Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Archive for May 7, 2013

Inverness to Castlebay

We all travelled in Mark & Lena’s car from Inverness to Oban without incident. There was drizzle a lot of the time and mist covered the hills which was a pity but we were dry and warm. The road goes parallel with the various lochs which are connected by canals so boats can travel from Inverness to Fort William. We drove to Oban which has heaps of very narrow streets and roundabouts that can leave you holding your breath. On top of one hill is a structure called McCaig’s Folly based on Greek classical architecture ( or the Colloseum in Rome). Apparently McCaig made a lot of money and wanted to give something special to his home town but died before it was finished. Looking at the structure it’s not hard to see why but it’s great even as it is. The views over the city and its harbour are terrific.

There was a bit of “Toilet Humour” in Oban today. In the first incident Lena & I went into a toilet block and there was a turnstile but you could just walk around it which I did. Lena was behind me busy on the phone. An Asian woman spoke to me and I heard “…. Pee” so I said, “Yes”. I thought it was a bit insensitive of her to ask as I walked towards the Ladies toilets but she kept bowing and repeating herself. Then I realized she was asking for 20p. I fished about to find the money but I’m still not familiar with it so when I saw a 50p gave her that for both of us. She bowed more and waved me in, eventually giving me 10p change. When Lena came out I told her what I’d thought which of course made her laugh too, Alex arrived at the toilets just as we came out & knew immediately something was up but we said nothing, just let him walk in to be confronted by the bowing, obsequious lady. Smart arse managed to overcome his surprise at finding and Asian woman welcoming him into the toilets and understood immediately when she asked for 20p, he gave her the money and was ushered into the toilet with accompanying bowing.

Episode No.2 also in Oban but this time at the Ferry Terminal. Lena & I both tried and tried to get our 20p (I now know the cost of a pee) to operate the turnstile but the money just kept dropping straight out. Along came another girl and she managed to get it to work. When we asked her how she’d done it she just said persevere or climb over it. I tried and tried again then just slipped past the turnstile when it wouldn’t work. When we came out a few women were lined up trying to make it work so I said to the first in line, “Just climb over it, that’s what I did”. THEN I noticed the woman’s walking stick, so added, “Maybe not” and we made a quick exit. (We legged it!)

The ferry we took from Oban to Castlebay was called, “The Clansman”. Six hours on a ferry is quite a long time when you can’t stand on deck and watch seals or dolphins or even landforms because of rain, mist and cold so I was relieved when we arrived at Castlebay on the island of Barra. The B&B is very nice, we’re in a room upstairs with a window overlooking the bay. Alex is in full “Western Isles accent” mode. No use me trying to switch that off!

We went for a walk around the town which seems to have more than its fair share of cats and only one pup. Maybe all the other dogs were cosy indoors. When I walk about places like this I always wonder what the people do. Tourism plays a big part, there is a hospital, some kind of University, school, Preschool with Café, couple of industrial buildings, Fire Station and Heritage Museum. Those are the things I can remember but maybe we’ll see more tomorrow. We’re here for two nights, leaving on the early ferry on Wednesday morning.