Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Over, Under And By The Sea

Blairdrummond caravan parkrhododrendrons and a chocolate cake in the oven.
“That was some excellent reversing! I could never do that!” the man in the neighbour pitch announced after Timo had parked our caravan to the most beautiful camping place we had ever seen. Large rhododendrons were blooming all around us. “Would you like to drink tea or coffee?” his wife asked. I was quite confused. During the over 5 months of travelling, we had never had conversations with other campers. Just the polite “Good morning!” and that’s it. I told the lady I’m a coffee drinker, Timo drinks tea and our child likes hot chocolate. She disappeared in their own caravan and arrived after a while with three large mugs. What an excellent start for our holiday in Scotland!

Left is the new right

We had planned to spend the whole of June in the UK after UKGE. We had several team members we wanted to see, and Scotland was an area that really interested us. I didn’t dare to think much of that month beforehand, because the left side traffic gave me nightmares.

We arrived in the UK via Eurotunnel, under the sea. Not the cheapest way, but very easy. Although, so far the only passport control we have had, was in Calais where police officers also checked our caravan. In Finland, there has been news about the illegal immigrants' attempts to enter the Eurotunnel, so we were not surprised by the strict security checks.
The further north we drove,
the more amazing was the view.

The left side traffic did require some attention though. In all the crossings and roundabouts it was good that two people looked at where the other cars might come from and to which lane we are supposed to go.

The British Weather

After the nice and sunny time in Italy and central Europe, we were prepared to have a bit cooler June, with a lot of rain. You know, the typical British weather. But as we learned already in March: there is nothing typical in this year’s weather!
"Hector was here."

The beautiful, sunny weather during UKGE continued for the whole month. OK, the Hector-storm went over us in Edinborough and dropped a 5-meter long branch of a tree at the camping site. Then it was raining for a day, but even the rain was warm!

From island to another

The magical Fairy Pools.

The friendly neighbours at the camping site recommended us the Isle of Skye. We had been warned about the narrow roads in North, but they had been there with a caravan with no problems. The Isle of Skye has a special meaning for Timo. He has been playing for years a role game that happens on the island. So we decided to go there, to see the Fairy Pools and other sights he has been walking for years in his imagination.

Our caravan on a ferry to the Isle of Skye.

We were supposed to take the new bridge to the island, but I forgot the tell that to the navigator. So we ended up straight to the ferry harbour. And of course, we couldn’t fit into the next ferry (we needed a place of 6 cars). Driving to the bridge would have taken 3 hours, so we just waited, had lunch and enjoyed the lovely sea view. Did I already mention, that it was sunny and warm?
"So long as the gorse is in flower the kissing season is open."
An old saying I heard, and learned the gorse blooms all year round.

I had expected Scottish hills to be covered with grass, moss, heather and rocks. Of course, those existed, but the number of blooming flowers was surprising. Not only the tree-sized rhododendrons but also other bushes and trees, covered in golden yellow. I saw irises and orchids, stonecrops and wild roses. Many of them similar to home. And my soul enjoyed every single one of them.
Timo on the corner stone of the covenant of Talisker in Ars Magica. 

The Jewel Among the Slate

Väinö tried slate mining.

After an excellent week around Scotland, we headed to the Snowdonia area in Wales. There we had one colder and misty day, but we spend it underground in the old slate mine. The over 100 years old mine area provided many attractions to tourists. And due to that fact, that our home floors and yard is covered with slate (from Alta, Norway), I felt like home walking across on the grey stone.

The precious jewel of our trip turned out the be Emrys, the owner of Llys Derwen Camping in Snowdonia. We left his campsite in the Midsummer eve, planning to have a barbeque in the evening with our friend at Silverstone. To make a long story short: wrong road choice, too narrow and going up to a steep hill, caravan tire exploded, reversing broke the clutch (again!), we got stuck in a curve and blocked the whole road.

The pretty red car of Royal Mail stopped close by. Fortunately, mailman's tour ended right before our caravan, so we didn’t stop the mail deliveries. I asked the mailman our location and contacted, once again, The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (ATCF) for towing help. To Bwlch. I had to spell it many times. Welsh names are lovely!

Timo phoned Emrys, and he came to wonder about the situation. Before the British partner of ATCF even managed to confirm the request of help, Emrys had organised us a new tire, car towing and repair for the clutch and a tractor to pull the caravan back to his camping site. All this in the weirdly pleasant sounding Welsh.

Grandma’s Stories

Our family will never forget that Midsummer. I burned my neck spending hours in the sun, waiting for the towing on the hilltop, looking at the fantastic view of mountains and sea. Sheep, falcons and wild goats wondered of our caravan blocking the road. We had a great evening at Emrys’ camping site with other campers sharing our experiences and Scottish whiskey.

I bet when I later tell this story to my grandchildren, they will reply: “Don’t exaggerate grandma! We can believe everything else, except that it was warm and sunny all the time!”

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