Good Byes are Hard

When we started planning this trip, I was stuck on spending a month or two in Dublin. Ireland has long been on my “must see/do/dwell list. I had a hard time finding a place to rent so then I switched to Edinburgh. Glen loved Scotland and especially the Highlands so as I said in my last post, I started researching how to travel in Scotland without a car and Isle of Arran came up.

As I pondered our first days abroad and the obvious challenge of jet lag at our advanced age, it made sense to go somewhere where we wouldn’t feel the need to race about and “see” everything. That meant that London was not an option. (And truth be told, it’s me who feels the need to “race about”. Glen does much better at slowing life down.) When I read about Isle of Arran and its “Scotland in miniature” title, it just made sense and the Douglas Hotel also seemed like a lovely option. It’s all been great and things always work out the way they are supposed to…mostly.

The Douglas Hotel
Spectacular flower gardens everywhere

As I sat out on the deck enjoying my last Arran Anvil and thinking about our six days here, I found myself feeling incredibly grateful for this opportunity and for the people of Arran and Scotland, in general. Their graciousness, kindness, and friendliness really made our stay special.

Arran Anvil – a whiskey drink, of course!

Now, I don’t want to bore you with a travelogue so I’ll just share a few highlights and likely more than a few photos. Can’t help myself. Isn’t this better than an old-fashioned slide show though? At least you can scroll forward and you don’t have to sit in a dark room and listen to my slide-by-slide descriptions without an escape route!

On our first morning, I ventured out and found this path that created a shortcut to the other side of the bay. It actually crossed a golf course.
Coming back, I found this “fisherman’s walk” path along the end of the bay. It also crossed the golf course.
Later in the afternoon, I wandered up the hill and along this road that overlooked the bay. Everything is so green (for a reason).
Lovely little church in town.
Wednesday we woke up to blue skies! I decided it was my day to go over to the castle. This vantage point is right across the road from the hotel.
Same spot with another boat. I thought they were wrecked, but apparently not, as they came and went!
I’m so glad that I decided to venture over to the castle on this glorious day. This side is an addition that was built in the mid 1800s. The original building was a fortress for protection from the Vikings. It later became a hunting lodge for the Duke of Hamilton who owned land from Edinburgh across Scotland (including around Glasgow) and to the Isle of Arran.
The Duchess of Hamilton convinced her father-in-law to pay for her build this extension with the tower. This stairway includes 94 deer heads (probably not the correct term). There was a little boy at the bottom of the stairs looking upward in awe. He was cute.
This salon was used for hosting guests and many large social galas. The Hamiltons were apparently a neighborly lot because it is said that they included the the townspeople in their celebrations.
And with all those parties, you need a BIG kitchen! Look at all of those ovens! And there was also a wood-fired bread oven and another oven on the right.
No castle is complete without its stairs to a dungeon!
The property and gardens are spectacular. The duchess imported plants from around the world (especially from the colonized countries) for her gardens.
The town of Brodick is just on the other side of the baby.
Castle out buildings still in use.
The glorious day ended and was followed by a day of rain, rain, rain. The skies cleared a bit in the evening. This was at about 10:00 pm
After the rainy day, we took the local bus up/north to Lochranza. This is an old castle relic that is protected from visitors because it is rapidly deteriorating. The sign says that climate change is speeding up the deterioration of buildings across Great Britain and they are trying to figure out how to protect them for generations to come.
Lochranza cottage. So quaint.
Glen is always cold so he does what he can to stay warm. This is actually his Bernie impression. Blair says it looks like we are enjoying our winter vacation.
The bus driver told us that there was a good sandwich shop and boy oh boy, was she right! Out in the middle of no where, but look at the crowds. May have been my favorite meal here. It might have something to do with the environment. Who doesn’t love a good picnic?!
Glen’s not allowed to take any more photos of me. So flattering. But wow. That sandwich was delicious! And I’m pointing out to the Firth of Clyde…I think. Anyone know what a “firth” is?
I love texture.
So there’s a story here…I’ll keep it short-ish. When we were in Slovenia in 2017, we visited a wonderful medieval town on the Adriatic, Piran. I always need to “touch” the water and as Glen headed up the hill back to the car, I decided to step down the stairs in the little yacht harbor and put my toes in the Adriatic. The problem was that the steps were slippery and I went sliding into the water, nearly clunking my head on the granite steps. I hollered for Glen who was up the hill and he turned around and couldn’t see me at all! We like to say that I “almost died”! And it’s not far from the truth. So here, in the frigid north of Scotland, I thought it best to just dip a finger into the icy waters!
Lochranza is in the Highlands. One of the reasons why the Isle of Arran is called “Scotland in miniature”. See the ruin in the distance?
The buildings and walls are always being repaired.
Upon returning to Brodick, I decided to catch the bus that heads to the south of the island which is where you find the Lowlands. The drive very much reminded me of the Mendocino coast in the spring.
This gentleman got off the bus and headed down his lane. I wished that I could hop off and explore!
Walls and cottages
The end of the bus line was in the west side center of the island at Blackwater Foot. It’s a small village and it looked like it had quite a few holiday rentals. I didn’t grab any photos, but to the south of the island is the town of Lamlash which is the county seat. I would go back and explore there if I had more time. It really looked like a lovely place for a holiday.
Blackwater Foot
I ended my evening with that Arran anvil on the deck of the hotel. My little friend thought that if he was patient, he might get a snack. Nope.
Evening on the bay
Our ferry coming in. It will be there for us in the morning as we head off for our next adventure in Canterbury, England! Good bye, Scotland and Isle of Arran. You were the perfect spot for us to relax and enjoy some down time.

In closing, one of the last times I left my mom in her apartment (turning 96 in August!), I could hear her saying on repeat as I walked away down the hallway…”Until next time, until next time, until next time…” Wow. That was hard. None of us has a guarantee for a “next time” and so for now….Isle of Arran, until next time…

Published by gat2jdt2

60 something retirees (or semi-retirees) learning to live differently

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