Goodbye to Islay, hello to the cottage by the loch
Up at five on our last day on Islay on our big Romahome adventure. There didn't seem to be any point lying there awake so up I got and made the last Islay breakfast, the usual muesli, prunes and yoghurt and lots of tea. We had a last walk on the beach, unhooked, locked the fridge and shut off the gas and we were off round the huge bay to Bridgend and then down the ramrod straight road to Port Ellen. We were first in the ferry queue. No reversing onto the ferry for us!
Plenty of time for a little mooch round the village, with the Romahome safely parked at the front of lane one. Fishing boats were moored in the harbour, being made ready for going out. We walked round to the soft sandy beach and Jinty was delighted to have the chance for a bit of stick chasing. With all the the sheep and cows around on Islay he hadn't had much chance to run off the lead, but he made up for it this morning, and did a victory roll on the beach where he barely touched the ground, more of a somersault really.
Back to the van to wait and wait and wait (we were very early). When the man came to check us in I asked about direction of travel onto the ferry and he assured me that we'd be going on and off frontwards. Hurrah! Now I could relax, read my book and look forward to the voyage.
A bit of a hoohah getting on the boat....we weren't first on as they were picking and choosing to get low vehicles onto the mezzanine floor first. This is then lifted up and everyone else goes in underneath. We were 15 minutes late setting off because they were struggling to winkle everyone on board. The Finlaggan is the poshest boat I've been on so far, with fancy decorative displays and lovely big windows. Very wet outside but fabulous views of the wake behind us, clearly showing where the boat has turned a corner in the sea. On past the paps of Jura, two of the peaks swathed in clouds, and brightening up as we get closer to Kennacraig on the mainland.
A break from camping as we meet up with family (two adults, three children ranging from two to eight and a little black poodle called Missy) at a cottage near a loch in mainland Argyle. As Jinty and I arrived at the gateway in the Romahome we had to wait as sheep and lambs were being moved, and were asked to back up a bit as some stragglers came along being helped along by a sheepdog. Crunch!! Backed into a dry stone wall but thankfully only a scraped bumper to show for it.
Up the track, over the cattle grid and to the farmhouse, set in an enclosed garden within a 900 acre estate. It's an idyllic spot, with a stream running beside it, a bird table and blazing azaleas flowering all round the garden. Just a short walk from a small loch, whilst behind the house is a bluebell wood complete with an amazing rope swing, a tree house and climbable trees for any ability level, from two year old to granny. Behind the woodland are open hills, giving views of Loch Awe, the longest fresh water loch in Scotland.
Only the area immediately surrounding the garden has livestock, (chickens and goats) so dogs, children and everyone else can run free for a fortnight along with the cuckoo calls for company during the day and the owl hoots in the evenings. Plenty of time to walk, play in the garden and perfect rope swinging techniques, climb trees, watch the birds, eat lunch outside in the garden, play every variation of ball game known to humankind, fish and paddle in the stream, ride bikes, sunbathe, and throw stones in the loch. And plenty of time for Jinty and Missy to chase sticks, chew sticks, fall out over who has the best stick, chase stones into lochs and generally have a good doggy time.
Much spotting of red squirrels, tits and finches of all types on the bird table, and butterflies, fluttering in the garden, woods and the hills beyond. It's good to sleep on a proper bed for a while and sit on comfy sofas and be able to use the shower without trecking over a field to get to it, but good to pack up again at the end of the stay and head off in my now battle scarred Romahome to Oban and beyond, to the Outer Hebrides!