Scottish Memories- Fort William to Inverness

This is another look back to a post from my early blogging days. On this day in 2014, I posted the third in a series of posts about our visit to Scotland in 1990. I have edited it slightly but it more or less as I wrote it at the time. I don’t think it is likely that I will ever visit the UK again but when I dream of places I would like to see again Scotland is always one of them.


This is the last post about our trip to Scotland in 1990. We were only there a week. How I wish we’d had longer. I guess that’s why I’m so attracted to television programs and films set in Scotland. Not “Braveheart” though. Too bloodthirsty. I preferred “Local Hero”. On television I liked “Shetland”, “Hamish McBeth”, “Taggart” and “Takin’ Over the Asylum” (even before I’d ever heard of David Tennant).

Our train is delayed.
Our train is delayed.

The last leg of our journey was partly based on “Confessions of a Train Spotter” an episode of  the BBC television series “Great Railway Journeys”. The narrator of this episode was Michael Palin and I sometimes wonder if it was this program that started him on his career as a globetrotting documentary maker. In this episode he travelled from London to the west coast of Scotland by train ending his journey at Kyle of Localsh. We loved the scenery so much that when we planned our trip we decided that we wanted to see the West Highland line and Kyle of Localsh too.

Fort William

Loch Linnhe near Fort William

By Nilfanion (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

First we travelled from Glasgow to Fort William which is on the shore of Loch Linnhe, a large sea loch on the west coast. That journey was very scenic and we didn’t even mind the signal failure that delayed us en route. Our “Let’s Go” guide book described Fort William as being a climbing centre for nearby Ben Nevis and rather a boring town but we really liked it. One day while we waiting at the railway station  I saw a railway cleaner washing a carriage on the platform . Cleaning trains was my job in Adelaide at the time and I often did exactly the same job myself. I remember thinking that it would be nice if I could exchange jobs with that person for a while and stay in Fort William for longer.

We had been staying in youth hostels for a couple of weeks so in Fort William we treated ourselves to a bed and breakfast place. There were a few other guests who we met at breakfast the next day. A lady who had just returned from a trip on a sail training vessel which we saw in the loch later and another Australian couple who were a bit younger than us. I’m sure most people know about the concept of “Six degrees of separation”. Well we had that experience. We chatted to this young couple and it turned out that they were from South Australia like us and they lived in a nearby suburb. But the best part of the story happened more than a year later back in Australia. One day when David was on the train home from work, he met the guy who we’d met in Fort William and discovered that he and his wife had moved to our suburb. What are the odds of that?

Loch Linnhe at Fort William.
Loch Linnhe at Fort William.
Sail training ship on Loch Linnhe
Sail training ship on Loch Linnhe

At Fort William we had haggis for the first time; we liked it. We had plunger coffee for the first time at the cafe in the Mountain Shop which probably started our coffee addiction.  We had a huge pot of it for a Scottish “poond”. We walked 3 miles from the town to the beginning of the path to Ben Nevis.  Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland at 1344m (4,406 ft). We had no intention of climbing the mountain although many do, we knew our limitations even in those days. The photo that David took of me at Glen Nevis is one of my favourites and that day was one of the best of our entire trip for me.

Near Ben Nevis
Near Ben Nevis
On the slopes of Ben Nevis pretending to be a mountain climber.
On the slopes of Ben Nevis pretending to be a mountain climber.

We also went on a bus tour to Glen Coe scene of the infamous massacre of the McDonald Clan by the Campbell’s. Our guide, if I remember correctly, said that the historical facts of the massacre were not quite the same as popular history suggests. Of course he may have been a Campbell himself ! However there has certainly been a lot written on the subject, some of it factual and some not so much. I did have to agree with our guide that the scenery alone is worth going there for whatever the truth of what happened is.

The West Highland Railway

Another highlight was the train journey from Fort William to Mallaig on the West Highland line. In summer you can ride a steam train on that route but we were too early in the season. However it didn’t matter. It was another day of beautiful views and impressive railway engineering. In particular the fabulous Glen Finnan Viaduct. You can’t actually appreciate how amazing this is when you are on it as well as you can in this photograph.

Glenfinnan Viaduct.jpg
Glenfinnan Viaduct” by de:Benutzer:Nicolas17 – Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Mallaig is a fishing port and we enjoyed wandering around the town for a few hours. The fishing boats were very picturesque. I would have liked to have taken a ferry to Skye from there. It’s certainly a place I would love to visit again.

Fishing boats at Mallaig
Fishing boats at Mallaig
Fishing Boats at Mallaig
Fishing Boats at Mallaig

Kyle of Localsh

Our journey to Kyle of Localsh from Fort William was an anti climax in some ways as we had to take a bus, a very crowded bus, which we were obliged to stand up on for most of the journey. As I am short that meant that I was not able to see very much of the scenery.

At that time there was no bridge to connect the town with the Isle of Skye so we took the short ferry trip across to Kyleakin, so that we could say that we had been “Over the sea to Skye”. The bridge was opened in 1995 and it is now free to use, initially it charged a toll which became a contentious issue for local people, so much so that many refused to pay it. The toll was removed in 2004. We took a photograph of the Kyle of Localsh Station sign but unlike Michael Palin we didn’t take a replica home with us. Nor did we sample the variety of malt whiskies served at the nearby Localsh Hotel. Instead we continued our journey by train on another scenic route, the line to Inverness.

Kyle of Localsh Station
Kyle of Localsh Station

Wick

At Inverness we stayed at a small hotel popular with rail enthusiasts. I had found the address in one of David’s rail magazines. They were happy to leave breakfast supplies outside our door when we chose to go out early in the morning on a day trip to Wick. We were a bit surprised that they left toast though. I hadn’t realised that in parts of the UK people ate cold toast.

Wick and Thurso are as far as you can go by train in the UK. We chose Wick as our destination for a day outing. Wick is a fishing port and once again I was captivated by the fishing boats. Wick was originally a Viking settlement and it would have been interesting to spend more time exploring the area which has ruins, walks and wildlife to see. I think a car would have been handy up here though.

Fishing boat at Wick
Fishing boat at Wick
Fishing boat at Wick
Fishing boat at Wick

Loch Ness

We couldn’t leave Inverness without travelling to nearby Loch Ness. We took a local bus to visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle. We also visited a local museum which had a lot of information about the loch and the various expeditions that had been made to try to find the elusive Loch Ness Monster. I have to say that on the day that we were there we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. There have been a lot of hoaxes over the years and I think that I would be sorry in a way if scientists were able to prove or disprove that there was a creature living in Loch Ness. The mystery of it is part of the attraction. Either way tourist operators and businesses in the region have done well out of “Nessie”. 

We watched the movie “Loch Ness”  released in 1996 which starred Ted Danson. It wasn’t a brilliant movie, we watched it for the scenery really, but we did like the ending where Nessie is left in peace. I thought the castle ruins were very atmospheric and I liked hearing the piper who was playing there the day we visited.

Ruins of Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness
Ruins of Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness
Urquhart Castle ruins
The ruins of Urquhart Castle from above
The Piper
Piper at Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

We left Inverness finally and took the train all the way back to London and then on to Bexhill-on-Sea to spend Easter before travelling around southern England and North Wales. As you can tell from how much I have written twenty-five years have not made me forget how much I loved being in Scotland and I’d go again in a heartbeat if I could.

 

Further Reading:

http://www.electricscotland.com/books/paterson/glencoe.htm – The Massacre at Glencoe

http://www.seat61.com/WestHighlandLine.htm#Fort%20William%20to%20Mallaig – The Man in Seat 61 blog

http://www.lochalsh.co.uk/skye_bridge.shtml – Skye Bridge story

http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index.htm

Vintage Wrecks at Willow Court

Another Trip to Willow Court 

During my holidays in August my friend Phillip and I went to Willow Court New Norfolk.It’s a place I love to go as it has antique shops, interesting gardens, a nice cafe and lots of old wrecked vintage cars awaiting new owners to restore them. I always feel both sad and excited to see them. Sad because they are in such a state of disrepair and excited because I love to see old vintage cars anytime. I’m really into old stuff so I just love Willow Court. For those who don’t know Willow court used to be a hospital. I’ll leave a link at the bottom of the page because it does have some very interesting history of its own. Now onto the cars. I hadn’t been here in a long while so there were a lot of different cars, trucks and buses including the AC DC tour bus I posted a few weeks ago. After visiting the two antique shops and having a nice cuppa in the cafe I walked around and got photos of most of the vehicles, mostly the ones that interested me. In some cases there was more than one of the same make. So here is my slide show of the many vehicles there that Saturday in August.

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https://www.willowcourttasmania.org/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-21/willow-court-asylum-converted-into-artist-studio/11228708

https://newnorfolkonline.com/listing/willow-court-antique-centre/

Here are a few links to check out if you are interested in Willow Court or antiques in general or maybe just check out the cars. If you do an online search you can find plenty to read about Willow Court and the old Derwent Hospital.

Mural at New Norfolk

Real Street Art V Graffiti

Now something I do not accept as art is graffiti. I hate seeing paint plastered over the sides of buildings, under bridges, on buses and trains, at railway stations and so on. People try to defend it saying it is street art. Vandalism is not art and there is no place for it in society.

I was in New Norfolk recently and we came across the back of this building which had been painted probably by an artist with these colourful murals. I was very taken with it and thought it looked fantastic. I expect they were having trouble with graffiti artists messing up the back of their business and got sick of cleaning it up. It would be a great shame if someone messed this up. I would much rather see this than so called street art everywhere. This is much better than the boring grey besser blocks too.

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A Night at the Museum

A Trip to “The Queen Victoria Museum” or QVMAG

While I was on holidays with my friend Phillip we decided that we would go to the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston to see the dinosaur display. We had seen a poster about it on a wall while we were shopping in Launceston one afternoon. When I told Vanda about our plans she mentioned that they were having some special night openings that we might enjoy. This appealed to us as we like going out at night and let’s face it there isn’t much to do anymore unless you like current movies or fine dining. Phillip and I are not into either so it’s a band if we are fortunate enough to find one or a pub meal and the pokies. We embraced the chance to do something out of the ordinary.

Years ago now we had wanted to see a display of dinosaurs and jumped into our car to go to one we thought was in a place called Mount Monster. It was a long drive and we did not see any signs pointed towards the dinosaur park we had heard about. We drove on several kilometres and no dinos to be seen anywhere. We would have been happy with just one in the end but we had to abandon the idea entirely. After driving what must have been close to one hundred kms from Adelaide it suddenly hit me that they had really meant Mount Monster was some ruddy great hill and not a dino park at all like Phillip had been told by some friends. Well we had a nice drive and a laugh about it at least. The day was not wasted. So fast forward nearly thirty years and we finally got to see some.

Well I have to say we were both very impressed. The dinos moved and roared and really looked authentic. They even blinked. They had done a wonderful job in creating them and making them move. Below is a slide show of the dinosaurs. I apologise for not knowing the correct names of the dinos. I did not write them down.

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There was a lot more going on at the museum apart from the dinosaur display. There were telescopes outside and we were able to view Jupiter and Saturn. I was amazed that I could actually see the rings around Saturn when it was billions of miles away. The astronomers said they were hobbyists and were only too happy to answer any questions put to them about their interest. It was a full moon too so we were treated to the beauty of the moon as well since it was a very clear night. It was freezing queueing for the telescopes so we went to the cafe inside the museum afterwards and treated ourselves to hot chocolate and cake.

Other things going on were lectures on the stars and science and planetarium shows. I would have loved to have seen the Apollo 11 display but it was not on that night and since Launceston was 113 km from my house I did not want to drive back again as we had already been there for shopping and the casino. I should say that all of this was for National Science Week and was well worth the long drive there and back. Below are some images of the program I saved from the event for anyone who would like to see what else was on at the museum during National Science Week last in August of this year. I think you can just about read the little writing on the program.

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A Visit to Reliquaire

Reliquaire

One day during our holidays Phillip and I visited Reliquaire which is a very interesting gift shop in Latrobe Tasmania. Reliquaire sells a very good range of gifts, toys and home decor items and we were surprised at the size of the store. It was huge and even had a cosy coffee shop tucked away in the back. There were some surprises to captivate adults as well as children in the way of displays. I took several photos of these and plan to show them to you today as well as giving you the link to their website. Those of you visiting Tasmania in the future might like to visit this fantastic shop. It is well worth your while no matter your age because you are sure to be thrilled with what you find. Latrobe is an easy drive from most places and only a short distance from Launceston. In fact we are lucky to still have this store as it burned down only a few years ago and has arisen from the ashes. It is as good as I remember it being and Phillip and I really enjoyed our visit there. 

Here are some links to the website.

http://www.reliquaire.com/

Here are some articles about Reliquaire

https://www.examiner.com.au/story/4970929/reliquaire-announces-reopening-date/#slide=26

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-24/latrobe-reliquaire-doll-shop-gutted-by-fire/7052380

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-24/latrobe-reliquaire-doll-shop-gutted-by-fire/7052380

Here are my photos from the new shop.

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These are just a few snaps I took. They had all sorts of stuff including stuff from Dr Who, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland etc. It’s well worth the look and Latrobe is a lovely town to visit. Reliquaire is on Facebook for those who are into social media so check it out soon. Thanks for reading my post today.

Snapshot Sunday: Snow

Snow, Vinces Saddle, Huon Hwy 25 August 2019

This morning I was heading out early to go to the Doll Show on the bus. It has been cold and it snowed overnight although it quickly started to melt once the sun came up. This was the scene at Vince’s Saddle, the highest point on the Huon Highway at around 8:15 am this morning.

AC DC 1973 Tour Bus

Today my friend Phillip and I decided to go to Willow Court. Those of you who visit our site regularly might remember my post featuring old cars for sale there. They are mostly very old cars and trucks largely in poor condition. I call it the car graveyard as the cars are wrecked but people buy them for parts or to fix up I guess. As there were a lot of different cars I hadn’t seen there I decided to get a few photos. Among them was a big surprise. The sign on this bus said it was the original AC DC tour bus from 1973. I was very surprised and took several photos and here they are.

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I’m not sure if Angus would find this very comfy to travel in now. It was full of junk and most of the seats had been pulled out. It really would be a long way to the shop to buy a sausage roll in this old bus. Still quite exciting to find it at Willow Court. Compared with the other cars, trucks and buses this one was in great shape. I was pleased since it was the AC DC bus. It’s part of rock and roll history.