Finding the nicest places to eat
With family, friends
and a small brown dog.
Finding the nicest places to eat
With family, friends
and a small brown dog.
Two quite different short trips.
First off to Glasgow for an urban adventure (though we’ve been there lots before).
Our bed for the night was new, both to us and Glasgow at the brand new Motel One ; they even had photos from the West Highland line to make us feel at home. It’s close to Central station and the shops and is very, very dog friendly.
If you don’t know the Motel One brand they are well worth checking out. We’ve stayed at their Princes Street branch and they’re also in Newcastle and Manchester.
I couldn’t go to Glasgow without visiting the shops but it’s not quite as dog friendly as Edinburgh, possibly because a lot of my favourites (eg. Whistles, Space NK ) which are dog friendly there are inside malls in Glasgow. The massive Waterstones branch on Sauchiehall Street is dog friendly though, as is Anta and lots of lovely independents on and around Great Western Road. Luckily it was mostly sunny and MrS was happy to wait outside on Buchanan Street while I shopped, and of course Dog S loved all the attention from passers by.
It wasn’t all consumerism though, nor sitting about for DogS. We had a pretty extensive walkies, in fact I covered more steps than I do at home. I’ve walked all over Edinburgh and explored many overseas cities on foot but apart from shopping trips Glasgow on foot has been a path less travelled.
Glasgow is full of impressive buildings, also some haunting ruins. The city centre is full of memories of Glasgow’s time as “second city of empire” and those Victorians didn’t limit their exuberance to building for commerce; on a hill behind the Cathedral is the Necropolis.
It’s a good place for a walk with views over the whole city – and on a clear day up to the highlands.
I thought back to our visit when I read this post today**.
And our second trip? Quite different, over the sea to ….. Tiree, the most westerly of the Inner Hebrides. Because of its westerly position it’s much sunnier and drier than many of the islands and also much windier! So windy in fact that it’s a hub for surfing and windsurfing, the Tiree Wave Classic had been held the weekend before our visit.
We stayed at The Old Thatch in Scarinish, small and cosy just perfect for two people and one dog. A traditional two roomed cottage it would have housed a large family well into the 20th century.
Now Tiree’s built environment might be a tad less grandiose than Glasgow’s (though very attractive) but its beaches would be hard to beat.
And it was even warm and sunny enough for a picnic
Our lunch spot was close to the Ringing Stone an “Erratic” which landed on Tiree after a volcanic eruption. Don’t worry about getting hit on the head by flying rocks though, it happened millennia ago. Nearby basking seals jumped into the sea and swam close to get a good look at us.
the Ringing Stone
It wasn’t all gorgeous natural beauty though, once again all too much plastic waste washed in by the tide. When the shells are sand the plastic will still be around.
Two short but sweet breaks, each lovely in their own way.
PS. I’m just back from a shorter trip, just one night in Perth. A shout out to Gringos a lovely, lively bar, dog friendly of course with great food and friendly staff. Not the place for a quiet romantic night perhaps but well worth a visit. Another plus for Perth(shire), a selection of libraries have introduced dog friendly Fridays . No accommodation report because I like to post positive reviews, the only plus point being DogS could come too.
*The Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and Infirmary (in the background right).
** I was a bit delayed completing and posting this.
We’ve had another short break, this time to the slightly less balmy climes of Islay. Storm Callum had been raging, flooding our local shopping centre, cancelling ferries and generally causing mayhem (and very sadly loss of life) but luckily had subsided by the time we needed to travel. Still we stopped off to fortify and warm ourselves up with a hobbity second breakfast at the lovely Smiddy Bistro
Then it was back on the road to Kennacraig to join the Finlaggan
We’ve travelled to Islay before but always as a means of visiting Jura and though we did make a quick trip over, this time it was all about Islay.
It’s probably best known as a distillery island and while we popped into the newest* one Kilchoman for some lunch (and picked up a bottle to take home) we were more interested in exploring some of Islay’s spectacular beaches.
And of course DogS approved of this option.
Even thought sun was shining I was not tempted to paddle, these beaches Machir and Saligo bays face out into the Atlantic and have dangerous rip tides and fierce waves. I didn’t want to risk DogS following me and getting swept away.
I found a piece of slate and made my mark
But was very aware of leaving no trace…
Unfortunately even on these wild and fairly remote beaches that wasn’t always the case
We couldn’t manage to take away this plastic but removed a few “poo bags” worth of sweetie wrappers, plastic bottles and cable ties. And then because I was looking for obvious litter I began to see the tiny ground up pieces of plastic which we’d have had to sieve the sand to remove.
MrS didn’t miss out on his history fix, as well as the distillery and gorgeous beaches Kilchoman is home to this ancient carved cross and a poignant military cemetery marking the loss of the Otranto in 1918.
And true to form good food and drink was enjoyed, though we couldn’t take advantage of the bar at the Bowmore hotel. (We were driving)
DogS didn’t miss out
A walk through Bridgend woods gave DogS some good sniffs
And she could sniff but didn’t see this fine guy at Islay Woollen Mill
And we got the shivers listening to the seal song at Portnahaven
A very short visit but great fun and still lots to return and explore
And a few treats to take home.
Until next time
*Kilchoman is the newest until Ardnahoe opens later this year.
Or as you may know it, Seville. Fourth largest city in Spain, known (according to MrS) as El Sarten – the frying pan, due to its hot climate. Summer runs from May to October so we enjoyed a change from the wet and wind of home. Mmmmm, temperatures of 30 degrees, bright sunshine and warm nights, sandals, summer dresses and restaurants gently misting their outside terraces.
MrS even sat out on our terrace in shorts!
It really was a short break but a predawn flight from Edinburgh helped maximise our time. Mind you we didn’t feel so chirpy about that getting up at 4am.
It had been a while since we’d been to such a major tourist city so the queue for the Cathedral and the crowds inside were a bit disconcerting. Especially when you consider that it’s the biggest Gothic Cathedral in the world. It was only after we’d visited that we read the guide book recommendation to avoid the worst of the queues outside by buying the joint visit ticket from St Salvador church, oops!
So, magnificent though it is, it wasn’t my favourite visit and we ended up giving the other “must see” site a miss; when we arrived at the Real Alcazar we couldn’t face the queue winding around the block.
But we found some absolutely wonderful places to visit which were all but empty.
The Ceramics Museum in the Triana district, across the river from the Cathedral and Palace was once home to the ceramics industry and one former factory is now a beautiful museum.
The industry may have gone but tiles are still all around.
Another quieter but definitely worth visiting place was the Museum of Popular Arts and Culture it’s free to EU citizens so our timing was good for that one.
Of course food and drink featured prominently
the patio of the Caridad Hospital
On our last morning we admired more of Murillo and his great inspiration Zurbaran at the Fine Arts Museum
Then we continued our “tradition”** of a last day long lunch at Taberna de la Albardero
…..followed by a visit to the church of St Salvador where we should have started out.
Three busy days and nights and plenty more to go back for.
*Murillo Close up – “The miracle of the loaves and fishes” and “Moses drawing water from the rock”
**we’ve done it once, maybe twice before
We stayed at the Hotel Inglaterra which has a great central position on Plaza Nueva, and our room had a fabulous terrace with views (breakfast pic)
We loved our first lunch at El Pinton in the Santa Cruz district and I would recommend the amazing tempura egg. (next to breakfast pic)
I may have written this before but there are few things that can’t be brightened up by a little brown dog. Recently two much loved local dogs have died; I’ll miss seeing them about, though nowhere near as much as their people will and it’s made me specially glad to have B around.
Part of the joy of walking with a dog is the pleasure they seem to get from their surroundings. B meanders from side to side, on “zombie pawtrol” as it’s known by her Twitter pals. I think she mostly “sees” through her nose but mine is a little further from the sniffs so I decided to look in the more conventional way.
It was a grey, drizzly morning which may accentuate the smells, it can bring sparkle to things you might overlook.
There was an advertising campaign last year or so with the strapline “Be more dog”. I can’t remember what the product was but it’s not a bad way to be.
Autumn leaves fall, all things pass; sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I fret. But sometimes I can find my inner dog.
I’ve walked at some pivotal points my life. When I first moved to Edinburgh my Saturday afternoons were often spent walking, exploring the pages of my street map. Yes I was really living the wild student life. I noticed that the houses preening from the hillside beyond Morningside road reminded me of home. Even though those ones were large detacheds in Fairmilehead rather than small terraces clinging on the valley. I plodded about the town, plotting my routes in coloured inks, searching in vain for Haymarket Ice Rink; that book was out of date several years before I found it. It paid off though, I got to know my adopted city beyond the student and tourist hubs.
It’s Edinburgh Jim, but not as you know it
Walking. Displacement activity, filling up the day before the 5pm Finals posting or later walking the night away through a break up and I just had to be away from the house.
Walking can be sociable, even when I’m on my own, my (almost) daily walk takes me past friends and gives me a chance to catch up on news. And walking with DogS never fails to make me smile.
We have a local walking group too where people and dogs can socialise and explore.
Even if sometimes our feet get so wet there’s no point avoiding the puddles! (The walk which went with the snowy photo). Walking helps me think, plan, calm down when I need to.
Three different types of walks and walkers have their left footprints recently.
The first, walking as art Alexander and Susan Maris’ The Well at the World’s End a journey from Schiehallion to Iona passed fairly close by, the second and third pilgrimages but of different kinds came even closer. Charles Compton walking around the British mainland coastline* raising money for The Mental Health Foundation arrived in the morning and then after lunch (and my own much shorter walk) the third group, actual pilgrims walked and waded nearby.
So today, I’ve done my 10,000 steps and been standing a while so I’m giving my stripily suntanned feet a rest.
*including islands linked by bridges or non tidal causeways
We sneaked away from the Easter snows and enjoyed a few days in the city of Cartagena. The one in Spain, though I’d like to visit the Colombian one too. What a fascinating place, inhabited for nearly three thousand years, layers peel away, almost literally in some cases* to display its history.
Now MrS is the historian so I may get this wrong but New Carthage** has been Punic, Phoenician, Roman, Moorish and now Spanish. There are lots of museums where you can discover all this history or you can simply wander around the streets.
We did quite a bit of both…..
Here’s the Roman theatre where I practised my voice projection
And he could, those Romans knew a thing or two about acoustics. Lots of money has been spent, and well spent, on interpreting Cartagena’s rich history. I found the Roman
remains the easiest to understand of any I’ve visited. All around the city you can come across vestiges of the past, Roman roads peeking through a square, villas hidden under a modern street, temples, baths and workshops. Many reused over the centuries and then emerging again, the theatre once lay under the Cathedral, which was itself destroyed during the Civil War.
It’s not just land based history, there are museums of the sea, one the fascinating Museum of Underwater Archeology explores the objects lost overboard or otherwise to the sea over the centuries. And you can also visit the one of the first submarines at The Naval Museum although that’s one we had to leave for another visit.
We spent most of our time wandering around the city, it’s very walkable, but did take a morning out on the Feve train to Los Nietos on the Mar Menor. I’d thought of having a swim or perhaps lunch beside this inland sea, Europe’s largest.
But. It was closed. Well not completely, the yacht club, a restaurant and one other bar was open, but the resort had a desolate air with houses shut up for the season and perhaps permanently? People must visit, the marina was full of boats, many of them very smart motor cruisers; the beach was clean and being cleaned, we saw a couple of women settling down for some sun there, and there were others like us enjoying a stroll along the promenade. But where was everyone else? Over on the La Manga strip perhaps? I don’t know, but we decided to head back to Cartagena for lunch.
Ah lunch…..We stayed at The NH hotel Cartagena it was comfortable, very central and we had a terrace with a view of the Port. But we stayed on a room only basis so there was none of that filling up on breakfast to see you through the day. Instead we ate breakfast at cafes***
……….and had a stop for lunch in the early afternoon; useful as shops etc tended to close over lunch time. Lunch became progressively longer and more elaborate as the week went on…
Culminating in a three hour lunch at La Marquesita on Friday before leaving for the airport. Excellent food and great people watching too.
That lunch was superb but our best meal was dinner at Magoga. The Blue Cheesecake being one of my top three puds EVER.
The dish on the right? Pork and smoked sardine, sounds odd, looks a bit brown? Tasted amazing.
Four days and we didn’t see everything, though we did our best to eat everything!
Until next time
*many historic 19th and early 20th century facades have been preserved, shored up, behind them empty lots waiting to be rebuilt or perhaps to reveal their pasts.
**those Carthaginians weren’t very imaginative when it came to names.
***actually that coffee in a glass, Cafe Asiatico, a Carthagenian speciality, was an afternoon treat, though we saw it consumed at breakfast.
We also visited Muram Cartagena’s museum of modern art in a beautiful modernist mansion the Palacio Aguirre.
Wondering about that spaceship like yacht? Sailing Yacht A
I arrived home after my walk today to a missed call on my mobile and the message light blinking from the landline. Looking up the number I recognised it belonged to MrS’s cousin. Oh that’s nice I thought, she must be coming to visit her friend and wants to drop in on her way.
And so we listened to the message.
I can’t really take it in. Whilst she was (so hard to write) in her seventies, retired, a grandmother she was by no means old. And not ill. She was always full of life, walking travelling, keeping up with family and friends. Both her parents lived into their nineties.
Now she’s gone.
It’ll be worse for MrS; the cousins are the senior generation of his family. A chain of births stretching from the ’40s to the ’60s. And now a link is gone.
We’ll talk about it later no doubt. Remember.
But for now there is just shock.
...wandering about wondering about stuff.
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