A Wee Visit
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
83Trip End Sep 16, 2011
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Where I stayed
Mary & Vic's
I’m fortunate in being able to visit my Great Aunt Isobel before one of her bird-watching excursions, after which we will be in Germany. We used to go camping at Loch Rannoch at the foot of the Highlands every summer with Uncle Sam, Aunt Isobel and their daughters Mary and Jean, so the families spent a lot of time together when we were young.
Aunt Isobel lives in Giffnock, Glasgow, so I decide it will be easy to fly to Glasgow Airport, hire a car and drive to Isobel’s for lunch. Well, that was assuming I could find the way ! Back on my last visit in 2004, the streets of Paisley, which lies between Glasgow Airport and Giffnock, had not actually changed that much. It appears there has been some accelerated economic activity in Scotland since then, as the area has been entirely redeveloped – including an infernal ring road that we later found out is the bane of everyone’s existence. Needless to say, we end up horribly lost, requiring several phone calls to Isobel and finally the purchase of a map from a service station. At least Lauren got to see the Wallace Memorial in – yes – BraveHeart to you lot, marking where he was born. Those familiar with the area now know how badly I got lost ! ( yes Dad ! ).
We had a lovely lunch with Aunt Isobel, sharing many travel stories, and more than a few reminisces ! Time to head-off, as we are staying with Mary and her husband Vic at their property in Stewarton, basically straight west towards the coast from Aunt Isobel’s. Mary and Jean were always keen on horses, and this passion has stayed with them into adulthood. In fact, Mary developed her hobby into a competitive sport – horse carriage driving, and is very prominent in the British horse driving trials domain. No surprise then to find Mary and Vic on a property capable of accommodating many horses – 10 in fact when we visited ! This includes a new team of 6 that Mary is training for 4 horse carriage driving ( yes, 2 spare ) – we look forward to reviewing training progress when we return in Spring !
Mary and Vic take us out to a local country Scottish pub where Jim re-acquaints himself with haggis – we are glad of the fire warming the place inside !
Next day the wind is howling across the hills, Scotland can very much be the land of gales – not just gaelic speakers ! We are going for lunch with my Aunt Myra and her daughter Julie. Now we are visiting relatives on my Mum’s side – Isobel and Mary being on my Dad’s side. We are also hoping to see Aunt Joan – so both my Mum’s sisters – but Joan lives on Bute, a small island just off the coast, and the ever increasing wind strength puts in doubt the wisdom of taking the ferry across just to be stuck and unable to get back. We are meeting at Wemys Bay, where the ferry comes in, and scene of many a summer holiday where my brother John and I would head off to my granny’s on Bute with my cousin ( Julie’s brother ) John. Today, it could not be further from summer – freezing howling wind – welcome to Scotland in November !
We have an entertaining lunch, catching-up on what we all have been doing and our travels to date. Its great to see Aunt Myra and Julie after all these years, I missed them the last time around, and we all promise to try and rendezvous on Bute with Joan in the Spring.
Back to Mary & Vic’s for some home cooking and more chats, and as these things go, we talk too long and all start to fall asleep – time to turn in.
Driving across the land to – Edinburgh. Yes, finishing off the flying visit to see cousin John, who I mentioned before. John lives on the East coast of Scotland, and we are meeting up at a pub in Queensferry overlooking the Forth Road Bridge with his wife Eva and their son Jack. On the way we divert to Stirling, as I want to show Lauren Stirling Castle and the Stirling Monument – these landmarks have great significance in Scottish history, as basically Stirling is located at the entry to the Highlands, and right between the West and East coasts – Edinburgh may be the political capital of Scotland, but Stirling was the military capital, and so is steeped in history. We only have time to see the landmarks from the outside, but the appetite is whetted to return and explore properly.
Queensferry is a lovely old Scottish village right on the river Forth, and the pub has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Forth Road Bridge. It is a truly magnificent sight, one of the proud examples of Scottish civil engineering. We have a great catch-up over lunch – much to talk about – John, Eva and Jack are about to set-off on their own adventure to visit Eva’s daughter in Sydney, Australia ! Talk about strange circumstances, we have just managed to catch them before they head to Australia ! Guess they will need to setup their own travel blog !
Time to get to Edinburgh Airport and fly back to London. A whirlwind trip, the weather was terrible but the company fantastic. It was great to see aunts and cousins after so long, we will be back !