Category Archives: National Park

Mallacoota

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

In February of this year, we bought a Travel Auction package we saw advertised on TV to a Mallacoota caravan park. In these auctions, you are told what it would cost, then you make a bid-the top 50 bids win. The parks RRP for a 10 night stay was $330, we bid $180 and won. We then had to pick a date for travel within 12 months of winning. Mallacoota is right on the Vic/NSW border, so close to 520 kilometres from Melbourne OR Sydney you wouldn’t argue about it, and considered one of Victoria’s most remote towns. It has a population of around 1000 that swells to about 8000 over the summer holidays (that’s why we came just before!)

We left Daniel’s place in pouring rain (the wettest we have ever had to pack up in) and headed east of Traralgon for the very first time with the van.  As we travelled, we realised why we’ve never come this way before with the van-the roads are a disgrace to the state of Victoria. So very rough towing a van!

One patch of about 1 kilometre of road outside Stratford was so potholed, we just knew we’d arrive to all sorts of mess inside and we weren’t wrong. We have a portable oven, hotplates and fruit bowl that fit neatly into a spot on the bench beside the fridge and above the built in hotplates in the van. That stuff has travelled all over Australia sitting there but when we arrived and opened the van door in Mallacoota, it was all strewn all over the floor. Squished tomatoes, avocados and electrical goods covered the floor!

Mallacoota

Mallacoota

We set up in the rain and it continued for the next 20 or so hours without a let up, but Sunday afternoon it cleared for a while so we managed a drive 3 ks out of town to the very beautiful Betka Beach to take a look and some photos. Wow, what a lovely spot to have to ourselves.

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

Monday, we braved the wind and took the boat out for a bit of a fish. The boat played up-coughing and spluttering and generally being a bit scary to be out in that wind. The fish were hiding and it was a waste of time for a number of reasons. We came back in and Russ arranged to have the boat looked at by a local mechanic the following morning.

Tuesday was a perfect day for fishing, so after collecting the boat from the mechanic, followed by an early lunch, we set off out. The boat seemed to be going well, then once again, it started spluttering and coughing-so much for the miracle fix we’d just paid for! Never mind, it was a super calm day, so we just limped out a tiny way, parked up in a pretty spot and started to fish.

We only brought 7 fish into the boat, but all were well over size so we counted it a great success. We came home with 5 flathead and one bream, returning one 33 cm flathead as that’s just too small to bother with at the fish cleaning table. Fish for dinner Wednesday night, and some for the freezer.

Tuesday night, we had a yummy dinner at Lucy’s Handmade Rice Noodle Shop here in town. A funny little place where you grab your own wine glasses, water,condiments and hope the food you ordered makes it to your table. We had the best steamed bbq pork buns I’ve ever had, fried pork dim sims I’d have not known were dim sims if I hadn’t ordered them (hand made and so different from shop bought), really delicious chilli prawn salad and fried rice. The bbq pork buns were ordered as pork noodles but somehow got lost in translation so we missed out trying the handmade noodles. Oh well, now we have to go back!

Shipwreck Beach

Shipwreck Beach

Today we hung around the van, watching the cricket, until the boat-motor-fixit-man called to say it was done. By the time he called, it was too late to go fishing, so we went out to Shipwreck Creek and Beach and Pebbley Beach for a drive. Back home, we had our flathead tails for dinner.

Flatty tails

Flatty tails

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Back in Perth then off across the Nullarbor

Manchester to Abu Dhabi

Manchester to Abu Dhabi

We arrived back in Perth on October 16th after what seemed like a particularly long flight. We got held up boarding in Abu Dhabi then held up again on the tarmac. Not what you need with a 12 hour flight ahead. Neither of us got more than a couple of hours sleep and I felt the service by Etihad’s cabin crew was a bit slow and surly.  I was hot and thirsty and it was hard work to get a glass of water.

Harry

Harry

We spent two nights in a motel near Todd and Deb’s so we could catch up with them and Harry which was great as we hadn’t seen them since Iona and Simon’s party in Leeds 4 weeks before. Deb cooked dinner the night we arrived, the next night we went out for Chinese in Vic Park and the following day, we had yum cha in Vic Park. It was all excellent.

On Saturday night, we stayed with our friends Charley and Beaty-we met them many years ago at a caravan park in Denham and have remained good friends since. Beaty cooked us a lovely dinner and we caught up on all the Shark Bay news.

Monte Casino

Monte Casino

Sunday, we drove to the farm at New Norcia where our van was stored with family on a farm there. I can’t tell you how nice it was to sleep in my bed, with my pillow and doona etc-so lovely. I hadn’t slept well since we got off the plane and didn’t again on the Sunday night, but Monday, I slept like a log finally. I had that trouble the last time we came back from the UK, but it wouldn’t stop me flying!
Wheat Monte Casino

Wheat Monte Casino

It was a lovely visit to the farm as usual. Pam and Carson organised a bbq on our first night, then Russ and I made fish tacos on the second. In between packing up the van and shopping for fresh food for the trip ahead, we  had time to get out and about round the farm to see the crops, and to see a huge mob of ewes and lambs being drafted for shearing the following day.

Faces in the flock

Faces in the flock

Carson had shot and frozen us 9 rabbits and they gave us plenty of lamb they kill and some beef. Our freezer is filled to bursting as we still have about 20ks of fish and crab meat in there too.

It was sad leaving as I doubt we’ll be back in WA next year for any length of time, but Lewis is working on us to go to Bali in January which we may do.

The actual Nullarbor Plain

The actual Nullarbor Plain

Tuesday, we hooked the van up and started our 3500km drive home.  I always think it’s such a long way, but once we’re out on the road, I love the trip. It’s not all as flat and featureless as my photos show it to be-there are some lovely treed stretches. This time too, there was lots of water lying about and quite a few wild flowers early on, so really lovely.

On night one, we made it to the former gold rush town of Coolgardie, night two we got to Cocklebiddy, last night we made it to Nundroo Roadhouse and today we arrived in Streaky Bay.

Without looking it up, I think we’ve come about 2100 of our 3500 so far, but we are staying here for 6 nights so we can do some fishing and crabbing-something we haven’t done since the end of July and are missing badly. Crossing into South Australia, we only had to hand over a bit of lettuce and a wedge of lime to the quarantine man so I reckon we shopped pretty well. Our first job after that crossing was to go to the supermarket in Ceduna and stock up-we were both shocked yet again at the prices and are seriously considering a move to the UK where most things are so much cheaper!

After we leave here, it’s two nights/3 days on the road to Portland where we’ll stay 2 nights, a night in Port Fairy, another in Warrnambool, then on to Traralgon where we’ll base ourselves for the next few months.

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End of the holiday

Yorkshire Moors

Yorkshire Moors

Our 10 week and 4 day holiday of the UK and Switzerland is almost over. Just two more nights, before we fly back to Perth.

With a change in our plans to visit Wales before we left to go back, we decided to visit one of the areas we’d driven through a couple of times but not really explored.

We tried to book a cottage, but had trouble paying as we had next to no chance to get onto the internet on the boat. In the end, we chose another cottage whose owner made the payment process so much easier. We booked it Friday at about 11 am and arrived at about 4 pm and collected the keys.

I didn’t research this place-just trusted the woman when she said it was really nice. As we drove there, I said to Russ I hoped it had wi-fi, a wood fire, a comfy bed and decent pillows and a separate shower. Not only did it have the lot, the fire was lit and we’d been left fresh home-baked scones, jam, butter and laundry detergent to do a load of washing.  All this and 70 pounds cheaper than the other place I’d tried to book. Because it sleeps 6, it’s super spacious with big rooms and well equipped full kitchen.

The MoorsThe cottage is on the outskirts of a  really pretty town called Matlock which is on the border of the Peak District and right by the Yorkshire moors and dales. We’ve spent our 3 days here travelling up and down dales, across moors and around the Peaks. It’s quite heavily populated, but so, so beautiful. The area was the centre of the industrial revolution so there are lots of old factories, remains of lead and coal mines too apparently,although maybe they were underground as I haven’t really noticed them. Along with the factories and mines come the rows of workers houses in all the villages and towns.

Little Castle Bolsover Castle

Little Castle Bolsover Castle

As well as quite a lot of driving in the area, we managed to visit a couple of Castles (Bolsover and Peveril), a big car boot sale and the Masson Cotton Mill museum over our three day sale. Bolsover was great, Peveril was up such a huge steep hill we gave up and sat and just enjoyed the views. The cotton mill museum was interesting as we made it in time to see several of the machines working.

Masson Cotton Mill

Masson Cotton Mill

What a great holiday we’ve had. My good friend Deb asked me what was the best bit. After thinking about it, I think the whole trip was better than we expected and there was very little in the end to complain about.

I won’t miss 6 foot wide roads and the 127 million people that seem to use them, stairs, crappy pillows, toilets that have to decide if they’re going to flush, hand held showers over baths, dogs (or their leftover smells) in restaurants, cafes, apartments, cottages, boats and in national parks.

I will miss our friends, our little car, amazing scenery, history everywhere and fantastic supermarkets.

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Loch Ness, Isle of Skye and Speyside Steam Train

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

We had three full days before leaving our accommodation on Loch Ness this morning and making our way here to Edinburgh.

Driving down along the Loch Ness South Trail

Driving down along the Loch Ness South Trail

After our huge day out of Inverness on Thursday,(we didn’t get home until 9 pm) we had a relaxing morning, lunch at home, then drove around what they call the Loch Ness South trail. It has a stunning viewpoint about half was down the loch over another couple of other lochs and along the Great Glen. It’s a narrow little road, but with not much traffic on it, it was fine. We also took a detour of that road and visited the Falls of Foyer. It looked like it’d be a good walk to the bottom but we quit at the first lookout when it started rain.

Falls of Foyer  were much taller than they look

Falls of Foyer were much taller than they look

Saturday we set the alarm and got away pretty early (for us) to the Isle of Skye. It was only 57 miles from our accommodation on Loch Ness to the Bridge of Skye, then we did about 120 miles on the island and finally the 57 home.

Skye Bridge

Skye Bridge

It’s a really ruggedly beautiful place and it was hard not to stop every hundred metres for another photo. You get great views of the Hebrides, picture perfect villages with tiny whitewashed cottages, tall mountains covered in mist, waterfalls and of course the occasional castle ruin. We lunched at Columba 1400 in Staffin-it’s run to benefit kids in trouble and Russ’s burger and my pannini and soup were excellent .

Speyside steam railway for lunch

Speyside steam railway for lunch

Sunday we had booked ourselves lunch on a steam train that operates on a 10 mile stretch of track out of Aviemore (75 miles from Loch Ness). I wasn’t really holding great hope for the meal but was honestly surprised at the quality of food we got. Russ had Pate, roast beef and apple pie, I had lentil soup, poached salmon and apple pie. We got a side of veg with our mains and coffee and home made fudge to finish. It was lovely to have an Aussie couple beside us-two federal police from Canberra on holidays in Scotland and Ireland for 7 weeks.

Speyside steam railway for lunch

Speyside steam railway for lunch

After lunch, we drove out to a reindeer farm. In 1952 a Laplander came to the area on his honeymoon, discovered the local reindeer had been hunted to extinction so he and his wife and 8 reindeer moved to Aviemore. The herd is able to roam free in the alpine national park for a lot of the year but they are pretty well domesticated and easy to get up close to. It was a bit overpriced and quite a hike up to the holding yards, but I’m so pleased we did it.

Reindeers

Reindeers

Today we drove to Edinburgh where we’ll spend the next 4 nights. It was a nightmare finding our apartment and another nightmare finding our parking place when we’d unloaded our gear. The car is in a parking building about a mile from here! We had problems connecting to the internet and using the TV but it’s all sorted now and we’re relaxing with a bottle of bubbles before we have Chinese for dinner.

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Loch Ness-the mistake

Beauly Pass

Beauly Pass

In hindsight we should have moved further north than from lovely Loch Earn to Loch Ness.

We have based ourselves a week at a time in self-catering accommodation and taken drives of the local area. After 3 days here, one drive back we fancied doing would have us crossing roads we’ve travelled before, and to get further north, takes a lot of miles. Not ones to beat ourselves up too much for our mistakes, we’ll put up with it, but will know better next time we visit. The roads in Scotland have been good with much less traffic than England and Wales, so it’s much easier to actually drive further.

Loch Ness from our apartment

Loch Ness from our apartment

On arrival here, we were upgraded to a two bedroom apartment. It’s lovely, right on the loch in a nice, quiet part of the complex. We’d cooked ourselves a lovely dinner and were sitting relaxing (purring almost) when I took one more look at all the correspondence I’d had from them over the last couple of months before I deleted it. Imagine my shock and horror when I looked a little further down the page on the last one and found our “upgrade” appeared to have actually cost us a further 170 pounds or Aus $350 for the week! I was sick. I was so sick I couldn’t sleep.

We headed to the office here but it turns out whilst they do the bookings, they don’t handle the money so I emailed what I thought was the office in London but it wasn’t (see my blood pressure rising here). However that e-mail had gone to a bigger sort of boss who sent it on, then kept on it, until it was sorted it all out for me and we didn’t pay the extra. It’s a nice apartment but not that nice!

All this took most of the first day here for someone to say “no, you don’t owe the money”, so day one went by in a daze of tiredness and annoyance, and was a day wasted. In a big holiday of over 10 weeks that we (mostly I) organised ourselves, that one hiccup so far is pretty good! All we did that day was drive a little way to the Loch Ness Experience at Drumnadrochit.

Home of the Loch Ness Experience Drumnadrochit

Home of the Loch Ness Experience Drumnadrochit

The “experience” is a series of 6 rooms with movies and displays basically explaining why there CAN’T be a monster in the loch, and while it was ok, it’s not something I would tell any of you you need to visit. But then I could have gone to the most exciting show on earth and felt down-I just wasn’t in the mood. I slept all the way home in the car too (apart from stopping to take a quick photo of Urquhart Castle).

Urquart Castle on Loch Ness

Urquart Castle on Loch Ness

The most often seen photo of the “monster” is a fraud-the man who took it has since admitted this. There is not enough food in Loch Ness to support a creature the size Nessie is supposed to be and bubbles seen often our end and near the entrance into the loch from another river are just methane bubbles (caused by rotting vegetation) rising to the surface. So there, it’s a hoax to keep tourists coming back. Or is it……….?

The highlight of that day was dinner-Russ cooked me a beautiful forequarter (shoulder) of roasted scottish lamb with roast potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, peas and broccoli and gravy and mint sauce. He went out in the garden here and picked the mint for the mint sauce!

Victoria Market Inverness

Victoria Market Inverness

On Wednesday, we drove to Inverness where we did a bit of shopping in the Victoria Market (now converted into 47 lovely little shops), and just strolled around town. We crossed a huge bridge onto The Black Isle and stopped for lunch at North Kessock. It was nice to find a tourist info place with picnic tables and toilets for a change although picnic tables seem slightly more common in Scotland than England as do public toilets!.

Cromarty

Cromarty

I loved the little village of Cromarty on Cromarty Firth and wish we’d stayed there instead of Loch Ness. Loch Ness is lovely but, as I mentioned too close to Loch Earn. The Cromarty Firth is home to a number of oil rig building and maintenance yards so there are quite a few of them sitting out on the water. Sounds ugly and industrial, but somehow it wasn’t.

Lighthouse Chanory Point

Lighthouse Chanory Point

Beauly PassWe came home over the Beauly Pass through some gorgeous country. We’d just passed something dead on the side of the road (and no, we didn’t eat it) when I saw a lovely fence dripping with mosses and lichens. We stopped the car, took a photo of that, then went back to investigate the dead body. It was a badger. Not long dead, he was much bigger than I thought a badger would be. They are protected in Scotland and we found out later, we should have rung the badger society so they could come collect him. Dinner was a quick pasta of Scottish smoked salmon and was delicious. I also made a beef curry for dinner the following night in case we got home late from what looked like being a big day out.

Dead Badger

Dead Badger

What good luck I decided to make that curry. We left home at 10 am and didn’t return until 9 pm. I drove and I feel like I drove right around Scotland yesterday!

Back and through Inverness, we drove to Fort George Via Ardersier where we lunched at the common and took a walk along the stony beach. Near there, we stumbled upon an amazing, organic, on-farm cheese factory at Connage. We both love our cheese and Russ is a bit of an industry expert, but we both walked away gob-smacked. The friendly, knowledgeable staff helped us to buy more than we would normally, but it was all too good. If it wasn’t made by them, it was made pretty locally and made well. I bought a bag of Scottish tablet (a sickly sweet condensed milk toffee I think) so have tried that now and don’t need to again.

Heading to the coast and driving through the very pretty town of Forres (it won something for all the floral displays in town) we stopped by a huge carved Pict stone, then a bit further on came across Duffus Castle just sitting in a paddock.

Duffus Castle

Duffus Castle

There’s been a castle on the (man-made) hill since the 1100s, but it’s just ruins now. Still, it was a really lovely spot amongst the farms and little towns and we especially enjoyed having it all to ourselves. The only disturbances were about 4 fighter jets taking off from an airfield nearby and a farmer harvesting some sort of dried beans we couldn’t identify!

Findochty

Findochty

Along the coast, we drove the Scenic Coastal Route through a number of delightful little seaside towns-old fishing villages. Most seemed unspoiled and not at all touristy. My favourites were Findochty and Cullen. Finally at about 5pm, we turned for home. Our chosen route was 150 miles long and that took us along the Malt Whiskey Trail, the Speyside Trail, and the Wildcat Trail. I now think I’ve seen every major whiskey distillery in Scotland as they seem to all be along the Spey River. Name one! I’m sure I drove by it! And yes, Scotland has wild cats. Much like a domestic tabby cat, but with slightly longer legs, a much longer tail, and a bigger head. But we didn’t see one.

Driving through Aviemore, we saw a little snow on the hills behind. After that, it got dark and started to rain, then it got windy and started to pour. I was never so glad to arrive home at 9 pm to my curry waiting and some delicious cheese for supper!

We have lots of rabbits and birds on the grounds of the Highland club and every morning and afternoon the rabbits are out feeding. Most are just babies so have very little fear of us. They come in all colours too so black, white, grey, brown and brindle-they really are cute. But I’d like a couple to eat!

Out front our apartment Highland Club Fort Augustus

Out front our apartment Highland Club Fort Augustus

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Perth

Meigle House steading

Meigle House steading

Thursday 18th, while Scotland voted Yes or No on Independence, we drove to Perth to do a bit of shopping. It was raining and miserable, so we stopped at a Tesco supermarket, did our shopping and drove on, not getting a look at the town I imagine gave it’s name to the city of Perth in Western Australia.

At Tesco, we were thrilled to get a fresh duck at a very reasonable price (Aus $14) and hovered over another Guinea fowl but decided against it.

Meigle Church where they found 30 Pict carved stones in the church yardWe drove on in the rain to the small town of Meigle to visit the Pictish Sculptured Stone Museum. The museum houses around 30 stones and fragments (mainly from the church next door) and is really quite interesting. More interesting though to me is the fact that Meigle is the oldest known settlement in Scotland-it’s been inhabited since before Christ was born, and the church graveyard is believed to be the site of Lady Guinevere’s grave.

Pictish Sculptured stone museum

Pictish Sculptured stone museum

On the way out of town, I stopped the car in the rain to take a few photos of a building I noticed on the way in. It was falling down and covered with moss and lichen, grass and shrubs, and looked more like the earth itself than a building. I had to come home and Google to find out it’s the Meigle House steading and no one really knows who built it and when or why they did.

Meigle House steading

Meigle House steading

We were almost home (still raining) when I spied a dead pheasant on the road. It took about a kilometre to find a somewhere to turn around but I did, and we went back to check it out. It’s quite accepted here to pick up roadkill (but you mustn’t be the one who kills it) rather than see it go to waste, and I’d seen that this bird looked good. Russ leaned out and felt it was till warm, so scooped it into a bag and we went off home with our prize. He’s on the menu tomorrow night. It’s pheasant and grouse shooting season here now and the birds are everywhere. We’ve been keeping our eyes peeled for a fresh kill since we got to Scotland!

My pheasant plucker

My pheasant plucker

Dinner Thursday night was pan fried Scottish salmon served on creamed leeks and pea and potato mash and was mighty fine!

Salmon

Salmon

Today, (after a quick check to find out the vote was No) I got onto Tripadvisor to find somewhere to go for a drive. I found a castle in a fairly remote spot on the way to Oban-a town which lies at the end of Loch Evite on the North Atlantic.

We drove to Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe (certainly was Awesome), then through the Pass of Branda, to Aird Bay on one end of Loch Etive, for our lunch.

Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe

Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe

Castle Kichurn was all the reviews on Tripadvisor promised. Not easy to find, but remote and quite lovely sitting beside the loch. It originally stood on an island but had silted over over the centuries. It’s free, has no gift shop and is still well maintained with quite a bit of info on boards throughout. Some of the stairs were really narrow-if my bum was any bigger I think they’d have needed the jaws of life to extract me in one place! It was a great find!

Airds Bay on Loch Etive the old pier

Airds Bay on Loch Etive the old pier

One of us forgot the bread for our sandwiches (we had all the fillings) but we were able to buy a few bread rolls at a roadhouse along the pass so all was saved. We lunched at the Bay of Aird on a very untouristy part of the pretty Loch Etive. It was so unspoiled and undeveloped it really felt like a step back in time. The grassed pier and (rather old) new jetty beside the rotting remains of the (very) old one were lovely for a few photos.

Airds Bay on Loch Etive

Airds Bay on Loch Etive

After lunch we drove into the very pretty town of Oban and took a walk around the harbour and shops before heading home and cooking our duck.

McCaigs Tower Oban

McCaigs Tower Oban

Ducky was meaty, lean and delicious, and I made an apricot sauce for him with apricot preserves given to me in Switzerland by my dear friend and blogger Adriana. Her preserves were full of fruit, not at all sweet and made the base for an amazing sauce. * Here’s a link to her beautiful blog artandkitchen

Apricot sauce for duck (or chicken or pork)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion or shallot
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 cup apricot preserves-best quality you can get
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (add it slowly, tasting, until you like it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
  • 1/2 cup rose (or white wine)
Apricot Sauce

Apricot Sauce

Method

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli a few minutes until softened.
    Add the preserves, vinegar and sugar, stock powder and wine.
  2. Cook a few minutes to reduce, then taste and add more sugar or vinegar if you think it needs it.

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Scotland

Hikers in the moors

Hikers in the moors


As mentioned, on Saturday September 13th we and about 90 others went along to Simon and Iona’s wedding and 40th birthday party. When they married in December 2013, they had a small wedding ceremony with 18 people attending, so it was always their plan to combine something for it and Simon’s 40th.

It was a lovely, relaxed day at the Pudsey Cricket Club rooms. We all took along a plate of food to share, giving us an amazing lunch, Simon took along his pin-ball machines and they hired a jumping castle so heaps of fun for everyone. If you didn’t fancy jumping, lots of comfy chairs to sit and watch!

Iona and Simon cut the birthday cake

Iona and Simon cut the birthday cake

On Sunday after a brunch at Pudney Wetherspoons, to celebrate Pauline and Phil’s 40th wedding anniversary, we began our drive up to Scotland.We’ve done a bit of criss crossing and back tracking on this holiday so once again, we drove quite close to Scunthorpe at one point and Windermere on another. As Aussies, we don’t think too much about driving 190 ks to shop in Geelong from Warrnambool, but some here are amazed . We have found it’s not the distance, but the time it takes to drive it. The roads (including the motorways) can be pretty slow at times.

Peebles Scotland

Peebles Scotland

Anyway, we finally crossed the border into Scotland arriving in Gretna. We spent our first night in Lockerbie.

I’d heard how beautiful Scotland is, but arriving there, then skirting Glasgow the next day, I was sorely disappointed. I didn’t find it at all beautiful. However driving on here to St Fillans on Loch Earn, things improved a great deal. Finally we were amongst the craggy bare hills, driving along narrow, windy roads, through forests and tiny villages along the lochs. The sort of Scotland I’d imagined!

In Lockerbie, we stayed in a lovely pub/B&B overnight. We were eating in the dining room-enjoying a good feed and nice bottle of wine when a couple walked in with a boisterous, long-haired spaniel. I immediately started to sneeze (and sneeze and sneeze) so WE had to move to smaller dining area where dogs aren’t welcome!

B&B Lockerbie Scotland

B&B Lockerbie Scotland

Lockerbie was the site of an air crash in 1988 when a Pan Am jet bombed by terrorists exploded over the town. All on board and 11 townspeople were killed. The debris from the crash was spread over 2000 square miles. It’s a bit of a grim place, but the towns people fed all the emergency people involved, and washed and ironed all the clothing in the luggage on board after it was deemed of no interest to the investigation, and before it was returned to relatives.

From Lockerbie, we made our way to our cottage in St Fillans about 150 miles away. This puts us in the Perth Shire and what they call the heart of Scotland. It’s really beautiful!

Our cottage here is tucked away along a muddy lane running behind one of the local pubs. I’d say it originally belonged to the large house that sits in front of us, as the two buildings seem to have once shared the garden between. Sounds like we are shoved away round back, but we have lovely views from our sitting area of the lake! The cottage is the dearest (by 50 pounds a week) we’ve stayed in so far, but it’s also the nicest. It was renovated to a really high standard just two years ago and is just gorgeous. It’s just a pity that once again they allow dogs. Any dog staying in Scotland would mostly come inside wet and the place stinks of it-particularly the floor rug, one of the sofas and a throw rug (I had Russ throw it outside in a bag as it was the most offensive). Good on Australia for not allowing dogs in hotels, motel, cottages, restaurants, cafes and all other places. I’ve figured if you see a couple in a holiday spot here without one or two dogs, they’re not Poms! Love them, love their dogs!

Craigdarroch Cottage St Fillans

Craigdarroch Cottage St Fillans

Loch Earn by our cottage

Loch Earn by our cottage

On day one here, we took a drive around Loch Earn-it’s not a big loch being only about 10 ks long and 1.5 ks at it’s widest but it’s so pretty! It’s stocked with trout and salmon, so plenty of people fish here, and it’s home to a lot of water sports.

In the afternoon, we drove around Loch Tay then came home through the moors. Our little car nearly let us down on the road up into the moors. At one very sharp corner on a particularly steep part of the road it almost refused to go on. The moors were fantastic and even better for not seeing another vehicle on the way across. We’ve been across other moors in England, but always shared the roads with lots of cars, buses and lorries-this was such a treat.

Loch Tay

Loch Tay

As we reached the end of the moor road, we started to see plenty of grouse and pheasants and plenty of signs warning us to drive slowly and take care because of them. At the crossroads we saw a village hall and all the shooters. Dressed in their brown corduroy trousers, green wellies and peaked caps, all driving old landrovers, they could have stepped out of a TV series on country life!

Hikers in the moors

Hikers in the moors

Ben Lomond on Loch Lomond's eastern shore

Ben Lomond on Loch Lomond’s eastern shore

Yesterday (September 17th) we took a long drive to Loch Lomond. It’s considered the very best of Scotland’s lochs but we might be a bit biased now and think our little less touristy and more remote loch is nicer! It (Loch Lomond) is big (23 miles long) and has Ben Lomond (Scotland’s second highest mountain) shadowing it on it’s eastern shore, but we just weren’t as amazed as we expected we’d be.

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Our little loch was looking particularly pretty in the morning before the wind got up, as was Loch Lubnaig. We stopped at Loch Katrine but didn’t take a boat ride on it as the wait was too long. After lunching beside Loch Ard, we drove up one side of Loch Lomond but didn’t stop. It wasn’t easy to access the shore and where we could we couldn’t get a car park. We drove on the Balloch and spotted a boat cruise-as it happened, the next was in 5 minutes so we grabbed our tickets and jumped on board. The town of Balloch was full of tourists and the boat was crowded but the hour long tour gave us a look at the lake and a really good commentary on the history of that end of it.
Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

From Balloch, we headed home via Tarbet and the quieter end of the lake. We could have taken a cruise here and think we’d have enjoyed it more but it was time to get home and make dinner-Sottish rump steak so tender you could cut it with a spoon (well almost!), mushrooms, wedges and a big salad.We we stopped at a lovely farm shop for some local cheeses and cream, then made a final stop on the way at the Falls of Falloch for a walk and a few photos. What a great day!

Falls of Falloch

Falls of Falloch

One thing we’ve both enjoying is the roads. Scotland may not have the biggest or best roads, but with so little traffic on them right now, they are lovely to drive. It’s so relaxing after England!

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