Published: January 18th 2011August 1st 2009
Glasgow to Fort William, via Sterling
You will remember, no doubt, that we slept in our gargantuan bed in our hotel in Glasgow. After a good night of sleep we headed down stairs to our breakfast of all things greasy and some haggis or blood pudding - neither of which I would recommend eating. Not because they taste disgusting (cause they don't) but more because they are just not my thing (weird texture and taste) - so if you get the opportunity don't be turned off by my thoughts.
After filling up on a delicious breakfast we left the hotel to see the city. The night previous we had not paid much attention to where we parked, thinking we were lucky to get a park so close to the hotel. However, it was not allowed to park there after 8am...and this was enforced - we received our first parking fine in the UK! So we left the car there with the ticket on it for the whole day and set out to do some hardcore shopping at the main stretch of Glaswegian shops - yes, that's right, we hit Poundland, where nothing costs more than £1! We kept walking
for a little bit, not really buying anything but merely having a look, and eventually came to a big square, George Square, filled with flowerbeds and statues. After taking lots of photos and looking at who the statues were of we finally realised that the square was filling with people. But not your typical run of the mill people: men on stilts, clowns, ladies dressed as dogs, bagpipers...crazy people! Of all the people to ask what was going on we asked one of the men on stilts and found out it was something called Homecoming (or something similar), which is like the census when Jesus was born - people from all over the world were coming to Glasgow because they have ancestors from there. We explained that we weren't from Glasgow, at all (just cause I have red hair does not mean I am Scottish!), but Australians from London travelling.
He filled us in on the plan for the day, telling us that a parade was due to start any moment. After a while of watching people mill about and get ready, the parade began - at the time it was the weirdest parade I had seen, now after
seeing a Christmas parade in Bruges it is the second weirdest. The Glasgow parade had double decker buses with the lady dressed as a dog (who stilt man said was an Aussie), people dressed in massive costumes, hordes of bagpipers and a whole lot of tartan! While weird, the parade was also incredibly enjoyable and a very friendly affair - everyone in it was smiling and appeared to be enjoying themselves.
After the parade we headed back to the hotel, collected our things (including the stupid parking fine) and headed off to Stirling to see mum's first real British castle!
Looking back at photos Stirling Castle reminds us a little of Edinburgh Castle. It's big, set above the city on a hill (in this castle conveniently named Castle Hill) and is made of stone. Unfortunately the only thing we can remember about Stirling Castle is that is was windy on the day. Which, to be fair, isn't actually about the castle itself but about the weather. When we arrived it was somewhat difficult to find a park, so we drove around and eventually found a gap in the line of cars along the castle wall. Upon getting out
of the car I happened upon some stinging nettle. Emma has nicely parked, but in front of a massive bush of the stuff. It made my arm quite itchy and gave it lots of red spots. But I got over it. We ate lunch on a little grassy patch nearby and had a look at the surrounding spots and views and then headed into the castle.
Again, we don't remember much about the castle...so, we went in and looked around. One thing I recall, after looking at some photos, was the weird tapestries hanging on the a wall in one of the big halls we went in. They were telling a story of the hunting of a unicorn. It started with some men heading out to hunt with dogs and stuff, and the they catch a unicorn and chop off it's horn, after which they put it in fenced area and it has grown a new horn. The pictures of the animals were somewhat disturbing and meant I HAD to take photos as evidence of the weirdness of it all! In general, though, we just looked at the views from high up on the hill (and saw a monument
in the distance that we didn't get to visit [the Stirling Monument I think it is called?]) and eventually headed off in the direction Viktor (who you will remember is our Tom Tom) told us was to get us to Fort William.
We drove on, and on for two and a bit hours, stopping for food at a pub called the Rod and Reel and to take lots of photos of lochs and mountains and grass and sky and all things natural. Such a beautiful country it was hard not to.
Eventually we got to Fort William. But unfortunately we had used the post code of our B&B to direct our way there. Which, if you know anything about post codes in London means that it would usually direct you to a cluster of 3 or 4 houses (our post code in Putney is pretty much us and the two house next to us)...however, in less populated parts of the country a post code covers a much larger area. So we were directed to the dead end road without a B&B in sight. Eventually we phoned the place and they gave us better directions (after getting lost again
though and having to call them again!) and we finally made it! It was dark, coldish and we were tired again after a long day - needless to say we did not get to appreciate the beauty of the B&B's surroundings until the next day. Emma and I went to sleep after watching some top quality TV: Ice Age
Rest, sweet rest, came to help us through the next day...
There are more photos below