Keep right on to the end of the road…….

I don’t know about you, but I have a fascination with dead-end roads, especially in the countryside. In some ways the sign we use can be a bit disappointing, or even intimidating….’Not worth going down this road’…’There’s nothing to see’…….. ……’Better to turn round while you 7559_signs[1]have the chance’……you know what I mean.

However there usually is something to see…a beach, a loch, a little pier, a house, an old church, and often they have a lovely view. Someone obviously thought that it was worthwhile building and maintaining a road for good reason.

And so it was that yesterday, along with two of the ladies in my life, we set off for one of the loveliest dead-end roads in the west of Scotland. Skirting the historic City of P1010551Stirling, you take the A84 and A873 through Thornhill. There you will find the excellent restaurant ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ where you could stop for excellent refreshment. Continuing to head west and joining the A81, you pass  (or stop to admire), the only lake in Scotland, the Lake of Menteith. It is tiny, but the village is called  Port of Menteith, and it feels quite proud of its watery neighbour, and the Inchmahome Priory.

Just as you come to Aberfoyle, you enter the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, and head on the B829, which has the afore-mentioned ‘dead-end’ sign . The B designation is a good indication that this road is not for the faint-hearted driver, as it is single-track with passing places. P1040845But we managed to stop and pick some blackberries on the way, on the side of Loch Ard.

I should say here that it was not me driving, as medical advice was that I should not get behind a wheel for a little time yet. So it was the Lady of the House, who was in control. (She is, of course often in control when I am driving!) Daughter was in the front passenger seat helping with the negotiation of this nasty but lovely road.

Wonderful country houses abound along here with the sweeping drives, and gardens which would have engaged a number of full-time gardeners at one time. Lovely it must be to live in such locations, but what about the winter? 4WD vehicles would be more suitable than a flash car when the snow comes, or trees fall over the roads, or accidents block roads.

When you are able to stop to admire the vistas, Ben Venue, Ben P1040838Vrackie, and Ben Lomond all offer great views, so a camera, and binoculars are advised on this trip.

Water is not normally in short supply here, and so several lochs have been dammed and channelled to provide water for Glasgow and the Central Belt of Scotland. Besides Loch Ard, where got the berries, Loch Chon also is beside the road, and both offer boat fishing. The water here and ultimately fed to Glasgow is very pure and no lime-scale is produced in kettles or washing machines…….and it is lovely to drink, especially in a glass of amber liquid!

As we move northwest, we are travelling between two large lochs….Katrine (Glasgow’s main water supply) and Lomond (known the world over for the Bonnie banks). At a T junction you can turn right to Stronachlachar (an awkward-sounding word for non-Scots), with a Pier-head Tearoom.

P1040851However we were turning westward past the lovely Loch Arklet heading to the village, or more-correctly, the clachan of Inversnaid.

This is probably the most awkward part of the road as it drops sharply to the northern tip of Loch Lomond, and indeed the Banks are Bonnie as promised in the song. Suddenly, from a narrow country road we descend into a large car park, beside the massive Inversnaid Hotel, and situated beside the pier for boats cruising Loch Lomond.

So, you may ask, why has this large Hotel beenOld Photograph Inversnaid Scotland[1] built here in a remote area, and is obviously popular, with high-occupancy rates? The old photo shows how long it has been operational.

It was built in 1790 by the Duke of Montrose as a quiet hunting lodge. It achieved exposure to the world, when Queen Victoria visited there several times, for privacy. Whether the impropriety involved with John Brown, her ghillie, occurred here I do not know. It has obviously been extended over the years.

We had a very tasty meal in the hotel, chosing the Inversnaid Burger, which consisted of P1040865chicken, bacon and cheese. Afterwards, we went to examine the waterfall just beside the hotel. There has been no appreciable rain recently, so no  great torrent of water, which was a bit disappointing. There are lots of little walks in the area, which we could not explore due to time restraints.

The pier is a place of constant activity during the day, and P1040858no doubt, there is a fair bit of freight brought in by boat. Looking across the Loch, you can see the village of Inveruglas, and the large pipes of the Loch Sloy Hydro-electric Power Station on the hillside. They have a Visitor Centre about the area, so is well-worth visiting.

Two other facts about the area…….

Firstly……The local primary school was, in 2010, the most expensive/pupil in education costs, in the UK. It is said it was £54,000 per pupil! Presumably some may have been accommodation costs for those who could not commute each day, in the scattered community.

Secondly……The famous Rob Roy was basically an outlaw involved in castle-rustling, and in the Jacobite rising. He hid in a cave, close to the Hotel, and which can be only approached by water, and was well-hidden. No doubt the locationis pointed-out to all those on the cruise boats.

……so there you are, a true end-of-the-road journey, which provided on a very-pleasant autumnal day, a lot of visual excitement with the gorgeous scenery,  a trip on narrow roads, a pleasant meal, and plenty of blethering!…….

And the day was complete on our way home, as we popped-into a tearoom in Aberfoyle………pleasure complete……

P1040875P1040876P1040877

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Fabulous four-some!

 

I recently posted a blog about how bad things come in threes.  Well, luckily, the third never came! In fact we should be pleased that things seem to be going so well just now.

  • I’ve been (un-expectedly) elevated to Fellowship within my profession
  • A nephew has just become engaged to a lovely girl
  • We had a super meal with our daughter at the weekend
  • Our son and his fiancee are enjoying themselves down in London training for a new career

There are some other happenings which look exciting, but I don’t want to tempt fate.

The only one bad thing still in the forefront of our minds, is that we have had to close down our shop dealing with disability aids after only three years. It served the community well, but  many people now come in for free advice and just go on the net to hunt about to look for the cheapest bargain. Then if it is not suitable they come and see what we can do about it!

We’re not alone as many large and small businesses in our area have folded, leaving vacant premises and the whole urban landscape is becoming very depressing.

And of course behind every such closure lies much heartache for employers and employees alike. However we will fight on for as long as we can….and, hey, the next Government will be able to put everything to rights.

Meanwhile we will be happy with our good news!

Up,Up, and away….at last!

Aloft balloon

A previous post  told of the postponement of a balloon ride for Daughter’s 40th birthday, accompanied by Lady of the House. After a number of attempts to re-arrange it, we at last heard from her that Saturday was to see it all come true.

At 11pm on Friday night she confirmed the good news that a morning flight would take place from Biggar near Lanark….the bad news was that we had to be there by 7 am!

Biggar is a pretty little town in the middle of the south Lanarkshire countryside, and working backwords it was established that Lady and I would have to be up by 4.30 am to pick up daughter at 6!…..and with another hour’s drive to Biggar!

But you know what happens when you have to be up very early….you don’t sleep very well, and I was awake at 3.45 am and at my cereal by 4am!

The journey there all went to plan and we arrived at the site on a lovely autumn morning with a layer of mist and low cloud. Even then there was some doubt about whether it would take place because of the wind speed limits and the low mist.

All was OK’d and the laborious task was started to unpack the balloon from a bag the same size as you see the round hay-bales in. It was a bit like unwrapping a tent, but of gigantic proportions! The noise of the fans and then the burners, to expand the envelope was ear-damaging, and the sight of seeing the pilot walking about inside the balloon, checking for leaks, as it was being blown-up, was somewhat surreal!

Prepare balloon

There were 16 passengers tightly-packed into the wicker basket….fat people would not have been able to clamber into the basket, never mind sit down with any degree of comfort!

I had been taking a video record of all the preparations, and was taking some final still photos before they took off. I turned round briefly to get the video out again, and when I turned back, they had lifted-off and were rapidly rising into the clouds!  The pilot was obviously not prepared to descend and rise again, just for me to get some more shots!….but hey, that’s just life!

Lift-off

My intention had been to follow the balloon by road, keeping visual contact, but I never saw it again, even when the sky was a perfect blue! I drove around some of the beautiful Borders roads, with my eyes gazing upwards. I had to admit defeat however, and return to Biggar. A mobile phone call told me that they had landed safely, and allayed my fears that they had disappeared into some kind of Bermuda Triangle in the sky!

balloon view

IS THAT A NOOSE I SEE BEFORE MY EYES? 

Theywere brought back for champagne and a chat about the events which happened when they spooked a herd of animals, and the farmer’s reaction!…but that’s another story!

But what do we give her for her 50th?

Life-cycle

pig on a bike

Daughter is a member of Her Majesty’s Police Force…and when not on duty, she is actually quite a nice gentle person!

This weekend, she is the only WPC taking part on Saturday 5th Sept in a cycle ride from Edinburgh to Glasgow. It is some 65 miles, starting at Edinburgh Quay, and ending in Glasgow City Centre, via the towpaths of the Union Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Donations and sponsorship will be divided equally between two charities:-

………….Erskine was set-up in 1916 to care for the wounded returning from WW1, and still cares for those returning from the present conflicts, and

………….The Moira Fund which was founded by family, friends, and colleagues, in memory of Moira Jones, who was murdered in Queen’s Park, Glasgow in May 2008. It will make grants to individuals who have been bereaved through violent death, to provide specialist bereavement counselling, access to respite and retreats, and a support network.

Two wonderful charities who deserve our help so if you have not already contributed give it a thought. You can get more details on the appropriate websites, or donate directly….

www.Erskine.org.uk

www.themoirafund.org.uk

 http://www.justgiving.com/pigsonbikes/

GOOD LUCK, FOLKS….hope the legs (andbottoms) hold up OK!!!!

Up, up, and away….almost!

 mongolfier balloon

Today was supposed to see Daughter (birthday present) and Lady of the House on a hot-air-balloon trip from Falkland Palace in Fife. We had a pleasant drive over to this beautiful countryside and had a meal with old friends. However the flight was was diverted at the last moment to Perth, and so we had a mad dash to be there…..only to arrive and discover that the flight had been cancelled because the wind was 10 miles/hour!

The limit is 8 miles/hour, so a 150 miles round-trip and meal costs have been wasted. I wonder if the Mongolfier Brothers were held up because of a difference of 2 miles/hour, or are we seeing the safety culture going to silly levels. Surely part of the thrill of such a flight is the adrenaline rush!

If you are considering getting involved in such an event be prepared for a disappointment.

………….Let’s hope a re-booked flight is not called-off.

Life begins at……

40-year-candle

It’s a bit weird!…..some of our favourite bloggers are approaching, or have reached, a certain unmentionable age…..in fact one used the fact as the title of her site….and no-one really wants to admit it! 

I actually imagine that it isn’t so long since I, and the Lady of the House were at that stage and we had a large house-party……sideburns and smoking pipes were very-much in evidence! But now that our Daughter has hit that age…..that puts rather a different aspect on this number! She doesn’t look it, I must admit, but neither did her Mum at that age. Maybe there is no such thing as ‘looking one’s age’, or feeling one’s age!

The fact is that we only get one chance at each age….it is a one way street, and it is probably best just to enjoy it as best you can…you can’t turn the clock or calendar back, or halt their progress. You just have to accept that the positive thing called ‘maturity’, brings along with it the baggage called ‘age’.

Some writer once said that he knew that we were all born, lived and would eventually die, but he hoped that the Almighty would have made an exception in his case!……… ‘fraid not.

Life is for living and with all its problems and limitations, this world is a wonderful place; and with all their problems and limitations, other human beings are all we have.

So, Daughter, take on the world as you always have, value your friends highly, hate no-one, don’t be too hard on yourself or others for none of us is perfect, always try to look to the positive side of every event, let yesterday go  gently into history, enjoy today, look eagerly to tomorrow and continue to do good in the world.

Do this and we will continue to be proud of you.

Mum and Dad

Kalt und Warme!

languages

Lady of the House and I have just returned from a break in the tremendous heat of Tenerife (in the Canary Islands for the geographically- ignorant). Even as we approached the west of Scotland, there was a nip in the cabin air, and when the air-bridge was opened (after we had landed of course) one’s lungs were suddenly subject to the sudden shock of dropping from 24C to something approaching 0c.

The usual long wait for luggage allowed some adaptation to our ‘normal’ temperatures, and even the warmth of Daughter’s welcome could not hide the fact that we were in a different world again!

Adeje has a number of very nice hotels (and ours was no exception), and attracted a great variety of nations. I have always loved using different languages although I must say that Italian is my favourite. This time, however, German was the main language to be heard, with some French, Dutch and Flemish.

Many of the younger Europeans about now seem to have excellent English, but it was still evident that the vast majority of Brits do not speak a foreign language beyond the few words from a phrase book.

At the New Year Party we were grouped with Germans (our looks, or my slight corporation may have been responsible for this) and spending a long, noisy evening chattering in a foreign language is very tiring. However we all seemed to understand each other better, as the alcohol flowed. So perhaps this is a preferable way to understand foreigners than going to boring night-classes or reading boring text-books!