Scotland. Cold, Wet and Beautiful.
We had a great time with the Scots. They were always up for a chat and found our van pretty funny too. Think they mostly enjoyed the fact that we weren’t English though…
A Scotsman walking through a field, sees a man drinking water from a pool with his hand. The Scotsman shouts ‘ Awa ye feel hoor thatâs full Oâ coos Sharn’ (Don’t drink the water, it’s full of cow crap.) The man shouts back ‘I’m English, Speak English, I don’t understand you’. The Scotsman shouts back ‘Use both hands, you’ll get more in.‘
From Nett’s place we drove up to meet Phil, Charlotte and wee Jim in Glasgow. We grabbed a coffee and went for a really nice walk through the University of Glasgow, founded in 1451 with the main buildings built in the 1800s. They were actually pretty impressive. Bit Harry Potter-esque. Feeling full of renewed confidence from our trip to the Dr, we stopped for a tasty Indian feed. It was a really nice afternoon with the three of them and Jim was a super cute little dude.
We drove up to the banks of Loch Lomond (as Clare tells me some song goes?) to spend the night. We drove around for a bit but settled on a cracking spot right beside the Loch, directly opposite the ‘no overnight camping’ signs. Luckily Scotland has this cool Outdoor Access Code (it’s a real thing, check it out: http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com), which means you can stay overnight pretty much anywhere. Definitely made life in the Campervan That Could a lot easier than when we were in France where a nosey local would wake us occasionally.
From here we kept heading north, through the Glen Coe Pass stopping every ten minutes for one more photo, until we met Mike, Elaine and Fergus on their yacht at Loch Linnhe. Such a beautiful spot, we had a great afternoon walking up to view the castle nearby, heading out on the kayak with Fergus and finally relaxing with a beer or two on the water. It was very nice indeed.
Next morning we made our way into nearby Oben for a relaxing morning. We hit the local op shops, grabbed some hot chips to share with the massive seagulls and sipped some delicious hot chocolate. Clare even had some chocolate for later thanks to a great little surprise from Fergus!
The weather was great and it even held out for our afternoon sail. No speed records were set, but it was so nice to be cruising out on the water. We saw a few seals up close and even had an amazingly speedy porpoise jumping under the bow for about 10 minutes. After a delicious baked dinner, another beer and a quick game of UNO we were even able to kick Fergus out of his bed and sleep on the boat. It wasn’t hard to see why these guys spend their holidays here. A magic spot.
Once we’d devoured a coffee and bacon butty, the Rogers’ were able to kick us off and we headed straight for Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain). We had thought you could get the cable car to the top of Ben Nevis. We were in for a surprise when we got to the top of said cable car and asked the guy in the shop “which way to the top of Ben Nevis from here”. His reply went a little something like, “you’re very lost and if you’re that lost I’m not sure you should be going to the top of anything”. So turns out we could only get to the top of Aonach Mor, the eighth highest mountain in Britain. The views were still pretty spectacular though and well worth the very little effort to the top. Ben Nevis was also visible from the summit.
We continued North up and onto the Isle of Skye and continued to enjoy the stunning countryside. We stayed the night in a little pine forest on the roadside on Skye.
By morning it had started to mizzle and there was a lot of mist around. We decided to give the hike up The Old Man of Stor a go anyway. While the view back over the water was very limited it was actually pretty magical up there in the mist.
We called in on a cute little teahouse Clare was pretty keen on for morning tea. By chance we arrived just as it opened, which was lucky because all 15 or so seats were full within twenty minutes. It was a pretty special little place, offering around 50 kinds of tea and almost as many different cakes. All served in this tiny little two-story house, with tables and chairs in the lounge room and kitchen/dining. It was pretty funny.
The whole place is pretty scenic, so we made our stop start way to a white coral beach on the far side, before finding another roadside stop with an amazing view to cook dinner and spend the night.
After a stop at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness we made it up to Inverness.
We checked into a campervan joint and seeing’s as it was a Friday headed out for a bite and a bevvy. We had a great feed in a local pub while a couple of Scottish lads belted out some folk ballads and jigs.
The drive to Edinburgh was a bit of a mission as we were starting to get a little sick of packing and unpacking the bed in the van everyday. We were pretty glad to be staying in the one place for two nights, even if it was the car park of the ‘park and ride’ bus depot half an hour out of town.
As soon as we jumped off the bus in Edinburgh we ducked into a café and downloaded the Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Festival App and started hunting for gigs. We found a free one, John Kearns as Stanley Kubrick, who kicked off in less than 15minutes, so we literally ran to it. Luckily it was in the worlds smallest room with about 100 people, so was around 35’C inside. We had to keep ducking out to keep cool, but were stoked the comedian couldn’t actually see us. He was really random but really funny. My favourite was when he goes, “do you ever follow a hot chick down the street and pretend she’s your girlfriend and is walking in front of you because you’ve just had a fight. Fine you walk that way home, I’m going this way”. He actually ended up getting Best Newcomer 2013 Fringe.
The city was pretty crazy with people everywhere. We just had time to grab a bite to eat before heading to the unfunniest gig we have ever been too. It was entitled “Princess Guide to Dating”. What we didn’t realize until it was too late was that he was the Princess. So of course before the end of his show he has me up with three other girls all dancing pretending to be spice girls. Clare enjoyed it at least 300 times more than I did.
We decided to squeeze one more show in before taking the bus back. This guy was really good. He called himself Ivan Brackenbury and was pretending to be a radio host from a nursing home. He played special request songs for different patients and was a really good laugh.
Next morning, as it was Sunday, we decided to drop in on the local Christo church. We didn’t know where we were going exactly when we jumped on the bus again at the ‘park and ride’ but the same bus number we had caught the day before actually dropped us literally 20m from the church hall. A meeting of about 40 people or so it was really nice and we got to meet some great locals. The speaker talked about being a pilgrim on a journey, but how sometimes it can feel like you’re going backwards. It was really interesting stuff. He said sometimes it’s like “I’m growing in Christ, but I’m less like him than I was a month ago”. He basically concluded that growth is not about universal improvement.
Afterwards we were invited back to people’s places for lunch. Unfortunately, we’d already planned a trip to the castle and booked another comedy show, so we grabbed a bite from Marks and Spencer’s and headed up to the castle walls. The castle was pretty spectacular, with unreal views over the city and some pretty interesting things to see. My favourite was the 1000 year old chapel.
Walking to the comedy show people were spruking their shows everywhere. People walking in slow motion handing out flyers, other people juggling and even a guy dressed in a heap of scary face paint who obviously admired my tribute to Scotland ginger beard said, “the devil loves bushy beards” while handing us a flier for some weird show. The comedy show was almost as random. It was about a farmer selling a pig that could talk. Of course in a room full of 30 or so people I found myself on stage dancing with the pig. Minutes later we had to shout out words the pig could say, I tried ‘bacon’, but as soon as the words left my mouth the farmer rolled back a white board that said, “everyday one idiot says bacon”. Only mildly embarrassing.
As all the atm’s were out of cash we ran around the city looking for money before grabbing some pizza for dinner and checking out one final show. The A-Z of Backpacking. It was pretty average though and we hardly laughed. We decided that couldn’t be our last Edinburgh experience, so we stayed for an Aussie guy that was on after. Turns out we had seen him before at the Oriental Hotel back home in Newcastle. He had new material though and was pretty funny. Most importantly he didn’t make me dance.