The beautiful Isle of Iona

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Southern Mull (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On our last day on Mull we decided to explore the southern part of the island. We’d heard we might see golden eagles and thought it would be a wonderful bonus if we did. It was another long and winding drive on narrow roads, but again we spotted people on the roadside using binoculars … and when we stopped to ask what they’d seen, they said a golden eagle had just flown down the valley and they were going to catch up with it further down the road.

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Iona (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We decided to break here for a while, relax and watch the skyline … we were rewarded with not one but two golden eagles soaring above the trees. They were too far away for pictures and they didn’t stay very long anyway. But what a joy for us to see them – again – in their natural habitat. I looked at the map and decided to navigate us on a magical mystery tour, but as we drew nearer to the port, the poet realised I was taking him to Iona.

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Iona Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Although we were on foot, a car ferry was to take us across to this other island, but it wasn’t ready and so we were taken in a smaller fishing boat instead. And in less than 10 minutes we were on the beautiful Isle of Iona, and we both fell instantly in love with the place. We’d like to go back and spend a few days on the island, and maybe take a boat trip to see the puffins and the seals. They also have dolphins and porpoises in this part of Scotland, but we didn’t see any this time.

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Getting arty again … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We walked to one end of the island, walked back to the village, had lunch and then wandered over to the abbey to take some pictures. We didn’t go in as there was an admission charge and we didn’t know how long it would take, and we needed to get back. Then it was back to Mull and then back to Tobermory for our last night. The following morning we were up and off for the drive and ferry to Oban, and the last leg of our Scotland trip.

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Duart Castle (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

As we left Mull we caught sight of Duart Castle, which we hadn’t had chance to see properly while we were on the island. Maybe next time …

In just over half an hour we were in Oban and looking for our hotel, which we found almost straight away. And what a lovely little hotel it was, probably our favourite of all the holiday. They’d upgraded us to their honeymoon suite and even left us a congratulatory gift.

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Our lovely little hotel in Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Next door was a passenger terminal for something, but it wasn’t until the last day that we found out this was a helicopter that goes out and maintains the lighthouses. There’s also a lighthouse ship based at Oban too.

We only had 2 nights in Oban so we didn’t get much chance to explore, particularly as we knew we were up early on the Sunday to get to the airport. We did manage a day in Inverary, though, and I’ll share those pictures next time.

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What was waiting for us when we arrived (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last night the poet had band practice and I did the shopping while he was there. When I went back to pick him up, they were still rehearsing one of their new songs. It sounded really good and I’m looking forward to hearing it tomorrow night at their first and last gig in a while (next one is August). They’re almost full for gigs now this year with only a couple of free dates. But there’s a lot to pay out just now for the van, so they need the cash.

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The helicopter next to our hotel in Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Today I’m still editing and still writing, but I’m hoping to be in a position by the end of the day to go to the write-in in Leeds tomorrow. I need to get back into the swing of going to a writers’ group and the poet needs to get back into the swing of going fishing. We have to organise and plan our time and our outings a lot better. We also want to go and see some trailer tents on display in Manchester and he wants to buy a new fishing pole.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the pictures. 🙂

Calgary Beach and Tobermory

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Diane on Calgary Beach (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

After Glencoe we drove up to the western highlands and took the scenic route, and a ferry, to Tobermory on the beautiful Isle of Mull. We adored Mull and plan to go back again very soon. The roads are quite minor, for A roads, and very twisty and narrow in places. But everyone drove with respect and consideration.

On our first day we did an orientation drive of northern Mull and discovered, quite by accident, Calgary Beach.

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Ian on Calgary Beach (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

This is an area of scientific interest. There are rabbit burrows and quite a variety of birds. We saw meadow pipits and heard a cuckoo. If we’d taken a picnic we could have spent a day just exploring here. But we already had a mission … we were going looking for sea eagles.

In Tobermory one of the shopkeepers told us the best place to go to see the eagles – if we were lucky. We didn’t expect to see any …

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There’s a sea eagle in one of those trees … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… but when we saw a bit of a crowd gathering at the roadside, we thought, eyup … What’s going on here, then? They were all looking at this clump of trees on the road side of the loch. but all we could see was the picture left.

Some had binoculars, some had cameras, and one had a telescope. So we parked up and joined them and asked what was happening. And they let us use the telescope …

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… see … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… and sure enough, there was a sea eagle.

The poet’s biggest lens isn’t quite strong enough to show what we could see. But I think you get enough of the picture. He was beautiful. And huge. (That’s the eagle, not the poet … although he’s a bit beautiful too.) And we felt honoured to see such a majestic creature in its home territory.

That made our day. We didn’t care now if we never saw anything else. We’d seen a sea eagle. Live. 😀

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Reluctantly, we tore ourselves away and continued on our orientation drive around northern Mull, slowly heading back to base at Tobermory. We drank in everything we saw, committed it to memory, and took lots and lots of photographs.

This picture on the right is one of two the poet took that he’s using as the basis for a painting. He’s already started it, in acrylic, and it’s already taking shape.

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Sir James Dyson’s yacht, Nahlin, stayed at Tobermory while we were there too (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we originally arrived in Tobermory this rather splendid yacht followed us. After some research (and checking the name of the boat through the binoculars) we discovered it belongs to Sir James Dyson of vacuum cleaner fame. It stayed there the whole time we were there and this was, apparently, the first time they’d seen her in Tobermory. We really, really loved Tobermory. Each of the buildings is painted a different colour, with the post office in post office red and the chocolate shop in chocolate brown.

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We loved Tobermory (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It’s also a mini-fishing village. They don’t land much fish here now, most of that is done in Oban. But they do still catch shellfish and specialise in langoustine, a prawn- or shrimp-like small lobster.

In the height of the summer season, one of the fishermen’s grandsons cycles his bike to the top of the hill and sells languoustine he’s caught himself to tourists and other passers by.  This fine young man is aged “about 8” (when we asked at the chip shop on the pier), and he apparently has quite a trade going.

The weather was quite fine while we were there, but it was very, very chilly. And we’d left our hats and gloves at home. But we found a little shop in Tobermory where we could pick some up quite cheaply.

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Tobermory pier (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We also bought a pair of binoculars there to replace a set we’re convinced we left in the car park at Haweswater in the Lake District. It was the chap in the binocular shop who told us where to see the eagles.

On our first evening we ate in a restaurant in Tobermory, but on the second evening we ate fish and chips out of paper on the pier, and were accompanied by this mighty handsome seagull, below.

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

We had just one more day on Mull, but those pictures will appear next time.

Today I have gig list and Monkey Dust admin to do. Then I move away from the computer to do writing and editing work and, fave activity, diary work.

The poet has band practice this evening and I’ll be doing the weekly shop while he’s there.

Enjoy the pictures.