Friday, 24 June 2011

It's been an education

It's eight years since we have experienced campsites and how things have evolved!  Camping today isn't just about tents as it was when I was a nipper.  Today it also encompasses caravans, campervans and mobile homes - yes, there is a difference, believe me!

What a wide spectrum camping is.  At one end you have the humble back-packer, carrying everything with them and sleeping at the end of each day in the tiniest of tents.  These back-packers are not just youngsters either.  Not my idea of fun but, thankfully, it takes all sorts.

At the other end of the spectrum there is the large, fully-equiped motor home.  These are not campervans - they are far too sophisticated!  Bedrooms are permanent arrangements, fridges are the same size as in a household kitchen, there are freezers on board, self-seeking satellite dishes for the flat-screen TV/DVD systems, full size showers, microwaves etc, etc.  Wow!

And in between?

First, the cyclists - again carrying everything with them balancing paniers wherever a panier will balance!  Again, not my idea of fun but  it takes all sorts!  Mind you - some bikes are definitely more appealling than others!  Bed and Breakfast at the end of every day ....................?  Much better idea! 
**  see pictures above

Then there are the good old tents - the REAL campers!  Gone are the days when you have to freeze inside, however,  What about this idea?  A wigwam complete with central fire - excuse the poor picture - it was pouring with rain, blowing a gale and getting dark!  Good eh?

Next - the small campervans and caravans.  All sorts ...............

Then the larger caravans whose accommodation space is doubled by attaching an awning which come in assorted sizes, colours and fancy windows!

There's never a dull moment on a modern day campsite!  We've also noticed how it seems to be an accepted thing amongst the ladies that they go to the shower block in their dressing gowns and PJ's.  One took the biscuit though - she took the dog for a walk dressed like this ............... she didn't even remove her rollers!!

On the subject of showers - how things have improved!  Must be all to do with rules and regulations.  The funniest shower we have ever had was years ago on Harris.  Mrs MacDonald had put a notice on an old caravan which had seen much better days that there were showering facilities within but she insisted that only one at a time entered.  We thought this was to forbid any 'hanky-panky' but .... no!  It was because, despite the six layers of carpet on the floor of the caravan, the wieight of two people would cause the rotten floor to collapse!!  The worst experience was in Ireland.  The shower was in an old stone building that was barely still upright.  HUGE cobwebs were everywhere and, where daylight could be seen, tryphids encroached upon one's body trying to entrap an arm or leg!! Ugh!! 

Today, we have even been treated to underfloor heating on some sites!  No battling with coins and water temperature and spotlessly clean.  What a difference!

Anyway, as I write it's Thursday 23rd June (can't be sure this will publish when I want it to)  and where are we now?  We are in Wales!  Llangollen - and we have had moments of warm sunshine!
Why here?  Because The Richardsons (Ken & Sandra) are here in their boat and we wanted to see something of them this year.  It was looking less and less likely that we would be able to catch up with them on our own boat so this ensures that we see them.  It will be a really nice way to end our 'grand tour'.  Back to our boat for Saturday.

Friday, 17 June 2011

South West Scotland

Had a very nice stop-over at Loch Lomond.  Went for a lovely walk over-looking the Loch and the sun was shining!

We had intended to circumnavigate Glasgow but, because the navigator was not paying full attention, we ended up going through at least some of it!  As a result, a spontaneous decision was made and we headed west to Dumfries and Galloway.  We have never been here before and thought we should!  I won't mention the weather! 

The area is very agricultural - both crops and livestock.  Pastureland is very lush.  I've never seen so many cows!!  The area actually reminds us of Ireland.  We went to the Mull of Galloway - a peninsula on a peninsula - where there is a proper lighthouse:-

Whilst there we saw an idea for our next mode of transport when we no longer have the van:-

Thing is - I don't know where I would put all the weekly shopping from Tesco - I know I mustn't sit on it (the demise of the camera!) so either it will have to go between the legs or behind!!  Polite comments only please!!

Having problems with the computer at the moment - can't get phone connection like we used to and now, can't even get on to Live Writer.  Don't know why?

Next planned major stop-off point is The Lancaster Canal - we want to 'suss' it out with the view of taking the boat there next year.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Uncharacteristically Quiet!

We’ve had really poor reception for everything – phone, internet and radio!  Something to do with being surrounded by mountains!

So, where are we and what have we been up to?

Dornock, Cromerty and Rosemarkie – all really nice little places on the East coast.  The last two are on the southern shore of the Moray Firth famous for it’s dolphins.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins but, to be honest, we didn’t really invest enough time or effort.

Inverness – we went in to purchase a new camera.  John has been practising with it ever since and assures me his photographic skills are improving!

Glen Affric – we did a bit of a detour to visit this beautiful glen and I am so glad that we did.  We did several different walks through the lovely nativeNew camra 2 002 woodlands.  In the past we have not been impressed walking in pine forests as we have found them to be dark and lifeless.  THIS forest, however, is absolutely breath-taking – Derek, you would love it.  It’s light, full of bird song and there is such a variety of truly magnificent trees.  The dippers in the burn were a bonus!  It has done what it said ‘on the tin’!  It has left an indelible mark on my memory and ‘fed my soul’.  Unfortunately all my cares have not ‘flown off with the eagles’!!

    new camera 018 small (640x480)      new camera 032

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Loch Garten/Cairngorms – we made our way back to this area and spent time watching (and John photographing with ‘our’ new camera) ospreys and red squirrels.    



Today we have driven South to the Trossachs and are just north of Callender.  We have a walk in mind to do near Loch Lomond first thing tomorrow and then we want to get back on the road with the intention of getting past Glasgow.  We are well and truly on our way ‘home’.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Waving the White Flag

Today is the beginning of week 7 and we are, after 4 of them being somewhat inclement, surrendering to the wind and rain.

We might not always realise it but the weather has such an enormous effect on people’s lives – both work and leisure.  It’s so instrumental in how  we feel and what we do.  At the moment it’s preventing us from walking where we want to walk.  There’s no fun being out in the wet and cold especially when you only have an un-heated campervan to come back to!  Obviously I was just not meant to go to Handa Island.

We were spoilt with three lovely warm, sunny days in Ullapool – somewhere of which we are very fond.  John’broken camera 027s favoubroken camera 021rite Outdoor shop is there – always a dangerous encounter!

We drove around the Inverpolly Nature Reserve and the views over to the Summer Isles were spectacular. 

Having reached Scourie we have decided to go no further North.  We have seen amazing scenery and wildlife but think that if we go back over to the East coast it may be a little less wet!!!!!!!!!!!

This is for real – near Achiltibuie. Love it!                                                                                        Stac Pollaidh near Ullapool. 

(I am typing this whilst at Dornoch on the East Coast and it’s HAMMERING down outside!!Smile with tongue out)  Our journey South begins tomorrow!

Misfortune number 1:-                                                                                                                                                                        Whilst walking to a special waterfall at Kirkaig I saw an eagle soaring overhead.  To get a better view I laid back on a rock and ………… sat on our little camera!  Needless to say between my big b*m and a hard rock, it didn’t fair well!  The screen is bu**er*d!!

New camera needed then.  I REALLY didn’t do it on purpose!   Crying face

Misfortune number 2:-                                                                                                                                                                         The “Wee Scottish Beastie” has awoken from it’s lair.  YES!  The Menacing Midge is back with vengeance!                                              It’s been so nice without them.  Devil



Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Onwards & Upwards

Since coming off Skye we have had some sunshine!  Not today – today the wind and rain are back but theGairloch 010 forecast is good and we are parked up over-looking a fabulous sandy bay where, last night, there were eight Black Throated divers swimming just off shore.  These beautiful birds are the rarest of the divers – their plumage is amazing.                                                                        (copied picture not photograph ………….)

The campsite we are on is not official and has no facilities.  The owner charges £2.00 a night and gives this money to support the maintenance of the beach and the local school.  We were told about it by a ‘man from the Midlands’ – more about him in a minute.

From Skye to here then:-

Gairloch 003      Gairloch 007     Gairloch 012

             Eilean Donan Castle                     Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve                           Loch Maree

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Red Point

Now – the ‘man from the Midlands’.  A sad story.  Sad smile

Don lost his wife 18 months ago – she was only 55.  What amazing resilience some people have – Gairloch 014he has not given up on going out and about in their motor home and pursuing his passion (and incredible talent) for photography and, for company, he takes his cats …….. all 5 of them!!   They are Egyptian Mau Gairloch 060and are absolutely beautiful, really friendly and quite happy touring around.  Unbelievable!

Don invited us into his motor home to see some of his wildlife pictures – wow!  Fabulous.  Dangerous though because we are now considering up-grading our little camera.

              Don with Draco

His custom built camper is so roomy, so comfortable and so well equipped.  We ended up watching a DVD!

If we were starting all over again ……..