Thursday, 19 July 2018

On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Thursday 19th July

Beautiful blue skies for our trip up to Loch Lomond. We had planned to stop at Dumbarton Castle, not far out of Glasgow, but a lack of signs had us well past it before we realised we'd missed it. Not to worry, time for morning tea before boarding our cruise on the loch. It was a bit cool out on front of the boat so luckily we'd taken jackets. We were hoping to see some birdlife but only the usual seagulls, ducks and crows.

Blue skies as we set off on our cruise.
The last paddlesteamer on Loch Lomond.  Under restoration.

One of the fabulous castles around the loch
- and I guess you can fly in.

The Loch Lomond golf club - membership is a mere £100,000. 

And another huge home - not sure if this was the one with 27 bedrooms.

And another.
This dog was trying to catch swallows. 

It is obviously summer, and hot (about 22), as there were
a lot of people sunbaking and swimming. 

Odette likes cruising too. She is a lady of simple pleasures.
The town of Luss where the boat turned around.
Ben Lomond - qualifies as a mountain being 3000 feet high.
Not quite the same stature as the French,  Swiss  or Italian alps.
We then drove up to Loch Katrine, of sir Walter Scott fame. He wrote a book called Lady of the Lake, inspired by this loch. Along the way we passed the Scotland wool centre where they were just finishing a demonstration of a border collie herding ducks. Drat! We'll have to keep our eyes open for another opportunity to see the dogs working. The lady was telling us that the sheepdogs are really struggling with the heat at the moment and some of the farmers have been heading out to round up sheep at 3am so the dogs don't die of heat exhaustion. Apparently some farmers have lost dogs.

Her name is Swift - 11 years old.
The 15k road to Loch Katrine was a nightmare. Only one and a bit cars wide, tour buses, tractors, blind corners, pushbikes. Thankfully it was worth it when we got to the end. Far more beautiful and spectacular than Loch Lomond. Then the drive back the same way, though slightly improved with our first sighting of a deer in the wild!

Loch Katrine. Hard to capture in a photo but steeper and more rugged hills
than those around Loch Lomond. This also had a more peaceful and remote feel,
being off the major tourist trail.
The cruise/ferry boat runs from one end of Loch Katrine to the other.
A lot of backpackers were boarding the ferry after camping at the loch.

The ferry pier at Stronachlachar, the western end of the loch,
 after the nightmare road.

Irvine, rain - Glasgow, summer

Wednesday 18th July

We woke this morning to find that it had been raining overnight and was quite cool and overcast. We headed for Glasgow,  our next stop, hoping that the day would fine up, and it did.

It was only a short drive so we were in Glasgow before lunch. Too early to check in, too early to leave the car at the hotel, so we set off in search of all day parking where we wouldn't need to win tattslotto. What an exercise! Finally settled on a car park near the hop on, hop off bus, and we would use the bus to get to the places we wanted to see.

First stop Glasgow university. The university dates back to 1451, though not always on the current site. In comparison, Melbourne University was founded in 1853. Some beautiful buildings, but the main point of interest was the cloisters that featured in Outlanders.

Beautiful buildings around lovely green courtyards.
It is holidays here at the moment so not a lot of students about
- just a lot of tour groups with their umbrella toting guide.

Another entrance to the university.
A lot of the buildings in Glasgow are built with sandstone
and are either a lighter colour, or this red sandstone.
During the time of heavy industry in Glasgow, mainly shipbuilding, 
a lot of the buildings got a very dirty, grimy look.
Many of them have had work done to clean them
- though there are still a lot of grey buildings.

The cloisters used in Outlander. I don't remember the particular episode
but I'll look out for it when I watch it again.

The main entrance to Glasgow University. 
This blue carpet and wallpaper in one of the university office buildings looked very regal.

This painting was hanging in the university chapel
where they had an exhibition to honour the contribution,
made by the university, to combat aircraft in the RAF from WWI to today.

Lunch at a french restaurant where we both had Italian Wedding Soup - ham and beef meatballs in a vegetable broth.

Next up Glasgow Cathedral. This is a bit like a babushka doll - it's a church within a church within a church. Rob walked to the top of the Necropolis next to the cathedral while I sat and people watched. There is obviously at least one cruise ship in town as there were 5 or more tour groups walked by in the 10 minutes I sat there - Princess cruises I think their lanyards read.

The Kelvingrove art gallery. We didn't have time to visit here
but it is a lovely building set in beautiful green parkland.

Another view of the main entrance to the university taken from the bus.

Glasgow Cathedral.

Beautiful original wooden ceiling inside the cathedral.
Protected by a sheet of copper on the outside.

Organ in the cathedral
Rob climbed to the top of the Necropolis next to the cathedral
and this headstone took his fancy.
Mausoleum at the top of the necropolis.

The Doulton Fountain with a statue of Queen Victoria on top.
This was built by the Royal Doulton Company in commemoration of
Queen Victoria's golden jubilee.
Believed to be the largest terracotta fountain in the world.

A statue of the Duke of Wellington.
Apparently many years ago a traffic cone appeared on his head overnight.
Council removed it. Two days later it was back. Council removed it.
This went on for some time until Council eventually gave up
and so the traffic cones remain.
Apparently you can even buy Glasgow postcards with this statue on them.

Stained glass inside Glasgow Cathedral.

This bridge is at the station and all the trains come in across the bridge.
The bridge has a name - the Highlandmans Umbrella.
Displaced highlanders would take shelter under the bridge
while waiting to find accommodation in Glasgow.   
The Tardis - just across the road from our hotel.

Back on the bus and instead of the recorded commentary we had a live commentary. This was fabulous and probably the best hop on, hop off tour we've ever done. Instead of just the historical facts, we got little stories. Like the cop who after breaking up a fight in a pub, got on stage and sang 'I will survive' karaoke; the Susan Boyle audition at the Scottish events centre; Gerry Raferty and his song Baker Street; Rod Stewart's final show of his last tour at the entertainment centre, etc, etc. He also pointed out lots of street art, some of it by the Australian artist Sam Bates. As I said, a fantastic tour.

Final for the day was an Indian restaurant for dinner. A really nice meal again, and I have enough left over for tomorrow night's dinner.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

It's summer in Scotland today

Monday 16th July

Scotland, here we come. Another long drive today, for the first 200k on the motorway. Boring!

Once we actually crossed the border into Scotland at Carlisle, we got off the motorway and headed towards our first Scottish castle, Caerlaverock Castle. This castle is unusual in that it is a triangular shape. It is actually now a ruin, but has information boards about each area of the castle. I said to Rob, 'this would be a fabulous cubby house'.

Living quarters added in 16th century.

Odette warming her tootsies again.

Caerlaverock Castle - the tower on the right is one of the triangle points;
the tower on the left has been destroyed.
This castle dates back to a siege by Edward I in 1300.
From there our aim was to follow around the Ayrshire coast for the scenery, but the traffic was so heavy and it was getting late in the day, so we took a shortcut to trim 100k off the distance, and missed the coastline. We didn't get to our hotel till 6, so it was a long day in the car.

Tuesday 17th July

Today has been about family history, more specifically, Rob's maternal grandfather Muir. We travelled up to Dalry where he came from and visited the church - apparently there has been a church on that site for over 400 years.  We found one Muir headstone in the churchyard, then visited the cemetery where we found about a dozen Muir headstones. We have no information about any other family so these may, or may not, be related.

Dalry kirk.

The first Muir headstone we came across
was actually in the church grounds.

From there a visit to Craighead Farm just out of Dalry where grandfather Muir was born. No one was home but we phoned the owner and got permission to take photos. He also told us that there was a painting of the farm in Dalgarven Mill which we were passing on the way back to the hotel.

Home to the Muir family back around 1900s.

The old farm sign, hidden in the trees.

The painting of Craighead Farm, Dalry, Scotland.

Still bears resemblance to the old photo Rob has,
which was taken back around 1900.
We stopped at the mill for lunch and had a fabulous conversation with the ladies in the tea room about places to visit and things to do. I could have listened to that lovely Scottish accent all day. They loved to talk so Rob had some competition.  They found the painting for us and we were able to take some photos.

One more visit on the way back to the hotel - Culzean Castle. The top floor of this castle was actually gifted to Eisenhower after WWII as a thank you for what he did to save the country. Now the Eisenhower apartment on the top floor is an exclusive hotel.

Culzean Castle, Ayrshire.

View from the castle walls down to their private beach.

Just one of the fabulous weapons displays in the armoury.
They had lots of different weapons displayed in patterns like this.
One of the biggest and most complete armouries in the world.

The oval staircase.

The kitchens - apparently not part of the tour until recently
when they found people did have an interest in 'below stairs'.
There is a separate exit from the kitchen just for the staff,
so the hoi poloi don't have to see them. 
Looking back to the castle from the road on the way back to the hotel.