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2009 trip to England 17-18 August

Aug 17

Off to Oban. There is small joy in my life. We set out with confirmed online reservations at Ards House B&B in Connell, just adjacent to Oban. And the kind owner Margaret had made reservations at a seafood restaurant in Oban, Ee-Usk, this night.

The weather was very nice, bright and sunny and we On Aug 17, 2009 I visited the Commando Memorial beside the A82 trunk road, 1¼ miles (2 km) northwest of Spean Bridge. It is quite an imposing statue and I’m glad we stopped. While we were there a car arrived flying a small Canadian flag and a young man got a set of bagpipes out of the car and then marched to the memorial playing (I think) Scotland the Brave. At the monument itself he played Amazing Grace, paused for a moment as if in prayer after he was through then returned to his car and left. It was a moving tribute made all the more special by its spontaneity.

You can see the video on YouTube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2j9_j...

We stopped to walk around and eventually had lunch at a pub in Ft. William.

We pushed on down the A82 to Oban while sighseeing along the way. I got some great photos of Caslle Stalker.

We arrived in Connell and located Ards House and because we were early, decided to visit Oban and walk around some. Oban’s a busy place in Mid August, especially in nice weather which today was. We saw lots of harbor/seal boat tours but weren’t particularly interested.

Checked in to Ards House. I can’t begin to describe Margaret’s genuinely warm reception and within minutes felt we had known her for years. The view from our room was beautiful of either Loch Etive or the Firth of Etive; I don’t know when one becomes officially the other. Regardless it was gorgeous and the day was gorgeous.

That night we ate at Ee-Usk on the Oban harbor. There was a line and when I nervously announced that our reservation was from Ards House they immediately seated us at what has to be one of the best tables in the restaurant although the competition for best table was quite strong, as many had unimpeded views of Oban’s harbor.

I had the seafood platter and my wife had the lobster. I’ll report on our satisfaction in TA’s restaurant reviews. The wine and food were excellent and I’d recommend it to anyone.

That night we finished our trip plans and decided to head south since we needed to be in London by Monday, Sep 24 to turn in our rental. I wanted to visit two places on our trip back down south, Hadrian’s Wall and James Herriot’s Yorkshire Dales. My wife and I are both hopeless James Herriot fans (yes, yes, I know his real name was Alf White) and I wanted to see the settings of both the books and the TV series.

Using TA I found two B&Bs in the vicinities I wanted to visit. Bessiestown near Carlisle in Cumbria and The Apothecary B&B in Askrigg, East Yorkshire, the village used as a backdrop for many of the James Herriot TV series. I was able to get one night at Bessiestown and The Apothecary only accepts bookings of two nights or more. Sylvie, our hostess at The Apothecary later informed me in confidence that she only let me have the room because she’d never met someone from Dallas, more on her later.

I didn’t know where we would stop the following day but generally thought it would be in the vicinity of Hadrian’s Wall and a greater possibility of a hotel in which to spend the following night somewhere in Carlisle. Because I couldn’t get a cell signal inside the Ards House I had to walk out into the parking lot across the street, minor inconvenience but I’m sure some of the neighbors took note.

Breakfast the next morning was incredible and once again we enjoyed the company of our breakfast companions. As for the meal itself I was more than pleasantly surprised to have caffeine free tea, generally I had to suffer de-caf coffee crystals.

I was first exposed to the horrors of British instant coffee in the 70/80’s by the variously constabularies I worked with. That’s when I started drinking tea and even though the average constabulary canteen can turn tea into a brew remarkably similar to a chemical of Mass Destruction it was still preferable to (shudder) “instant.” In the intervening years the number of discerning coffee drinkers has increased and more “real” coffee is available but I still didn’t much like the instant of today’s Britain.

We loved our stay at Ards House and I was more than a little concerned that any of the remaining B&Bs we visited were going to be disappointing after our stay here; not true as you’ll see further on.

If you are thinking of staying at Ards, something I highly recommend, please note that Margaret does not take in anyone who hasn’t booked a room in advance. She doesn’t even own a “Vacancy/ No Vacancy” signs, she just doesn’t answer the door, and so book ahead; you won’t be disappointed.

Aug 18

Set off in grayish, misty weather, I just reviewed the thousand plus photos my wife and I took during this vacation and can only find five I took all day the 18th. I only remember the white knuckle drive along the shores of Loch Lomond. Every corner seemed like 90% plus and a lorry or tour bus lurking behind each one. The experience was highlighted by crappy weather. Compared to that I really enjoyed the relatively “friendly” traffic of Glasgow!!

We dove to Carlisle and spent the night in a Premier Inn, adequate is about all I can say for this hostelry.
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Sharon
Sharon
View from Ards House
View from Ards House
View from Ards House
View from Ards House
I was SO tempted!!!
I was SO tempted!!!
Oban Street scene
Oban Street scene
Oban Street scene
Oban Street scene
Frog
Frog
Hills over Loch Lochy
Hills over Loch Lochy
Hills over Loch Lochy
Hills over Loch Lochy
Private suspension bridge
Private suspension bridge
Unknown bridge
Unknown bridge
Sharon
Sharon
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