The British Isles

Category

The Daze of Skye

It started as an insane and unthinkable plan. Going to the Isle of Skye with either Rabbies or Timberbush Tours seemed to be the default mode of seeing the Highlands until the Travel Companion (the TC) remarked that a road trip in a rented car may not be that implausible after all. TC’s short visit meant that we had just that pocket of time to visit some place out of Edinburgh before he was dragged into relentless shopping, and he came rather prepared to join Scotland’s nationalistic fervour. “They [the Scots] will be very happy. My father said my jumper resembles the Scottish flag,” TC remarked. “And everyone seems to know...

Go West

The Timberbush-Tours pickup point is a most painful uphill trek up to the very top of the Royal Mile, and I nearly boarded the wrong bus in error after that horrendous walk. We started the trip……with The Famous Grouse’s Finest Scotch whisky. All 8 passengers in the 16-seater minivan each received a small bottle of whisky, is now sits next to me as a form of insurance against cold winter nights. “This is what we give our children in the morning!” announced Marty, the guide for the day with Timberbush Tours. Clad in a kilt, a sweater and a green windbreaker, he cut a strange figure with his flowing locks,...

(Sub)urban Pleasures

There’s much joy to be taken in the walks around the neighbouring suburbs of Edinburgh – when the weather permits, of course. They have been most welcome distractions amidst the alarming assignments that I have been given to do, and holed up in my place is not exactly the greatest inspiration one gets. Stockbridge, the rather bohemian area that borders Dean Village, northwest of New Town, is one of those. I find myself returning there countless of times, if not just for the hilly roads, the numerous charity shops and the rather quaint layout of particular streets along the Waters of Leith. But Edinburgh isn’t all, of course – the...

Loch Ness Hunter

A yellow bus, unmistakably advertising the words “Wild, Sexy…Haggis Adventures” crawled up Blackfriars street adjacent to the Royal Mile, and up walked a man with a clipboard moments later. A flash of ID for attendance confirmation and there I was, ensconced in the bus impatiently awaiting departure. “…And this is the emergency exit, in case we all end up in the Loch Ness,” Stevie D, driver and tour guide for the day, knocked the alarmingly small bulge on the ceiling roughly, before the bus embarked on its ambitious mileage of over 540km. A bearded, lanky man who looked seriously unwashed, Stevie wore only a T-shirt and a sweater in the...

Moving Days

The last 2 saturdays were moving days. On the first Saturday, the luggage and I got into a cab and grudgingly paid the £6 fare up to Royal Terrace from Richmond Place where the Adria Guesthouse is situated – beautiful, spacious Georgian Townhouses with high ceilings and Victorian-lookalike furnishing – typically lined with hotels and other upmarket guesthouses. Adria Guesthouse surprised me with its furnishings and the only grouse I had was that the wireless (once again!) did not function properly for Macs. Greeted by a man wearing an ‘Australia Post’ T-shirt, a quick tinker for directions had me saunter down Abbey Mount, through Croft an Righ and on straight...

The contradicting Scot

The last few days have been anything but sane, yet it has been the most contradictory experience – when the hassle, turmoil and annoyance of rushing about suddenly come face to face with friendly and helpful people at every turn, that somehow barely alleviates the misery of administrative nightmares and other emotional let-downs. In the midst of changing course and accommodation – imagine that run of things from the very moment I arrived – barely 2 days ago, it is thus not surprising that the lack of enthusiasm when it comes to sightseeing is somewhat showing. But Scotland has greeted me with a far happier fervour than the brief but...

The Tale of a Country Bumpkin

I came, and saw (Les Miserables at West End with John Owen-Jones a.k.a. God) and fell into raptures. Bought the Les Miz ticket at Queen’s Theatre Box Office and got a restricted view but first-row seat, with some of the set reaching past the few rows. Call it a true experience when you get to see the much more than the going-on in the foreground. I was close enough to claw him into erotic submission each time “God” sang, but decided to restrain myself at the last minute for fear of losing some dignity. I think the compelling force of the Les Miserables story (besides John Owen Jones who actually...