Tuesday, January 31, 2006

With marital devotion, the Silver Vixen has kindly shared with the Gorse Fox her cold virus. He is now slowly drowning in a pile of discarded tissues, and peering at the screen through streaming eyes.
He has decided to defer today's planned trip to Worcester.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Silver Vixen was feeling pretty rough, and as the house was still chilly, GF suggested she stay in bed.

Back to earth with a bump. Trolls have been massing in the Gorse Fox's absence and today it seemed like a concerted attack. Between troll attacks GF worked on his presentation for Thursday's workshop. There was some retro-blogging filling in the odd moment between attacks and charts.

To make the day complete, just as the presentation was reaching its conclusion, the workshop for Thursday was cancelled. Just perfect.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The pictures shown in the blog were only a subset of those taken. If you wish to bore yourself further with even more photos of our trip to Loch Lomond, you can see them here in flickr.

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Ooops

Someone was going to be upset.

As we watched the comings and goings of the airport an Aviance tender chugged by towing several trailers of luggage. A bag fought hard, and managed to break free of the others and jump clear onto the roadway. Trouble is, the bag did not have the wherewithall to make good its escape, and just sat there.

Airport trucks whistled by and ignored it, as did a security truck. It was only when another tender came the other way that the bag was recaptured and returned to a holding cell in the terminus. GF suspects someone was going to be a little upset when they arrived and found their bag was not in the vicinity.
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Buchanan Place

Glaswegians making the most of the winter sun criss-crossed the extensive shopping areas. Some just sat and chatted, others just sat on the steps. It was a glorious day, but we had to move on, return the hire car, and fly back home.
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Some of Glasgow's more decorative architecture.
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Trongate Roots

Possibly not the most celebrate of Glasgow's buildings, but this block (140-144 Trongate) is where the Gorse Fox's Gt-gt-gt grandmother lived, and the derelict site on the right is where his Gt-gt-gt-grandfather lived and worked after returning from his career in the Army in India.
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Glasgow

Sunday morning saw a leisurely start, another massive breakfast, and check-out from the hotel.

We headed down to Glasgow. As we drove south the cloud cover broke and the sun came out. Glasgow was awash with the weak winter sun, and whilst still quiet when we arrived, it brought out the shoppers in their droves as the morning progressed.
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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Blush of Dusk

By the time we arrived back at the hotel, Ben Lomond glowed red in the last throws of the winter dusk.
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Loch Long

Fron Gare Loch we drove along the south eastern shore of Loch Long towards Arrochar where we cut across a narrow strip of land towards Tarbet, and from there back south along the western shores of Loch Lomond to the hotel.

The colours on the hillsides - muted hues of green and brown - reflected in the still waters of the lochs. Whisps of smoke snaked upwards from cottage chimneys to be greeted by the waiting clouds. As we approached the hotel the first pink shades of impending dusk began to streak the sky.
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Gare Loch

From Helensburgh we followed the road along the east side of Gare Loch, passing rows of twee bungalows and houses that reminded us of the Sussex coast. Onwards past a Naval base, then past Faslane (and the protest camp).

The views were a study in pastel shades. Every turn revealed more, every movement of the clouds changed the colour filters.
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Towards the Sea

Looking south west from Helensburgh along past the entrances to several sea lochs and ultimately to the sea.
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Up the Clyde

Moving on, we arrived in Helensburgh to buy some tissues... the Silver Vixen's cold was now moving up a gear.

Sprawling along the north bank of the Clyde it had a nice feel to it. It wasn't the standard High Street filled with the usual list of chain stores (though some were present). It had a good mix of shops in what appeared to be the Victorian face of the town.

This view was taken from the pier, looking up the Clyde towards Glasgow.
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Selected Products

The tour finished off in the shop, and we spent some time reviewing and trying the products. In the end we made our selection and heade back out into the countryside.
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Be still

The "business end" of the distillery.

These two small stills are the ones where the final distillation takes place.

The Silver Vixen is not a drinker of spirits... and does not even like the smell of whisky. The tour had started with a tasting. SV was fighting off a cold, and decided to try the sample. She was surprised by the warmth of the spirit, the fact that she could breathe clearly again... and the flavour. She loved it.
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Waterfall at Glengoyne

Being early for the tour we decided to take the "Waterfall Walk". The name turned out to be a little grandiose. The waterfall was there, but the "walk" part comprised about 25 yards.
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Glengoyne

Returning to the start of our walk, we decided that we should venture out. Heading back towards Drymen we diverted south towards Glasgow and visited the Gelengoyne Distillery.

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Across Loch Lomond

No excuses, no write-up, Gorse Fox just liked this picture across the Loch, and a few of its islands.
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Ben Lomond, again

Every turn in the path revealed new vistas, but the eye was always drawn back to Ben Lomond.
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Buttressed trunk

Gratuitous picture of tree.

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The Grounds

After a belt-busting breakfast we decided to take a walk around the grounds of Cameron House. Though still overcast, it was mild and dry as we worked our down past the Marina and around the golf course that forms the centre of the estate.

Scattered around the course were holiday lodges. These looked quite substantial and well-appointed, nestling in the landscaped grounds with views across Loch Lomond.
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It is thirty years since we had last visited this part of Scotland.

It is too long.

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Ever changing

In the dawn's early light and but a few minutes later it had changed again.

Ben Lomond dominates the view, but a further mountain peeps between the shoulders of the mountain.
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Ben Lomond

For those of you never fortunate enough to visit Scotland, a word:
Get off your seat, and go there.
Scotland is painfully beautiful - not with the brash bright colours of the Mediterranean, or the "bling" of the Alps. It exists in a palette of subtle shades and gentle colour gradations that make the scenery a constant discovery.

As daylight came and the sky lightened, shades of blue, pink, beige, and grey shoved and nudged each other for prominence. This contest was reflected in the Loch below, casting ever-changing filters across the water, the trees and the mountains. Gorse Fox didn't need to move. He could have watched this all day.
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Friday, January 27, 2006

The cubs had arranged for some wine to be waiting for us in the room, on our return. A nice touch. GF had not brought a jacket or tie, so we decided that dinner would be in the informal Marina Restaurant. Asking the concierge for directions, he bundled us into a Range Rover and headed off into the night. Ninety seconds later we were there, having travelled about 200 yards - hardly warranting a coat, let alone a trip in the Range Rover.
Dinner itself was good, though the service a little slow due to the busy Friday night crowd. After dinner we strolled back to the main house in about the same time it would have taken the Range Rover,

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This was the hotel - the great Scottish Baronial styling was augmented by newer wings to the left and right.

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were staying in the old building between two of the turrets. 
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Leaving the shores of the Loch we headed back south and stopped off in Alexandria. (We had only driven a few miles, it was still cool, and grey... so GF surmised this was a Scottish town, rather than the Egyptian city.)

Alexandria now boasts a "Factory Outlet" centre. This is unremarkable in its own right; indeed the stores therein had little in their favour. What was worthy of a mention, however, was the building in which they were housed. (Stupidly, the GF forgot to take a photo).

They building is the remaining frontage of the Argyll Motor Works, built in 1905 and once covering 60 acres. At one stage it was churning out 800 cars per year. As times changed in became a munitions factory, a Royal Naval Torpedo factory, and finished its industrial life as a textile factory. Little remains of the site, other than the brownstone frontage and the magnificent marbled lobby and sweeping staircase.

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Balmaha

Pleasantly sated from the lunch we drove on down to Balmaha and the small road that lead part way along the eastern shore of the Loch. It was stil overcast, but the muted shades of the distant hills were still evident across the Loch.

We continued up as far as Rowardennan, where the road ends, then made our way back the way we had come.
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The Clachan

After a brief discussion with the concierge, we decided that luch would be taken at Drymen, some 9 miles from the hotel.

The Clachan, on the town square, is reputedly the oldest licensed inn in Scotland. It was certainly a warm and welcoming little pub, with an excellent, though simple, menu. The staff were charming and the food was good... it had seemed a long time since breakfast!!
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Room with a view

We were soon checked-in and exploring the room. It was stituated in rightt next to the turret, looking out over the loch towards Ben Lomond.

Gorse Fox has stayed in hotels all over the place, in the UK, in Europe, in Africa and America. As hotel views go, this takes some beating.

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