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Scotland The Brave

Aug 21, 2022 | Road Trips, The Grand Adventure | 26 comments

Our third official road trip took place at the beginning of June, which was weeks ago, I know. But I’ve had a good excuse for not writing this post until now. I’ve been in mourning.  

It’s sad, but true. We lost our beautiful Molly in May and it quite sapped me of energy to write about joyful things. I still miss her dreadfully, and shed the odd tear, but I’ve pulled on my big-girl pants, put the tissues away and I’m back.

Onward ho!

First stop – oh no, wait. 

It’s just occured to me I never wrote about our second official road trip either, which was a weekend away in the historic  city of Norwich in May. We went to see Barry Humphries perform at the Theatre Royal on his farewell tour, ‘The Man Behind the Mask’.  It wasn’t side-splittingly funny (the best bits were the old clips of Dame Edna and Les Patterson), but it was a nostalgic romp through his life, and a fun evening out.

The highlight of the weekend was Norwich itself, and the amazing AirBnB we stayed in, at the end of a secret garden, behind the blue door.  We walked the length and breadth of the city, went to pubs, cafes, shops and parks, and promised we’d return another time.

We are but mere mortals

And so, fast forward to the first week in June. We packed up the car, hit the road and drove eight hours north to the Lake District. 

Dear God, it’s breathtaking. We all know that of course, but I’d forgotten just how mindblowingly breathtaking the Lake District can be. 

We stayed at a pub called The Mortal Man and they put us in the honeymoon suite. 

The Lake District

Not so much a suite, as a large room with a 4-poster bed and a view down the valley to die for. The rain cleared, the sun came out and nothing else mattered.

We travelled hopefully

Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous Scottish poet, said “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive“. I bet he never had to join the M6 Motoway at Penrith heading north on a gloomy wet afternoon to find that petrol had broken the £2 barrier.

Let me tell you, Robbie Stevenson, arriving at my Uncle Tim’s house in the leafy Edinburgh suburb of Barnton, to be greeted by some welcome late afternoon sun and a glass of champagne, was a far better thing than to travel.

We had two cosy nights with Tim and Liz, with the bonus of seeing my gorgeous cousin Sasha, on the first night.

After dinner, Tim encouraged us to join him in a game of golf in his dining room, which he likes to play with imaginary clubs. 

And he’s the least eccentric of my Scottish family.

Russell and I spent the next day exploring Edinburgh, which I haven’t done for 40 years, and Tim shouted us drinks at his very swank golf club as the sun set over the Firth of Forth, which was lucky because we’d spent all our money on petrol just getting there.

Scenes of Edinburgh

The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Fyne

Our next stop was a couple of hours west of Edinburgh to Argyll and the picturesque village of Cairndow – where we happened to get married 23 years ago. We stayed with my fabulous cousin Katie (as in an ‘Ab Fab’ sort of fabulous), and her husband Denzil, who are two of the best hosts I know and have a beautiful house and garden on the banks of Loch Fyne.  And the beauty is helped even more when the weather is perfect, which, let me tell you, doesn’t often happen in Scotland.

Loch Fyne

We walked through their magical woods and garden, down to the lochside where, a mile up the track, we dropped in on another of my cousins, Christina, for a cup of tea. Did I mention I have a lot of cousins in Argyll?

The Woods and Gardens around Loch Fyne

The next day, we went to see another cousin, Tuggy.  Tuggy lives on a farm up in Glen Fyne, which, 20 years ago, she turned into a brewery – Fyne Ales. 10 years ago they started Fyne Fest, a beer and music festival which now attracts around 2,000 people a year. By lucky coincidence, we were visiting the weekend of the Festival, so we had an afternoon of beer and music up the glen. Perfect!  Thanks, Tuggy.

That evening, we checked into the Cairndow Stagecoach Inn, where they gave us the Honeymoon Suite. Quite apart from being a holiday of honeymoon suites, it happened to be the exact same room we stayed in on our wedding night. Exhausted, but determined to celebrate this happy coincidence, we took our bottle of wine into the pub garden to watch the sun set over the loch. Happy days!

Oban and Inverary

I have wanted to go back to Oban for years. It’s a seaside town on the west coast of Scotland where I used to go as a young teenager to attend the annual Oban Ball where we danced highland reels until the early hours of the morning, then ate platefuls of Kedgeree. Weird, but true.

This time we ate platefuls of seafood in a restaurant on the harbour, overlooking the Isle of Kerrera. And we also went to the beach, where they were swimming. In Scotland!

Oban Harbour and Beach

We drove to Oban via the town of Inveraray with its bright white buildings and the sombre grey Inveraray Castle, (the backdrop to the TV drama ‘A Very British Scandal’).

We stayed in Inverary longer than planned because we got a puncture and had to buy a new tyre and, while we were waiting, we bought a painting of the town. So, all in all, it was quite an expensive day.

The white town of Inveraray and the grey Inveraray Castle

Then, as the afternoon drew to a close and we headed back to Cairndow via the Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, we stopped for a beer at the somewhat quirky and apparently haunted Drovers Inn.

The Drovers Inn, Loch Lomand

And so, our Scottish idyll came to an end. I kissed my wonderful cousins goodbye and we headed for home.

I love Scotland. It’s seared into my childhood memories and my heart, and I will always return, especially to Argyll.

Billy Connelly once said “There are two seasons in Scotland – June and Winter.”  Like I said, I love Scotland, but this year I’m glad we came in the June season.

26 Comments

  1. Patrick

    A terrific story. I loved it through your wonderful descriptions of each place you visited. Gee I loved this blog and the photos really brings the story to life. Best wishes to you both, Mel and Morty. Keep the fun going.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Thanks, Patrick. We’ll do our best

      Reply
  2. Susan Taylor

    So sorry to hear about Molly – dog are special. However, your road trips are awesome – have always loved Scotland. Carry on exploring.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Thanks, Susan. Yes, dogs are very special and we’ll never quite get over her. But we will try and make up for it with many more adventures. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

      Reply
  3. Magnus Spence

    What a great trip beautifully described. Wish I had been with you. In the days when we did drive to Argyll together we were in the back seat with a wriggly younger brother between us, waiting for Dad’s annual joke about needing our passports at Gretna Green (“what, haven’t you brought yours?”). Happy days.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Ahh, the memories. Gretna Green still fills me with dread. I think about it every time I need to pack my passport!

      Reply
  4. Jenny Amos

    Great photos, as usual, Mel. It was just lovely hearing about the special cousins, who made us all feel so welcome nearly 23 years ago. I can picture it all and what a great time we had! Thank you again for sharing and hope we can speak soon.
    Much love to you both. Jen, David and Jules.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      My cousins were lovely to all the Australians, weren’t they. Each one of them made the weekend special and we will always be grateful to them. When are you going to come and visit us?

      Reply
  5. Ian Thomas

    A great blog Mel,it’s a great way for us to join you on your travels.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Thanks, Thommo. Glad to have you along for the ride!

      Reply
  6. Graham Morrow

    What a great trip and commentary.
    Kay comes from Scotland but it has been quite a few years since we have been back there.
    Sorry to hear about Molly! Dogs are family too.
    Cheers,
    Graham

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Thanks, Graham

      Reply
  7. Sue Mudge

    Mel I love this post in particular-all my favourite places. The Lake District as you so rightly say is breathtakingly beautiful. Those greens are like no other. Scotland of course always tugs at my heartstrings. Oban, childhood memories of holidays there on the way up to the west highlands and Edinburgh of course. Beautiful pictures of your trip!! xo

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Hi Sue, I seem to have picked all the right places for you. And each one is special.

      Reply
  8. Suzie windred

    Oh Mel!
    That took me back to the smells and delights of Scotland which is etched into my heart forevermore!
    Love you both
    Suzie Q

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      That was one eventful weekend, Suzie. So glad you were there to share it with us.

      Reply
  9. Jillian Miller

    Fantastic read as always Mel, and brought back wonderful memories, of our brief but is so eventful visit for your wedding.
    Purposely forgetting the oh so sore head from my first experience with “single malt whisky”, and getting lost and panicked just before your nuptials.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      You and Suzie were the two glamours from Sydney. I think they’re still talking about you in Cairndow! We thought about you while we were there

      Reply
  10. Mike Mabbutt

    Brilliant pics and travelogue! Really enjoying it x

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Glad to have you along for the ride, Mike

      Reply
  11. Petrina

    Mel I so love your journal you bring alive all the good things we celebrate in life. I wish I was small enough to be packed up in your luggage and experience all the joys and jaunts along your way. Life certainly is for living and by God you damn well do it well. Love you 😘

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      I wish you were here with us too, Trina!

      Reply
  12. Shelagh Murphy

    Oh what fun…love Scotland.. and great to have mad rellies…A travel journo I know has been zipping around Scotland for the past 2 weeks, concluding her trip with the Fringe festival….all in all a couple of great armchair Scottish adventures…..with some stunning photographs (yours are definitely better). Shame about fuel prices….same here…. c’est la vie… keep on enjoying…

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Thanks, Shelagh

      Reply
  13. Tuggy Delap

    It was so special to have you back, Mel and Russell. It was just so nice to be able to welcome you back and to show you just how mad this branch of the family have become. Haste ye back. Tuggy xxxx

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      We certainly will, Tuggy. Looking forward to seeing you again soon

      Reply

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