Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Karin's right. The Scottish people are friendly and kind

Applecross, on their road to Skye. From our friend Colin at http://www.conchra.co.uk/

Dear John,
We really enjoyed our vacation. We found the cottage to be just right and very cosy. It had all that we needed! We were very happy about the rubber boots and the extra rain gear. Sascha and I appreciated the information about the area and the kids appreciated the videos especially Braveheart! I didnt mind it at all. We loved all the lochs and went hiking many times in Glencoe. That is where I ate haggis and I also tried black pudding. That was a surprise because it is spiced with ginger. I really enjoyed it.

We were regulars at the co-op in Ballachulish and also visited the slate museum there. We went also to the Isle of Skye which was very beautiful. We loved the drive up there. We enjoyed driving on the left side of the road as well. It took time to get used to because the gear shift is on the wrong side and I always mistook the first and third gears the first and second day. One time I even drove a few yards on the right side before I noticed what I was doing...it was all fun.

We found the Scottish people to be very friendly and kind. I enjoyed the way they took their time with everything. We drove to Inverness as well and at least I had my first "high tea" in a very lovely tea room there. That was a highlight even for my boys. The older one really enjoyed drinking tea and eating scones! The younger one (10 years) had hot chocolate, but what he found most interesting was to watch the workers make the cakes and scones. That was lovely because all that was served was baked right there in an open kitchen. That was a lovely afternoon.

I took many walks on the path on opposite the house and enjoyed the stillness there.
We tried to leave the cottage in the same condition that we found it. Please let me know if I can help with anymore translating for German tourists.

All the best! Karin

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Anoch Eagach solo. The wrong way.

This is where Keith walked. The usual route is from East to West. This lovely photo was taken by Dougie. His photos of Scotland can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/oldnotbold/478270195/

Hi John,
We arrived back late on Saturday and I spent Sunday generally sorting out. School started on Monday, so I now feel as if I have been back ages!

The information, guidance and friendly help you gave prior to our visit and in the cottage was the very best we have ever experienced. No other host in any holiday cottage we have rented has been so keen to help and ensure we have a good time, know where to go, how to find the cottage etc etc. Your book in the house was read by us all; you really did work very hard on behalf of your guests and should be proud of yourself!!
We had an active holiday and the boys always had things to do. The weather was OK, not sunny, but also not pouring with rain.

What did we do? Firstly, we read all your information so we are grateful to you for your insight. We walked to the Hidden Valley, climbed Ben Nevis, walked to the waterfalls in Glen Nevis, the boys climbed at Kinlochleven Ice Factor (what a brilliant place!) they also ice climbed on our last day which was the first time for them. Kind instructors and very welcoming.

Keith walked a ridge which ended near the Clachaig which he just loved, but it sounded quite scary to me and I am glad the boys did not go too. It was foggy on top, so we had decided that Keith should trial it alone. He met people walking it with helmets and ropes, but he managed it and will talk about it for ages.

We ate at the Seafood Cafe whch was different and fun, but I think it fair to say we liked eating at the Clahaig most. It was lovely and informal, good food and not too expensive. (Haggis, tatties and neaps!) We enjoyed seeing deer outside the pub, just stood looking at us as we got into the car...beautiful. I very much wanted to go on the "whalewatching" trip from Arisaig to one of the islands, but was outvoted and due to lack of time (and will) we did not go. I regret that. Keith and my boys love to be active, to hike etc and did not want to spend a whole day on such a trip. We also kayaked (it was great to have the garage to lock the boats away) in the bay, to the bridge and to the Island of the Dead, off Glencoe.

So, the location/ area is stunning. Keith wanted to do far more hikes than we had time to do. The deer, the heather, the mountains were beautiful to say the least. I was fascinated by the history and read most of your history books! I had to stop by about Thursday as it seemed too gloomy, too unfair. I needed to read about something nice happening to someone. James of the Glen is rather stuck in my head at the moment! Where is the actual plaque on the site of the massacre? Is it just the cross in the village? I looked in "a field just beyond the Clahaig" as one guide book said, but "just beyond" gave me no direction or scale! Still I made myself not be too morbid about it all ...........

The cottage was lovely and clean. Bath is interesting, especially for Jim who is 6ft 5ins. He is of the generation who have never really done anything but shower, so I think he probably came home a bit dirty!!! (No harm in that)

Sally also had some very sharp things to say about the people who run the roads up here. She wants speed restrictions and better driving. She thinks the roads are dangerous, and we totally agree with her. The absolute worst bit of road is 10 miles south of the cottage on a sharp left bend. The signage and lack of speed restriction are a disgrace. Her remarks are going to the Village Council who also share her views, and now I'm going to do a separate blog and try and whip up a campaign about with. Good on you Sally. Thanks. Oban Times letters page, here we come, that will do for a start.

The pic is of the boys, Jim and Charlie, in the Hidden Valley. One of the reasons why the Glencoe MacDonalds were so hated by the other clans was because they carried out continual raids on other clans' cattle - an act punishable by death if caught at it - cattle thieving was the bank raid of the day. The other clans came in strength to the Glen to find the cattle and they never could. That's because the beasts were shoved up the steep track to the Hidden Valley, a feat which no one thought possible. Like most Scottish tales it is happy and sad at the same time. Sad if you are a Cameron or McLean or Campbell, but happy if you were a Glencoe MacDonald with food for the winter.

(Would the MacDonalds of Skye ever do such a thing? No, of course not. They'd nick the cattle out of the Dunvegan estate and ambush any McLeods who tried to get them back. Happy days.)


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