Over our bountiful breakfast of fruit, yogurt, poached eggs, sautéed tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms, bannocks, and brown (whole wheat) toast, … I offered the Viking Festival as an addition to the list for the day. The offer was politely declined. In Liisa’s words, they “do that all the time” and are here to experience Scotland.
Fair enough: they’ve had enough of fairs; and so off we went.
We drove up the Eastern shore of the River Clyde, skirted Glasgow, went across the Erskine Bridge and up the Milton Brae to the Overtoun House and the Overtoun Bridge. We had warm drinks (hot chocolate and squishy cream) in the Tea Room of the house while we looked at and discussed the bridge which was right outside the window. After a nice chat with the owner of the house, who is an American from Dallas (go figure!), we went out to the bridge.
Overtoun Bridge is the subject of many stories about dogs suddenly jumping over the side to the stream below. A distance of at least 50 feet. They do not usually survive. The mystery of why the dogs suddenly jump up and over a four-foot stone wall that is more than a foot wide has been given a few explanations, but none of them seem to be very plausible. I will say that we all felt an energetic “pull” on one side of the bridge, and yet even stronger as we walked down the hill in the trees alongside the flowing stream. It was very interesting. And then I was finished with it. It was a beautiful setting, but nothing in the energy of the place was what I wanted to carry with me.
On we went, North on the West shore of Loch Lomond. As we entered in to the Highlands, I was very disappointed to see that the heather is not yet in bloom. We stopped for a bite to eat at The Bonnie Brea Tea Room where the sign posted out front read: Our coffee is so fresh that it will pinch your bum and ask you out on a date! Kyle and I had “cheesy pasta” and Liisa had a Panini sandwich, and I asked the young woman who was our server if the heather had already bloomed, or if it was late. She wasn’t sure, “—didn’t really pay attention to it,” she said as she turned to look out the window. “If it’s purple, it’s heather.” Interesting to have such a blasé attitude over something so connected to the culture here. It made me wonder if there are people in the Napa Valley who look out over the vineyards and say, “They make something to drink out there.”
I found out from another shop owner that it is just beginning to bloom now. Usually it blooms August through mid-Sept; but it’s been a very cold summer. The huge patches of heather are green, though, and that’s better that the brown I saw the last time I was here during the early Spring. I am hopeful that it will burst forth in all its purple glory before we leave.
Our timing was a little off today, so we didn’t do much more than drive, but what a beautiful drive it was. The road rolled through the small towns and swept up over the hills and down the other side. Right-side driving has becoming more natural now; quite unlike the first two times I did it. I feel more comfortable and have a very good GPS guidance system to help out with the directions that I have printed out for Kyle The Navigator.
We arrived in Ballachulish a bit earlier than we’d thought we would, but we were in need of a break. Jet lag had not quite worn off and fatigue was still a bit of an issue. We‘ve had a nice supper a short walk down the road from our B&B (lentil soup and a half-pint McEwans for me), and are now in full-out mellow for the evening. It was a fair enough day for all that.
Tomorrow, we are doing something very special, and we want to be rested and ready.