We had some English visitors for the weekend – and it was great fun meeting them for the first time (although we’ve known each other for years on Facebook!) Being online friends sometimes isn’t enough and we invited Debra and her daughter Annette to come visit us – turns out to be a brilliant decision as we had a great time.
The ladies booked a sleeper journey from Euston on the Caledonian Sleeper and then came to us via the local Glasgow train service. As Sandy and I waited at the station to pick them up, the squally rain showers were zipping along the Clyde – and we started to worry that we would be house-bound for the weekend.
Ok, the weather was dry when we got out of the car at the top of Carman Hill – hoping to see a great view over the Clyde estuary – the low clouds had other ideas for us, though. As we drove along the banks of Loch Lomond, there was no sign of Ben Lomond at all and the weather seemed to be closing in completely.
So, ever brave, even though there wasn’t much sign of good weather, we decided to go on to Inveraray. We commented that the roads were quite busy – and then realised that the Scottish schools were on mid-term break (Tattie Holidays!) and, when we reached Inveraray, it was really quite busy. Bracing – but definitely busy.
Yes – you’ve spotted that Debra and Annette found some sunshine – and, although it was bracing, the scenery was stunning. The Clyde Puffer, the Vital Spark, was tied up at the pier.
Now that we’re semi-retired, we get to explore a little. Perhaps that’s over-stating it as we do sell online and have to be around to manage the orders, but if we didn’t afford ourselves the luxury of day-trips, life would be a little boring.
So far this year we’ve visited two different coffee shops. The first was in Broughty Ferry. We went to the amazing Visocchis – Italian Coffee Shop and Ice Cream Parlor, Broughty Ferry in Gray Street. As it was just after New Year, there weren’t many places open and the place was jumping. We were lucky, though, and found a table for four. Visocchis specialise in pasta and pizza and their own, delicious home made ice cream and cakes. I ordered lasagne and the others ordered Paperdelle Visocchi and Fettucine Al Salmone – rave reviews all round. The ice cream deserts met all expectations, too. Would we go back? Definitely!
The next day, we decided to visit The Smiddy at Doune – run by the Blair Drummond Estate. It’s brand new (opened just before Christmas 2016) and looked interesting, set back from the junction of the A84 and A873. The building is brand new and nicely laid out. Walking through the farm shop and gift shop, you come to the dining area which has a view out over open fields.
I had the steak pie from the lunch menu – while Sandy had one of the specials, gammon steak, egg and chips. Both really tasty.
Sitting and watching, the staff were very attentive and food was made to order. We did notice that some diners were getting a little impatient waiting for a soup order but again, it was a busy day and the staff were obviously dealing with orders as they came in.
Do you enter competitions? I don’t do it often enough but nowadays, with the ease of access of the internet, it can be great fun and there’s always a possibility that you will win the prize!
Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac) competition for August is a trip to Arran and Islay for two plus car with a couple of nights accommodation on each island – and I think that’s a great way to get a taster of the Scottish islands.
I really would love to win this myself but, hey, I’d also love to see Scotland buzzing with visitors, especially if they’ve managed to win a prize from Calmac!
Keep an eye on this page – I’ll be adding more Scottish holiday competitions when I find them online! Good luck 🙂
It’s been about five years since we last visited Glamis Castle; it was a chill November day and we had got lost trying to find Broughty Ferry (don’t ask!) and so we ended up at Glamis instead. It turned out to be a fortuitous mistake as we just loved our tour of the Castle and our lunch in their coffee shop. Scottish November days, though, get dark very early and we didn’t have time to visit the gardens.
We had the chance to visit the castle recently; because time was short, we decided just to explore the gardens – we were so glad that we did because we discovered just how amazing and accessible they are. The walks are well organised and flat, so if you’re not very fit, they are a great way to get some exercise. We explored the walled garden, the pinetum, the Italian garden and some of the magnificent lawned areas; all very impressive.
Hopefully we’ll be back soon to explore some more of this historical castle.
It’s official – we’ve retired from the shop in Helensburgh – best wishes to Bill, Christine and family who are now running Argyll Chandlers Ltd from our former premises at 89 West Clyde Street. It’s been a blast, being in business in the town for 26 years but we’re taking the foot off the gas a little bit and starting to enjoy our retirement.
So, I hear you ask, why did you mention semi-retirement??
Well, we’re still selling online on the internet – it would have been too much of a shock to stop work altogether – and that will allow us to do some work most days while giving us the freedom to have days out, work in the garden and catch up on friends and family – but not necessarily in that order.
Here’s to keeping in touch with our online friends and family!