Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ardgour, Strontian, Glasgow, Big Jake and the fastest food in Glasgow

The ferry across the Corran Narrows to Ardgour must be the most expensive per metre in Scotland: £6.40 for a car and passenger, to travel what seems like the length of two football pitches, if that. On Friday, with Tom Morton Show time approaching rapidly, I arrived off the ferry after a discombobulating trip down the A82 from Inverness, and the Garmin satnav sent me up the road to what it was absolutely certain was Watercolour Studios.
Ben Nevis from Watercolour Studios

Nope. About 17 dogs of all shapes and sizes assured me it wasn't. Eventually, with time rampaging away, I asked at the pub. Four or five miles up the A861 to Stronchreggan, Nick Turner and Mary Anne Kennedy's new residential recording studio complex  eventually appeared, in almost unbelievably scenic surroundings. No sign, just a disused dodgem car at the gate. Dead giveaway.

It's state of the art inside, and luxurious too. There's a Belgian Sheepdog, like a coal-black version of Lassie. After a couple of hiccups, the show went well, and it was off down the Ardnamurchan peninsula to Strontian, where the first Three Lochs Festival was happening at the Sunart Centre (part of the local school; there was a bar, presumably not open during classes).

Nick Turner at Watercolour
What can I tell you? I had a great time. The evening kicked off with the results of a Gaelic schools poetry competition, some Gaelic singing from the local choir, poetry recitals and a celebration of the local writers' group launching a new book. then we had Roger Hutchinson talking us through the film Whisky Galore (he wrote the excellent book Polly about the sinking of the real life SS Politician), me doing a version of The Malt and Barley Revue (four whiskies: The Singleton of Dufftown (light'n'nutty but slightly dodgy) Bowmore 12 (delightfully, subtly peaty) Glenmorangie no-age (orangeade and Irn Bru) and Auchentoshan 12 (a really good, underrated lowland whisky, I think), and a showing, in the Sunart Centre's theatre, of Whisky Galore.

What a fantastic experience that was. To see this magical film  with about 50 other folk, a few whiskies to the good, people singing along in Gaelic, cheering, identifying known characters among the folk on screen, and applauding at the end. It meant something so much more than it ever could watching on a DVD at home.

And afterwards, the bar was still open..there was local produce, smoked mackerel pate, I sold my entire cache of books...and it didn't stop there. On being given a lift back to my excellent b&b, I was invited into the kitchen for late-night cheese and...(a small) Old Pulteney. Hospitality in Ardnamurchan is fabulous. I went to bed with the window open to the river, and slept like a stone.

A massive and brilliant breakfast this morning, and then, fresh as the proverbial daisy, I headed for the 9.00 am ferry, and the hellish drive down the A82. afflicted with camper vans and cyclists. I love camper vans, but you need fast ones, like Mazda Bongos. I love cycling, but the cussed arrogance of the cycling club that rode, three abreast, for miles down Loch Lomondside, nearly causing an accident every time somebody tried to overtake, frankly beggared belief. No wonder motorists get upset.

Glasgow then, and the sheer delight of seeing Dave, Lucy and their son, my grandson, Jake. He is absolutely gorgeous. Dinner at Nanakusa - excellent Japanese food, served and finished and out in an unbelievable 35 minutes. Now it's bed, up at 7.00 am and off to Inverness for the flight home. A flying visit to the mainland, but lots done and really, really worthwhile.

1 comment:

Liz at Craigrowan said...

Glad you enjoyed your stay at Craigrowan,Tom. You were a model guest---on time for breakfast! Hope you're now safely back home, despite the A82 and Loch Lomondside. Jake looks beautiful.
Hope to see you again sometime,Liz and Peter