It seemed like ages ago that my Bobcaygeon kindred spirit and friend, Frances McGregor mentioned she would like to attend the gathering of the Clan Gregor in Loch Awe, Scotland from July 15-22, 2018. In typical Glenn Clark fashion, he piped up with, “You should go with her, Melda.” And an adventure was born. By the time July rolled around, I had moved to Nova Scotia and Frances was roasting in Ontario’s sweltering heat.

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In theory, Frances should have flown from Toronto to Glasgow and I should have flown from Halifax to Glasgow. Remember, I said, “In theory.”

I was too afraid to do that because mistakenly thought Glasgow Airport would be similar to Toronto…wall to wall people, pushing and shoving, endless check-in lines and security lines. I decided to fly from Halifax to Toronto and meet up with Frances there.

We boarded Air Canada Rouge at 6:30pm and squeezed into our seats. Just a year ago, I would have not fit in the seat. Did I mention we were in Row 47? I did not know that airplanes had 47 rows. The third person in our row was a youngish, Scottish mathematician. I anticipated a riveting conversation. My hopes were dashed as the Professor wrapped his head in a red Air Canada blanket and laid his head down on the little meal tablet. A conversation was impossible.

SIGHT SEEING IN GLASGOW IN THE RAIN

There is a five hour time change between Ontario and Scotland. We touched down in Glasgow at about 6:30am without a wink of sleep. The bus for the Loch Awe Hotel would arrive at 4pm.

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We had an entire day to kill. What would we do? We locked up our luggage, took the purple bus from the airport to the main bus depot to jump on the red double decker bus that toured the city. Earphones were included to listen to the commentary. I chuckled as we drove along the Clyde River because Nova Scotia has a Clyde River near me. After the tour, we set out to do some shopping, but found out most stores were closed on Sunday.

A DASHING SCOTTISH GENTLEMAN IN A KILT

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We returned to the airport to meet up with the dashing, Ross McGregor, to catch the bus to the Loch Awe Hotel, our hotel for the week.

A couple of things to remember: vehicles are right hand drive and once outside the city the roads were very narrow, the centre line was white…not yellow and our bus filled both lanes. When we met up with another vehicle, one of us had to pull over on a paved area to let the other vehicle pass. Drivers spent a lot of time backing up to allow our big bus to pass. I was impressed, no speechless, with the politeness of Scottish drivers: no road rage, no yelling, no laying on the horn and no rude gestures.

RED ROVER, RED ROVER, MOVE OVER IN SCOTLAND 

Our first glimpse of the Loch Awe Hotel was troubling. A car had driven into the entrance and a tow truck was on scene. Some speculated that it had been a driver who had not yet mastered a manual transmission or had confused the accelerator and brake.

Frances and I were assigned Room 27. Water was pouring down my face and I could not wait to turn on the air conditioning. No matter how low I turned the temperature, nothing happened. I returned to the reception desk to report my broken air conditioner. WHAT? NO AIR CONDITIONING? I was advised to open the window and he was totally unconcerned that there were no screens. Eventually, the gentleman returned with a fan.  Dinner was served rather late in the evening.

LOCH AWE HOTEL WITH TURRETS AND CHARACTER

loch-awe-hotel-exteriorBefore leaving for our rooms, we had to place our request for tea or coffee for breakfast. That way, pots of tea or coffee awaited us each morning. Breakfast was a big deal. It always began with a bowl of porridge and a rack of toast, followed by a wide selection of dishes which included kippers.

Exhausted, after being awake for about 30 hours, sleep came quickly and morning came even faster. That 4-hour time change wreaked havoc with my internal clock for the entire week. Now that I am home, I am still waking up at 4am. Maybe returning to Scotland would solve that problem.

(More about Scotland next week.)