24 July 2008

A close call...

Ah, this is the life! Sat outside with a glass of cider, watching the sun go down.

It’s been a fun couple of days, one way or another - we could have been killed but I’ll come back to that one later!

On Tuesday, we set off mid-morning to visit the Glengoyne whisky distillery. Finding it was no problem, getting in was a little trickier... the place was closed for some sort of electrical work which meant that the whole area had no power! Not what we wanted to hear! Still, it all worked out okay, sort of, as a rather nice young lady, that worked at the distillery, gave us two free miniature bottles of Glengoyne malt whisky by way of an apology for our wasted journey. We plan on returning to the distillery in the next day or two.

Glengoyne distillery.

After leaving Glengoyne, with our freebie whisky safely stowed away, we headed off into the hills for a bit of a sightseeing drive. We drove east, crossed the Campsie Fells, and then headed back west towards Drymen and the east side of Loch Lomond. The drive was very scenic but involved some of the worst road surfaces we’ve found since we arrived up here. “Local council, buy yourselves some tarmac!” The drive over the Campsie Fells also allowed me to do my first bit of birding of the holiday; we saw Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Raven and also Stonechat on the journey over the high ground.

View from the Campsie Fells.

The second part of the day was spent walking along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, from Balmaha towards Milarrochy and back. This walk provided us with our second little bit of birding of the day with Tawny Owl and Osprey being seen. The owl flew up from the forest floor and landed in a tree a little way from the path we were on whilst the Osprey spent a good while fishing, without success, in Loch Lomond. We also came across a small herd of young highland cattle in a field by the path. Like true tourists, we just had to take photos of the cows!

Highland cows!

All the fresh air had made us rather hungry but thankfully we had a table booked at the Kilted Skirlie in the evening. This restaurant, overlooking Loch Lomond, is one that I would most definitely recommend to anyone that is ever in the area - the food was superb! The Haggis neeps and tatties croquettes starter was not only VERY tasty it was VERY large! The sauce it was served with was delicious! The chicken main dish that both Lynda and I had was by far the best I’ve had in a long, long while. As for dessert... equally as good as the rest of the meal! The evening was capped off with a couple of glasses of whisky and dry ginger when we arrived back at the holiday home.

Wednesday, a near death experience! Lynda and I took the 10:23AM train into Glasgow, armed with only a photocopied map of the city and no knowledge of where anything was! The first place we found was George Square, a very nice area full of tourists. We must have been in the right part of the city!

George Square.

From George Square we walked aimlessly around finding Buchanan Street, Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Galleries, St. Enoch Centre and then Miller Street. Somewhere in amongst that little lot we came across a small arcade area full of jewellers. What an eye opener that was! Watches costing anything up to £23,000, bracelets in excess £16,000 and diamonds everywhere you looked! There is some serious money floating around somewhere in Glasgow! Footballers’ wives we reckon!

This was a coffee shop!

It was whilst we were sat in George Square, passing a little time before we had to catch our return train, that we had a rather lucky escape. Lynda and I were sat in the square, looking across at the rather steep North Hanover Street, when apparently a taxi driver collapsed at the wheel of his cab. Before we had a chance to realise what was happening the taxi had crossed the road, bounced up the kerb, careered over the steps at the base of a statue, crashed through a litter bin and rammed into the seats right next to us!

Luckily, the people sat on the seat had seen what was happening before we did and had managed to jump out of the way before the taxi rammed the wooden bench out of the way before coming to rest on top of more steps and a flower bed! At first I thought that the taxi had just rolled away, without the driver in it, but as I leant in through the driver’s window to switch the engine off I became aware of the driver slumped across the front seats, obviously not well. By this time a police woman from a mobile police station parked in the square had arrived, along with people from all over the square, so I moved away from the taxi and left the professionals to it. As time was now getting on we had to leave for our train so I’m not sure just how the driver was but hopefully all was okay in the end.

After all the excitement of the day we needed a way to relax once we arrived back in Balloch and what better way is there to do that than to eat and drink? We booked a table at La Scarpetta restaurant and enjoyed another great meal. Lynda worked her way though a delicious Pizza Con Pollo (cheese, tomato & chicken, with extra pineapple) whilst I polished off a large bowl of Pasta Alla Scarpetta (penne pasta, ham, onion & mushroom in a creamy tomato sauce), all washed down with a more than acceptable bottle of red wine. Pudding was Turkish Delight ice cream for Lynda and a banana and toffee ice cream “bombe” for me. All good stuff!

Today, Thursday, was another “chill out” day. We had breakfast and then took a walk down to the Lomond Shores complex. The views up the loch were reasonably good but there was just a little patchy, low cloud over the very top of the highest mountains. In the end we spent around four hours strolling around the edge of the loch and also the village of Balloch. A quick stop off at the local tourist information office gave me the chance to pick up a programme for this weekend’s folk festival - there will be plenty of opportunities to see Clanadonia play!

The view from the Lomond Shores complex.

Confusingly, the programme of events also has Albannach listed as playing the Tullie Inn on Saturday evening. I say confusingly as there was no mention of this on the band’s web site before we set off on holiday and the band never mentioned it whilst we chatted with them last Saturday. Hopefully, all will become clear on Saturday and we’ll get another, unexpected, chance to see the band play.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Rich! Your blogs are getting more exciting all the time. You're becoming a regular James Bond...making time with the ladies and narrowly escaping danger just in time to make your next connection...here's hoping the rest of your trip isn't quite as 'exciting' and the two of you stay out of harms way. Love the coffee shop...where do they keep the 'public facilities' ;-)