Friday, 8 August 2014

Five Things I Learned On Mull/In The Trossachs

1. Walking around Tobermory I quipped that Mull's signature pop song shouldn't be "Mull of Kintyre" but "Everyday is Like Sunday" because it seemed so quiet and closed up so much of the time. Thinking back, though, it occurs to me that it was Sunday, or a bank holiday, for the only two days we were there, so I'm probably being rather unfair. In any case there's some great places to eat  - Cafe Fish combines award-winning and delicious seafood with a non-existent dress code - and some curious shops that offer amongst other things two-pint ale flagons carved from cow horn, which is now my favourite possession.

There's also an exceptionally rare postbox just off the main street which features the legend E VIII R; the locals having flat-out refused to go to the bother of changing it just because, in our host's words "The bugger up and abdicated after six months".  Apparently this postbox is a big hit with Japanese tourists, which is further proof that this world is full of delightfully different cultures and almost everything is wonderful to someone. For my part it was just somewhere to stick my postcard to my parents complaining that we didn't get to see any otters.

(Seriously, otters, what the hell? We went on two trips to spot the little bastards and got bupkiss, after spending the whole week's holiday last year failing to see the family that actually lived on the beach outside our cottage door, and when we went to Blair Drummond to see otters in a zoo they still didn't make a showing, which means I've now seen more tigers in Scotland than I have otters. Otters: almost as bad as leopards).

2. Eagle chicks are all kinds of awesome.  For just £8 each we got to spend two hours staring through telescopes at a juvenile white-tailed eagle who was a week late in fledgling, which meant firstly that it was bigger than any other bird that had lived in the nest (a ridiculous eight-foot wooden bowl you could sleep in yourself if you'd thought to bring enough blankets) and secondly that it spent the whole time leaping onto nearby branches and spreading its wings, in the hopes that this somehow would count as flying.  During the same trip we also got to see an adult white-tailed eagle and a golden eagle doing their best to ignore each other in the sky, and a trio of red deer grazing on the horizon.

3. Whilst geology as a subject is awful and wrong, there are places in the world where I must accept that rock looks very pretty.  The island of Staffa is one such place. Fliss has taken her camera off with her to a hen weekend so I can't show you any of our pictures - I might put some up next week - but Staffa looks like it's been slapped together by three different Gods with absolutely no interest in paying attention to each other.  It also contains Fingal's Cave, which is an absolutely beautiful chamber of green-tinted rock and blue water, in which pink jellyfish float (or possibly lie dead, it was hard to tell).  Even an unfortunate outbreak of screaming rahs couldn't ruin the experience, though to their credit they gave it their very best fucking try.

4. If you are on a quest to see red deer, one can do worse than to get lost in the Trossachs and start arguing about how exactly such a disaster has happened.  Nearby deer will become embarrassed at hearing the domestic and flee for a less awkward area.  This can allow remarkably close encounters, and as an added bonus shift the disagreement onto the subject of the best way to indicate map-searching should be abandoned because there are fucking deer now.

5. A male tortoise sounds whilst mating like an old man reaching orgasm whilst chewing a kazoo.  The female tortoise, for its part, can continue to stuff her face with grass whilst her lover gets on about his business. Reasonable minds can disagree as to whether our chelonian friends have received the better deal.

Recommendations: the quite cheap Eagle Watch experience, though it's probably best to book on the day and check online as to whether there are chicks about - if the chick we watched had fledged when she was supposed to, we'd have spent two hours looking at an empty nest. Our bed and breakfast Cuidhe-Leathain was lovely, with a great room, tasty & inclusive breakfasts, and pairs of Scottish Bearded Collies and Maine Coon cats for stroking/decompression opportunities (John Cole is right; Maine Coons are just the best). The Lunga/Staffa tour was pretty good, with plently of seabird spottings (the puffins will happily sit within ten feet of you, which is rather nice), though for £65 a pop it's maybe a bit risky should the heavens open halfway through. The previously mentioned Cafe Fish is delicious, and whilst it's not cheap, it's definitely less expensive than its reputation suggets.  Moving to the Trossachs, the Lade Inn has phenomenal food and an attached ale shop that came close to reducing Fliss to tears of joy (and entirely succeeded in reducing her bank account; if I'd been driving a larger car I suspect she'd have tried to buy up the shop's entire stock).


darkman said...

What's wrong with geology? I know that I might be biased because some of my forefathers were miners but wht part of geology isn't awesome?
Take fossilis for example, fossils are awesome, mines are awesome, mountains are awesome. Geodes are at very least cool to crack open. And I dare you to google native silver and not find the result cool, in fact I double dare you motherfucker.

SpaceSquid said...

Your ancestors were miners? Well mine were steelworkers. Rock is just that thing that makes metal harder to find.

And yes, I accept that native silver is cool. But only because of the maths!

darkman said...

But that is not correct: