I am on my way... thro Scotland

Something I have been meaning to mention that since being in Scotland I have noticed all the rivers and streams have a slightly brown tinge to them which is the influence of the peaty soil and of course the source of one of the things that makes the difference between the Scottish Malts. The other day the campsite I was at had brown tap water, this was spring water again with the same source of colouring, I had considered taking 40 liters home but was told at the Distillery that they uses hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per mix so there is not going to be a Ivan's Single Malt, just as well it does not have that "Ring" to it does it!

Now if it was Vodka …… must give that some more thought!

Wednesday 31st July
Well it looked like rain as I left the campground and eventually it really confirmed it.
Drove thro some really beautiful scenery today, some views had the light almost just right but you would not have been able to capture it. They are experiencing floods in many parts of Scotland and the lush growth certainly tells you loud and clear "there is plenty of rain here". Beautiful Lochs, hills sloping down to the water, hill shrouded in mists, all beautiful, but not quite enough contrast to make the type of picture I would like, not quite enough distance before the mist swallows it, but the imagination if a wonderful thing, it can remove all of those imperfections and make in your minds eye the picture you would like it to be.

I was heading to Oban today but when I reach that town there was a cloud burst and it is amazing how your interest in stopping and setting up the caravan fades in weather like that, so I push on to Lochgilphead where I found another email friendly campsite.

Hot and fine all day, must be equal to two points!
I found out that driving without a headlight can result in a traffic fine, so I started thinking, hey this probably voids my MOT and if that is the case and I cause a accident there goes my third party insurance, so I am waiting here (Lochgilphead) for five days to have that fixed also the reverse gear because at a guess the same reasoning would apply, this means I will probally put the car into storage for 6 months for £130 and plan on coming back next year when I would have a car, OK it burns oil but so what!

So I am stuck on the campsite for 5 days able to go walking distance in this little country town a major distance from everywhere. Well yesterday I redesigned the RV section of my web site, now I have to get computer access long enough to do a update, at least it will keep.

This morning went to a Doctor to get some more pills that were going to run out before I got home, no charge for the script, collected the pills from the chemist no charge for the pills. It appears if you are over 60 in Scotland you get all Doctors visits & medicine free!….. good one Ivan!

Another very hot day so I wandered off to walk along a canal that was build 200 years ago, it is in total 11 miles of which I walked about 2 or so each way, I walked down to a restaurant about 40 minutes walk away, it was a good brisk walk. The canal was apparently built for costal ships to get safely to their destination as the number of wrecks in the very rough alternative route was taking too many lives.

Overcast looked like rain all day but I can not count the little bit as a wet day.

What do you do in a town the size of Otorohanga on a overcast, with nothing on in town, well you buy three English papers so there is enough reading material there for all day.

Hot fine day. So I went back to the Crinan canal and walked the opposite way to the lock at the sea passed four other locks on the way, there was a bit of activity with large yachts heading towards the ocean, thro the locks, watch one with the "Captain" at the wheel giving instructions to everyone else as to what to do and not to do, in spite of all that they seem to survive!

At the canal end at the sea was a small town called Ardrishaig quite a nice little town quite a attraction if you were a drinker about five pubs, two off license's but you would have had a problem before 12.30 buying a drink cause you are meant to be in church!

Walked back via the main road and say all of the houses from a different perspective that up high on the canal bank, stopped and looked at the special devise to keep the water level under control, evidently very old and works like a charm and subject to much interest from, I would assume, other canal operators.

Well another beautiful hot sunny day, locals can not believe it!

I looks like I am here for at least another two days the gear linkage arrived but not the headlamp, as I said I can still drive with the piece of string to move into reverse but legally I can not drive with out a headlamp. The headlamp will arrive tonight at 8.30 or tomorrow night at that time!

So did some washing today walked around the village, visited the local art show in the Parish Hall, when you see the words "Parish Hall", you immediately think of the CofE hall well no here it is the Church of Scotland.

The art show was like most "amateur art shows" two or three good paintings and the rest well…

Hot & sunny but rain tonight, it will count as a fine day
No the headlight has not arrived, and the bank would not accept a email with a attachment, so it has not been a good "business" day, nice & fine though.

Eventually I sent the email to a friend in Christchurch city with instructions for them to print it out and take it in to them at the bank. The banks fax was not working yesterday and they wont accept emails with attachments, and the English bank tat owners then won't accept their credit cards, yes it sounds like a progressive bank! I will probably change both banks the NZ one & the English one!

Found a good computer firm in the village, he does web design, computer repairs, writes software, as he says to stay in a town this size you have to be able to do everything.

Another fine day! Overcast but fine.
Took the can in to be fixed, the parts had arrived, visited my friend at the computer coy, eventually collected the car at 1pm, then drove out to Campbeltown 52 miles down the narrow strip on land towards Ireland making it the closest town to Ireland. It is recorded that there were once 100 Distilleries in this town, most illegal.

It was a interesting little town of about 10,000 I am told and almost all of the shops were occupied due to a program to get people into business. I looked into the land agents window and they were offering a package of five shops with a total yearly rent of £6500 for offers over £65,000. it was a very old town and they are looking forward to the Irish ferry resuming it's run next year. It is interesting that you can rent a decent size shop for £1300, it makes it quire possible to start a business, partially with the high cost of goods in this country. I guess the rent is quite different in Glasgow or further a field.

On the way back I stopped at Tarbert an interesting little town still with a fishing fleet from what I saw in the harbor. What ever it was it must have been thirsty work as there were five pubs in the little town and at least two off license's.

The car is quite a pleasure to drive now that the gearbox is working well so I may keep it for use next year, it is the was to travel with car and caravan doing the sightseeing by car is so easy.

Overcast all day, no rain so in must be fine!
Drove south to Ayr, about 30 miles south of Glasgow, it had not been easy finding ones way around these Scottish cities there never seems to be any signs for a bypass. Driving south again there was magnificence scenery almost all of the way, most of the journey was by water with magnificence views. I have compared it with the scenery of the south island, well it is very comparable except it is much vaster and the very wet weather which appears to be normal keeps it very green and always water flowing off the hills. There are many photographs to be made if you could wait the time necessary for the correct light.

There were also lots of wonderful bridges built out of stone, some still being used , but many were beside the road no longer used which did not stop them looking like magnificence pieces of handy work, there were many stone wall around substantial properties and it makes you wonder just how long they took to build.

Passed by Loch Lomond and of course the famous song kept going thro my head, "the road ran along side the bank most of the way so I must have taken the low road"

I am staying at a campground in the gardens of a former castle, no sure where it is, but there is farm land all around me and here the farmers do what the do in Europe and spray the manure from the stock onto the paddocks so you may be able to image the delightful smell there at the moment. For the fist time I am in a campground that has a lot of children and the noise is very noticeable compared to the other campgrounds.

Since Monday the front page news has been about two pretty ten year old girls from Cambridgeshire that have gone missing, it is beginning to look like they have been abducted.

When you have been away from England for a while you forget about the incredible arrogance of a lot of people, that think they are something, in this country, they have all the answers and if it was not thought of in the UK it is not relevant, that is I guess why the country is in such a mess and why most of the manufacturing industry that still exists is overseas owned. It is quite a pity because the average person you meet is very nice.

Overcast all day, drove thro some rain but it was fine at start & finish so it is a fine day.
Now just outside Dumfries drove 125 miles again magnificence views, at the campground there is a meeting of tandem bicycle riders from England.

In Dumfries called on a young photographer, he did very nice work, studio & reception divided by a curtain, told me her was now 100% digital, he was using a Fuji 6mil pixel camera and was convinced that that was all that was necessary and that he could get a 20x24 easy off the image, reminded me of myself saying I can get a 30x40 off my images, however if you press me I would admit "selected images" I certainly would never set up in business with a 35mm only, you would be working on the limits all of the time and some time you are going to fail.

In Dumfries called on a young photographer, he did very nice work, studio & reception divided by a curtain, told me her was now 100% digital, he was using a Fuji 6mil pixel camera and was convinced that that was all that was necessary and that he could get a 20x24 easy off the image, reminded me of myself saying I can get a 30x40 off my images, however if you press me I would admit "selected images" I certainly would never set up in business with a 35mm only, you would be working on the limits all of the time and some time you are going to fail.

Learnt a lesson today, someone helped me connect up the caravan and I backed the car & he put it onto the tow bar as I climbed out of the car, he said "that right" referring to the tow bar and I did not check it, after two large humps I left the caravan sitting of my side of the hump, it had jumped off and tested the breaking system and it worked well, I had been carrying another "break wire" as the existing one looked worse for wear so I had one to replace the wire with straighten hooks, yes the caravan stopped well however if it had been on a motorway a car would have run into the back of the caravan so….the lesson is of course check everything.

Another fine say today, and the tandem cyclists are still arriving at this campsite as of tonight at 5pm they were still expecting 30 couples, they are here for one week, quite a number came down to NZ over the last two to three years.

Today I went out to Kirkcudbright, to check over the MacLellan Castle before I put in a formal claim for the noble building, alas I found it had been stripped, and the roof removed and all there was were the solid walls standing, I of course have indicated that I am most displeased with this state of affairs and it was only a short time ago all this happened 1742 as a matter of fact and we were not consulted.

While I was wandering the grounds I met another two McLellans, one from Denver and the other from Atlanta. Talking to the lady in the shop, (wonder who gets the proceeds) they get a large number of McLellan's from all over the world. However I bought (yes they made me pay for them) a few trinkets with the name & crest then I headed out to Balmaclellan translated I am told that means "the place of MacLellans" interesting little village that according to the shopkeeper any one that left a few years ago would not recognize the place it has changed so much, looking around the village later I really could not see how it could have changed however….

Reading thro the book I bought on the MacLellans, they were a interesting lot, right in the middle of things from about 1200 thro to the 1800's when the title lapsed for want of a claimant. It appears that all various spellings of the name originated from the same Clan.

I have been concerned, as you have read, about the car burning oil, talking to one of the Tandem riders today I was talking about the car, about the oil it was burning, and he asked, what car is it, I pointed it out to him and he said is that a 405, I said yes, he said I had one before the 406 he was standing beside and the amount of oil it was burning , he said sounds normal to him, his burnt that much and went thro to 150,000 miles before the head warped! So the old wreck I have is not so bad after all!!

Sunday, 11 August
Wet all day.
Went to the Borders Gathering, it was wet, wet grass, there was only grass, lots of men in tartan kilts, trousers, waistcoats, all lowlanders and the tartan was a bit of clothing worn by the Highlanders. There is a very interesting book called "the Highland Clearances" it tells how the Lowlanders took the kilt & tartan and made it theirs.

There were few people and considering the weather and all I lasted 20 minutes, wandered around the grounds looking at the Clan tents, the MacLellan's weren't there, so came back & sheltered in the caravan watching the WET Tandem cyclists return. Spoke to one and he said "if you come to Scotland you have to expect rain"

Spoke to a relation of the camp ground owner, he would like to come to NZ to live with his family, it is interesting, the paper's are full the asylum seekers coming to UK talking of 2 million in 10 or 20 years and goes on to say 39% of UK residents would immigrate if they could, they list the high cost of living, high cost of houses, the weather as all being reasons why, there are many articles telling of people going to live in France & how much better off they are. My psoriasis arthritis is giving me hell in my hands, with all this wet weather.

At the campground, a woman at the drinking water tap, where I had just filled up another days water, said to me "you're a New Zealander" I admitted that was the case, she was a Aussie, first husband was a Kiwi, after that failed she went off to UK for a six week holiday, met her current husband and has been there for the last nine years.

It was interesting all the comments she made about England it is almost as if she had been reading this journal, she said the good thing is that in two years her eldest daughter will be finished school and with the value of the house they will be well set up in Aust.

Clear blue sky, sunshine, hot, what's wrong?
Drove south, crossed the boarder at Gretna Green, saw the sign to the blacksmith's anvil where I assume the famous marriages took place, on south and decided to drive through the Lakes District very interesting scenery, looked ideal for walking, looked quite wet underfoot however, lots of lakes of course, passed by Grassmere, Windermere, Dacre, Staveley to Kendal where I found a campsite.

The amount of stone fences I have seen since being in UK is incredible, to me, I guess if they were all lined up the would at least stretch right around the world, several places I have seen the fences being repaired so the art of construction has not been lost. However it appears to be very slow so the total manhours for all the fences would I guess equal the construction time for any other large object from the same period.

Contrary to expectations there are still two weeks of school holidays left and I expected the Lake District to be bulging at the seams, however every campsite I passed in the middle of this district had empty spaces and this camp, one of the Caravan Club which are normally full, if the stories I heard are true could have taken at least another 24 rigs.

After parking the van I took the car back to see if I could get any pictures as the light was good but UK with their narrow roads, busy traffic, no parking bays on the windy roads and of course the best photos are about two miles from the closest parking place, this is probably in agreement with the guy that took the postcard you can buy of the scene so he gets plenty of sales, so I wandered around the village of Grassmere along with all of the other tourists

The Lake district is much smaller that I thought it would be in less than 28 miles I was from top to bottom, impossible streets thro these small villages with trucks parking on one side thew rubbish truck parked over ¾ of the road and all the traffic on the road, but them most of the UK is like this if you get off the motorways!

Still not sure what I am going to do with the car, one day I am going to put it into to storage the next I am going to put it into the Auction, if I knew what I was going to do next year it would be simpler, so it will probably depend if it is a auction or store day on my last day here.

There are lots of dogs that go on holidays in the Caravans & Motorhomes, not just one dog either, it seems to be a national pastime, dogs, but I knew that anyway!

Fine again even a little sun, saw a temperature gauge reading 22d but no one believed it!

Drove to a site at Croston, near Preston, after parking the van drove into Southport to see Paul Yaffe, he had move from his old premises in the centre of Southport to a small village about 1-2 miles away from his old location. His literature says he has 14,000 square feet and I do not doubt it, his staff is up to 24 with a team of three photographers, and they have their own internal lab. I must admit I thought his photography when he came to NZ as quite inferior although it was on the move to a more relaxed style, and decided to visit his studio the following year, to see if it was in keeping with what he showed in NZ, there were no surprises.

Today there was a major surprise, the work that was on display was magnificence, good posing, good expressions, good presentations, and right on the cutting edge of the latest styles. It is certainly one of the best presentations I have seen over recent years. Unfortunately I arrived in Birkdale village on a Tuesday which is the day only one person works. I did persuade her to let me look at the reception room and the display matched that of the window.

I asked he if she could get Paul on the phone, she was quite unsure as to what to do so finally rang, asked if he knew a Ivan McLellan, he must have asked from NZ as she answered YES, she then asked if he would speak to me and he must have said yes! The do things very differentially here! So we chatted for a few minutes, he could not remember any one form NZ so the fact that he remembered me when the girl rang I guess is a couple of brownie points! So I went away with a good impression of his whole set-up, I would have been interesting to find out how he got his work, but Oh well!

The paper has been full of the downturn on the stock market because almost all of the pension schemes are stock market based and with the stock market going from 7000 to 3626 points, the papers are reporting that the pension schemes have lost 70 billion pounds, that is of course about 250 billion NZ dollars. It is affecting millions of people here in the UK, some will not be able to retire for another ten years, no one quite knows what to do!

Talking to some people from Glasgow and they told me of some "Coronation Street" type houses selling in the city for £250,000 that is equal to $NZ830,400 so do not all dash over to buy one as they are limited and you will just push the price up to a unacceptable high level.

Fine all day!
Today was a big day, it did not start out like that but that is what developed. First I followed M65 to get to M6, for those of you temped to do this, as the Irish say do not start from where I did, in case you are interested it goes to two obscure towns although I am sure those that live there do not think that. So starting again, from there, I managed to reach the M6.

Then I got off the motorway at Trentham and found ONE caravan park sign but could not find any others down the road I was heading, so carried on to my second choice which I could not find, the area I was travelling thro, the Badlands although I think the locals call it the Midlands, seems to have less caravan parks than I have found so far on this trip, so it reached a point where I thought, to hell with it I will push on to Bedford, I had to return there to collect the suitcases. So here I am back where I started from almost 4000 miles ago.

Hot sunny day.
Drove to Hemel Hemstead just on the outside of the M25 ring road, from here I can travel into London by Bus, so it was just a short drive from Bedford, it is a Caravan Club site so I must not even think of E-mail! When I got here I discovered that Jack & Terry Hedger were back at the site, they use this as a base and have to shift out every 21 days, laws of the club! So I had a drink with them tonight and a good long chat.

Newspapers report on the floods in the Czech Republic, report you should always expect a lot of rain & floods for July & Aug because of the hot weather meeting the cold & go on to say most years there are a lot of rain. That is for what I would call mid Europe from Russia down to Austria.

Hot and sunny
Took a bus into London 50 min ride cost £3.50 return, which on my return I was told "I do not know where he go that fare from" evidently it was too cheep as I suspected at the time, I was expecting to pay £10. as a senior.

Visited a friend I met in India and after talking a lot & catching up on what was happening we went off to the National Art Gallery to look at the "portraits of 2002"
These were the best portraits for the year selected from all of the entries. My comment was standing in the centre of the room looking around I wonder what people will say in 100 years time of this selection. We all marvel at the old masters, will these ever be old masters? If these are the best that England can produce I wonder what the future is for art?

So after a simple dinner at a Chinese restaurant, as I stood up to collect the account, a old Chinese beckoned me to the back and when I arrived there pointed to round the corner, I thought this is unusual the Chinese usually have the cash register in a prominent position, as I walked back I could not see any where to pay then I realised he was pointing me towards the toilet, they have a wonderful sense of humour, once he realised his mistake there was a lot of laughter by all.

Then it was on to catch the bus, first two underground stations then out into the big world, went in the wrong direction, missed the bus by 5 minutes, next bus in two hours time at 2300 hours, back at the camp ground at 2400 hours. It was a long two hours, but I got two newspapers and one magazine read.

Hot and sunny
Laundry day and did some repairs on the caravan. That is everything working well now.

Reading a travel magazine it suggests that September and early October it the best time to visit all the Mediterranean resorts as this is the seven week period between when the English schools finish their summer break and the October half term break and not only is the weather better the prices are way down.

Early September Northern Greece, the Tuscan coast, the French Rivera, later September aim further south like Western Turkey,& Algarve.. it goes on to say that prices have gone up 200% in Greece, so of it because of the Euro, but Turkey because the Lira has gone down 20% in the last months is now the cheapest it has been for 10 years.

Overcast but fine & warm
Book Day & dinner with friends in London, interesting dinner with six people in all, all either very involved in photography, studying photography or wanting to earn their living from photography, Oh and one artist working in oils!

Drove to Southampton, or tried to drive, took the M25 did 3 miles in 45 minutes, my punishment for saying earlier that the problems were overrated, got off at the first exit where the traffic was NOT moving and went the back roads, exit 20 to A416 to Amersham to A355 to Slough to the M3 to Basingstoke to Southampton.

All to see if the caravan would fit into a 20 foot container with the wheels off. Eventually I found the right depot & what appeared to be the right person, but I was not to know the he considered that feet had been made metric and the ten inches made a foot so he measured the caravan and of course it would not fit, I must have been having a BM (blank moment) as I did not question it and thought well I will just have to put it into storage till next year & went off to find a campground which I did 15 miles on the way to Salisbury.

Later I started thinking, looked out my letters, got out my tape measure an worked out HE WAS WRONG!

Fine & overcast but hot
Back to Southampton & the shipping coy, John did not believe me but I gave him my tape measure with feet on and he was able to smile and say YES we can ship it!

So I finalized the arrangements for about the 29th then headed off to 1066 territory and the town of Battle just out of Hastings where I am told the battle of 1066 took place, to find a campground that was not signposted and I only need several phone call to find my way there to visit with Alan Arnold & Joyce. After placing the caravan into a impossible site it was well past the time for some Bourbon & Diet Coke (no sugar) so I tried the 90% proof I bought in a supermarket the other day and it works I felt no pain!

UK Weather score 50 fine 13 wet days

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