Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Spent last weekend in Oban aka the small bay (Gaelic), aka the gateway to the isles (kitschy tourist brochure speak). First time i've been there in many a year. Oban really is a gateway to many of Scotland's finest isles and ferries nash in and out the busy wee bay all day long. The Cal Mac ferry above batters to and from and Mull 7 times a day. Boats also regularly ply (love that word) from Oban to Collonsay, Lismore, Coll, Tiree, Barra and South Uist. One day soon i'm gonna get that camper van back on the road to Mull and the isles.
In the meantime, local prawnboat skipper, very tall man and all round guid guy, Doll, is arranging a wee trip for 6 of us on his boat from Oban to St Kilda via Uist, Harris, Lewis and erm...other places. That's gonna have to happen next summer now as diaries are kinda full but it'll be worth the wait. St Kilda - ya beauty, bring it on.
Anyway, Seony, Johnny D and masel werenae in Oban to island hop but to fix a big garden and check the local boozers. The garden was very big, it was full o buttercups, it was a rocky, claybound, messy pile and now it looks magnificent. Really. Well worth the sensation of having been used as the ball in a game o shinty. Well worth walkin all week since like i've just shat ma pants. I can only hope its owner agrees cos it feckin hurt. Good fun though.
In between the gairdnin we were, as mentioned, checkin out the boozers. Rather disgracefuly i cannae mind the name of our first (very loud) port of call but it was swiftly followed by the Waterfront (much better than a Simple Minds song), Cuan Mor (serves great food, including tiptop nutroast wi mashed tatties an cheese), the Aulay (proper radgeworks clientele, very cheery staff) and finally the Lorne (weltoest boozer in the west, barman wi froggy tatts and the hardest looking friendly bouncer ever seen).
Oban's kinda pretty to look at (from a distance) and packed to the gunnels wi tourists but it's rough as biscuits under the surface. The peeps we met were not genteel - they swore like fuck, grabbed each other's baws , nipped each other's erses, did that wet finger in the lug thing, smoked like kippers. They stared a bit at first and took the pish when i asked "Do you ken where the Lorne Bar is?" (ans: "Yer pal Ken's round that corner and so's the Lorne.") But i liked them. They mainly said hullo and cheerio and apologised ("fuckin sorry about that, pal") when falling across our table.
Oban even manages to smell o chips and big old fishing boats in an inoffensive way. Which is some trick to pull off. I think Muhammad Ali said it best when he said, "I shall return". And i shall.