours travelling when we had just driven an hour to the airport.
Despite their jet lag, upon arrival in Inveraray we all decided to take the hike up Dun na Cuaiche which is kinda strenuous but affords great views over the town. The weather was blustery but clear so it made for a pretty nice walk and helped stretch some of the jet lag out of Mum and Dad's bones (or so we kept telling them).
We ate at the George that night and Mum and Dad stayed up until the admiral time of 9:30ish, I'm sure the combination of jet lag and whisky liqueur helped them have a very good night's sleep.
We were both working during the day on the Friday so Mum and Dad took the car and went for a drive around Glen Coe and a bunch of other places getting a look at some of the beautiful highlands and that evening we headed along to the Inver Cottage restaurant on the other side of the Loch for tea. We had heard good things about this secluded little place and it was a really nice meal, we managed to sight some pheasants and highland cattle on the way around as well.
Saturday was brilliant. We had a wander about town in the morning checking out all the shops and then headed out to nearby Cairndow where our friend Iain was taking us around the oyster and mussel farm he works in.
We were able to see the crates where the oysters are left to filter any nasties before going to the table but the tide was in so we couldn't see the actual oyster beds. We did get to sample an oyster there and then though, fresh!
We then headed out to the mussel farm first seeing the platform that Iain has to work on when he is setting and harvesting the mussel ropes. It is a square punt type thing with loads of equipment on it but not much in the way of shelter. No wonder he looks cold when he comes to the pub after work in winter.
Iain is really knowledgeable and was able to answer all our questions about the farm and it was lovely out on the water if a little cold heading back against the wind. As a parting gift he threw us a bag of oysters for our dinner that night, what a guy!
We stopped by the Loch Fyne Oysters shop on the way home to pick up some local produce for our dinner that night before heading to The George for a lunch of mussels (unfortunately not from Iain's farm).
Although we were pretty knackered we then went for an afternoon wander up and around the town, visiting the wishing well and swinging back by the castle again, getting slightly muddy along the way.
For dinner we had a real spread as the photo attests and followed with our first game of dominos for the holiday. We did head up to The George for a drink afterwards but most of our friends were still working and the music was a bloody awful (in my opinion) country and western guy who we only get in once in a blue moon. It was a bit disappointing not to be able to show Mum and Dad how good a Saturday night can be with a popular band on but oh well.
The following morning it was up early to head of n our Irish voyage....
Photos: Mussel lines, a fairly full mussel rope, Captain Mackay, Mum enjoying the sunshine.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Just some photos of the last few weeks..

Not much has been happening over here at the moment just work really. We have had a chance to finally go to a football match, which was quite a good night seeing how different football fans are to AFL fans and how the supporters are segregated. We had a chance the other day for a walk up a mountain int the Rest and Be Thankful pass. The weather has been quite a different to last season, we have seen more clear days and not as much rain. It has been quite a bit colder though with many nights well below freezing and a few days too.

A cow draped with an orange shag pile carpet and viking horns stuck on. ;)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You will never walk alone....

I used to love snow, but know I am not too sure. We left bright and early on Monday morning, well at 10 o'clock anyway. This allowed us over 3 hours to get to the airport, which should have been plenty of time as Prestwick is only an hour and a half away. Everything was going well, a fair bit of snow was falling but nothing too dramatic until we turned onto the M77, 30 miles from the airport. A news report come over the radio announcing that a blizzard had hit a few miles up the road and as we got closer to the junctions that it had hit we come across a huge traffic jam, not an unusual site on Scotland's motorways. The road had frozen up totally lorries were sliding all over the place and Iain also had trouble getting and grip as we crawled along. We hadn't moved for 40 minutes so we decided the best option was to get off the motorway and try an alternate route, so did everyone else. Eventually we made it to the airport just in time to see our plane fly off to sunny Barcelona. Fortunately during our drive Kris had been liaising with Marine back at the hotel that if on the off chance we did miss our flights could we get another one. We 6:30 the next morning check in would be at 5:30 ouch! We decide to get a hotel room in nearby Irvine not the most exciting place in the world but at least we had a bed for the night. We made the flight the next morning and arrived in Barcelona in good time. Sunshine. We Set our stuff down in our apartment and headed of to catch up with a few other people the boys have met on previous football trips. We went out to an amazing little bar for lunch a meal that consisted of massive legs of lamb just put down on the table, absolutely stunning it was a lot of meat and a lot of drink. Then started the football songs 20 people all singing songs from the Celtic club song to many other songs including their adopted song "You will never walk alone" enough to make your hairs stand on end. During this Kris had been madly phoning around trying to organise some tickets for the game as the asking price was 150€ a wee bit more than we wanted to pay, but to no avail. We did try. A little despondent we decided we would have to watch the game in a bar somewhere, disappointed because this was the reason for the trip. The rest of the guys went to the game and we headed to a little bar to soak up the atmosphere. We drank and sang into the wee hours of the night. The next day we awoke surprised that we had made it back to the apartment as Barcelona can be a bit confusing as it is set up in grids and all the streets look very similar. Yay to us. By the time we woke up Gavin and Iain had already left to see the sights a Barcelona and find some food. Kris, Matt and I wandered around and we wandered into The Cava bar, a little bar down by the harbour an astounding place, small but packed full of people the most amazing thing was the price of the Cava 2.50€ a 750 ml bottle, the only catch was you had to order two freshly made rolls with it, it was a Champagne(Cava) breakfast. We then wandered over to Barcelonetta where we caught up with the guys from last night and enjoyed some more wonderful food and cervesa. Feeling quite well bevvied we decided to stroll on in to the centre again and look for a nice place for some Tapas before dinner. We hit a couple more bars and ate and drank an ate well into the night. On our final day we decided to hire a car and head out to a town on the coast called Roses to do some go-karting a catch up with Big D for lunch, unfortunately the go-karting track was closed. We had lunch at a beautiful resturant that served a few week old suckling piglet and lamb cooked in wood fired ovens. Beautiful and tender, so tender in fact that our waiter cut up the piglet with the side of a plate. Then back to the airport and back to Glasgow. When we arrived back to Inveraray it was raining again.
Oh and the score was Barcelona 1, Celtic 0

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

And he's off

So Adam, Kris, Matt, Gavin and Ian are away to Barcelona on a football trip and Eva is sitting in Inveraray wishing she had been born with another set of equipment and trying to find foundation that can cover green skin.
Not that the trip has been stress free, they missed their flight yesterday and had to reschedule for 5:30 this morning and they are yet to get tickets for the Celtic-Barcelona match on tonight that was the whole reason (excuse?) for the trip in the first place.
I'm sure we'll get to hear all about it on Thursday upon their return, and if the continuing commentary on the past ten years' football trips is anything to go by we'll be listening to anecdotes (teeth clenched) for an unspecified amount of time onwards.
Sigh, I can't be bitter. I'll just cross my fingers and hope for a package of Tapas, sunshine, time off or at least an airport shop present when they get back.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's a small world

Ha ha, the Glaswegian who punched the fireball terrorist at the airport just walked in to the pub. Never stand between a Scot and his holiday!

Monday, February 25, 2008


Well, after arriving in Scotland about 15 months ago we finally made the trip 2 1/2 hours East to Edinburgh.
Even so this trip wasn't undertaken through any particular touristic zeal but because Eva's cousin Michael was up North from London for a few days R&R between jobs.
We caught up with Michael on Wednesday night after not having seen him since Christmas '03 and it was really, really good to see him.
We have both been catching up on each others movements based on 2nd and 3rd hand news for the last few years so all the details and bits and pieces were great to hear. Michael was only up for the night so after dinner and coffee the following day he was away but we are now pretty convinced that we are going to visit him in London sometime soon. Can you believe that despite both of us having our cameras on us the whole time we forgot to get any photos together?!?
As for Edinburgh itself we had a bit of a wander through both the Old and New Towns which were very appealing, overlooked by the castle of course. Despite having seen loads of programs on Edinburgh we weren't really prepared for how looming the castle really is. Thursday was a day of gale force winds so perhaps not the best time to be looking around but we've decided to knuckle down to another trip over soon to have a proper look about and see the inside of the castle.
Eva has just discovered she has a second cousin is in Ed at the moment so we could make it a bit of a reunion city....
Photo: Posing in front of the Castle on a rather windy day (Adam has since had a haircut)