Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23 - Wet and Miserable

I am afraid its not nice weather in the Borders right now. The ground just doesn't get a chance to dry out with daily rain and cold. Tried to do a bit of cleanup today but it was hard going with mud on the boots and everywhere soaked.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blair, Bush and Cheney vindicated

The uprisings in the middle east this week and last may actually make historians revise their picture of Bush and Cheney and ultimately Tony Blair. Maybe they were right to see an underlying desire for democracy in Iraq. It certainly seems so, as one after another dictatorship plunges into flames.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oban - piazza

This is a sleazy kind of town, no good shops and nothing much to do, one wonders why its always rated so highly. The exception is the Pizza restaurant on the ocean front. This exceptional place serves high quality Italian food and excellent service without any fuss and very well priced, we had lunch for 4 for 35 pounds. The pizzas are odd more like sweet pasrty pies I thought but they work as the toppings are very good and fresh. Salads well dressed and crisp and good garlic bread. Unpretentious but excellent.

Restaurant web site

Monarch of the Glen

This is one of the best British TV series and is VERY much watched and admired in the USA and encourages visitors. Imagine then our surprise on trying to find Glenbogle. It a trek up from Fort William but not too bad a drive past a lovely old dam built in the 1800's. Unfortunately when one gets there is NOTHING to encourage toursim. One cannot see the Castke except from the other side of the Loch and indistinctly due to trees, the viallge does not make a fuss and basically one has a very frustrating experience. Come on Scotland get your act together. This is a great chance to develop a whole area for tourism sadly going to waste.

BBC web site for Monarch


The train ride from Fort William to Mallaig is wonderful and inexpensive, they had a family pass for 25 pounds for 4 of us. The scenery is stunning and don't miss this one its great. Unfortnuately Mallaig is a disaster, only one pub open who struggled but clearly did not expect tourists. The train was full and all the people wandered around a town full of closed shops (even the tourist office) looking for something to do for the 2 hours until the next train. The exception was Andy Race the fish merchant who was open and we got 30 beautifull still alive langoustines for 6 pounds, which we had that night with pasta. Very nice, but is it worth the trip for one good shop?

Andy Race website

Ben Nevis Ski

This was the best part of our trip by far. Ben Nevis is a great place, good skiing and we enjoyed the whole experience, from the gondola rides to the crisp white snow and the experienced instructors (our first time). Forget Fort William and the whole area, just go skiing. The only let down was the restaurant which served basically poor school dinners. Avoid this part and carry sandwiches.
Ben Nevis website

Crannog Seafood Restaurant - Fort William

What a disappointment. We had read glowing reviews and went anticipating a great evening. Lets start at the beginning, when one says seafood restaurant one assumes seafood, not three fish dishes and a steak as choices. The service was appallingly slow ans seemed unconcerned. The food we had was not bad, I had a halibut which was cooked ok, skin lacking in crispness but at least not overcooked. But they have strayed into "fancy" rather than tasty. The plate looked better than it tasted. Our boys had fish cakes which were just awful. Made with salmon and smoked haddock, the haddock overwhelming the dish so they really didn't need to add salmon. A very poor but veryu expensive meal, over 120 pounds for two plus two children, disgracefull.

Crannog website

Fort William

Fort William is a disappointing and dreary place. No good restaurants, no good shops, and overrated. Best thing we could say is it has a Morrisons and a Macdonalds. The town is pedestrian free, so you park and walk and find....nothing of interest at all. Don't bother.

Glencoe - Accomodation

Our family went to Glencoe during the Whit break. We stayed at a cottage owned by the Clachan Inn and it was a good overall experience. The cottages (they have several) are equipped to a high standard with everything you could need and are very warm and cozy. We felt they were let down a little bit by lack of maintenance, ie one or two lights not working, toilet seat broken in one bathroom, but these are just niggles really as the rtest of the place is very nice indeed. Can recommend.

Clachain inn website