Tuesday, June 8
Although we’d been too tired for girl talk the night before, Bethany, Nma and I did have a nice chat over a lovely breakfast of fruit salad and croissant. We shared family stories and Nma gave us a brief history of her furnishings: unlike our living room at home, hers contains some original art, hand-made shelving, and some lovely color-coordinated pillow/sofa/carpet combinations. (Had she been hanging out with us and asked the history of our furniture, she would have gotten some very different responses, ranging anywhere from “Uuuhh, someone at church gave it to us” to “I think we found it alongside the road.” Or perhaps, "It's not orange... it's burnt UMBER.)
But I digress. (Again.)
Colin arrived spot-on at 9:00am -- a time he had set, by the way -- and started off nearly immediately by saying we were already running late. Before giving us the opportunity to protest the injustice of this, we found ourselves trundled into Nma’s car and whisked into a rainy morning.
The plan was to pick up Seoras on the way to the Loch cruise; however it became apparent rather quickly that there would not be enough time for this. Much debating and iPhoning back and forth finally resulted to changing the original the reservations to another cruise early in the afternoon and heading instead straight toward Plan B.
Plan B involved Colin’s favorite artist and architect, Charles Rennie Macintosh (hereafter CRM).
Now as you may recall, Colin had previously denied his adoration for the work of CRM; however, the signs are undeniable: 1) Nearly from the first, he started in on the architecture of CRM. 2) He took us to a CRM-themed tea room. 3) He took us to the CRM-inspired Home for an Art Lover where he hogged the audio tour the entire time. Lost in a haze of his own, he wandered about gazing up, taking pictures, studying floor plans, and critiquing the lines of each room.
Meanwhile, the rest of us wandered about gossiping, mocking the lawn furniture, playing around, and just generally having a good time. Oh, and (in some cases) nearly getting stuck after attempting to hide inside the depressed portion of a wall. (All except Seoras. He merely had a good time. Quietly. While thinking Deep Thoughts.)
We’d planned to lunch in the tearooms downstairs; however, as they would not be serving lunch for another hour (something I personally would be infinitely grateful for shortly thereafter), we settled for some hot drinks and involved conversations about college days, test scores, and several other ridiculous (possibly pointless) topics that escape me at the moment.
Outside, we found much fodder for good Jumping pics, but were slightly hampered by the rain, which began coming down in earnest just as we got into the rhythm of Jumps. This did not stop us from one or two poses, and the slick grass only added to the hilarity as first Bethany and then Colin found themselves in less than dignified positions. I would have liked to mine their talents further, as Nma and Seoras show promise as excellent jumpers. The weather did not cooperate, alas!
From the Home for the Art Lover, we anticipated about an hour of driving up to Loch Katherine through the countryside, undeniably gorgeous even in the rather soggy weather. The first half I recall with fondness: chatting, laughing, story-telling. The second half is a long blank of resting my head on the seat in front of me and trying not to hurl. Colin blames it on the S-curves in the steadily-uphill road, but we all know the truth.
(The actual truth is that I have developed a rather terrible and annoying problem with motion sickness. Given more than one bend in the road in under a mile, I will feel ill. Riding sideways or backward might make me feel sick even on a straight road. As soon as a plane begins its initial descent toward the runway, my eyes cross and I grope for the paper bag - which is generally full of chewing gum and used tissues, I would like to point out. Yes, motion sickness is yet another burden to bear. That, coupled with general spinal issues and a mild fear of heights makes my obsession with travel a bit of a head-scratcher. But there it is.)
We did eventually arrive, thank goodness. The fresh, misty air did much to revive my queasy spirits. At first, the thought of getting immediately onto a boat made me want to cry, (I almost asked to be left in the car), but by the time we’d walked down to the boat, dubbed The Sir Walter Scott, I felt more or less myself again.
And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Even in the mist and clouds, the views were beautiful. Someone had brought along hot chocolate, which we shared as we chatted.
When the stiff breeze had nearly frozen our ears off, we repaired below decks to entertain any who cared to observe with a word game called Mallet’s Mallet. (I would just like to point out that when I say that some people seemed to enjoy smacking others with the mallet a bit too much, I may or may not be referring to myself. And when I say mallet, I mean a laminated London map. So nobody panic.)
Only after being promised a smoother drive on the way down after the cruise did we get back into the car, and I am happy to report that that proved to be the case. Either that or everyone allowed me to talk about myself so much that I felt to happy to realize that I was feeling carsick. Either way, we arrived at some length at Seoras’s flat, where we all attempted to converse intelligently, but instead fell into differing levels of sleep. Nma and I dozed on the couch, Bethany zonked out on a comfy chair, and the guys vanished into back rooms.
Eventually, Seoras came out and asked if anybody wanted to take pictures of Colin sleeping with his teddy bears. Blinking heavily and picking at crusties in our eyes, we seemed suspended in a state of no response brought on by the a waking-dream state. Seaoras again disappeared into the back room, from which then emanated the sort of whumps and thumps typical of brothers everywhere.
We arrived at our dinner spot to find Mark already ensconced at the table with his hat and newspaper, for all the world like a retired gentleman of leisure. Except he had shaved off his man beard and looked quite younger without all the scruff.
Dinner proved to be a fancy affair, with little tiny menus, separate courses, and options like liver pâté and fig chutney. As far as I can remember, I settled on pork belly for starters, followed by stuffed chicken with delicious mashed-potatoes, well slathered in butter and garlic.
Of course we were not to be trusted to find the bus station on our own: all trooped down to see us off, including Mark (with his blisters from just having completed the West Highland Way days earlier) and Nma (who had begun to feel poorly back at the restaurant).
At the bus station came the first Fails of the visit: we Failed to get good group pictures and/or group jumps!
No worries: we'll take care of that when we return the favor. Remember what we said about Florida!