Sunday, September 30, 2007


It took a few hours to pack up everything after 8 weeks' continuous domicile in Leith, but I figured I could wait until I got to my destination to repack the car more efficiently.

On the road a hair before noon, my first bearing was Glencoe, site of the 1692 massacre of the Macdonalds by the Campbells. Entering the Glen Coe valley, I was reminded of Isterdalen in Norway near Trollstigen, although this valley's steep sides were lost in mist today.

Rannoch Moor at the eastern end of Glen Coe

Massacre Monument in Glencoe village

Loch Leven from Kinlochleven.

Small Loch Tarff on the eastern road parallel to Loch Ness.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Britannia rules the waves

Queen heads for her Cayman Island tax haven for some duty-free shopping.

The Royal Yacht Britannia, launched in 1953, and decommissioned in 1997 after over a million nautical miles, has spent its retirement years docked in Leith harbour, not 5 minutes from where I'm staying. As such, it's taken until my final afternoon in Edinburgh to pay a visit.

(L-R) Royal Barge; dockside; the helm; round thing;
(L-R) A handy dockside Debenhams for Her Majesty to slip in for something fresh for the evening gala; view over to the Forth Bridge; a bell; Corgi zone

Car kept on board so the family could discreetly evade the seedy types hanging around the docks.

Britannia's nerve centre, where Betty the telephone operator would connect you to your favourite dignitary.

Petty Officers' quarters, where they were allowed to have a quiet fiddle on the lower bunk.

The Chief Purple Fluffy Baboon gets nicer quarters (no, not hindquarters!)

... they're cousins,
Non-identical cousins and you'll find,
They laugh alike, they walk alike,
At times they even talk alike --

You can lose your mind,
When cousins are three of a kind.

Liz entertains her best friend Paul from down-under.

Sun room

In this room, the Royals would cavort with a stuffed wombat, launching it from the ceiling fan. I'm not making this up. (See below). Maybe this is where the drop-bear legend came from.

Happy days!

Queen's Chamber (but without queen-size bed)

State Dining Room

The Drawing Room, where heads of government would retire to play Pictionary after a challenging series of clarets. The piano on the left was sometimes played by Nöel Coward, entertaining the family with self-penned ditties such as Don't put your daughter on the throne, Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Silver pantry; plate pantry; specialized laundry machines for crinkling ruffs and starching upper lips.

Everything is catered for on the Britannia: if a guest is pining for Uncle Joe's Mint Balls, or hasn't packed enough fudge, then the on-board shop has it (VAT-free if less than 25th in line for throne).

Engine room.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Tonight's our last night in Leith after exactly 8 weeks here with our wonderful hosts and flatmates Iwona and Lukasz... and Canis the cat.

By yon bonnie banks

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.


O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

'Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen,
On the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomond.
Where in deep purple hue, the hieland hills we view,
And the moon comin’ out in the gloamin’.

The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring,
And in sunshine the waters are sleeping:
But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again,
Tho’ the waefu’ may cease from their greeting.

Maid of the Loch at Balloch

Balmaha Millenium Forest Path

Stirling's Athaneum, with the statue "Wee Wallace" over the porch, honoring William Wallace, portrayed in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Kilt.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

House for an Art Lover

Back to Glasgow for the afternoon, spending most of my time at the House for an Art Lover, its very good cafe/restaurant and the adjacent Walled Garden. As mentioned in my previous Glaswegian blog entry, this house is a continuing project to realise a set of plans by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

By the River Clyde is another of Norman Foster's armadillo-shaped auditoriums. The Glaswegian model is metal to Newcastle's glass Sage.

The nearby Clyde Arc or "squinty bridge" also evokes the winking Newcastle Millennium Bridge. My Garmin satnav couldn't evoke anything like it, with this year-old road-bridge being conspicuously absent from the 6-month old maps I have installed. Glasgow also appears to have altered or created a whole new one-way traffic system within the city centre. (Meanwhile, in Pembroke, Alison punches the air: "yay to paper maps!")

We stayed overnight close to Loch Lomond, about a half hour northwest of Glasgow.