Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day Trip to Arran

I haven't been to the Island of Arran for a couple of months. The last time I tried to go to Arran, the seas were so rough that the ferries weren't going. They stayed safe in the port until the waves calmed down. The forecast was for a bit of blustery weather, but nothing that would stop ferries from going.

I prefer to have company when I go across to Arran. It is a long day and the island is such a joy that I always like to have somebody to share the views and sights with me. The Man of the Place had to work and our youngest, George has school so I invited my friend Kay along for the day. She was happy to accept.

It was 5.30 when I set out from Whitelees. I picked Kay up at 6.00 and we were on our way.
See the blackness of a Scottish morning! This was taken in our drive.

We stopped for a quick breakfast and were at the ferry port in Ardrossan on the spot of 9.00 to pick up our tickets and get on the 9.45 crossing to Brodick.(winter crossing schedule)
Nice man at the ticket desk in Ardrossan. He blushed when I asked if I could take his photo.
Even though I do this a couple of times each year, it is still so FUN to take the car on a ferry!

It was a little bumpy getting out of the port but nothing too terrifying. Even though the sun had risen, low cloud obscured the view of the island during the trip across. Kay and I had coffee in the on board cafe and looked out the rain spattered windows. We both wished we could wipe the windows so we could see out better. It was cloudy and blustery on the island but from time to time throughout the day, we'd get times of sunshine.View towards the peaks from the road that goes across the centre of the island.

I dashed across the middle of the island to the new surgery at Shiskine. After stopping there for a bit, it was back to the Brodick side to show Kay where the seals normally sit.

Because I had somebody with me, there were no seals to be seen. When I am on the island by myself I can see up to 30 seals at a time. They'll be up on the rocks. There will be little seal pups and the colony will be barking away. This time there were a pair of swans, a couple of herons, cormorants fishing, a few eider ducks, a grey wagtail on the rocks plus a wren but no seals. The tide was pretty far out at about 11.30 so I said we'd try to get back there later on in the afternoon. The tide will be higher later and we will have a second chance for seal spotting.Then we had a flurry of activity. We stopped in Arran Aromatics and then went into Brodick so I could make my presentation.

Completing my appointment and leaving the surgery Kay was nowhere to be seen. I knew exactly where to find her. Four buildings away from the health centre is the James Chocolate factory/shop.The staff were quite happy for me to take photos through the glass viewing window. It reminded me of my friend Robyn who has just made a career switch from journalist to confectioner. Was there ever a better job shift? If you ever fancy a bus man's holiday during your visit Doc, I'll take you over to Arran!My last appointment of the day was in Lamlash, now made famous by being the site of Scotland's first No Take Zone! - I am determined to do a dive or two in this new area!

Kay and I had a late lunch of deelish Cullen Skink (smoked haddock chowder) and bread that is baked on the island at the Brodick Bar and then tried one final time to see if we could see some seals . . .
We found two seals but they didn't come out of the water. You can see a seal's head an the wake it is making as it swims along. That's it.
There are some stunning Scots pines right next to the road. Winter days are short this time of year and at 3.15 the sun was well on its way down. It did make for some beautiful light.

After buying some cheese, Kay and I returned to the port. We were booked on the 16.00 crossing back to the mainland. We were met by some tense faces when we got to the seafront. There was a technical difficulty with the ferry. (don't like the sound of this) One of the hatches wasn't sealing properly. The boat won't sail if one of the doors won't shut. Naturally Kay and I think that perhaps we won't be getting off the island today. Oooh! That would be an adventure! I was secretly hoping that would happen.

We left the car in the marked queue, told the ferry staff we were going for a coffee (Would they like one?) and went to the cafe across the road to sit in comfort. They had the BEST iced gingerbread there. Kay and I shared a slab with our coffee.
The sunset had some beautiful purples in it.

The ferry did show up - it was late because of the earlier techinical fault - but we got off the island. I was hoping to have to find a bed and breakfast, get sloshed on what ever is brewed/distilled on the island and have a rare old time and getting off the island in the morning. Going home was better. I got in at about 21.30 (9.30 pm). It was a long, but really nice day.

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