Sunday, August 7th–Mallaig, Highlands & Islands

Even wilder & windier weather; breakfast in the hotel; trying to find somewhere for lunch right after the steam train's arrived; Mallaig Heritage Centre; craft show and soup and sandwich sale at the Morar Mallaig Community Centre; more heather ale and a late lunch at the Tea Garden; wandering around in the wild weather; hiding from the wind & rain in the car; dinner at the Cornerstone

Marine Hotel

Black Toyota Rav4



Well, today I kept to the changed plans that I made last night which meant I had a very pleasant, quiet and restful last day here in Mallaig.

I did wake up early enough to check the weather forecast and the ferry sailing forecast in case each had improved enough for me to feel like using the ticket I'd booked on the early ferry to the Isle of Skye but both were still pretty bad. Rain and strong winds leading to disruptions in the ferry service between Mallaig and Skye were both forecast, so I went back to bed for an hour or so and then took a shower before going to have breakfast here in the hotel.

I'd skipped breakfast entirely yesterday for my damp, cold trip to Knoydart and so I hadn't seen the very lovely room where it is served. I admit that my sense of direction is often confused in buildings with turns but I think the breakfast room is on the opposite side of the hotel as my room is, with my room being on the street side of the hotel and the breakfast room facing the sea besides the train tracks out of town.

I had a very nice breakfast of porridge and scrambled eggs with a tattie scone (sort of like a quarter of a flat pancake made of potato flour). While I was eating my breakfast I could hear the wind whistling down the chimney in the room, even stronger than I had heard it from my room which is on the more protected side of the building. Before going back to my room I just stood there for a while looking out the window at the moving trees and the white caps out at sea and thinking I didn't really want to be out on a boat no matter how big in that kind of weather, which was supposed to be just as bad on Skye as it was here anyway.

After breakfast I came back to my room and moved the stuff I wasn't going to need here tonight back down to my car. I asked my friend at the reception desk for help bringing my larger bag down because the alternative would have been listening to me making in thump thump down each stair.

Let me say a bit more about the weather before describing the rest of my day. It never rained very hard but was much more of a persistent fine misty drizzle which was carried on the very strong winds. I'm not much of a lightweight quite literally but because of my inner ear and equilibrium problems it's often not that hard to disrupt my sense of balance, and the wind today was often so strong that it almost blew me off my feat. And the more exposed you were, such as going around the corner past the train station to right alongside the ocean the harder the wind blew and the worse the misty drizzle was.

I wasn't in a hurry to do much of anything since my plans consisted of: checking out the small heritage museum next to the hotel at the train station; paying a brief visit to the craft fair at the village hall; finding somewhere I hadn't eaten yet to have lunch and dinner; and taking a bit of a walk to get some exercise. The weather wasn't conducive to taking long walks along the waterfront, which was even more exposed to the very strong winds and blowing heavy drizzle than wandering around the streets in town was, so I wound up getting my exercise in three smaller walks of around half an hour each time.

After breakfast I came back here to my room and hung out for a while, venturing forth in the early afternoon to find somewhere I hadn't eaten before to have lunch and dinner. Unfortunately I set out just about the same time as the morning steam train from Ft William had arrived.

I first went over to the very nice and very well done if small Mallaig Heritage Centre, which I liked quite a bit. I then went around the corner and across the street to the Morar Mallaig Community Centre, which is where the craft show and soup and sandwich sale was being held. The food looked and smelled pretty good but I still wanted to try and have lunch back at the Tea Garden next door to the hotel so I didn't eat there. There was a small assortment of materials from local crafters, a lot of which looked very well done including some very nice pieces of ornamental glasswork I might have bought if this were a craft show local to where I actually live.

The craft show was in the large room at the center, which was a very nice room in itself. The community center also provides contact points for access to local social services and acts as the local campus for the West Highland College.

When I got back to the Tea Garden just before 1 PM I wasn't surprised that there wasn't a single table available then, since the train had only recently arrived. That was OK, since I could just come back here to my room for an hour or so and I was able to get a table when I went back about 2 PM,. I had another bottle of the lovely heather ale I'd had yesterday and a tasty shrimp/prawn sandwich. I then had another half an hour wander around town, trying to keep to less exposed areas when possible. I also stopped in at the Cornerstone, the very nice restaurant next door, which also had a menu and specials that looked pretty good, to make a dinner reservation for 7:30 PM.

I came back to my room and hung out for the next couple of hours, reading on my Kindle Fire and watching something streaming over the hotel's wifi on my smart phone or Kindle Fire. I still can't get my laptop connected from here in my room but have decided not to worry about it. I'm pretty convinced that I won't have the same problem with the new, different wifi login at my next hotel in Glasgow tomorrow.

I went out again for another wander around and to get some more exercise about 6:30. Although here in the more sheltered town center it felt like the rain/drizzle had largely stopped the heavy winds hadn't, once again as I got around the corner past the train station to a more exposed area I was pretty sure the rain hadn't quite stopped yet although it might have been blown up from the waves. I did go up the short but fairly steep street to the two small local churches which were both closed but were pretty enough to take pictures of.

After I gave up on my walk I was going to sit in my comfy car out of the wind and rain and read until it was time for my dinner reservation at the Cornerstone but when I checked the time on my Irish Android smart phone it was almost time so I climbed back out of the car and went into the restaurant. As I walked in the front door I saw they'd very nicely posted a sign at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the restaurant indicating they were fully booked for the evening so it's a good thing I had made my reservation earlier.

My table was along a wall, and I had two choices. I could sit where I could look out of the window but would have my right arm against the wall, or I could sit on the other side of the table looking at the very nice room and having my right arm free which is what I did. I had a very nice dinner there at the Cornerstone and enjoyed it very much.

It's now about 11:30 and I'm almost ready for bed. Since this is Sunday night, after I got back here to my room I copied and sorted last week's pictures from my camera's memory card to my laptop and then backed them up as well. The last thing I want to do before I shut my laptop down and go to bed is to backup up this journal as well.

I have a long drive tomorrow, even if I don't stop along the way to see the Glenfinnan viaduct/Harry Potter bridge or take a ride up and back in the Glen Nevis gondola it will take anywhere from 3 to 3.5 hours to drive from here in Mallaig out at the North coast back to Glasgow. Once I get there I want to stop by the hotel first, Novotel Glasgow City Centre, to drop off all my stuff before taking the car back out to the Enterprise terminal at the airport to return it. I'll take a cab from the airport back to the hotel. Then depending on the weather I'll either use the hotel's treadmill or take a walk to get my daily exercise before finding somewhere for dinner and maybe a pint.

This coming Friday is the evening portion of the World Pipe Band Championships. I hope to meet Simon Thoumire, the podcaster from Scotland I've been listening to for many years and whom I met in Edinburgh (he actually lives in Glasgow) five years ago, for lunch or coffee earlier. Then Saturday is the big whole day part of the WPBC and a week from today I go back to the airport, pick up another car from Enterprise, and drive from Glasgow over to Edinburgh probably going out of the more direct route to swing by Stirling but that will depend on the weather then.

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