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Published: January 7th 2008
and not 1/2 an hour before Bruce was saying he'd never seen a deer in Scotland ...
What a wonderful way to see in the end of 2007 than 'getting down' on the dance floor with friends in a little bar in Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. A couple of weeks ago Bruce mentioned that he and a couple of his friends were heading north to experience the traditional Hogmaney! It would have been rude of me not to make sure I was in on the Scottish action and accordingly when I flew back from Poland I had enough time to do a quick load of washing and repack before jumping a tube to St Pancras and the 16.55 to Manchester via every northern town there is! Unfortunately essential line works took care of the 2 and something hours it usually takes to get to Manchester and instead I was heading for Sheffield (city on the move) which is also north, but slightly more east. This plan was working well until Chesterfield, where we had to change for the Liverpool train, which 25 minutes after it was due, was cancelled ... not a happy platform. Not to worry this just meant grabbing the next Sheffield train, running up over the platform and flinging ourselves into the Manchester
Random Glasgow Building
didn't quite work out what it was, but it was near our hotel
Express with about 1 min to spare! Eventually, 30 mins later than expected, I made it to Manchester about 16 hours after getting up to head to the airport in Czluchow. Needless to say there was not much happening that night in Manchester.
Day 2 was slightly more relaxed as we didn't have to pick up Miss Kirsty (Kurdsty) until 10(ish) so we didn't get on our way north until somewhere around 10.30/11 ish. We had a relaxed drive north from Manchester to Glasgow for my 1st taste of Scotland and her cities. No trip to 'The North' as the sign's proclaim would be complete without a stop at the 'world famous' Westmoreland Farm Shop - eating being such a minor interest of mine - it is truely the gold mine of chutney goodness. Our little stop stretched for an hour or so, but that did include eating! North to Glasgow and we checked into the nice Argyll Hotel on Sauchiehall St (from hence to be known as the 'Saucy Whore' (sorry mum!). Not being a skilled pronunciator of Glasweigen we just had to make up our own name and given our Skye venue is 'Saucy Mary' it was
Out for a spin
Kurdsty and I giggled through it ... Bryce suffered
a logical (to us) extension.
As it gets dark in Scotland about 3.45 we enjoyed the sunset while checking in and then wandered into town to check out the sights of Glasgow. George Square, various bars and eventually a lovely little Vegetarian restaurant the '13th Note' for dinner at about 6pm. Luckily with local beer, vegan wine and lovely food we were able to stretch the quiet meal til about 7.30pm before off to George Square via a pretentious little place (lovely decor though) for a little Merry-go-round madness. This little event was perhaps enjoyed more by the giggling girls than the brave Bruce, but we all survived unscathed so all's well that ends well. In the hunt for live music we made our way back to the 'Saucy Whore' to examine some of the lively little music venues, chat to locals and enjoy a wee dram or two of local ales. Didn't quite find the live music, but ticked off all of the other elements at Variety
before 'getting down' in the passage way. It's not quite the same without the pointed finger and stooping stance in time to the music, but trust me it was a hit
with visitor and local alike and became the slogan for the entire trip (it just never gets old!). The photo only provides a taste of this treat!
Day 3 was a wee little side trip to check out the Bryce's new little apartment (almost finished) then Troon for the 4th Muskateer, Miss Cat for the rest of our northerly adventures. Some highlights of the drive north, or the bits we could see before darkness fell, was driving along Loch Lomand, stopping in Tyndrum for the Good Food Cafe
(they didn't lie!) and the lights on the water and snow of the highlands as night was falling ... magic. After an hour or so of darkness and a wee (in all senses) stop at Ft Williams we made the Skye Bridge and took a left into the little village of Kyleakin, our Hogmaney Home away from Home at 'Saucy Mary's'. The rest of the afternoon/night was taken up with wine, homemade pizza and then a visit to the bar to sample a selection of local skye and scottish beers.
Day 4 was New Years Eve and therefore after a relaxed and very healthy self catered breakfast we drove to
Portree. Well, we almost made it, but stopped about 100m from the official town marker. We got distracted by tourist information centre, food, fridge magnets (ok just me) and then a small hike up a hill to a view point above Portree instead. It was a lovely way to make the most of the light and the bits of sun which kept coming out to show Skye in her best light. Driving around you go from rain to sun to mist in the space of a couple of miles (practicing the local measurements) and when the sun hits the Loch's or the hills the colours are amazing. We were so lucky with the weather as the day started out bucketing down, but the clouds lifted and the light came out which just takes your breath away. As it was now mid afternoon and getting dark we headed back to Kyleakin for an afternoon and evening of drinks, nibbles, laughter and trivial pursuit, until party hour (about 11pm).
The true Hogmaney celebrations required us to walk across the road to the King Haakon Bar
to enjoy the traditional Scottish band and carve up the dance floor in the countdown to
midnight. To celebrate this special night, we may have consumed the odd dram or two of Isle of Skye whiskey, but in thinking back to the dancing, I think it was pure foolish aussieness that saw us dancing while most people just watched. The 'Get Down' move was used to great effect, although it didn't seem to be as welcomed here as it had been in Glasgow. At last midnight came with good wishes be shared with each other only as we had ascertained that the Isle of Skye is one of the world's snog free zones (we have standards) and eventually a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne
with the entire bar. The odd phone call back home to those who I had a number in my phone for, then back to 'Saucy's' where we avoided the doof doof music from the disco and instead sat outside sharing a bottle of sparkling shiraz under the stars as the locals provided free entertainment.
New Years Day we were awakened by a fire alarm (false) at 9.15am (it was almost light) before back to bed for a little further kip, breaky and in our commitment to health, a couple of
hours spent strolling (scrambling, dragging) ourselves up a hill. Now I'm not known for my co-ordination, but you will all be pleased to learn that I didn't injure myself this time and only slipped a couple of times on the way back down. Admittedly one was quite spectacular and I only just managed to avoid getting a wet bum by using my backpack to keep me off the ground, I did however need a hand up! The hills are terraced and everywhere you walk, water pools. It's an amazing feeling when you are there alone and you can hear the water running into pools under the heather. It does mean that you have to watch where you put your feet as you can easily step onto the hidden, and not so hidden pools and find that waterproof boots don't work if you let the water in over the top. The view from the top was magnificent looking down on the Loch at the clouds settling in on the tops of other hills.
After we eventually made it back to the car if a little cold, wet and hungry and therefore we began the holy grail of finding food on
and our search for a 'chapati party'
Skye on New Years Day. Not an easy task, but eventually we managed to find our own little 'Pappadum Party' in Portree as all traditional eating places were closed or not cooking yet (and we was starving!!). Back in Kyleakin it was an early night as we were heading back to Manchester on 2nd January.
Last day of our trip and it was up, pack and leave the beauty of Skye for the long, beautiful and at times slow drive back to Manchester. We left about 11am and didn't get back until 9pm, but did manage to sneak in a stop at a really old little pub for a bit of 'Haggis Neeps & Tatties' before we left Scotland, plus of course an encore visit to the Westmoreland Farm Shop on the Southern side of the motorway. All in all we quite limited our stops for Bruce's sake! Eventually back to Manchester and goodbye to the girls before a nice sleep, a look around Manchester in the morning (found my fridge magnet!) and then the joys of negotiating the not yet repaired rail line back to London. That meant a trip back to Kings Cross via Leeds, but as
Our lunch stop on the trip back ... its at the north of Loch Lomand and apparently really, really old
it had finally started to snow, I got to enjoy the sight of snow covered hills between Manchester and Leeds.
My little Scottish trip was over and it's back to London and work, until I plan the next one! Cheers for now!
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