Photo on BBC News site

November 19, 2010


I sent  this photo into the BBC news web site under ‘Your Pictures’ which is always worth checking.  This photo was taken in Inveraray on Sunday morning (Rememberance Sunday) on our way back from our Campbeltown trip.

Trip to Campbeltown

November 15, 2010

Why did D and I go all the way to Campbeltown this weekend?

Because it was totally beautiful, we had a great place to stay and wanted to meet a very important man.  Neither of us have been to Campbeltown or anywhere down the Kintyre Peninsula, probably because there really isn’t much there and it doesn’t lead anywhere.  However, it was a beautiful drive around Loch Lomond, Loch Long, Inveraray, Loch Fyne, Machrihanish… with the sun slowly going down as we got closer.

The great place we stayed was Oatfield House which may be the best B&B I’ve ever stayed in.  The rooms were spacious, well decorated and outfitted.  The owners very friendly and looked after us well.  We were spoiled by having the place to ourselves so also had a large comfortable living room with an open fire for the evening.

Sunday was bright, sunny and clear (it is November so fairly cold) and before heading back we went for a bit of little explore, and found St Columba’s Footprints, and nearby St Columba’s Well, and had a great view of the ‘wrong’ side of Ailsa Craig (wrong because I’ve seen it many times from the other side so wasn’t sure this side existed!)

The road back was just fantastic scenery – far too good to come out in photos.  The loch’s were flat calm, mirror surfaces reflecting everything, with big skies, low winter sun, autumn colours everywhere it really was breathtaking!

Today was also Remembrance Sunday, so it was nice to take a moment at this war memorial in Inverary on the way back.

Back in Campbeltown itself, there wasn’t much happening – I was a little excited about the possibility of visiting the Picture House (community owned and run and is the oldest continuously run, purpose-built cinema in Scotland still showing films) – but the film that was on was rubbish so I had to give that a miss.  We asked a few people to recommend somewhere to eat and they couldn’t, and both pointed us out to the excellent ‘Old Club House‘ in Machrihanish which is totally worth the 10min drive out of town!!

Anyway, we didn’t go all that way for no reason, we went to meet with Grant Logan, the jewelery designer I found online and bought D’s engagement ring from.  So we arranged to visit to try some wedding rings for both of us.  It was great to meet him and hear some of the ideas behind the designs, and how he makes this stuff, not to mention try on some rings and decide on what we wanted to spend the rest of our lives wearing!  Here then, are a couple of photos of us trying on the rings…

… no, we aren’t going to show you the designs till they are on our fingers, also, I can’t find the pair that we chose on his web site so no guessing :-0

D – outside Oatfield House

the Isle of Lewis & me

October 1, 2010

It has been far too many years since I visited the Isle of Lewis, Stornoway and North Tolsta where my mum grew up and is now buried.  I have often thought about visiting, but it generally takes a lot to make me take time to myself and it has always been easier to put it off than get around to.  However, one of the good things about getting engaged is that I have to take my fiancee to meet the relatives, show off the land of my birth (OK I wasn’t actually born there) and mainly to see why I have so many paintings and photos of Lewis around the house.

The weather forecast was lousy, and wrong!  It was very sunny clear skies, often with a breeze that kept it from actually being warm but for the tail end of September with no rain you can’t complain and it really does make a difference seeing it that way.  The beaches are magical, especially in my opinion, Garry Sands with its awesome rock formations soaring out of the sand or the long stretch of Tolsta Beach.

Of course we also visited Callanish Stones, which on one hand is an incredibly historic land mark which stirs the heart and mind with its 4m high stones that were placed over 5000 years ago, creating a stunning mark in the landscape and a memorial to past times.  On the other hand, it is one of the few tourist attractions on the island so you kind of have to go there.  Personally, whether you have to go to the stones or not I think there is something very special this place and I was very glad we had good enough weather to enjoy them – the last time I was there it was a gale, and we just sheltered beside one of the big stones till it was too cold to stay any longer.

Of course the main reason we visited was to meet up with some of the many relatives I’ve got on the island.  Which means being spoiled and constantly fed by my Aunt Anne!  I won’t go into the details but suffice to say that Sunday lunch wasn’t just ‘a roast’ but included roast beef, roast lamb and roast chicken!  There was so much left over we were still eating it that night after church and just for good measure some roast pork was added!  I would however like to point out that I managed to resist 3 of the 4 puddings that followed Sunday lunch :-)

We spent a lot of time hearing stories and looking at old photos, enjoying the views, the sun and playing with the Ben the mad dog.  I think D saw a side of me she hasn’t seen before and I hope it didn’t scare her too much to see that or meet the MacLeods.  I also bored her with all the stories I knew about black houses and cutting the peat, etc. but she still enjoyed our little island holiday.  I think everyone should go to Lewis – it’s a very special place with very special people.

Visiting the Past

March 13, 2010

My mum and her sister my Aunt Annie were from the small village of North Tolsta on the Isle of Lewis and at some point I think in the late 50s were working on the Maid of the Loch which at that time would take passengers from Balloch to Tarbet at the head of Loch Lomond.

I have some old photos from those days and figured that the only time they could be taken would be while the boat was tied up in Tarbet because that would be the longest break the crew would get.  So today when on my way to Dunoon I took the long way around and looked for where these photos might have been taken.

Here is Aunt Annie with an unknown cheerful looking bloke on Tarbet pier, the pier isn’t the same but I lined up the hills (Ben Lomond) and got as close a match as possible.

Then on the main road in Tarbet (there really isn’t much more than one road) I managed to match up this photo with my mum on the left and I think her brother Hugh on the right.

These photos are fairly small so not much detail, but here is the best I can get of the faces…