The Tour pt 7 – Coats & kisses

The nonsense continues, still at Loch Lomond where we have been having a lovely relaxing stay. It’s Saturday afternoon and the site has been filling up gradually since Thursday with a mixture or caravans, motor homes and tents ready for the bank holiday. The number of brats, sorry kids has increased considerably too. Should be fun trying to get a shower tomorrow morning before we leave!

So, what have we done since Pt 6? Well, relaxed. A lot. There have been some lovely  sunny afternoons where we’ve been able to actually sit outside. My shorts have even seen the light of day for the first time and even the skipping rope came out. Once. The downside of all this relaxation time however is that Patsy’s wine cellar is now almost empty. Still, she should tow better now she’s not carrying as much booze. The car however is now taking the strain as I’m sure we are both heavier.

It appears to be mating season in the duck world. The female ducks seem to be spending all day being chased by a gang of males all hoping for a bit. Most of them however are offering stout resistance to the numerous advances. Maybe the rabbit poo is putting ‘em off.

The awning is down already. The forecast had promised rain and we didn’t want to be packing it away wet. One of the site wardens commented on our good sense and another caravanner followed our lead a little later on. it proved to be a wise decision as the heavens opened that night. We seem to have somehow given everyone the impression that we know what we are doing!

On Wednesday, after a very late start we had a drive down to Dumbarton to stock up on food and fuel. Honestly, half the trip seems to have revolved around petrol stations so far. Seriously, though, with the threat of a tanker driver strike still hanging around (unless it’s been sorted – we haven’t taken much notice of the news lately) I want to keep the car topped up.

On Thursday we took advantage of the local bus service for a ride to Helensburgh although given the cost of the tickets I think the reverse was true. Fortunately I had the exact money ready because they don’t give change. Looking at the age of our fellow passengers as we took our seats, we were the only ones that had handed over any money. Still, the helpful, friendly attitude of the driver more than made up for it. Now, please excuse me for a moment while I mop up the sarcasm that just dripped off that last sentence.

Helensburgh, situated on the banks of the Clyde was the birthplace of one John Logie Baird, inventor of the TV but to be honest it wasn’t the most enchanting place – undoubtedly the morning cloud and chill wind didn’t help create a good impression. We did spot a black swan on the river bank though.

Having bought some more bits and bobs – there always seems to be something you need, doing this caravan lark – we stopped for a cuppa at a lovely tea rooms overlooking the pretty main square. I did notice one or two questioning glances in my direction as we walked around. It seems a trench coat and Aussie style bush hat – both black, obviously - are not the usual mode of dress in these parts!

We returned to Luss around lunchtime as the cloud began to break. We had a chat with a woman on the bus on the way back – well, she chatted and we tried to listen. Her accent was so broad neither of us had virtually any idea what she was on about. We just nodded and grunted in what was hopefully the right places.

On Friday, with another cloudy chilly day expected we were back in Helensburgh again, bay car this time, although the lure was the railway station for a trip in to Glasgow, some 45 minutes away. We’ve ‘done’ Glasgow before – most recently three years ago when we went up for a wedding – which you can read about here – it’s a city we quite like and provided a break from the unrelenting natural beauty which surrounds us. I’d been warned about getting a ‘Glasgow kiss’ but just assumed that was the natives way of getting friendly. We were deposited at the Queen Street station just up from George square where a big wheel has appeared since our last visit, almost identical to the one in Brighton. Anyway, we had a good walk around and returned mid afternoon with bellies full but shopping bags, unusually empty. Whichever way I tried to spin it to myself, a stunning ankle length, fitted black leather coat spotted in a shop window does not constitute essential equipment for caravanning. Pity!

This morning, deciding that we just hadn’t got through enough diesel yet, fired up Jessie and headed out and across to Garelochead which sits funnily enough at the head of the Gare Loch. Wonder where they got the name from. Anyway, the drive across the hills was spectacular although there were not many opportunities to stop and take photos. The view, when we reached the Loch, even more so. The Faslane Naval Base, home to the Royal Navy’s fleet of nuclear armed submarines and occupying a  large portion of the eastern bank provides a stark contrast.

The road crossed over further up and was soon hugging the banks of Loch Long. A huge oil tanker appeared in our vision and we were soon surrounded by the large tanks of the Finnart terminal – crude oil is offloaded here before being pumped  to Grangemouth refinery 60 or so miles away. We returned back to base via the Co-Op at Balloch at the southern end of the Loch for yet more provisions – well pie and pizza actually! A note here to Co-Op management (as if they’re likely to be reading it!). Send some of your staff from down south up to this store. They might learn something about customer service.

So, off to Oban tomorrow – well a few miles outside of it. After an easy week the sightseeing resumes in earnest. There are, I’ve been told one or two distilleries around these parts…..

We have had to do some forward planning to make sure we have somewhere to stay over the approaching holidays. Sites are filling up and at present we will be in Blackpool for the diamond jubilee long weekend. It was the only site in the area with availability, however the reason why soon became apparent. There is a biker gathering directly opposite the site and lots of loud heavy rock music is promised. Oh well, might be lots of guys in leather if nothing else…..

Right, that’s another one done. I do hope you are enjoying the blogs. It’s always great to hear back from friends and catch up on gossip at home, particularly as we are away for so long, so please keep the emails coming. It’s great to hear from you (Mr Turner,take note am still waiting!) If you get this via email you can simply hit reply or if you’re reading the blog version you can send one to: tubbystar@gmail.com.

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