KILMARTIN GELN TO LOCH FYNE
Once again I started out good and early to try and avoid any traffic travelling up to McCaigs Tower as it had been tricky enough getting up there. This was good idea, in as much as there were no oncoming vehicles as everyone else was still securely tucked up in bed, but not so good, as in there were lots of houses and b&bs, pretty well non of which had any off road parking so of course I had to inch my way past lines of nose to tail parked cars on one side and lots of overhanging trees on the other, but we arrived at the bottom without incident and headed on out of Oban towards Kilmartin Glen.
It was grey and even more rainy than yesterday, so although we were travelling through beautiful scenery it was difficult to appreciate it. The road dipped in and out between lochs and the sea, and up and down the beautiful hills and mountains towards Campbelltown. Suddenly there were two beautiful Gazehounds in the middle of the road. They stopped transfixed, then parted and jumped, each over the opposite fence, and I realised they were roe does strolling along the unused early morning roads.
I arrived at Kilmartin Museum hours before they were open, though of course with yet again no internet I had no idea when they did actually open and there was nothing on the doors either. So I sat in the carpark and made myself a bacon sandwich having waited for the post office on the opposite side of the road to open to get some fresh milk.
After a while folk did start to turn up and I went in. The museum had lots of interesting artefacts and for those who could walk the valley itself would be a fascinating place. Unfortunately once I had left the museum I had been directed to a parking spot which should have given me reasonable access to at least a few of the pre-historic sites, but there was a weak bridge and Thebus was to heavy go down there.
Instead we travelled on - and very beautiful it was too, but parts of Scotland seem to not bother about giving the tourists anywhere to stop where the scenery is best, though they will occasionally allot a bumpy pull-in down in the bottoms under the midgey trees if you really feel you must stop. I did spot a lovely pull in opposite the loch by Inveraray, but the council lawnmower with his truck and trailer had pulled in and taken it all up. Though thinking about it that one was probably made just for him to have in lunch in – far too good for tourists!
One of the places I had wanted to visit for my seafood taste test was Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, and I thought it was probably around this area, but having had no internet for I almost can't remember how long I had no way of finding out where it was. I pulled into one of the specially provided wooded, midgey, laybys and spent about three quarters of an hour trying to establish an internet connection. Eventually I decided to just drive on and give it a miss - then – just on down the road a couple of miles was the Loch Fyne sign. So we turned in and parked up next to a lovely young couple in a VW Campervan with a beautiful black smooth-coated lurcher, which Phoebe and I had to meet and admire.
Loch Fyne is in a most beautiful setting, and the seafood is as fresh as it can be. I decided to have the seafood platter as a test of the type of shellfish they have, and I didn't ask them to hold the oysters. I have to say of all the oysters I have eaten - not all that many I have to admit, but I am a glutton for punishment - these oysters were the definitely the best, and if anything was to convince me I like oysters these would have been the ones. They bought a couple of bottles of tabasco. Both the red and green one, and as I had four oysters I tried them with nothing, lemon, and both types of Tabasco, and one drop of green Tabasco is the way forward for me. Though having given them a good trial here in the Western part of Scotland I shan't bother again unless I am somewhere they are supposed to be extra specially wonderful. I most definitely still prefer lobster, and there was half a lobster in the mix, which was far more to my taste.
What is is with Scotland and bread though, I have noticed it time and time again - and another thing - most dishes don't seem to come with anything - it’s like it was in England back at the end of the sixties when you had to pay for each individual helping of vegetables as an extra, but I can't remember even then being charged for bread! The most I have had to pay here in Scotland was with some shellfish. They came with absolutely nothing, other than a fork and I had to pay for mayonnaise which came in a minicule saucer and for bread - a piece of crusty bread being £2.75. And it wasn't a tourist trap either there were locals eating in there!
At Loch Fyne they did at least give you a minimal amount of sliced bread and some butter, and when I needed more bread I was not charged for it. Does it come from not being a wheat producing area?
And sometimes the quality leaves a little to be desired. This was a loaf bought in the afternoon and tried in the evening. It was supposed to be Tear and Share, but you would have needed the steel fingers of RoboCop to tear this! I tried sawing it in half to get to the softer bit in the middle but it was just as hard all the way through, pity, it looked tasty enough, but even Phoebe couldn't be bothered with it.