Friday, June 10, 2011

Tales from Abroad 10 - Scotland in Part.

From me Ma & Da again.........I think Dad ran out of time as he ends abruptly!

Saturday – McRae Country
It was a murky (grey & drizzling) coming up from Glasgow & no good for taking photographs. Glencoe did look mystic & the clouds lifted to show the mountain tops. The water is still streaming down the steep hillsides. After a dry April they have had twice average rainfall for May – 186 mm here. It is very mild & if it stayed dry the dreaded midges would appear but it promises to get murky later in the day. Everyone we talk to mentions creepy crawlies in Australia but here we have noticed kits for dunking ticks in to test for lime disease.

Mallaig was a lot bigger & busier than we expected & you could easily stay longer. The ferries to the isles go from here & it is a fishing port. We had an interesting chat to some fisheries people doing a survey of fisherman. The fishermen are aware that there are too many pots (no licences) & joked that you could walk to Skye without getting your feet wet. One was a marine biologist who did her thesis on how stress affected langoustines.

We took the (large) ferry to Skye & then Kyle where we did our shop for the week. Visited the Clan Donald museum on the way, which helped our understanding of the complex history of northern Scotland.

We have rented a cottage for a week in Dornie. More expensive than we planned as the pamphlet we had wasn’t comprehensive & it was the only one not let out. It is a picture perfect white washed house with every mod con at the end of a 500 metre line of cottages with mountains right behind & Loch Long over the road in front and another back drop of mountains – in fact mountain vistas from every window. There are a few houses further along the loch & we are told a nice walk up the glen.

The climate appears mild & there is a grevillea in the almost Australian garden. It doesn’t show any of the effects of the severe frosts of November that we have seen elsewhere. The visitors book going back to 2000 shows that the house has been full of walkers who have done a lot of “Munroes” which are mountains over 3000 feet.

Dornie is mostly a single street. It has a bar, pub, coffee shop & a corner shop with post office. We walked with a young piper who was on his way to busk in the car park at Eilean Donan. We followed him up later & he had quite an audience even though the castle had closed.

Since 93 there is now quite a large visitor centre & coffee shop on the road & an underpass to Dornie (just a few hundred metres). There is no mobile coverage & I am writing this at breakfast to save time while Mum is sleeping in, as we have to buy Wi-Fi time at the coffee shop.

There is a craft fair at the castle so we will go there today. There is also a game of shinty & we will try to see that as we missed hurling in Ireland. Hurling was described as the ultimate in athleticism, speed & grace by a bloke in Ireland. The lady at the shop here said that if you were hit by the ball at shinty, it was at least 5 teeth gone. Don’t think we will go to the lessons advertised for Wednesday night!

Tonight there is a film night & seafood buffet at Plockton for only 7 pounds. All the comments in the visitor’s book rave about the seafood. You can gather mussels & catch fish in the loch (junction of 3 here). There are also a lot of sightings of otters, deer & dolphins, so we could be lucky.

We will also go to Glenelg. Clachan Duich church ruins will be worth a visit as it is the traditional McRae burial ground. While we think of it we will be arriving home a day later as we have decided to give our backs a rest & break the flight again in KL.

It is very still & you can catch the reflections of the mountains in the water. When you are here it is easier to appreciate the fuss & expectation of spring brings. The growth in foliage is so fast & the days seem to lengthen so quickly. Road signs are often obscured as the trees encroach over the roads. The workmen with their line trimmers & narrow mowers attached to Unimogs seem to be fighting a losing battle. It was still light at 10.45pm last night.

We are appreciating the quiet as the cousins in Rasharkin & Glasgow love a good “blather” but they all delightful. The scales in Glasgow weighed a stone lighter! The 96 year old cousin we visited in Penecuik lived in an aged care unit but only had 30 minutes home help a week & showered & got her own breakfast. We had to fit in with her busy social life. The quiet has just been disturbed by an airforce jet. We seem to remember that they roared up the glens last time.

I'm thinking Mumsy must have arrived for breakfast & Dad ran out of time to write more so sent this while he had Wi-Fi. So little time; so many places I want to go! Cant wait to see their tales in photographs.

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