Taynuilt is a tiny wee village around 2 hours North West of Glasgow in Scotland. The area is known as the gateway to the highlands, or so I’m told. Therein lives Laurie, Lewis and baby Evie and approximately 800 other people.
I arrived in Taynuilt on Saturday last week. I nearly fell off the train what with the weight of my bag and the excitement to see Laurie. Evie took one look at my dishevelled self and began screaming. I was told that I was not to despair, she is teething.
The time I spent inTaynuilt with Laurie, Lewis and Evie was really special. I loved getting to know little Evie and catching up and reconnecting with Laurie.
We went into Oban one day which is the nearest larger town/village to them (also the nearest ATM) which is around a 30 minute drive. That day was my first taste of snow. It was bucketing down as we were driving the winding roads to Oban.
Oban is a lovely little town of approximately 8,500 people. We wandered around, had coffee and lunch, looked in shops, stocked up at the supermarket, and went to the ATM.
The other touristy thing I did in the area was a short look around St Conan’s Kirk (church) in nearby Loch Awe. Gorgeous church with a breathtaking view of Loch Awe. There is a bone fragment from Robert the Bruce in the church which I thought was pretty cool. It was negative a billion degrees but really very pretty.
All too soon came the day long train journey to London. I misread the timetable which meant that I froze to death on the platform but got to see the sunrise over the snow capped mountains surrounding Taynuilt. The train to Glasgow takes around 2 and a half hours. Once there I hopped in a cab with a driver intent on giving me a panic attack about Glasgow and London. He talked about how much it was going to snow, how there are pickpockets everywhere you turn and that London has 9 million people so be careful, Lassie. Then he started talking about some tourist’s murder case going on in London at which point I simply stopped listening. I was actually quite happy for most of the train journey. The countryside was picturesque with the recent snowfall. I amused myself for a while by taking selfies:
I was relieved to get off the train at Euston Station in London and stretch only to be greeted by at least 100 people sprinting down the platform towards me. I quickly learnt that one needs to be a confident walker so as to not get pushed over. I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of people pushing and shoving me! I then could not find the taxi rank. I figured there must be one but I could not for the life of me see it. I asked a Big Issue seller and he told me it was underground. The cab ride was also overwhelming. I had no idea if we were going the right way, if I was being ripped off, if I was going to make it alive even after skidding to miss an elderly man. I did see Abbey Road studios though so that was cool.
The next 24 hours had me feeling a great deal of anxiety. A trip into the city and a meal fixed all that however. Friday night was a night I had been looking forward to for months. The Twelfth Night at the Apollo with Stephen Fry.
The theatre is large yet felt really intimate. As soon as i took my seat (which was superb) I realised the actors were already on stage having the finishing touches of their makeup and costumes applied. From that moment on for the next 3 hours the smile did not leave my lips. The staging was quite authentic as were the costumes and instruments. There were even male actors playing the female parts, as there would have been in Shakespeare’s original staging. The actors were so talented. The play itself was funny and very entertaining. I adore Shakespearean language with its colourful metaphor and imagery.
There was one moment where the fool, Feste, was singing a song of lovers with no instrumental accompaniment that I really felt the intimacy of the theatre space. I looked around at the audience surrounding me, all with soft smiles and attentive expressions. I felt a collective consciousness in that moment, a shared admiration and appreciation for the players. I could see the stage so clearly that when Stephen Fry’s character, Malvolio, yelled at another character, his insult was delivered complete with spittle. I am so glad I had managed to secure a ticket.
The next day, yesterday, Ming and I ventured into the city to do some sightseeing. It had been snowing quite consistently since the evening before so it lay thick on the ground. We rode the tourist bus to Covent Garden where we wandered the market stalls and shops. After lunch and a quick catch up with Lala, we hopped on the bus again and rode more of the circuit. I was really taken by the Tower Bridge and St Peter’s, and of course, The Globe. Also, i was very excited to learn that Australia House is where Gringott’s from the Harry Potter movies was filmed. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
By the time we got to Trafalgar Square I was frozen through so we elected to go home a while before heading to Notthinghill to a dinner party. I learnt that I do not like walking in the melty parts of snow, I do not like the Tube (even though it was supposedly quiet because it’s the weekend) but that I do like Covent Garden with it’s street performers and cool stalls.
Today we headed back into the city hoping to catch the guards changing their hats or something, I forget. Turns out that they don’t do this in the snow. We hopped on the bus, this time with a live commentary, to tour Westminster. The guide was hilarious in his pompous and somewhat pontificating nature. We elected to sit downstairs this time out of the weather. We saw the palaces (no guards unfortunately), Hyde Park, Regent Park, lots of cool statues and buildings. We then cruised up and down the Thames River on a boat to gain a different perspective.
After the cruise we caught the tube to Harrods. Talk about upper class twits! All the labels house their wares at Harrods. It is huge and very posh! It was quite a treat for Ming and I to touch the beautiful clothes. We went up to the top floor to check out the restaurant and all I could think of was my mother and her mother and how much they would have loved it. I don’t know if either of them have ever spoken of Harrods itself or if it was Myer they would go to as a treat. Anyway, it reminded me of them.
We also visited the Disney Princess section which I loved.
The novelty of the snow has well and truly worn thin and I am very happy to stay in and order curry for dinner tonight.
Only 3 days left till I fly home. I have loved this trip so much yet I am looking forward to going back to my normal life.