Friday, May 23, 2003

23 May 2003, Edinburgh, Scotland

Ach Aye the Doo..... or some such nonesense.

Edinburgh is lovely - though I must confess I indulged in a huge bout of homesickness last night. Mum and Dad were lucky they didn't get a reverse charges phone call from me at 5.30am Australian time! The homesickness related more to the dodgy Youth Hostel I'm staying in.... I guess after staying in so many wonderful places I had to hit an ordinary one eventually.

Last night I stopped in at the Deacon Brodie Tavern and raised a glass to mum's Scottish forebears. Apparently Deacon was a respectable citizen by day and a very shady character by night... he's the gentleman that Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde is based on. It seems he ended up with rather a long neck for his efforts!

I went for a long walk up Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park this morning and then onto Edinburgh Castle. In the Scottish War Museum there is a stuffed dog called 'Bob'. Bob was the mascot of one of the Scottish regiments that fought in the Crimean War and was distinguished for his efforts in cannonball chasing!

You will all be pleased to know that I have been working hard on my Scottish accent and I plan to cause you all hours of pain on my return by inflicting it on you!

Tomorrow morning I head to London for an audience with the Queen. Well my niece anyway.... and to see Andrew and Cath. I have my stuffed toy at the ready and shall probably bore you all in my next entry with stories of how much like me baby Natasha is.... her charm... wit... good looks... eridute conversation.... intellect.... I could go on forever... indeed I seem to have!

Thursday, May 22, 2003

21st May 2003 Durness, Scotland

There were about 8 or 10 people standing around the jetty at Cape Wrath when I pulled up. Assuming they were waiting for the ferry across I joined them. Halfway across the Kyle of Durness someone said something that made me realise I had just gate crashed my way into a private booking for a guided walking tour of the Cape. It sounded good to me so I grabbed the ranger who seemed in charge and asked if I could tag along. He asked if I had food and water.... 'of course'. Well half a bottle of water and a banana.... that would do!

The walk followed the coast from the Cape Wrath Lighthouse to a beach and then back inland to the road where we were picked up by mini bus at 4pm. There was much bird spotting, and some plant life commentary along with some amazing views. At lunch Don, the ranger, took pity on me with my humble banana and shared his sandwiches. I was pretty happy about that!

Today I jumped on the boat at Kylesku wharf which tours Loch a Chairn Bhairn to see Britain's highest waterfall. We saw seals and all kinds of brown and black birds which seemed to get everyone very excited. The Captain, Wally, had a touch of the Irish and kept us entertained with wild stories and dreadful jokes! Halfway thru the trip he beckoned me to the front and invited me to steer! When I asked if we could go faster he told me he'd thought I had a wild look about me! He even let me bring the boat into the jetty.... although I must admit I did the job with an almighty bump.

Wally's stories of Haggis catching had whet my appetite so I hit the Kylesku Inn and ordered a Haggis for lunch. It was surprisingly yummy - so I was glad it had allowed itself to be caught!

Well I haved lingered here longer than I should have and less time than I would like to. Tomorrow I have a big day in the car. I'm planning to head back to Stirling for one night before hitting Edinburgh on Friday.

Monday, May 19, 2003

19 May 2003 Loch Ness, Scotland

"There is a spaciousness, an opening out into a place where love, loss, fear, trust, faith, doubt - disconnected fragments - can meet and point towards something beautiful"

Quote from the wall of the Iona Youth Hostel.

Having travelled at least 5 sides of about 3 different Lochs I findly found myself in Oban looking at a ferry wharf with a sign saying 'Ferries to Mull'.

'Why the Hell not?" thought I and so found myself, sometime later, having caught another ferry, walking up a path past the Iona Abbey and Cathedral, to the Iona Youth Hostel.

In a search for some sense of spirituality I dropped into the church for the morning service. I'm still searching. The buildings are however, simply lovely, and there is a sense of peace which pervades the entire tiny island.

From Iona I have come to Lewiston on the shores of Loch Ness. Wending through Glencoe this afternoon I followed the valley between stark and soaring mountain peaks. Streams and waterfalls dropped from enormous height, and the Scottish mist drifted in. From Fort William and skirting the shores of Lochs, trees creating green tunnels over the road and the steady swish of wet tires on black asphelt.

Tomorrow it's onward, towards Inverness then cutting back across to Ullapool... well that's the theory. I am sure I will manage manage detours before I find my way. I'm guessing intenet access may get a little difficult for a day or two.