Thursday, October 3, 2019

Return to Callander

My work schedule allowed me to leave Norway early enough to squeeze in TWO Wednesdays in Callander. The last one was well spent with feeding the cattle, eating at the the hotel restaurant and foot-stomping with the guys of Pure Malt.

I love the silly bovines at the Trossach Mill, they never fail to amuse me. I arrive in the afternoon, go in and buy three small bags of sliced up potatoes and carrots, then walk over to the fence. Mama Honey is in the corner, chewing pensively and can't be stirred. After some coaching, sweet little Holly gets up and comes over to see what's on the menu. And here's the thing: She's become so spoiled that she doesn't even WANT the potatoes. I reach out and hold the potato up to her mouth. She either turns away or opens up halfway, only to drop it once I let go. The carrots, however, go down as always. I have proof here:

So, I find myself feeding Holly ONLY carrots. Then big ole Hamish, the black bull, starts wandering over. So I turn my back on the spoiled brat and commence to stuff potatos into Hamish' face, because that's one bull who's never turned down a meal. A couple of Americans come over and then a van full of what appears to be Chinese tourists (I can't tell the difference betweeen a Chinese and a Japanese; sue me). And then, in a development that almost had me in stitches, big ole Hamish turns his giant head just as a Chinese guy is trying to pose with him, landing a hard blow with his horns on the idiot's head. Sadly, I didn't get it on film. What I did get on film was Honey physically SHOVING Hamish away with her thick skull. Once she gets going, she's quite the little tyrant and it doesn't matter that she's about half his size. Witness:

Good old Hamish.

How can I refuse him?

In the evening, I first had a delicious meal of venison burger at the restaurant of the Old Rectory Inn.


Then, I went in for one last session of foot-stomping. I like the sound of these guys, I really do. Here, they're playing Rabbie Burns' old masterpiece "Ye Jacobites by name".

And here, the beautiful & melancholy "The Green Fields of France".

Me at the airport in Edinburgh. Me leave Scotland. Me sad. This place is really a tonic for the soul.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Dunbarton Castle

Wednesday, I took a ferry from lovely Rothesay over to the mainland, to go north and visit Dunbarton Castle. It is situated snuggly on a volcanic rock and controls the entry to the city of Glasgow. It has done so for over a thousand years; against Vikings, Napoleon and Hitler.


There was once a shipbuilder on the property in front. That large, gently sloping hill way back in the distance holds the ruins of an ancient dun, or Iron Age fort.

Yes, I dragged my bloated carcass up all these steps and several more that you can't see from this angle. I was almost dead at the end of it. I'm slowly becoming an invalid with these fucking neuropathy-ridden legs.

The Saltaire.

On these cliffs, the clever Brits would put lights to fool German bombers during WW2.

Far off in the distance is Glasgow.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

From Kintyre to Bute

This morning, my illusions were brutally stripped from me by a conversation with the people who run the hotel I've been staying at in the tiny settlement of Carradale, about 45 mins north of Campbeltown, on a very narrow, winding road, which apparently was the inspiration for the Beatles' final single "The Long and Winding Road".


My face when I learned I'd been living a lie. No, I didn't have a stroke, I'm just that ugly.

The view out my hotel room. Very bucolic.

Anywho, the music video was shot at the even tinier settlement of Saddell, almost an hour north of the actual Mull of Kintyre and the castlelike building you see in the background of the video is Saddell Castle, which originally was the palace of the Bishop of Argyle. Sadly, it is almost impossible to get a good shot of the beach from the road.

Further north, the scenery is more open.

I took the ferry from Tarbert over to Portavadie in Argyll. Video from the sailing:

I then drove the coastline of The Kyles of Bute, before taking a ferry across the tiny stretch of water separating the mainland of Argyll from the pretty Isle of Bute.

That's Argyll to the left and Bute to the right. Not much water to separate them, is there? One would think maybe a bridge would be appropriate?

This is Rothesay Castle, in the middle of the small, but quite handsome toon of Rothesay.

It has an honest to God moat:


Inside the Great Hall (which has been expanded throughout the years):

The fireplace.

The inner area as seen through a hole in the wall:

The chapel.

Outside, they even flew a Norwegian flag alongside the Scottish. The Isle of Bute were among the areas under Norwegian control up until the Treaty of Perth in 1266. When we left, the Scots promised to pay us an annual tribute to keep us away but being miserly bastards, they stopped paying after a few years. The guy behind the ticket counter told me had calculated the sum into current money and that he figured Scotland should pay about 50 thousand pounds to us every year. I told him I could bring the money back home with me, but sadly no bueno.

Norwegian connections indeed.

In the evening I went and had a good meal at the Harry Haw's, a restaurant right opposite the castle. Then had a sinfully good brownie with caramel fudge and ice cream for dessert. I am going to diabetes hell.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Mull of Kintyre

Like all civilized people, I have of course seen the music video for Paul McCartney's masterpiece . So, being in the general area, I thought I'd take the opportunity to visit and see what the fuss was about and maybe try and find the place where the video was shot.

I drove as far as this first rise in the coastal (single lane) road along the mull, which is a Gaelic term meaning promontory, headland or hill. It is a windswept, barren area but I fooled myself into seeing the beach down below as the place where they shot the video.


One of the locals was eyeing me with a great deal of skepticism.

As I didn't really think I'd be back here again anytime soon, I decided I had to sing a little bit from the song. Why I've never been offered a record contract is beyond me.

Skipness Castle & Seafood Cabin

Today, I first drove down the Great Glen and then the west coast route by Orban and down to Kintyre, the peninsula known for its close association with Paul McCartney and also for the so-called Mull of Kintyre Test, which sadly is just an urban legend. Again, almost as soon as I hit the peninsula I had to contend with the goddamn single lane roads.

My first destination for the day was Skipness Castle. One you reach the and of a long, boring, single lane road, there is a parking lot off to the left. I dutifully parked there, emptied the ole' bladder (I have once again started on the pills which made me go in the Kruger Park last year) and started trotting up the road to the castle. After less than fifty yards, my legs were cramping so badly I just had to stop and turn around. So, instead, I drove all the way up to the castle and parked almost right outside the entrance. Not a soul with any official badge was around, so I figured I was ok.

This little building stands right by the parkway up to the castle.

From outside.




This was the last day of the season one could walk up into the the tower of the castle; it's closed from Oct. 1 and reopens April 1.

I only managed the first level.

I still knows how to find 'em.

Looking up.

The Kintyre area was among the first traditionally owned by the Steward clan before they ascended to the throne of Scotland. They had to fight both other Scottish clans and the Norwegians.

Sheep graze and pheasants... do whatever the hell pheasants do. Peabrained birds.

After a brief perusal of the castle grounds, I retreated to a table at the Skipness Seafood Cabin, just down the road. They had a 50% discount off on lobster rolls, since it was the end of the tourist season. So I ordered some.

I first tasted lobster on Iceland back in 2012, and it was quite good. With generous helpings of mayo and lemon it became a feast.

I even stuffed face on second helpings. Then I ordered their orange cake for good measure. I can highly recommend both.

The resident four-legged doofuses laid siege to me from the moment I sat down.