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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Scotland Part II

OK, it has just occurred to me I have not posted part two of our fabulous Scotland trip. I have no other acceptable excuse other than I have been dealing with a malfunctioning boiler system (Read: no heat and no hot water) and fighting with Bean's school. I have my anger (and the Hubs) to keep me warm, but clearly the school does not the realize who they are dealing with. Mess with my son, and you're about to get a physics lesson. Two gallons of crazy will not fit into a one gallon bucket.

We took the train to Oban. It is about a two hour trip. The scenery is, as always, amazing. Bean enjoyed talking to me about what we were passing,

but mostly liked playing with Hub's tablet.

Ah, but Scotland. The Hubs and I went to Oban back in 2006, where I witnessed the phenomenon of 'the leaden turd'. Truly a magnificent wonder of nature, the leaden turn was on the list of things I wanted to go back and see. It has become evident to me that our Scottish brethren do not partake a tremendous amount of fiber. But let me set the scene. The Hubs and I, then childless, went to Oban as a side trip and ended up in a pub called the Oban Inn. The place was packed and we were asked by a lovely British couple if we wouldn't mind sharing our table. Of course, being the generous people we are, certainly let them dine with us. After a few pints, as often happens, people loosen up (even the Brits!) and we started talking. I excused myself and went into the loo to take care of business. I chose the middle stall. I was very disappointed and a little grossed out to find a turd resting in the bottom of the toilet. "Nasty people", I said to myself and proceeded to flush the loo. Well, in England you have two options when it comes to water pressure. The first option is a trickle at best, and the second option being the velocity of a fire hose. This loo was the second choice. The first time I flushed, I grabbed onto the handrails out of fear of being sucked into the bowl. Miraculously, as the bowl stilled, the turd was there - unscathed and unmoved. I marveled and was a bit disconcerted at the same time. I finished my business at hand and flushed again. The turd was still there. I washed my hands and exited the toilets. 

Upon returning to the table,  and seeing the look of bewilderment on my face, here is the conversation between myself and the British lady:

Her: "Did you enter the middle stall?"
Me: Nodding in the affirmative
Her: "Did you see it?" 
Me: "Yes!!!" 
Her: "Did you attempt to dispose of it?"
Me: "YES!!"  
Her: "Was it still there?"
Me: "YES!! I am baffled. This is beyond my comprehension."

At this point the men demanded to know what in the world we were talking about. I told them there was a 'leaded turd' the the ladies room. They demanded I take photos. So I did. Same procedure as before. A shot of the bowl before, followed by a during flush shot, and finally an after photo complete with the water trail present as the bowl refilled after flush. 

So I put a trip to the Oban Inn on my places to revisit list. I am very sad to report that the world will never know if the leaded turd is still there because the Oban Inn was boarded up. One could speculate that the local health inspector shut the door because of unsanitary conditions in the waste facilities.  

But, Oban is gorgeous!

Oban, Scotish Gaelic for 'little bay' is a quaint seaside town full of fishing boats, ferries and history. It's actually the seafood capital of Scotland. As with any Scottish town, be prepared to endure at least a bit of rain; whether it be a dampening mist or an all out downpour. Here's the Bean marveling at the boats at the shoreline as we departed the train station:

I am very please to announce we have been able to introduce boats into Bean's list of things he is excited about. I am happy to move, even ever so slightly, away from monster trucks, farm machinery and construction equipment for a while. 

It was too early to check into our accommodations, Cameron Guest House, owned by a lovely couple named Chris and Eiligh. This was not your normal B&B, as they did not serve breakfast, but she was able to recommend Carolyn's Cafe  a lovely cafe just up the street. We received 10% off our meal when we informed them where we were staying during our trip. If you get the bap, you'd better bring your hungry. It was a steal at 2 pounds ninety, and I couldn't finish mine. 

We arrived in the afternoon, and we just walked around reminiscing about our previous visit to Oban and found a table at the beautiful Columbia Hotel , had a late pub lunch and looked over the pamphlets we'd nabbed from the tourist information center. 

We checked in to our accommodations.

A fabulously restored guest house about a five minute walk to the middle of town and a 10-15 minute walk (depending on if you have a pokey child) to the ferry or train station. We booked a family room with one double and a single bed. The rooms were tastefully furnished and the en-suite shower had amazing water pressure. Here is me and the Bean intrigued by some Brit TV (note the monster truck):

Before dinner we took a stroll up the seaside to take a look at the swans and let Bean work off some energy on his scooter when the rain started coming down in sheets. As luck would have it we were a pretty good distance from our guest house. We ducked into Markie Dan's, another place we'd visited before and had a rousing time. We shut down the place back in '06 with the pub owner, several locals and three Australian triathletes who just happened to be taking tequila shots. They were slamming the shot, snorting the salt and squirting the lemon in their eye. Yep, quite an interesting night was had by all. 

We were eventually going to stop in and see if they remembered us from our visit before, only to find out the owner and his wife had split and sold the bar to the wife's sister. So, the moral of the story is nothing remains the same. The evening was not a total bust. The Bean tugged on my sleeve and pointed to some 'pirates' who'd entered just shortly after we arrived. 

It turns out that the 'pirates' were dudes from Germany who were avid bikers on a trek to a convention. This pirate's name was Hans. He was such a sweet guy. His motorcycle had a teddy bear strapped to the windscreen. Yep, gotta be careful with those biker types - they'll cuddle you if you're not careful.  

Once the rain stopped we walked down the main street and placed a to-go order at the Oban Fish and Chip Shop, the very fish and chip shop that Rick Stein touted as 'the best fish and chips' he'd ever tasted.  We had just watched an episode of Rick Stein eating 'the best' food in another exotic location,  so we wanted to try the Oban Fish and Chip Shop for ourselves. (Since Mr. Stein's declaration, there has been a bit of a war going on between two local chip shops as to who has the 'best' fish and chips.)

Well,  I should say, the Bean and I tried it. The Hubs wanted Chinese food and was rewarded with the 'worst Chinese food he'd ever had.' For a man who loves his Chinese food, this was a bold statement and further reinforced his dismay when he promptly walked back up to the restaurant and demanded his money back. If the Hubs says your Chinese food sucked, then your Chinese food probably did suck. If you are ever in Oban, do not patron the Crystal Palace. 

I have to say, even without dining at the other chip shop, they did have some of the best fish and chips I'd ever eaten. The Bean asked for seconds. The portions were huge and the fish was awesomely fresh. Well, they probably had just gotten it from the bay that afternoon, so about as fresh as you can get without pulling it from the water yourself. 

We did a bit of shopping Monday morning and then hopped the ferry to the Isle of Mull. This was fun. Bean had never been on such a big boat and you can imagine his frothing-at-the-mouth excitement when he was able to watch all the cars, lorries and work trucks boarding the ferry with us. It was pretty cool to see the hull of the ship open like a giant mouth and let the autos board.

Us on the ferry:

 And here is the house I would love to call home:

A picture of a cool cruise ship hanging out in the bay:

The ferry ride was pretty darned cool. You can tell by the gray sky that the weather was kinda dreary, but when we got to Mull it cleared off briefly and the sun came out for approximately 10 minutes. We poked around for a bit and headed back to Oban. I could post more shots of the trip back, but if you want to see those you'll have to be at my house this Saturday night for the PowerPoint presentation. (I would say slideshow, but I would be telling my age and some people may not get the joke.) I'll probably post them on Facebook...

When we got back to Oban we took Bean to the shore to play for a bit. He really liked throwing rocks and seaweed into the frigid waters. I had to explain (multiple times) that his scooter may not be used as a flotation device nor would it scoot on water. Ah, the inquisitive mind.

I briefly turned away from my shell hunting to see Bean holding a wine bottle. My first instinct was to yell "DROP IT", but then I realized the bottle had a message inside. Oh joy! Then I had to yell "HOLD IT -WAIT" as he was about to follow directions (rare) and chuck the bottle back into the surf. I was unbelievably excited to find a message in a bottle! The Bean- not so much:

The message was from a 6 year old girl who asked that we let her know when her bottle was plucked from the water. I sent a message to the email address provided, but at this date have not heard back. I did give the bottle and note to Bean's teacher because, as luck would have it, the class theme this term is 'all things seaworthy' so they will prepare a package to send to the little girl. (Yes, I will be getting my bottle and note back.)

No trip to Oban would be complete without a trek to McCaig's Tower. Its a pretty good hike up to the monument, but along the way you pass the 'art district' of Oban and some fantastic examples of the phenomenon known as 'graffiti knitting' or 'yarn bombing'.

Yep, that's flaming dog poo. You might want to have your pooch checked out...

Once you drag your otherwise energetic child to the top of the hill you are rewarded with some fantastic views of the bay and Oban proper.

Here is my child photobombing the Hubs at the top of the tower.


This trek concluded out stint in Oban. What a fabulous time. We hauled our belongings back to the train station for the return trip to Glasgow. The return trip is always quicker because you are rolling down the mountain instead of the train huffing and grunting up the mountain. The scenery never fails to leave me in complete awe.

One last shot of the Bean and Hubs on the ride home:

Yep, that's a combine harvester and Grave Digger. Oh and my next, next post (I have one more day to report in Glasgow) will be the MONSTER TRUCK SHOW this...Sunday!SUNDAY! Sunday! And yes, I am going to the pit show. Would you miss the van from the A-Team? Kit from Knight Rider? The General Lee? If you said 'yes' then obviously you are not a boy Mom, nor a child of the 80's.

Until next post.....



  1. Glad you all had a good time.....And perhaps next time your hubs visits a fishing port , he will eat some fish ?

  2. I know! He wanted the 'chicken and mushrooms' from Aunt Cathie's but couldn't wait any longer. I tried telling him that nothing would live up to the one-of-a-kind taste from his childhood, but sometimes you don't argue with the brick wall.