I awake in our Ashgrove suite, and the skies are blue in Edinburgh!
We have a (free!) Scottish breakfast
and with a crafty use of the rasher of toast,
we make a sausage, bacon, tater-tot and baked bean sandwich for lunch on the train.
We say goodbye to the Ashgrove, but we'll be back in a short week for another night.
Across the street, the Donaldson School is still for sale.
The property has not turned into rows and rows of tick-tacky houses (made of stone)
Aaron is yearning for a kilt, for Hal Thompson, but these are a bit too pricey.
We search out other options, alas, the Salvation Army is looking for
volunteer workers on Friday mornings, so isn't open!
The Starbucks by the Haymarket doesn't understand my need for half-and-half.
I have to get a special little cup of it.
Finally, we're on the train, leaving Edinburgh for the Isle of Mull, via Oban.
We pass through the suburbs, made of brick, not stone,
and play a game of portable Scrabble.
I don't remember who won.
The four hour trip passes quickly...
The nearer we get to Oban, the more it rains.
In Oban, we board the ferry to Craignure in Mull...
...and bid a quick adieu to Oban, we hardly knew ye.
It rains and rains, and rains as we moodily traverse the waters...
...but finally we arrive in Mull, pick up our rental car,
and out comes a fabulous, yes, rainbow - just for us - that we see
through the windshield wipers.
And then the sun comes out, and blue skies once again grace the skies over Scotland,
at least our small part of it, as we search for a grocery store, which everyone has
said is just down there as they airily wave their hands in a general direction.
So we end up going miles out of our way in that general direction
before we head back to Craignure and find out it was about 500 feet from
the ferry in the guise of what we thought was a gas station.
This is only the beginning of our directional mishaps!
Let me note that I have planned this trip to the letter,
printing out schedules and reservations and phone numbers
and yet, I forgot a couple of things.
Small things, like how to get into the place where we're staying,
the Beach House on Mull.
We call the number I've carefully written down
and about fifteen minutes later the lovely mother of the rental agent
calls and says the key will be under the mat under a piece of plastic.
What I forget to ask her, however, is how to actually get to the place!
Here is how organized I am, all of this in a nice folder that I take everywhere
so everything will go smoothly.
Yet for the most important part of our trip,
all I have is this map of Mull with one orange marker on it, which is our special place.
So we should have no problem finding it! Right?
The man at the tourist information place is puzzled by our map.
He's never heard of the Beach House.
The woman there is more knowledgeable, she says it's
actually pronounced "Be-Ach" with a "k" sound,
and isn't it part of the Pennyghael estate?
If so, there should be signs, beige and red, marking it.
Fine. All is well.
Aaron and I drive on.
Speaking of driving,
which Aaron is doing, but of course he must do this on the left side of the road.
So after I got into the drivers side by mistake, we all laughed.
(One of our many dumb Yank mistakes, which I will list later.)
But not only does Aaron have to drive on the wrong side of the road,
the car is a stick shift, which he has to do with his left hand!
He asked the efficient, friendly woman who delivered us the car
if it's an automatic, as he didn't automatically find the clutch - oh, right, there it is!
In general we are inspiring confidence.
So on we go, into the light, down the road which the agent has informed us is mostly
a one-lane thoroughfare. One lane! So there are rules and protocols,
the most important of which is to never pull into the right hand pull-over areas,
because that is where cars coming the other way will pull over
when they see us, and we could cause a head-on collision.
Ha, ha. Silly Americans, causing a head-on collision!
We are only to pull over on the left hand pullover areas, which are every mile or so,
or more often in curvy areas, which are actually most of the road.
If there is no left hand area, we are to stop dead where there
is a right hand pullover and let the other car veer into that
and pass us! Right? No problem!
And so we continue to drive into the light, Aaron concentrating on the
narrow road and me madly snapping pictures so he can see what he missed later.
Heather! In bloom!
Mist, clouds, craggy hills!
Moors! Trees! Sheep! Lochs!
We eventually begin to realize that we can't find our destination.
There are no signs. Aaron thinks he sees the place up on high hill,
but it appears that there's no way to reach it.
We go back and forth, mile after mile. Back and forth. Mile after mile.
The problem is, we don't have google maps, or my old emails which might
shed light on the situation
shed light on the situation
because they charge millions of dollars for data upload
so we've turned off our cellular functions.
But, we decide, to hell with the money,
turn them on, but then they don't load because the signal isn't good enough!
I call the number I've carefully kept a record of, saying, uh, how do
we get to the place????
but they don't call back!!!
We go back and forth, mile after mile.
We go back and forth, mile after mile.
The sun is going down! It's getting dark!!!!
We'll never find it! We stop in several places,
knocking on doors which are answered by, say, men in undershirts
and suspenders, but no one has heard of the place.
They say, try down the road. Maybe they'll know.
We begin to think it's a big cosmic joke.
But not funny. Will we sleep in the car?
Have to get a room in the nearby B&B?
Finally my phone rings.
But then I lose the signal and it stops.
Then it rings again.
I scream to Aaron, STOP!
He pulls over into a pullover spot,
and it's the kind lady on the phone, the mother of the rental agent again,
a bit befuddled by our total idiocy,
what, we're still looking for the place, three hours
after the ferry ride where she spoke to us last
about where the key was?
Well, she says, look for the green kennel (dog house)
which we have actually seen, but didn't dare go up the driveway
because it seemed to be a private place,
but that's it. That's the road.
We do as she says, and voila! Here we are!!!
The mists rise and let us through.
Look how happy Aaron is!
We go outside to catch the last waning rays - good thing the days are so long - and have a glass
of wine in our beautiful yard overlooking the Loch of Scradain.
Awe and Ahhhh!!!!
And, magically, the first Scrabble letters I get in our new place spell out my name
in a kind of Scottish-y way!