Oban to Paris – September 14

As a point of interest, Argyll means coastland of the Gaels. In 1891 the Highland Association was formed in Oban. I did not sleep well last night. This is a recurring pattern for the last night of our holiday. We were out of bed early, packed and went down for breakfast. We then took a slow walk, stopping for espressos at Dolce Vita before going to the Oban Distillery. It was founded in 1794, first brewing ale, and was instrumental in the development of Oban’s industry. We then check out and made our way to Inverawe smokery where we bought smoked salmon pâté for lunch. We did the riverside walk to a small loch where you can do some trout fishing. We headed down the road past Loch Awe which is used for hydro power. We then drove pas Loch lubhair again before going on a new route to Loch Earnhead. The soles of Dave’s shoes had broken off, so we put them in the clothing bin. Hopefully they get donated after being glued back on, and not chucked away. We drove through Comrie which is really pretty and stopped at the Famous Grouse experience. This is at the Glenturret distillery which is Scotland’s oldest distillery having been established in 1775. Our next stop was meant to be Stuart glass factory but there were no signs in Crieff where it was. We followed a narrow track down to a Pictish stone – we took a photograph of the replica as the original is in a Church. Next stop was for fuel – just £5 to get us back to Edinburgh. (1.079) at Tesco’s fuel. We parked in the old part of Perth’s city centre and I bought treats at Thornton for Dave and I and Dave bought a new razor foil at Boots. We then headed for the airport which is really well signposted. We got the car Bach at 15:05 – 5 minutes before we clocked over to the next day. So the delay picking up the car should mean a day less of charges. We checked in, went through security and tasted the Laphroaig an Cuan Mor – the big sea. Full of sea salt and peat. Will look for this at home. In the lounge I had a Spey 12 year old and Dave had a glass of Merlot. The flight was delayed due to a flock of birds on the runway. This did not affect us at all as we had plenty of time to waste in Paris. There were lots of well armed army personnel and security has been beefed up a lot since our arrival in Paris! Once through security we tried the Grey Goose toasted wheat vodka which was really good. Pre dinner treats were Ladurée macarons. Pistache and citron for Dave and fleur d’oranger and café for me. We bought tomate sechée piment a espelette from Maille and after walking through the shops had a brief sit down before getting on the plane.

OBAN TO PARIS – SEPTEMBER 14

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Islay to Oban – September 13

We were up early and relaxed before heading down to breakfast. We packed up, checked out and made our way to Finlaggan. This was the ancient seat of the Lordship of the Isles from 1329 – 1493. The island is named Eilean Mor and on it there is a chapel ruin with 4 graves, a 16th Century house ruin and a scattering of ground stones representing some of the 20 buildings that existed here in Medieval times. We then went to Caol Ila which was established in 1846. We drove alongside the water, opposite Jura to Bannahabhain – pronounced Bannahavain. Established in 1881 this distillery has a stunning view but the staff were not that engaging! On the drive back we spotted a golden eagle. We got to Port Askaig an hour early! We walked around the port, bought crackers at the shop and had espressos at the hotel. The hotel, shop, ‘garage’ (one fuel pump) and self catering cottages (2) are owned by Iain and Marion Spears. They have a captive market! The place could do with some TLC and a friendlier attitude. We are on the same ferry as on the way here. The staff work 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, living on the ferry while in port. The hotel must do a thriving business from the crew each night. We had lunch in the cafeteria of the Hebridean Isles and then espressos in the coffee bar. We spent a lot of time on the deck basking in the sunlight. We watched the bow lifting when we docked at Kennacraig and drove off the barge at 15:10 with the weather a warm 18 degrees. We followed the route we came in, until Adrishaig, where we turned off for Oban. We stopped to look at the Kilmartin crosses from 900 and 1200AD which were found in 1860 and the 23 stones which date from 1200 – 1712. We then drove past an unmarked standing stone just before Ardfem. We arrived in Oban just before 5 and parked alongside a slew of B and B’s and hotels. We chose the Corriemar Hotel for the night. We took an hours walk through the town, gazed up at McCaig’s Tower and had a half pint each at Coasters. Doom bar Cornish ale for Dave and Belhaven best for me. Dinner was at Oban Fish and Chips as Rick Stein said it was the best fish and chips he had ever had (in 2002). We had 500g of mussels to share and a fish platter for 2. This consisted of generous portions of sole, hake, cod, halibut and haddock which were all excellent. Plus a plate of chips each, and sides off tartare sauce, coleslaw and mushy peas. Our last stop was at Coasters for a tot each of Speyburn 10 year old.

ISLAY TO OBAN – SEPTEMBER 13