July 21st, 2006



No one has said "Top of the mornin' to ye" but Karin's been called a wee lassie at least twice. We're in Tobermory and tomorrow is our last day in Scotland. We took the bus from Inverness on Tuesday all the way to the west coast and the lovely little seaside town of Oban, where I have officially left my heart. Hot and sunshiney, with the glare off the water rolling in swirly psychedelics, we dumped our suitcases at the hostel and got immediately on a boat.

Out to the seal colony we went, and saw seals, which, if you didn't know it, look much like big grey rocks on land. They stared incuriously back at us, the zillionth boatload of gaping tourists and rolled over and flapped their flippers in shooing motions. In the evening, we walked along the Corran Esplanade, while the kids skipped and played on the rocky beach below, collecting snail shells (Karin) and limpets (Martin). The next day we bussed out to the castle ruins of Dunstaffnage and then I took the kids to see a movie.

Yesterday we hopped on the ferry and glided between the islands along the coast of Morvern to Mull. Another bus took us to the northern side and the little rounded circle of brightly colored houses that line the rocky cliff bay of Tobermory. There's not much to do in Tobermory, it appears, but luckily for us, we arrived on the day the Mull Highland Games were being held and we climbed the hill (there are NO FLAT SURFACES in Scotland) to watch. Martin's Kilt Count soared to the skies: he counted 109 yesterday alone! There was Highland dancing, bagpipers everywhere, a pipe band, and track and field events. Martin and Karin both ran in footraces, winning a lollipop each for their efforts. Anders and I abstained from the events for men and women (prize for the women's race: a bottle of wine; prize for the men? Tobermory whisky, of course!).

Every day except one afternoon in Edinburgh has been sunny, warm and wonderful, until we arrived in Tobermory. Yesterday it was raining as the ferry pulled into Craigmure and it dripped on us all through the games, until the very end when it started POURING. We walked back down the hill in the cold and wet and found a place to sit and have donuts while our raincoats drip-dried. Today has been overcast, but the rain has held off, and we've been castle-crawling: first, a mini-steam-train ride to Torosay Castle and gardens, which is really just a big Victorian manor house, only 120 years old at that, and then Duart Castle, a wonderful 13th century MacLean Clan stronghold, which was restored in 1911.

Tomorrow, we start heading home, leaving Mull for Oban in the morning, where we'll have lunch before boarding the train to Glasgow (assuming they aren't striking as threatened, in which case we'll be taking the bus) for the night. I have my next trip to Scotland already half-planned, since we've so obviously missed so much! I think I could spend several months exploring the islands alone, and I NEVER get tired of castles. :)

Next stop: Glasgow, then a flight to Gothenburg and home to OUR OWN BEDS!