Training. Study. Work. Training. Study. Exams. Training. Work. Training. Training.
The last few months have been pretty non-stop, to say the least. So, it was definitely nice to runaway to the West Coast with some friends for a few days. On Monday morning, we set off for Wemyss bay with the hope of catching the ferry to Bute at either 2pm or 3pm, although as the journey went on, 4pm seemed to be the more realistic target. When reaching the ferry port at around 2:50pm, we discovered that the operators actually catered for disorganised, tardy students like ourselves. We were told that if we bought our tickets quickly we could actually catch the 3pm ferry that we’d earlier written off. Nailed it.
In typical West Coast fashion, on our arrival to the Isle of Bute, we were met with that notorious rain. Not wanting to linger outside for any length of time, we headed to the collect some supplies, from the standard Co-op that seems to feature in all rural locations, before making our way to our home for the next few days.
Fourteen of us did a good job at filling the 10 bedrooms of St Blane’s House, a former hotel turned holiday home with outstanding coastal views. Living up to my reputation of ‘social butterfly’, I swiftly moved into my en suite room for one. While it wasn’t the nicest room in property, it had everything I needed and meant I could slip away on my own if the diluting juice got to be too much and I couldn’t keep up with the pace of the night.
Before leaving Aberdeen, I’d negotiated with myself that I’d take a wee break from dieting and not worry about exercise too much during my time on the island with the exception of one task – trying to run the Kilchattan Bay circular. In reality, when my alarm went off on Tuesday morning, the idea of running 8k wasn’t overly inviting. After about 45mins of procrastination, I finally decided that I’d regret it if I didn’t run – and I was definitely right. While the path was uneven, marshy and steep at times, my run was probably the sunniest and most scenic part of my time on Bute. The scenic views provided many excuses to stop for a photo (and to catch my breath) during my increasingly sweaty run.
After a quick post run freshen up, I headed out again – this time in a car and with a couple friends (possibly the only other people in the house not sleeping off the previous night’s festivities). We drove around the island, taking in the sights and stopping anywhere that seemed like a good photo opportunity. While the island is far from huge, it certainly offers plenty to see – stunning views and beautiful beaches featured at every other turn.
When stopped at Scalpsie Bay, I did what I always do. Every time I see beautiful clear waters I have an immediate urge to dip my toes in and take a picture of my submerged feet. And, every time I forget that I’m in Scotland and no matter how clear the water is, it’s still freezing. Cue hypothermia – but at least I got that picture of my feet, because everyone loves feet.
One of my favourite travel past times, (craft beer definitely counts as a hobby), is visiting different microbreweries. On our way back to the house from the north of the island we decided to make a pit stop. Bute Brewing Co had a nice, rough and ready feel to it. For the brewery itself, the term ‘micro’ certainly seemed fitting but the enclosed beer garden was a nice wee gem. As much as I love a fresh tapped beer, it’s a beverage that’s reserved for after the competition. So I’ll have to wait a couple weeks to provide a taste review, but based on the names alone, the beer seems pretty on point – ‘Cock Up Your Beaver’ – need I say more?
By early afternoon, our team of fourteen was back to full strength – or atleast ‘sightseeing strength’. With that we took a group outing to Mount Stuart House. When we arrived, the visitor sign read: HOUSE CLOSED. So, we couldn’t actually go in to the house as it was being hired out by people significantly richer than all of us, but we were still able to walk round the gardens. If I’m honest, that was perfectly fine for me as I superficially only really wanted a picture of the outside of the house. Despite the damp nature of the afternoon, we decided to extend our garden walk down to the nearby beach where we were joined by some lounging seals who seemed to be enjoying the weather slightly more than us.
The morning that we left the island we had time to squeeze in Rothesay castle as a final stop on our tour. Parts of the castle were closed for the maintenance, but the areas we did see were certainly interesting. An unconventional point of interest was the many seagull nests that surrounded the high stoney walls of the historic building. Each nest housed an angry seagull that fiercely guarded… Golf balls!? My guess is that the maintenance staff of the castle, either as a form of pest control or possibly as a comical prank (or maybe even both – killing two birds with one stone, get it?), had replaced the seagull eggs. Whatever the reason, it was a peculiar thing that I had never seen before.
After our final bit of exploring it was time to make our way to the ferry again, this time with plenty minutes to spare. The Isle of Bute was a nice escape from reality and responsibility before knuckling down for that last push towards the Edinburgh open.
Back to Aberdeen. Back on the mats. Back to the grind.