In blogposting 553 I mentioned the visit my brother and his wife were making at the time to İstanbul.  It’s a city they love; in fact, many decades ago, they used to live there and were married there.

Arriving with all this baggage of affectionate expectation, they immediately took a photograph from their hotel bedroom window - a view which did not exactly encapsulate any of the wonderful things that they knew were out there waiting for them.

It proved, if proof were needed, that you can’t see the Blue Mosque - or much else worth looking at - from every İstanbul bedroom window.

Their experience has prompted Brenda to send me her recollections of a couple of holidays she recently took in Scotland.  And, as you’ll find out, they involve a lot more than a poor view - although poor views crop up, too.

Now, read on…
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'In February 2011 my boys and I did a ‘Freedom of Scotland Railpass’ tour of Scotland.

We spent the first night in a Travelodge in Glasgow which was a bit like
Beauty and The Beast; from logging in to getting breakfast, everything was done by computer and machine.  There was a thing in Reception where you put in a code and your credit/debit card and it spat out keys and vouchers for breakfast.  We did actually see a human at breakfast who just took the vouchers and vanished. 

Which is OK - except that the things thrown out onto the flat roof outside our window made me blanche and pull the curtains.

We took the West Highland Line to Mallaig where we stayed in a hotel right next to the railway station and literally yards from the ferry landing.

It was mid-afternoon.  The door to the hotel was locked but the bar was open so I went in.
It was one of those Scottish bars where you half-expect a piano player to stop playing as you walk in.  There were a few customers and a very well spoken black barmaid.  I only mention her colour because you don’t see many black faces in the West Highlands, and it added to the air of surreality.

I asked her about the hotel and when and how we could check in.

‘Oh, I can give you the keys but you’ll have to give me £50 cash’.

I told her I’d already paid a deposit by ‘phone, wasn’t prepared to hand over my limited amount of cash but would be happy to pay using the debit card.

‘The machine’s upstairs in the office’.

I suggested she might go and fetch it, but she demurred because she was the only member of staff ‘until Bessie gets in at 5’.

So we left our bags behind the bar (I had to ask, she didn’t offer) and went out to explore Mallaig and find some tea.

On our return we were led to the office upstairs, our card was used, and I asked what time they served breakfast and where.

‘Oh it’s out of season and we’re being refurbished - we’re not doing breakfast – I’m sure Bessie would have told you’.

By now I was so fed up I just thought ‘bugger it - we’ll get something from Nisa’.

This grey Scottish wall is what confronted me when I entered the room I was sharing with David.
But if you opened the window as far as it would go before hitting the facing wall, leant out as far as possible and looked to your right this is the view of the sea.

This is the view from Michael and Tommy’s room.

We got the ferry to Armadale, the bus to Broadford then Kyle-of-Lochalsh and the train to Inverness – wonderful.

We’d booked rooms in the Premier Inn which claimed to be in ‘central Inverness’.  Hmmm - ‘central’ as in a good half mile walk along a busy road from the railway station and poorly signposted at that.

The next time we stayed in Inverness (February 2012) we went to the MacDougall Clansman Hotel, which was truly central, a dream of dark wood and tartans, architecturally interesting and really nice and friendly. 

Because of the two boys and autism, I’d booked the family four bedded room.  It was right at the top of the building, under the eaves, and provided Tommy with wonderful views of passing buses (his passion).  When we arrived, the landlady, in the nicest east Scottish accent, asked if we might prefer two twin rooms, at the same price as ‘we are very quiet at the moment’.

The family room suited us better, but it was nice to be asked.

Also they didn’t demand money on arrival and did lovely breakfasts....'

Brenda isn’t just an accomplished ‘extra’ and clog-dancer; she is, amongst many other things, a skilled writer.  I see yet another alternative career looming, Brenda.  Thanks for sending me this.

You’re a star.

Anybody else care to add their two-penn’orth?
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Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com

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