End of a wonderful break, followed by another Project!!!

Wednesday 4th, January 

Today we are heading out to see some of the local sites but before that, Christine accompanied Leisha and Otis for their morning walk; not the beach today as there is a gale blowing so past the golf course and into the countryside.   Whilst they were away, David showed me his “outbuildings” and more importantly where he is building a bar in his “pub”.

fantastic walk with Leisha

After the dog walk we all jumped into Leisha’s pride and joy, her self-charging Lexus and headed along the coast road towards Llandudno, who wants to race along the A55 unnecessarily???    Anyway arriving in Llandudno on this bleak January day where everywhere looked closed up didn’t inspire us to park and have a wander; another time, maybe in the summer!!   So without stopping decided to drive to the top of the great Orme as Christine had been there before, but first stop was the Year-round centre offering an artificial ski & snowboarding slope, a toboggan run, tubing & mini golf.   

Friendly goat posing for photos

Being an all year-round centre we expected to see numerous families watching or participating on the ski slope but was surprised by how few there were; in fact we probably saw more Great Orme Goats than people!!!   After a short stroll we headed to the summit of the great Orme.

how windy is this!

Arriving at the top to an empty car park should have told us- – – – – – It was blowing a “gale-and-a-half” and as we found out when we struggled out of the car, it was 🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶 cold!!!  Dave did manage to walk across the car park horizontally, whilst I, in my wisdom tried to put my coat on which was in the boot; what a disaster, and to add to our woes, Leisha’s boot is automatic, press the button to open and press again to close.   The boot lid shot up as it was “wind-assisted” but refused to close against the wind, it was too strong.   We ended up pressing the button with two of us pushing it down at the same time: a struggle but we managed.   Our excursion to the great Orme summit was now curtailed, cold wind stopped play!!!

This was another mistake and again should have realised as the cable-tram and ski lift thing was closed for the winter, as well as the museum at the top.

Back down nearer to sea level we rejoined the toll road, a one-way system that circumnavigates the Great Orme and then headed to Conway, stopping off in Deganwy at the Quay Spa Hotel for coffee and snacks overlooking the river Conway, and the magnificent Conway Castle.   Conway Castle is deemed a world heritage site by UNESCO.

After our “lunch” we headed into Conway, parked and wandered about.   Chatting to a couple of locals I found out there was a fish stall on the quay that sold “kippers” so suggested Christine might like to head that way with Leisha whilst David and I headed into the Liverpool Arms.   

lovely views across the bay

The Liverpool arms, situated on Conway quay is the oldest traditional pub in Conway and is a few doors away from the “smallest house in Britain” with a floor area of 10ft X 5’ 9”; oh yes it is painted red!!!   

Dave and I enjoyed a pint, sitting by a nice fire whilst waiting for the girls.  Christine was first to arrive with a look of disappointment on her face; the “Kipper” shop was closed!!!  Leisha arrived soon after, but as she was the “chauffeur” for the day found it hard to sit in a pub with no drink!!!  We all quickly finished our drinks and headed out.

The Liverpool Arms

Our drive back was much quicker as we sped along at A55 and arriving in good time for a couple of G & T’s whilst Dave prepared dinner for us.   By now unfortunately Christine was displaying symptoms of the dreaded “lurgy” that seems to be circulating, sore throat, cough etc.

At the appointed “hour” Dave served dinner, and very nice it was but Christine was obviously poorly as I had to finish hers as well as mine!!!  Christine went to bed early whist the three of us lingered at the table putting the world to rights.   After clearing up, Dave and I cracked the bottle of Malt I’d bought whilst in Scotland and enjoyed a nightcap.

Thursday 5th January

Today is our last day as we head back to Somerset but first, the four of us are heading out for a breakfast.   We are heading to Dyserth to a café that apparently serves a “jolly-good” breakfast, but en-route we are going show Christine Dyserth Waterfall.   Christine has “pilled-up” this morning, and a good sign is, she is hungry!! 

Dyserth waterfall

Dyserth Waterfall, North Wales is on the River Ffyddion, a tributary of the River Clwyd, that falls down a 70-foot ledge creating the waterfall. Parking was an issue so David and Christine hopped out of our respective cars walked up, took ‘photos and straight back into the cars.   We headed to the café just around the corner, arrived, parked up only to be disappointed, it was closed, oh dear where to now?

Y Shed, excellent breakfast

Meliden is our next destination, “Y Shed”, a regenerated old derelict Grade ll listed building that has been championed by a local charitable housing association.  We quickly arrived and parked, but now had to get “a-move-on” as the breakfast “hours” were coming “swiftly” to an end. We had no choice where we sat being so busy, but found the last table and rushed to “beat the deadline” for breakfast orders.   Apart from the restaurant, this place is quite a tourist hub housing a small museum about the local history of Meliden, several arty-crafty shops; it was primarily developed to help local budding entrepreneurs and artisans to get established.  

Our breakfast duly arrived; just what the doctor ordered and it will mean we don’t have to stop on our way back to Hope Farm.

At this point we must thank Leisha and David for making us so welcome and very comfortable especially bearing in mind it hasn’t been very long since they moved into their new house, they are still unpacking boxes etc

Horseshoe Pass

Following our good byes Christine and I headed south, not the longer, fastest conventional route, A55-M56-M6-M5; I had had enough of motorways!!!   No, we were taking the shorter but about an hour longer route, we went over the Horseshoe Pass into Llangollen, picked up the A5 then headed down passed Ross-on -Wye and over the Severn Bridge before picking up the M5 for the last part to Weston, but before heading south, we swung by my old farm in Henllan to see if there were any major changes but the visibility was so misty with rain and low clouds, couldn’t see anything; the good news was my local, “The Llindir Inn” was still going.   Back en route but Unfortunately once Christine’s pills had worn off she was feeling groggy again, and the last place she wanted to be was sitting in the car!!!!, I on the other hand was “happy-as-Larry” being on conventional roads!  There was a glint in her eye though whilst driving through Church Stretton, we clocked diesel even cheaper than Moffat, so did a quick U turn and filled up. 

Back at Hope Farm in time for dinner followed by bed.

Home sweet home

Friday 6th January to Tuesday 10th January 

All our ducks are in a row, we had originally planned to complete on Monday 9th January but after a couple of ‘phone calls and agreement with the vendor, completed this afternoon.   Yeah we have a home again, well we will once the necessary remedial works have been completed.   The main reason to complete today instead of Monday is: we have lined up the necessary tradesmen to start just after 0800hrs, we don’t want them hanging around while solicitors take their time!!!

our bedroom

For anybody not knowing the issues, here they are.    The vendor purchased a new home and put the bungalow on the market.   Unfortunately well down the line, the vendors sale fell through so we agreed to buy but all this took several months.   In the early part of December there was a very cold snap and Somerset wasn’t exempt and a pipe from the header tank burst depositing unknown gallons of water across the ceilings.   As the vendor hadn’t lived in the property for over 6-months and hadn’t informed her insurance company, there was no insurance in place!!!    We quickly got in tradesmen to get budget prices and then offered to continue with the purchase at a re-negotiated price.   Fortunately we arrived at a suitable figure and now we own a bungalow that needs new ceilings in master bedroom, hallway and kitchen, new floors in master bedroom and kitchen along with the associated electric and plumbing costs, firstly for on-going safety and then reinstallation, fit a new kitchen, redecorate throughout and new fit carpets; not too much, in fact a walk in the park!!!!!   “Every Cloud ….. and all that”, this also means we can make alterations to suit our needs.🤠🤠🤠🤠

Fortunately we have Rosie so will take her down, park at the rear and live in her whilst “things” get done.

We parked Rosie up outside the garage and plugged into the mains.   We had our boiler repaired so our heating system works and once the water tank is full, we’ll have hot water.    Wrong; we filled the water tank, so far so good, switched the pump on and blow me, we have a leak in the underneath.   Whilst parked outside Jane’s barn a “not-so-friendly” rat “may” have chewed through the plastic water pipe or, there was some residual water in the pipe after we emptied everything which froze.  Until we can get Rosie into somewhere we will not know but experience suggests to me it will be the former; nasty little blighters👹👹👹👹

By the “close of play” on Tuesday, the place was devastated, ceilings down, carpets out, floors removed, electrician had made everything safe, plumber had disconnected all necessary pipe work as we are going to fit new combination boiler, de-humidifiers and fans up and running trying to dry the place out; everything ready for repairs and rebuilds to start.

The break in Scotland and Wales did us well, it gave us the necessary strength for this un-expected project.

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3-countries in one day

Monday 2nd January

Today we woke up early and still dark!!, subconsciously we knew we were having to leave early I suppose.   We had arranged to meet for breakfast around 8.30,  but with time to kill we packed the car, well we tried; there was such a heavy frost even the car doors were frozen solid!!!!   Eventually we prized open the boot and retrieved the de-icer; de-icer is something alien to me these days but I’ll just have to get used to it.

Fabulous views at sunrise

Back inside and we headed to the restaurant for breakfast where yet again, “Loch Fyne Kippers” we’re off, and even worse this morning, there was no “Haggis” either!!   As we walked into the restaurant the view over the loch was magnificent, the early morning sun as dawn came up was a “sight to behold”, a fitting view to look at whilst we breakfasted.   Monica and David soon joined us and we all had a good chuckle at Christine and her lack of “Kippers”, again!!!!!

After breakfast we said our good-byes; we were all packed, the bill was settled, so reluctantly we hit the road.   The other two lingered over breakfast, they were heading to Edinburgh so were not in any hurry.

stunning views

Today the return journey along the lochs was great; no rain, sun shining and minimal traffic, what could be better though we did regret having to pass all these beauty-spots and small, interesting towns like Inveraray on Loch Fyne; maybe we should have stopped as I bet we could get kippers there!!!!!   

Loch Fyne

Once we hit the A82 on Loch Lomond we hit traffic, it was solid, creeping a few inches every five minutes, in fact the only reason we were creeping forward we suddenly realised was due to the cars in front turning around.   After watching what was happening for some time, we joined in and followed the crowd and headed up this country lane.   After a couple of miles and a left turn or two, we returned to a roundabout back on the A82!!!! fortunately after the “accident”: ok having wasted half an hour or so, decided to stop at the “Duck Bay”, again, after all I had done my 2-hours driving and time to swap.

Christine took over the driving and we continued after indulging in a couple of cakes with our coffee break.   Passing Glasgow was a cinch, traffic was light and it wasn’t long before we hit the A74M.   Our next “planned” stop was Moffat as we had “clocked” the price of diesel whilst there before, the cheapest so far!!!

Arriving in Moffat, fortunately all the floods had evaporated, we drove into the petrol station, filled up, changed drivers and off we went again.   We had a jolly good run crossing the border, wizzing past Tebay services, passing Carlisle and then, boom; traffic.   There was no let up in the traffic until we cut off onto the M56 and headed to North Wales.   

When we set up SatNav at the castle, our journey time was 6-hours but when we eventually arrived in Prestatyn it had taken eight and a half hours; a disastrous journey, two and a half hours longer than planned; ugh, motorways in the U.K.

We arrived at their new home in Prestatyn and were welcomed like long lost relatives by David and Leisha, handed a gin and tonic and some rather scrumptious cheesy bacon sticks; homemade by David of course🤪🤪.  After a wind down we were treated to a superb home-cooked curry, by which time and all our troubles from the M6 just vanished away.

After much “chatter” and “catching up”,  we headed off to bed, hacked off at the misery created by the poor motorway system yet very happy to be with our great friends, Leisha and David in their new home.

Tuesday 3rd January

Rather a leisurely day was planned today, but we had booked a table for tonight at a local restaurant pub they knew.

First thing this morning, “very early”!! David walked the dogs; their dog “Otis”and their daughter’s dog “George” before returning home in time for Leisha to head to Chester Hospital, taking George with her.  The plan was for Leisha to return George to his home in Tattenhall Marina after her appointment but the best laid plans etc., etc., don’t always work.  No, Leisha arrived an hour too early, too long to hang about with George in the car but insufficient time to get to Tattenhall and back so a ‘phone call was needed to David.   Christine, David and I had just had breakfast when the call came in, so their plan to head to the beach with Otis had to be shelved.   David rushed to Chester, picked up George and headed to Tattenhall Marina where George was “ceremonially” deposited before returning to Prestatyn.  

Whilst all this was going on, Christine and I headed to Rhyl to transfer funds to our solicitor for our new house purchase.   Whilst out and about we drove along the sea front, looked at the “grey” sea from the car at several points and stopping at “Costa” before returning to Prestatyn. 

When we returned, David had completed his “unplanned” and “unexpected” trip to Tattenhall and when Christine was booted they were ready for the long awaited beach walk with Otis, their Labradoodle whilst I stayed at home, but not “alone” for long, as Leisha returned soon after.    By mid afternoon Christine and David had returned with Otis and before long, after much more chatter and a few drinks, we realised we had a table booked!!!

miles of Sandy beaches

Being North Wales where there is zero tolerance, we took the “prudent” option and booked a taxi to take us; at the appointed hour we were standing outside their house, in the road with a keen wind blowing waiting and waiting,  We tried ringing but that didn’t work at which point our thoughts turned to ordering a “Chinese take-away” when out of the darkness a black Ford taxi turned up, no apology from a rather miserable driver who just told us in a “matter-of-fact” way he was busy!!!   Unfortunately to add salt into our wounds, we had to book him for the return journey, and hoped he would arrive at the appointed time🤞🤞🤞🤞

We arrived at The crown in Trelawnyd and walked into a cosy, warm and inviting pub with real ales, nice one David!!!   Apart from the ales, the menu was varied and the food was first class, it was a well chosen venue for a comfortable and enjoyable evening with good friends.

Leisha and David enjoying a drink or two

The taxi driver driver had dropped us in the car park behind the pub so naturally waited there for him, only to find on this occasion he decided to pick us up at the front of the pub; plonker!!!

Back home David and I enjoyed a nightcap before retiring

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The Morning After!!!!!

Sunday 1st January 2023

A very lazy morning and a brunch rather than breakfast today, but first a breath of fresh air, and as it’s not raining, we could stand out in the car park.  

Pretty waterfall

Brunch was taken in a leisurely fashion after which Monica, Christine and David headed off to walk around the Island we see from the dining room each time we sit in it.  I on the other hand was “consoling” my knee, it was complaining bitterly about last night!!!   Following their little trip to the island they joined in with the Haggis Hunt, though failed miserably by not finding it!!!

we seek it here we seek it there

After this hectic activity we all sat in one of the many lounge / bar areas observing all the jaded people sitting quietly; I know a good time was had by all last night.    Anyway we were also patiently waiting for afternoon tea to be served; I have no idea where we are going to put it but no doubt we will indulge.

View of castle from Island

Sure enough at 1500hrs the tea bell went and there was a subdued “rush” to to “stuff-our-faces”, again!!!!!!    Tea was as expected, full-on with assorted finger sandwiches, numerous cakes and shortbreads not to mention Scones, clotted cream and jam washed down with every tea imaginable.   Why-o-why do we do this to ourselves especially as we have another gala dinner later this evening 😩😩😩😩

Derelict coach house, which eventually is going to be holiday flats

Next it was whisky tasting, and it was led by “Grady” our Australian maître d who talked us through the 3-Malts, (only 3😩😩) but fortunately Christine shared her three with David and me; Monica had been excused!!!

Tonight is the last meal and it is billed as a 5-course taster so there was a lot of speculation about it but the good thing it is casual dress.

Memorial to Campbell family

Between tea and dinner we took the opportunity to pack away the kilt etc., and seal it away into its box, as well as sorting our own stuff out.   Later we got the “knock” on the door and Monica and David joined us again for pre-dinner drinks.

Upon entering the restaurant, as always there was “Grady” handing out even more glasses of bubbly before we got to our table.   Tonight the restaurant wasn’t full, obviously there are quite a few lightweights around😂😂😂, mind you our alcohol consumption was down, especially as we have a Long drive tomorrow.

We started with an interesting soup, not to everyone’s taste I must say.  This was followed by a fish concoction, tasty but only a mouthful!   At this point Monica suddenly announced she doesn’t eat Lamb and she reckoned it would be Lamb, what she based that on we had no idea but guess what, we had lamb and very nice it was too plus, there was something extra, very tasty but unknown to us so asked, sweetbreads was the answer.   I have never fancied or even had sweetbreads but now, unknown to me I ate and enjoyed them, so now I like them!!!  Monica suddenly pipes up with, “I wonder if the sorbet is coconut”, as I don’t like it to which Christine joined in, “I don’t like coconut either”, guess what, it was coconut; obviously Monica is psychic, should play the  lottery🤞🤞.   Stonefield staff were very good, they found different deserts for Monica and Christine and would have offered an alternative to the  lamb, had they been advised

This place is so idyllic, I have fallen in love with Scotland

The dinner went on to around 2130hrs after which people started to leave the restaurant, no doubt for an early night as we all leave tomorrow morning; seemed the sensible thing to do.   Tonight we skipped the late night drinkee-poo as we were heading out reasonably early heading to Prestatyn

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Hogmanay has Arrived

Saturday 31st December 2022

Following a good night’s sleep in the extra large double bed, we headed down to breakfast where David and Christine decided to have Loch Fyne Kippers; ha ha, no chance, they hadn’t got any left!!!!!!  The jinx continues, it is now the standing joke, don’t choose anything Christine wants. 

Tarbert Marina

The nearest place to Stonefield Castle is Tarbert, a small fishing village just over 2-miles away, so headed that way, parked and had a wander around.  Upon arrival this morning, as is the norm for Christine, the tide was out!!   Tarbert Loch Fyne is a picturesque conservation village that lies at the north end of the Kintyre peninsula.   The village is built around a well-sheltered natural harbour.  The harbour is home to an inshore fishing fleet and has a popular marina for leisure crafts.  On a hillside, overlooking the centre of the village, stand the ruins of the medieval Tarbert Castle.  The castle’s royal connections date back to the 11th century AD.  In 1325, the castle was completely rebuilt and extended by King Robert I (Robert the Bruce) who is depicted in this distinctive and imposing equestrian statue which stands at the battlefield of Bannockburn, Stirling.    Much of the Castle stones have been removed to build the harbour and mole.  

Monica and David climbed to the top but with my knee and Christine’s hip needing to be preserved for tonight, we took “a rain check” and wandered back along the harbour, though not very far before we spotted a “Whisky Shop”, so naturally we headed in.   I was very good, I restricted myself to just one single malt!!!!   OK, coffee time so headed into a place called a “Coffee Bistro” but turned out to be a “Tandoori Cafe”!!!    We sat for best part of ten minutes waiting for service but to no avail so just got up and left; we didn’t really relish the smell with our cuppa either so wandered over the road to see Tarbert’s big Christmas tree, wow it was constructed entirely out of lobster pots, very unique and certainly different.  The pots were stacked into the tree shape then covered with green fishing nets with fairy lights hanging on the sides, very spectacular.

By now Monica and David had caught up with us and after explaining about our Indian adventure we would look elsewhere for our “elevenses” so drove further up the road and found a place called “Lulabelles of Tarbert”.   Being away from the main part of the harbour I asked why they hadn’t got a large sign pointing out to folk where they are; council won’t give them planning permission for one; what a shame as they do excellent looking dishes, a great looking cheese counter and craft beers just to mention a few things.   Because we were staying at Stonefield who had fed us so well we could only manage to share one slice of home-made cake; oh well next time.

Leaving Tarbert, we headed towards Campbeltown to take in more of the beautiful views of the Loch and Mountains, eventually stopping at a “viewpoint” and great excitement, seals were spotted. 

seals on Island and in water

Back at the castle for hot soup and sandwiches just to “keep-us-going”, as if we needed anything!!!   We then headed in different directions to start the process of “dressing” into our kilt regalia.

the reason why Geoff didn’t wear his kilt, it could fall down at any moment,he was really upset

The anticipation is over, the moment has come, I break the seals on the box and remove my New Year’s Eve apparel out and check the items off the list; all present and correct, a good start.   I had already prepared myself on “how to dress” by looking at a YouTube Video; must do it in the right order!!!!    So after the shower we started the process.   First it’s the “hose” (long woollen socks) followed by the “garters and flashes” which had to be at 45-degrees then the “Gillie Brogues” (shoes) tied in a special way above the ankle with the tassels hanging down equally!!!   All this was accomplished successfully so on went my dress shirt accompanied by a pair of cuff links depicting the Scottish “Saltire”, loaned to me by David, (son-in-Law). Now the time had arrived anticipation is over here goes, we wound the kilt as detailed on YouTube around, did-up the first set of buckles, let go and it fell to the ground!! We decided it would be ok when did up the rest of the buckles; wrong, it fell to the ground again.   There was no chance this was going to sit on my hips.    After much discussion we telephoned reception, related our experience and they said they would send someone up with some pins etc.,   A few minutes later Grady, the Restaurant manager, stood at our door resplendent in his kilt with a handful of “hotel-type” mending kits with silly, very small safety pins inside, they were so small that the kilt material was thicker!!!

Four musketeers

  So after much cursing I had to quickly remove the shoes, socks and tabs and go conventional with standard shoes and a normal pair of black trouser’s; fortunately at the last minute I had packed a pair, sixth sense perhaps???   I did however wear the special waistcoat and jacket so not a complete disaster!!!!   Monica and David arrived in our room around 1800hrs for photos and pre-dinner drinks before the festivities begin with a Champagne reception  at 1900hrs, naturally we were all there on the dot.

What a handsome man he is

Dinner tonight was preordered at the time of booking so was a nice surprise when it came; memories eh!!   Copious amounts of wine was consumed as we ate then danced the night away to a Ceilidh Band doing highland flings, Gay Gordon’s etc., very badly!!!! Still a jolly good time was had by all.   At midnight the resident piper marched in and played a number of tunes whilst we all saw the new year in drinking some rather nice Malt Whisky.

Fabulous food, drink and dancing

The party wound up around 0100hrs so the 4-of us retired to our room for night caps, we hit the malt I had bought earlier in the day!!

Fantastic evening

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The Last Leg

Friday 30th December

After a leisurely breakfast we left our hotel in the rain, naturally!, but to our surprise the road heading to the A74M was flooded so much care had to be taken.   We reached the motorway but due to the heavy rain and standing water across all the lanes, progress was rather slow.    Our SatNav suggested we left the motorway due to floods but we ignored it as it was a minor road she was suggesting and we were still moving along reasonably well.    Our destination for a coffee stop was the Duck Bay Hotel on Loch Lomond; arrival time circa 1100hrs.    

Rain, rain rain

Soon after we had “ignored” our SatNav instruction the traffic backed up and eventually stopped.   We then “stopped”, “started”,  and “crawled” for a couple of miles when we came across a roadworks sign sending everyone over to the fast lane, hence the crawling but no.   Having started shuffling one way we then had to shuffle the other as the motorway was closed due to floods!!!!!   Oh why did we ignore our SatNav.    Anyway as instructed by the Police, off we came in totally unknown and bleak territory; where to now?   There were two roundabouts with several roads off them but which one???  Cars were heading off in all directions so we chose one and headed off.   After 2 or 3 miles SatNav told us to turn left onto a very minor B road.   Having ignored her once, we decided to go with her this time.   Fortunately there was another car in front, “safer in pairs” as we followed this “single” lane over the top of some big hills with water “sprouting” out of the ground and “gushing” and “flooding”everywhere, nowhere to turn around we kept going; fingers crossed we would find a way to somewhere!!!!    Eventually we came to a junction and told to turn left, naturally we dutifully obliged but had a sense we were heading back to where we came from🤔🤔🤔. After a mile or so our next instruction to turn left again; now we knew we were heading back to whence we came.   Next minute we stop behind a row of cars, we’ll actually SUV’s and up ahead a jolly big flood across the road with one car “parked” in the middle.  From where we were it didn’t look that deep, what’s your problem SUV drivers???   Anyway, they all looked petrified at the prospect and just waited, for what I don’t know so I pulled out and went for it.   Into the water at a slow and steady pace so as not to create a “bow-wave”, passing the stranded BMW, obviously he went in too fast, created a bow wave, wet his electrics and that’s where he stayed.  We were out and on our way arriving at the very same roundabout so went down another road, “bingo” this one was signposted Glasgow and eventually brought us back to the motorway after the floods.   By now we had wasted about 45minutes and David being a Scotsman probably knew which road to take and would be sitting with their 4th cup of coffee wondering where we got to.   Just then the ‘phone rang, ah yes they are going to ask what happened but instead told us they had taken a wrong turning and would be late!!!    Not only had we both gone the wrong way, but they were actually following us, albeit 5-minutes later on the same back route we took!!!!

One car stuck, and we are going through!

We both arrived at the Duck Bay hotel  https://duckbay.co.uk/#content__main       about the same time but not for coffee, now it was for lunch!!!    Christine ordered a bacon bap, sorry can’t serve a bacon bap here, soup, sandwiches and cakes only.    Again David, like the crumble last night, was going to have the same as Christine!!!!

Stunning place

We were recommended the Duck Bay as a beautiful spot to stop, sitting on the banks of Loch Lomond; just a pity it was grey and cloudy but at least the rain had stopped for a few minutes.   

faBulous vies of Loch Lomond

After lunch we headed off but decided to stop en route at the “rest and be thankful” viewpoint https://beta.visitscotland.com , Unfortunately there were very low clouds, it was grey and it was spitting so couldn’t appreciate it much; on the return journey, perhaps🤞🤞

Once we were on the A83, a small A-road that follows the loch progress was slow, overtaking wasn’t very clever, too many bends etc but the scenery was spectacular, what we could see of it naturally.   Being later than planned we couldn’t really stop, we had Mulled Wine and Shortbread waiting for us at Stonefield, could miss out on that!!!!

fantastic scenery

We arrived about 1600hrs, enjoying  a glass or three of Mulled Wine, where we soon got into “party-mood”.   As many of you knew, we were booked into Stonefield for last year but had to postpone as Christine contracted COVID 🥵

Stonefield Castle

Stonefield Castle was built in 1837 and was once the home of the Campbell family.  The title “Stonefield” came from the name of the estate which the Campbells owned on the shores of Loch Etive.   The gardens around the estate are well known for the many plants brought from the Himalayas collected around 1849/50 by a Sir Joseph hooker and still thriving today due to the sheltered shores on the northern end of the Mull of Kintyre.   The family finally sold the castle in 1946 and has been a hotel ever since.    

Tonight is casual dress so we arranged pre-dinner drinks in our room before heading to dinner where we were greeted by “Mine-host” a very nice Australian who handed us a glass of bubbly and took us to our table.

Christine and Dave were going for the Sea Bass but alas no, sea bass was unavailable, poor David, he is jinked by Christine, that’s the third time she has chosen something that is off!!!

After a lingering dinner we headed off for an earlyish night, driving through such floods and rain was quite exhausting.

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Back on the road again

Returning from Jersey (our last trip) we concentrated on looking for a home and we are pleased to say we found exactly what we wanted in South Petherton, our preferred area.   We also enjoyed an “over-indulgent” Christmas with Jane, Dave, and Mia before moving on again; Scotland this time, for Hogmanay but first, we have to get there!! 

Tuesday 27th December 2022

Before leaving we had to clean, empty and “vacate” our bedroom  as The “Littlejohns” have a full house over the few days over New Years Eve; just as well we had pre-booked our trip to Scotland!!!!

We were away around mid morning but had to stop off at Cribbs Causeway to swap a few things at Marks and Spencer’s; what a mistake that was.   There are 7,000 car parking spaces around the Mall and it was so busy when we arrived we had to join the queue of cars waiting for spaces!!!!   Eventually we found a space and headed inside.   Inside was Unbelievable as some shops had organised queueing barriers to control the numbers entering their shops and as for the cafés and restaurants, everyone had a long queues as well; the result of everything was organised chaos.   We did what we had to do in Marks and Sparks, walked the mall but couldn’t get get anywhere so grabbed a quick sandwich in the food hall and retreat.  

After fighting our way out of the car park we hit the M5 and headed to Crewe, our planned stop for the night.    Originally I had planned to have my replacement knee fitted mid-December so the medics suggested we break the journey, hence Crewe!!!   Result, cancelled surgery but still used the hotel, and what a good decision it turned out to be!!!!!

Shocking weather

The motorway was horrendous, un-believable traffic and pouring rain.  The congestion started south of the Almondsbury Interchange (M4 x M5) and continued all the way up the M5 until it joined the M6, now it was twice as bad.    A journey that should have taken two and a half hours took nearer 4hrs, and the fastest part was the road from the motorway to Crewe!!!!

Nothing special about the Holiday Inn Express in Crewe, but within half a mile of it, we discovered a small, unassuming Italian restaurant “Gio’s” who produced first class food.   Good food, a nice Italian white and the travel woes just vanished.

Wednesday 28th December

At the best of times a Holiday Inn Express “breakfast” leaves a little to be desired,  but this breakfast was a joke.   Upon arrival no cups, plates or cutlery could be found and the breakfast looked as if a swarm of locusts had moved through; I presume no one expected everybody to arrive for breakfast around the same time!!!

Time to hit the M6 again; Christine took the wheel this morning, though it was still raining hopefully the traffic will have subsided, but first, top up with fuel, silly prices at service stations.

We joined the motorway at Junction 17 and zoomed off as there wasn’t  much traffic, a total reversal of yesterday thank goodness and whilst Christine was driving I enjoyed a snooze

With the motorway fairly clear and in spite of the constant rain we made excellent progress so pulled off at “Tebay” services for a cuppa.   Shock,Horror, so little traffic yet still had to queue to park the car at theses services, why?????    It all became clear upon entering; the place was swarming as this service area is now a “destination” place,  www.tebayservices.com and apart from the usual, this is a “farmers shop” as well as a restaurant and everything they sell is sourced locally with all employees from the local area.   All very commendable but defeats the purpose of a motorway services, in, feed, fuel and on your way!!!  To be fair, though there were queues there were several counters serving hot food and or hot drinks, so once parked service was reasonable.

Annandale Hotel

Back on route and still raining, we headed north crossing the border in a “flash” then turning off to Moffat.   Finding the hotel wasn’t an issue but to note it didn’t open until 1600hrs, that worried us!!!    We headed across the road and walked in, out of the rain into a place called “Hugo’s”, a delightful warm, dry, bar, cafe, Bistro, that all rolled into one best of all, and every table had big, comfortable, arm chairs.   hugosmoffat.uk    We enjoyed a couple of Tapas etc whilst waiting for the hotel to open its doors!!!


1600hrs arrived so off we went and booked into the Annandale Arms Hotel, our home for two nights.  This interesting hotel was built in 1760’s but known then as the Kings Arms Hotel to serve the new mail coach service that ran from London to Edinburg until 1848 when the “nasty” railways took over!   The write up says the hotel has been up-graded to modern standards but still retains its old charm.   Yes charm; old, single-glazed sash windows, high ceilings and small radiators, hmmmmmmm🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶, still the modern beds were comfortable, and we slept well!!!!!     

Another “claim-to-fame” was in 1816, Count Nicholas of Russia, later to become Tsar Nicholas, and his entourage of Russian officers stayed at the hotel.   . To mark the two hundredth anniversary of the occasion in 2016, a plaque was unveiled in the foyer, by the Russian Consul General from Edinburgh.

Thursday 29th December

Another cold and wet morning ugh, so didn’t rush after breakfast to get out and about, did a few housekeeping things until the time came when we had to go; housekeeping wanted to get in.    So Coats on, brollies up and with gritted determination we headed into he rain.   Our first stop was the chemist then a mooch around Moffat.

Leaving the chemist we decided that it would be a good idea to re-visit the cosy, warm and comfortable Hugo’s for coffee and maybe a cake, a few doors up the road!!  Upon entering we think half of Moffat was there, it was bustling but fortunately there was one table for two, right by a radiator and in the middle of the bar area.   Our first task was to check the radiator was on, oops no so that went on!!!    Our drinks with cakes was slowly consumed as we watched the comings and goings of their clientele until we started to feel a little guilty.  So a discussion took place and decided the rain was too wet so ordered a bottle of “vino”;  naturally not long after we ordered food to accompany the wine!!!   Oh dear look at the time,Monica and David will be arriving soon so decided it was too late to look around Moffat now, so paid and walked back across the road to the hotel!!!    No sooner had we arrived back to the hotel when the Cunningham’s drove into the car park.

After mutual greetings we arranged to meet in the bar prior to dinner and went our separate ways.

Dinner was an experience, the food was nice but a limited menu and when Christine ordered her Rhubarb crumble, she was told it was not available being out of season!!!!!!! Out of season???   Apparently the rhubarb is grown in the hotel garden and that’s why, we were told; naturally we wondered why they hadn’t frozen some in anticipation of guests requiring it “out-of-season”, no reply!    David was also going to have said pudding, still we all had a laugh and moved on.   Tonight is music night in the bar so headed that way for a nightcap and a listen but no, no seats available anywhere so headed to Monica and David’s room as very thoughtfully they had brought a bottle of “Soberano” to enjoy; lovely-jublee 🤠🤠 .

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