Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fine Day for a Drive

It was one of my days to go across to Arran yesterday. As ever, this means an early start. Polly and I were out of the house by 04:30.

Sadly with roadworks, I was late getting to Ardrossan and the ferry terminal. I should have given myself a little bit more time. When at the top of the hill above Adrossan, I could see the ferry in port. Nuts! When I got to the ferry terminal, the big doors in the front of the ship where the cars roll in and out were just closing. OK - There is nothing we can do about this. I decided that I'd go seek out some breakfast and wait for the next ferry.

In the UK, there really aren't any doughnut shops. You know, sometimes I could really murder a nice fresh doughnut and a cup of weak coffee. (note to self : STOP thinking about doughnuts)

It was too early for the cafes to be open. The only places available to eat were the coffee shops attached to large chain supermarkets OR McDonald's . I went for The Golden Arches.

After picking up my mcbreakfast in the drive up window, I took Polly down to the seaside. The tide was out and the beaches were empty. This meant that if I walked along the waterline, the dog could have a nice romp about. The beaches at Ardrossan are of the shallow sloped sandy variety. When the tide is out, they are really out. Strolling along, trying to keep my exuberant dog somewhere nearby, I noticed three different varieties of seaweed. There were long swathes of detached kelp that had washed up. There was this very green lettuce-y stuff that looked nice enough to eat and this interesting seaweed that was covered in little air bladders.

Exuberant dog

Sea weed with little air bladders.

Sand castle.

It is the sort of beach where cockles live. There were thousands of old cockle shells strewn in the wet sand, exposed by the low tide. Lots of little indented holes in the sand showed me that cockles would be living under the sand. In addition to cockle shells, there were razor clam shells and mussel shells. No wonder wading birds like coming here. There's lots of food.

Here is a shot of oyster catchers.

The sky was a cloudless blue but the air was a bit hazy. Arran wasn't very visible from Ardrossan yesterday morning. Some mornings, it looks close enough that I could swim there.All the windmills at the top of the hill overlooking Ardrossan were spinning in the very gentle breeze. I like windmills. I like the way they look. I think they're pretty.Polly and I caught the 9:20 crossing to Brodick. The ship was jammed full! I forgot that it was still the Easter break. Schools both in Scotland and England don't go back until next week. I should have just left the dog below decks in the car, but I wasn't to know that the upper decks would be filled with children running around and screaming those excited I'm-on-holiday high pitch screams. I spent the bulk of the crossing calming her down. She wanted to play with all those nice children and make friends with all the other dogs on board.

We arrived in Brodick on Arran right on time. I still had a bit of time before my twelve o'clock appointment, so I went to get all my regular island visit things accomplished.

First off, over to see the seals. No seals again this trip. Nuts! Not even a hint of a flipper.

I headed back towards town and into Arran Aromatics where I picked up a number of bottles of my favourite bubble bath. I only ever find the Honey and Orange Blossom scented stuff in the factory shop on the island so I stock up when I get there.

Then it was over to James' Chocolate factory. I picked up a box of treats for The Man of the Place and a box for me to nibble on the way home.

The weather was gorgeous. Brodick Bay was a still and smooth as a lake. The water was crystal clear and very inviting. If I didn't know that it was freezing cold, I would have been very tempted to go for a swim.

Brodick Bay - As smooth as glass

Bicycle hire, souvenirs, ice cream and mini golf

I've never seen the little island so full of visitors. This must be a taste of what the island is like in the summer. Things are so busy in the summer that the doctors won't make appointments to see sales reps. We only see the doctors outside the main tourist season. Because I only ever go to Arran from the autumn through to the spring, the sky has never been cloudless. This is the first time I've ever seen the island on a day when it's warm and cloud free. It is nice to see little girls running around in summer dresses, people eating ice cream and hiring bicycles. Having said that, I don't think the island's natural beauty is at its best on a sunny day. I prefer the dramatic lighting of a partly cloudy day. Goatfell looks much prettier with a light dusting of snow.
When I begin my appointments on the island, there is very little time between them. This keeps me focused on my job. By the time the last doctor has had the benefit of my dazzling promotional skills, it is time to head back to the ferry terminal.

I made my return appointments before leaving the island. I'm not back there now until mid-September.


susan said...

It's nice that you could sneak a little pleasure in before the work. What a lovely place. I do so love the water

Joe said...

Gorgeous! I can almost smell the salt air looking at those pictures.

The Bird Woman said...

The doughnut shops tend to be down south, Peggy. There are quite a few Krispy Kremes - but the closest to us is in Birmingham. Other than that, they're all dotted around London, I think. Probably for the best, really :o)

I'd prefer a Subway, though. Yummy!

Adrossan looks lovely.

NurseWhoLvdMe said...

What a quaint and beautiful little place. I love the way windmills look too. It may be because we don't have any in Mississippi and they still feel a little exotic to me.

If I ever get the chance to come to Scotland, you must be my tour guide. :)

mrs k said...

Beautiful Brodick and spoiled by the windmills. If you lived near them you would hate the noise and not think they were pretty. They are being removed in Blyth Northumberland as they have not proved to be as useful in generating as was first thought. The people who live close by are very happy to see them go. Peace and quiet again.

Betty said...

Beautiful photos, Peggy. And, the water does look inviting.

Dogbait said...

Do you have to go to Scotland to get cloudless skies? I've never seen any in England!

Kell said...

This was a wonderful post--thanks for sharing your trip to Arran with us. It's been on my list for awhile now of places I'd like to go. After reading this, now I really want to go!

Ex-Shammickite said...

Today I have learned something from this post, and the ensuing comments.... that there are actually doughnut (Donut to N Americans) shops in UK!!!! WOW, I didn't know that! There's nothing like a coffee and a Donut to help pass the time while waiting for the ferry. Arran looks lovely, what a wonderful place to go to appointments!!

Jay said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. It looks like so muhc fun.

Maybe I should move to Scotland and open a doughnut shop?

I'm sure you've told us before, but what kind of dog is Polly?

Peggy said...

susan - I'm glad I could "take you with me". I love the water too.

joe - If anybody needs a day at the seaside it are the world's overworked accountants during tax season. Hang in there pal.

the bird woman - Don't tell me! Krispy Kremes in Birmingham? Now I'll have to drive south.

nursewholvdme - It is beautiful. Of couse I will be your guide. You just have to get here first.

mrs k - Brodick doesn't have windmills, Ardrossan does. I'm sorry you don't like them. I DO!

betty - Thank you for the compliment. It was peaceful, once one gets away from the holidaymakers.

kell - I'm sure you'll get there next time you come to Scotland. There is a distillery on the island. ;-)

jay - I love my day trips to Arran. If you opened up a doughnut shop in Scotland, I'd be grateful (and fatter). Polly is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier whose legs are too long (possibly crossed with something). I got her from a rescue association as a pup.

Peggy said...

Dogbait - You know from experience that Scotland doesn't hold a monopoly on blue skies. They're just much more rare here and therefore noticed and appreciated.

Tink said...

I'm kind of glad you missed the ferry. Otherwise you wouldn't have gotten such awesome pictures. I love finding other people's sand castles on the beach. It's like discovering a lost empire.

J-Funk said...

What a pretty day! Thanks for the photos, it was kind of an adventure for me just to look through them.