I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining,B. J. Thomas – Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
Because I’m free
Nothing’s worrying me.
Got up around 8.00am and went up to the saloon deck for breakfast, wandering out on the aft decks to see what the weather was like and inhaling a lungful of fresh, crisp sea air, with that clean smell of rain and a hint of salt. It was cloudy and there was a mist in the air, but it wasn’t actually raining (yet!)
I enjoyed a cup of freshly-brewed coffee with haggis and poached egg once again, then Skipper Jemma advised that we were waiting for the engineer to arrive to fix Greg and Lisa’s WC, which had become blocked and stopped working. The engineer was originally not going to come out as he said he was busy (!!) but as it would be very uncomfortable on a small boat without a working loo, Jemma insisted that it was important, and only fair to passengers who’d paid quite a lot of money for this cruise. The engineer said that if Jemma could take the Glen Rosa around to Oban, which wasn’t far away, he would meet the boat there, after lunch.
John, Isabel, Greg and Lisa decided to disembark after breakfast and get a taxi into Oban; they said they’d catch up with us later. Trevor and I, on the other hand, thought that as we were here in Dunstaffnage, which had a 13th century ruined castle and chapel to explore, we’d go and visit that. In any case, we felt we could do with walking a few miles on terra firma after our great adventure on the high seas yesterday!
Dressing in my walking boots, walking trousers, puffa jacket, and cagoule, we set off through the mizzle, waving to the others waiting for their taxi as we went. It was about a half-hour’s walk, which wasn’t unpleasant, and we arrived at the castle, paid our six quid each, and went up the steps and into the ancient building, which was built on rock on a small promontory. Whilst much of the castle was ruined, lots of informative plaques told us what we were looking at, and had drawings of how the castle might have looked once.
Inside the castle, we made our way up the narrow spiral staircase to access each floor. In some areas, playthings such as giant Connect 4 and giant Snakes & Ladders were set out to keep children amused; Trevor and I spent five minutes or so playing giant snakes and ladders – Trevor won. 🙂
At the top, we braved the wind and the drizzle to walk the castle wall, which afforded us great view over the marina, where we could see the Glen Rosa in her berth.
One thing that had struck us since we’d arrived in Scotland was how green the grass was; I don’t know whether it was all the rain they get, but it looks almost Photoshopped, the green colour is so vivid!
After we’d left the castle, we walked along through a small wooded area until we came to the small, roofless chapel. You could see where the double stained-glass windows would have been and the main door and altar, but that was all.
As we headed back towards the road, the rain started coming down harder, and we thought we’d seek refuge in the nearby Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), which welcomed visitors as well as having restrooms and a small café. 🙂
As we entered, we thankfully divested ourselves of our wet cagoules and, as I bagged a nearby table, Trevor went to the counter to order us a large white Americano each.
We sat there sipping the hot coffee, and then I noticed someone had left a voicemail on my phone. The signal here wasn’t particularly good which is probably why I hadn’t heard my phone ringing. Listening to the message, it was from Skipper Jemma who told us that John, Isabel, Greg and Lisa had decided to stay in Oban for their lunch, and were we coming back to the Glen Rosa or staying out too? What – miss chef Charlie’s culinary masterpieces?! I called Jemma back and we told them we’d be there in about 30 minutes.
We arrived back at the boat where Charlie had set the table for two, complete with a bottle of white wine in the ice bucket. It was a light lunch, but consisted of antipasti such as olives, sun-dried tomatoes, potato salad with smoked haddock (yum yum) followed by a whole baked camembert, freshly-baked crusty bread (still warm) and a bowl of home-made hummus. We washed it down with the crisp white wine and felt as if we were in a posh restaurant, with the excellent, attentive service thrown in for good measure.
Shortly afterwards, Skipper Jemma weighed anchor and we set off towards Oban, Glen Rosa gliding along on a much, much calmer sea loch. It only took about 20 minutes to get there, and we made our way to our berth which was close to where we’d started last Saturday. Looking up and seeing McCaig’s Tower overlooking the town, and along the harbour St Columba’s Cathedral, it hardly seemed five minutes since we’d left, and it reminded us (with a little pang) that tonight would be our last night on board. 🙁
Once the Glen Rosa was secured for the night, Trevor and I decided to have a beer and, as we did so, we spotted the other four coming along the pontoons. They’d enjoyed their morning/afternoon in Oban and had done some shopping. They joined us in a drink as we could smell savoury and appetising smells emanating from the galley as Charlie prepared “afternoon tea” for us.
I suggested to Trevor that it might be an idea to pack up one of our suitcases and put it into our car (which was still parked at the Lancaster Hotel) tonight, so it would not only free up some space in our titchy little cabin, but there’d be less luggage to cope with in the morning. Therefore, after we’d finished our drinks, I went down and put in the case anything else I wouldn’t need, then afterwards Trevor went down and did the same; there certainly wasn’t room for us both to do it at the same time! 🙂
Charlie then brought out to the table a large, home-made sausage roll with crumbled black pudding in it, and some barbecue sauce to accompany it. As ever, all you could hear was “ooh” and “aah” coming from our table as we all tucked in. 🙂
This was accompanied by either beer or gin and tonic, after which I disappeared below decks to try to smarten up a little with clean clothes and a bit of makeup. I’d given up with my hair by now; using a hot brush or straighteners in the compact space was quite a challenge, and in any case it would be a complete waste of time with the current weather. 🙂
Back in the saloon, we passed the time pleasantly while I caught up with this blog. The Glen Tarsan slid into her berth behind us; the other Majestic Line vessels would be along in due course, ready to disembark all their guests in the morning. 🙁
Dinner was amazing once again. We enjoyed canapés consisting of smoked salmon, cream cheese and caviar on a Scottish oatcake, as well as crostini topped with pulled beef, chilli jam and Stilton.
This was followed by a wonderful, perfectly-cooked ribeye steak in a rich sauce, accompanied by peas, asparagus, Chantenay carrots and mushroom purée. It was all washed down with a very palatable Shiraz (wine is complimentary with dinner, so we all made sure to drink our money’s worth!)
Finally, Charlie brought out a scrumptious chocolate orange cake accompanied by thick pouring cream. The whole meal was out of this world; I cannot imagine the prices posh restaurants would charge for this type of food and service. We followed it with a glass of amaretto, and sat back in utter contentment.
We sat around enjoying the conversation as usual, and as it had stopped raining and the night was calm and cool, John and Isabel went to sit at the table at the stern of the Glen Rosa while Greg and Lisa returned to their cabin, presumably to make a start with their packing. Trevor and I decided to go ashore and visit the Wetherspoon’s Corryvreckan pub again; it would also give us the chance of a walk after our giant meal, enjoying a stroll along the seafront in this charming little town full of character.
Off we went, through the streets where we passed a group of noisy lads in fancy dress on their way to a party somewhere. There weren’t too many people in the Corryvreckan, so maybe going out on a Thursday night isn’t as popular in Oban as it is in Durham!
We enjoyed a couple of drinks each, then took a slow stroll back, arriving at the boat around 11.45pm. To our surprise, John and Isabel were still sitting exactly where we’d left them at the stern of the vessel, and before we’d even sat down, Charlie materialised and asked if we’d like a drink. Trevor and John opted for a Laphroiag each, while Isabel and I said we’d have the spiced rum with Coke.
Afterwards we returned to the warmth of the saloon and, while John and Isabel said their goodnights and returned to their cabin, Trevor and I decided to have a nightcap each, putting off the inevitable moment when we’d have to go below decks to turn in for our last night on board. 🙁
It was 12.45am before we settled down in our comfortable bed (the best part of our cabin!) and fell asleep more or less straight away, lulled by the sound of the waves gently washing against the side of the Glen Rosa.