Exploring

Two quite different short trips.

First off to Glasgow for an urban adventure (though we’ve been there lots before).

on the train

We took plenty of provisions and entertainment for the journey 

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.

B at motelone Glasgow

“What’s next?  I’ve finished my tea”

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.

necropolis1

It’s a good place for a walk with views over the whole city  – and on a clear day up to the highlands.

birthsmarriages deaths

  Births, Marriages and Deaths though not necessarily in that order*

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.

 

through the bathroom window

view from the bath 

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

seals

watching us watching them

 

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 wrecks

the wreck of the schooner Mary Stewart at Scarininsh

 

old me boat

and another old lady retired ashore

 

 

Two short but sweet breaks, each lovely in their own way.

Marina xx

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.

Cartagena

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

roman theatre

“Can you hear me at the back MrS?”

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

Marina x

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*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

 

Catching Up

Yikes! It’s been two months since I posted here, and that was a repost of a blog I follow. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything,  I’ve had a couple of trips to Edinburgh, one to Glasgow, an overnight stay Clydeside and a visit to friends in Angus.

st cyrus

St Cyrus beach

 

I’ve  had brunches and lunches*,  and supper at MasterStarke’s.

Cat sat and dog walked.

 

Slept in hotel beds and on couches.

bramble at the novotel

DogStarke, hotel inspector**

Enjoyed sun, snow and the bits in between.

 

Read two and two thirds of the Neapolitan Novels, one Anne Enright and an Inspector Montalbano. Watched back to back Gilmore Girls.

Chose Trainspotting2, enjoyed  a musical, directed a play.

Packed boxes, unpacked boxes. Packed them back up again. Picked bathroom fittings.

Put daffs in a vase, looked up through the blossom.

 

Spent evenings surfing not  blogging. Spent tonight blogging not working.

Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Marina x

 

 

* Brunch at Montpelier’s, Edinburgh, lunch The Honours, Edinburgh

** DogStarke inspecting duties at Novotel, Edinburgh Centre

 

 

 

 

 

Weekends in Perthshire

I love my home here in Argyll, and one of my favourite things is its coastline, rocky inlets, turquoise seas (ok sometimes grey seas ) but sometimes it’s nice to go inland and enjoy a different type of landscape. That’s what we did this weekend, sneaking away to one of Perthshire’s Big Tree areas.

We’ve had unusually dry and calm weather* so the trees are putting on a great show. First we headed to the lovely town of Aberfeldy, with its shops, cafes, riverside walk and lovely ArtDeco cinema.

 

We had lunch at the dog friendly Habitat cafe, DogS was given a nice big bowl of water but I preferred one of their excellent coffees. And maybe a little something solid…

 

Then it was time to stretch our legs properly so we took a walk around the Birks of Aberfeldy and up to the falls of Moness. We had to keep a tight hold onto DogS as she’d have loved to jump in!

 

 

Our home for the night was the gorgeous Fortingall Hotel which could be the Mary Poppins of the hotel world**. A beautiful  Arts and Crafts building outside, warm and welcoming inside, with calm, comfortable rooms, cosy lounges and a lively bar. Dogs are very welcome and we were delighted with the table set for us in the lounge,  so that DogS could stay with us over dinner.

I think this is a style to which she could become accustomed ….

 

Next day the weather changed, the low cloud and mist shrouding the hills turned into heavy rain. We still enjoyed a drive around Loch Rannoch, a quick visit to another dog friendly cafe and a very wet walk around Pitlochry.

 

 

But if it didn’t rain the countryside wouldn’t be so beautiful, and we were toasty and dry inside our waterproofs.

 

Back home for now with the stove lit.

 

Until next time.

 

Marina x

Useful links:

Aberfeldy tourism website

Fortingall Hotel

Dugs’n’Pubs excellent info. for dog owners

 

*not any longer

**practically, perfect in every way (I might be paraphrasing slightly)

 

Mull

Mull.  A fairly near neighbour, famous for the town of Tobermory with its brightly painted facades and travelling cat.  Tobermory is a lovely little place which has a life beyond the tourist  trade, though tourists are important.

A ferry can  take you from there, across the water to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and then onwards to the most westerly point on the Scottish (and British) mainland.

mull-malt

Somehow I’ve never taken a picture of Tobermory, or the cat.            But I did buy these there

 

Away from Tobermory there’s lots more of Mull to explore. Castles, beautiful beaches, more ferries, and  smaller islands to explore; one  the holy island of Iona.

 

We go for day trips and longer stays. We spent our tenth wedding anniversary there. DogStarke loves it too. And what better recommendation can you get?

b-on-calgary-beach

DogStarke enjoying Calgary beach, that’s white, white sand, not snow

Dog friendly places to stay:

Tiroran House hotel

Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa

Dogs welcome in the bar (food served):

The Mishnish

Getting there:

Calmac ferries

Just some things to see and do: (a small selection of what’s on offer)

Duart Castle

Ardalanish weavers

Tobermory

Ross of Mull historical centre

Iona Abbey

Enjoy.

Marina x

#Blogtober13

Places that care

I’ve written before about things that make a place special for me. Places that I’ve found particularly friendly. The common factor in all my favourite places, is their genuine care for their guests. So I was very pleased to find another one recently. We  had a short break for MrS’s birthday and stayed at Coul House Hotel in Contin, Ross-shire (that’s north of Inverness and on the road to Ullapool). This hotel is personally owned and managed, and it shows; there was a genuine welcome and interest in making our stay go well. This doesn’t mean that large glossy five stars, or even budget chain hotels can’t provide a friendly welcome. If the staff are well trained and happy in their work then they provide a great guest experience.

So which places have made the cut for me?

The Traddock, Austwick

Spicers Balfour, Brisbane

The Bear’s Paw, Warmingham.

GoGlasgowUrban Hotel, Glasgow

Tiroran House, Mull

are some that come to mind. This is not an exhaustive list, just some places we’ve enjoyed relatively recently. Hopefully I’ll be able to add to the list, and when I do I’ll let you know.

Where have you loved? Don’t let great service go unnoticed. Spread that love.

Marina x

*featured image the view from our room at Coul House.