Back to Scotland

Tuesday 14th June 2016

How happy we were! After hallucinogenic Mount Stuart, the ancient simplicity of St Blane’s, mercifully a ruin. Our van conveyed us to the other end of the Isle of Bute.

Oh but I forgot Ascog Fernery! That was before St Blane’s but after Mount Stuart. Some middle-classes had bought the property two or three years ago; not Scottish. Substantial Victorian dwelling by the sea with a large garden in need of attention and a Victorian fernery found and restored by the previous owners containing Britain’s oldest fern which we saw, also now getting a bit dilap again. He said that she knew the names of all the plants but she, when she appeared, didn’t. She was drawn, in fact, to a ghostly wafer by the strain of the whole thing but they must battle on. What an enchanting spot and crazy garden, part woodland, with violently-coloured flowering trees and shrubs. He’s going to gild the top of the fernery and make it a feature to attract visitors. He asked me how to gild and I advised, that being something I’ve done in my life. I just hope they aren’t a weeny bit deluded and have got a good capital sum behind them. They must get on top of that ground elder.

So back to St Blane’s, an isolated ancient ruined church. You could just feel the Middle Ages and all that Faith going on in that lonely enchanting spot. The Isle of Bute is sheep-country with great sweeps of field going down to the sea. Nobody much about. Few dwellings. We were thrilled with it. It was completely satisfactory. At one point the Laird interrupted banter in the van (it was said that Matt Driver had been subject to fart gas at St Blane’s) to say we were just crossing over into the Highlands. The division between High and Low goes right through the Isle of Bute. Banter continued, riddled with tragedy. The Laird recounted his adventures when resident in those Scottish parts; his arrival by speed boat from Tinabuilaughie (something like that) at the Isle of Bute, where he engaged in a drinking den with ‘mates’. The local Police were charming concerning his subsequent lack of suitability at the wheel, on this and quite a few other occasions – although it was not quite as extreme as that time in Ab Fab when the traffic officer opened the driver’s door of her Jaguar and she just fell out onto the pavement. Then there were all the parents that have gone on before: ‘My mum and dad are in there,’ Moira MacMatron cried as we passed some cemetery gates. The Laird’s parents also are scattered in the vicinity.

We dined at the yacht club in Largs, the birthplace of Bruce MacBain, my architect; also the wedding place of the Laird and Lairdness 4 years ago since when they’ve been bantering away like billyho. The Laird provokes with smut and toilet talk; the Lairdess is patient, more in sadness than anger, but lobbs back when nec. She’s quite filthy herself and often mentions her attributes. Thank goodness the saccharine, kissy-kissy days of youth are over. I had a sundae. The sky was wildly apricot out towards Arran.

The next day was the Laird’s birthday. I sang Amazing Grace to mark the occasion. We visited the Kelpies and then the Falkirk Wheel. Laura Malcolm was not keen on too much engineering. But the Kelpies is Art, sort of, except she got fed up with the guide and wanted the tour lopped down. The Kelpies are two huge horses done in steel plates right beside a motorway – same idea as the Angel of the North. Famous Sculptor. Recently installed. Kelpies are creatures of Celtic legend – awfully alluring, but if you touch them you get glued on and dragged off and drowned. So not v. nice. I wonder if they’ll kill any motorists whizzing by on the neighbouring motorway. Also gestured towards are the working horses of the canals thereabouts. In fact, as we learned on our private tour, two retired such horses were the models, called Jimmy and Sam or some such. They’re still alive in a field somewhere. Lovely. We got a private glimpse of the inside of a Kelpie – a lot of struts, terrific engineering. Laura Malcolm a bit cross. In fact now I recall, one of the strands of banter was Matt Driver saying that Laura is really a man from Essex laying down the law: ‘Shut your gob, you bastard,’ she said, when he’d said it once too often. Laura is not in fact a man from Essex although one can see that it might be fun for her husband to think so for a while – to make a change.

Finally we van-ed forth for the Falkirk Wheel – which is a huge engineering wheel that lifts canal barges up and down from one section of the canal to another – it’s instead of locks, you see. Otherwise there’d have to be millions of locks. The Falkirk Wheel is fairly newly installed, there’s nothing like it in the world and it runs off a washing-machine engine. We went up in it and down again. When the Queen came she wasn’t allowed to ride in it because of Royal Security. Lovely view, rolling countryside, not very Scottish. Speaking of the Scots, I sensed they didn’t like me, maybe because I was in tartan. They’re very Scottish, even the young ones. They’re mad keen on their Scottish accents and really push the boat out: they say ‘sex’ instead of ‘six’. I think it’s fair to say I only saw one man with a fashion silloulette the entire time we were there and that was at the Falkirk Wheel. And only one in tartan too – also at the wheel. But it was bondage trousers left over from the Punk era.

In the evening we returned to London, the Laird and Lairdess to Usk and our Scottish interlude was over. But we will return.

My Second Set of Tartan Worn for the Isle of Bute Visit: Zara, Bought Specially. 100% Linen. Tres Good buy

My Second Set of Tartan Worn for the Isle of Bute Visit: Zara, Bought Specially. 100% Linen. Tres Good buy

My Topman Tartan Frock Coat, Bought Specially for the Scottish Visit: Fine But Don't Wear in Sun because Nylon Shows up

My Topman Tartan Frock Coat, Bought Specially for the Scottish Visit: Fine But Don’t Wear in Sun because Nylon Shows up

St Blane's: Spiritual Spot where it is Thought Matt Driver was Subject to Fart Gas

St Blane’s: Spiritual Spot where it is Thought Matt Driver was Subject to Fart Gas

In this Hotel the Queen Stayed: Rothesay, Isle of Bute

In this Hotel the Queen Stayed: Rothesay, Isle of Bute

My Sundae at Largs Yacht Club

My Sundae at Largs Yacht Club

This is a Kelpie

This is a Kelpie

A Kelpie Rearing: Watch Out

A Kelpie Rearing: Watch Out

Inside a Kelpie: Fantastic Struts

Inside a Kelpie: Fantastic Struts

Classic Scottish Men's Wear: That Shade of Pink Much Favoured

Classic Scottish Men’s Wear: That Shade of Peach Much Favoured

The Only Fashion Silloulette Seen on the Tour of Scotland

The Only Fashion Silloulette Seen on the Tour of Scotland

The Only Tartan Sighting on the Entire Scottish Tour:

The Only Tartan Sighting on the Entire Scottish Tour:

 

 

 

Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2016 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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