07 August 2007


I guess it’s time I posted a bit of an update from our trip to Scotland, and posted a few photos - before my reader shouts at me!

Friday 27 July
As all the bags were packed and ready to go by Thursday night - all down to Lynda’s planning! - we were able to have a bit of a lay in on Friday before setting off on the long trip north. We left home at just after 9:00AM and had a reasonably easy run up the M6, crossing the Scottish border exactly 200 miles later at 12:25PM. The next few days will see if we made the first part of the journey a little too quickly… mobile speed cameras covering all three lanes of the motorway may just have caught me!

After another 2½ hours, and 120 miles, we arrived in Balloch on the edge of Loch Lomond. At some point between crossing the Scottish border and arriving in Balloch, we passed through Glasgow on the M8, but I’m trying to put that little adventure to the back of my mind! That’s two years running we’ve run the gauntlet on that stretch of road; next time we go around it!

First job, after checking in at the Tullie Inn (our B&B for the night), was to head to Palombos, the local chip shop! This place does a great battered Haggis and chips! One complaint though… it’s 2007 and you STILL can’t get mushy peas with your chips in that part of Scotland! Still, things did pick up somewhat after the mushy pea saga. A quick look in the programme for the Lomond Folk Festival revealed a bit of a bonus for us. Not only were Albannach playing at the festival but also Clanadonia, another tribal pipe and drum band, fronted by Tu-Bardh Wilson!

The Tullie Inn - our Friday night B&B

By 6:30PM, we were outside the Lomond Park Hotel, drinks in hand, watching Clanadonia kick off the weekend’s entertainment. The weather was fine, the music great and the cider nice and cold. A great start to the holiday! After the band finished playing, we spent a short time chatting with Tu-Bardh (thanks again for the CD!) before heading back to the Tullie Inn for supper and another drink or two.

Clanadonia, outside the Lomond Park Hotel.


Saturday 28 July
After a very nice full cooked breakfast, we packed our overnight bags and headed off to the Lomond Shores shopping area. As we had a few hours to kill before we could get into our caravan (holiday accommodation, as the reception desk kept telling us!), we had a steady walk around the shops and also the visiting French market before returning to the caravan park at 12:30PM.

Our "caravan" for the week.

Orchid growing next to the caravan.

The accommodation proved to be very good, plenty of space, nice and bright, really comfortable and, although the park was very quiet, it was only a few minutes walk from the centre of Balloch, just about perfect. The only thing missing was a supermarket on the doorstep. Lynda went off in search of the local Morrisons (just down the road according to the map) only to return about an hour later having failed to find it! The Co-Op in Balloch proved easier to find and so got her business instead.

Soon it was time to head back to Lomond Shores and the first of the Albannach gigs. We found Jamesie and the band in the car park, had a bit of a catch up on what had been going on and then noticed a minor problem - no Jacquie! Turns out she had forgotten about this gig and was still on her way to Balloch for the second gig later in the afternoon! Still, the show goes on and the rest of the band played a storming set. The Albannach drums always sound loud but they simply roared at Lomond Shores - helped no doubt by the sound bouncing back off the huge stone wall they played close to!


Jamesie - Albannach.

With one show down it was time to move on to the Lomond Park Hotel for the second Albannach set. The pub had been busy the day before, when Clanadonia played, but word was obviously out that Albannach had now arrived, the place was packed! All seats and tables were taken, there were people standing on the car park wall, the pavement outside the pub was blocked, cars were pulling up in the middle of the road and bringing traffic to a standstill and through it all came the sound of drums and pipes. Yes, Albannach, complete with Jacquie now, were certainly in town.

The Lomond Park Hotel crowd.

Jacquie - Albannach.

Of the three Albannach sets we saw, I think this was the best. There was just about enough room for Jamesie to bounce around in the way only he can whilst playing the drum, the crowd loved every second of it and everyone could see what was going on. I’ll remember this one show for a long while.

After the Lomond Park Hotel, Lynda and I took a bit of a breather and headed back to the caravan for a bite to eat, a bit of a rest and to get ready for the last Albannach gig of the day. By just after 8:00PM we were back in the Tullie Inn. It was still at least an hour before the band would be playing but even so, we had problems just getting in the door, the place was packed out! After a while, we did manage to get to the bar and get some drinks but any thoughts of getting near the stage were quickly abandoned. If we could at least see the band then that would have to do.

We did manage to work our way a little closer to the stage by the time the gig started but we were still around 20 rows back, up on a small balcony to one side of the stage. As for the show itself, the crowd was the best of the three venues we attended and they really did get behind the band. The sound on the vocals wasn’t the best, the PA couldn’t cope with the size of the venue or the large amount of people packing into it, and it was certainly hot! Very hot! Quite how the band managed to play in such heat I’ll never know. Jamesie summed the evening up in just one word after the gig… MENTAL!


Sunday 29 July
Time for a change of pace. We left Balloch, and the music, for the day and headed up to Callander for the World Highland Games. As the games didn’t start until just after lunch we spent a while looking around the town, in some of the shops and getting a bite of lunch. It’s a small world, as the saying goes - one of the shops we went into was run by a man that used to live in Tibshelf, just a half hour drive from Derby!

River view in Callander.

Once at the games we positioned ourselves in front of the 56lb for height bar and watched most of the events from there. One or two of the big names from last year were missing this time but athletes we did recognise included Scott Rider (England), Gregor Edmunds (Scotland), Wout Zylstra (Holland), Sebastian Wenta (Poland), Larry Brock, Ryan Vierra and Harrison Bailey III (USA) and Mark Felix (Grenada).

A new field record was set in the Putting The Stone - 58.6 feet - by Scott Rider. The 56lb for height was won at 16.5 feet by Wout Zylstra. The hammer was won by Larry Brock. I’m not sure who won the Caber but I do know that no one managed to "turn it" fully during the afternoon.

Larry Brock throws the 56lb for height.

Tossing the Caber.

After a very pleasant day at the games, it was time to head back to Balloch and the music again. The evening’s entertainment in the marquee was Clanadonia and then The Raggle Taggle Gypsies. Tu-Bardh and clan kicked off the show in fine style, the drums and pipes sounding great in the large marquee. The evening was also helped along by the free whisky and ginger beer being handed out as people entered the gig! A little fancy footwork saw Lynda back in the queue for a second helping of this, her new favourite alcoholic drink!

The Raggle Taggle Gypsies closed the festival with 3 hours of upbeat, party atmosphere music that soon had the crowd dancing the night away - the whisky may have helped too! Me being me, I couldn’t stay sat down for too long and soon found myself bouncing around like a mad thing. The sight of my crazy dancing, accompanied by a slightly drunken Scotsman in a kilt, must have had some in the crowd wondering just what was going on! At least I didn’t end up dancing on the tables!

That blur on the left is me!

This guy was GREAT fun!


Monday 30 July
After the noise, chaos, drinking and rushing around of the previous three days, Monday was a very welcome chill-out day. We didn’t wake up until 9:45AM, and then spent the morning in the caravan watching TV and reading. In the afternoon, we took a two-hour boat trip out onto Loch Lomond, aboard the Silver Marlin. The weather was just about perfect for the trip, not too hot, only a small amount of high cloud, a gentle breeze and more importantly, no rain.

Looking up Loch Lomond from the boat.

Lynda out on the front of the boat.

By the time we returned to land, Lynda was starting to feel a little hungry - must have been all the fresh air, or the whisky the night before - so we decided to try an Italian restaurant we had walked past on numerous occasions over the past three days. Pizza for Lynda, Bolognese on Penne Pasta for me and a large glass of Merlot each soon had us feeling much better. The walk back to the caravan didn’t do too much to detract from a rather nice meal and we were both soon sleeping soundly!


Tuesday 31 July
We left the caravan at 9:30AM, drove for almost 200 miles and returned to base at 7:15PM! In that time we had seen The Falls of Falloch, were I received my first mosquito bites, Beinn Oaher, Loch Tulla, Glencoe, Loch Linnie, Castle Stalker, Oban, where it rained, Glen Douglas and a beautiful cottage garden at Aldochlay! We also came across the first Highland Cattle of our visit, a young calf with its mother and another group of cattle in Glen Douglas.

The Falls of Falloch.


How cute?

The scenery on this little road trip was, at times, some of the best I’ve ever come across. Glencoe was every bit as impressive as I’d imagined. The Falls of Falloch were so peaceful and yet so powerful. Castle Stalker was your typical Scottish castle, remote, set in beautiful surroundings and gave a sense of real history. Oban, that was just how I thought a small town on the west coast of Scotland would be. It was shrouded in a sea mist, it was raining, the fishing boats were in and you could buy all sorts of locally caught seafood. The thing is, why would you want to? Sorry, but I’m NOT a seafood fan! On a nice sunny day Oban would, I imagine, be a very picturesque town, on our visit it wasn’t.

Once back in Balloch, we finished the day off with an excellent Chinese take-away, and a rather welcome drink.


Wednesday 1August
Another lazy start to the day and another day spent at a slow pace. After a late breakfast, we went to the Loch Lomond Sea Life Centre. The highlight for me here was most definitely the Seahorses, they were just amazing. To see such beautiful and delicate things so close up was a real treat. We were also very lucky to visit just after a brood of baby Seahorses had been born. The day old babies were no larger than a big speck of dust and yet they looked so graceful swimming around in their own little tank!


The Seahorses could have been given a run for their money as highlight of the day but the otters were fast asleep in their bed, having not long been fed, so all we saw of them was a rather cute nose and a pair of sleepy eyes!

In the afternoon we visited the conservation village of Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond. This village has been lucky enough to have had a bypass built around it and is now spared the heavy traffic of the A82. Although only very small, this was one of the prettiest villages I can ever remember visiting. Luss was also the place were I was bitten by a mosquito, again!

Cottages in Luss village.

As the weather was once again rather nice, we spent a good part of the evening back at the caravan sat outside reading and just watching the world go by.


Thursday 2 August
Shopping day! Lynda decided that she would like to visit a couple of shopping centres in nearby Alexandria, so that is what we did! I cannot complain, I was treated to a bottle of Loch Lomond Single Malt Whisky - an early birthday present! This is a new whisky to me and, having sampled a wee dram in the shop, I’m rather looking forward to being allowed to open it. The packaging says "The taste on the palette is sweet, smokey, with hints of finest Madeira wine and has a long, mellow finish, with echoes of a raisiny Xmas pudding." The small taste I had certainly had the first three elements, maybe the Xmas pudding will reveal itself after a slightly larger measure!

In true Lynda style, we drove between the two shopping centres, only to return to the first one so that she could buy herself a shawl that she had taken a liking to! Why do women do that? There was no real sign of her buying one when we first saw them; an hour later… she HAS to have one!

We finished the day with a rather unhealthy supper at McDonald’s, followed by a gentle stroll along one of the country lanes that ran alongside Loch Lomond. I took extra chicken nuggets with me, just in case of emergency.

Friday 3 August
Our last full day in Scotland dawned dull and overcast, not that we saw dawn. We rolled out of bed at around 9:30AM, had breakfast and then watched TV all morning. At lunchtime, we took a walk down into Balloch and visited Palombos chip shop again. Here’s a small tip for you… if you order fish & chips here make sure you’re hungry! You get two large pieces of battered fish and a mountain of chips - the sort of portion that would be served to two people here in England. Of course, I ate the lot and enjoyed every last bit of it.

To work off a few of the calories we took a final walk along the side of Loch Lomond in the afternoon and saw a totally different view of the loch than we had seen all week. Light rain started too fall and the cloud cover became very heavy and low. Benn Lomond disappeared from view and the grey of the sky joined the darkness of the water completely obscuring much of the scenery. In a way, it was good to have this weather as it gave us an insight into how the place could look in other seasons, and also how quickly the weather could close in and put you in some real danger up in the mountains.

Loch Lomond, in the rain.

Saturday 4 August
Time to return home. We hit the road at 9:00AM and took the long route back to the M6 motorway, there was no way I was facing the M8 through Glasgow again! In the end, this more scenic route turned out to be only 6 miles further that the Glasgow death run. We arrived back home at just after 2:30PM, tired but full of memories of a great week - we will be back!


  1. OK, I once saw that Sarah, asked to be adopted by you and Lynda. . .can you also adopt me? Huh? Huh?
    What a wonderful holiday!! I simply loved your caravan!! Very cute!! Mushed peas? I will have to think about that one. . .I love split pea soup, but just mushed I'm not so sure. :O)
    Much happiness coming your way!
    Wish you enough~Me

  2. Beautiful photos as usual - makes me want to go there so badly.
    Big hugs coming your way as i prepare to go South to Spain when my heart would want to go North... then again i am not really complaining ;-)

  3. Finally I geot into your comment box. I always enjoy seeing pictures of the places you've been but mostly I enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of very dear friends.

    If you adopt K. I'll still be your favorite, right? Dad? Mum?

    Now let's see if I can get this comment to post.

    Your loving eldest child,