/ Scotland2016

Fri - A rant about Arran

Well we are eating cereal not porridge for breakfast! Actually at some stage after 10pm last night another van turned up and parked next to us.

The problem is, of course, bank holiday and school half term next week. We had assumed that planning would be easy whilst travelling but 3g and WiFi is such a rare luxury. Of course we can (and do) pop to pubs in the evening to use their WiFi but by then the batteries in our phones are so shot we don't have a lot of time to do the vital research. One thing we have learned this trip is that managing the technical resources when you don't have mains electricity or internet requires planning. One purchase already scheduled for when we get back is a large USB backup battery. Even then without electric we can only charge 2 devices overnight (i.e. both our phones) so any such additional device needs thinking about. Of course, parked up on a sunny day our handy, dandy new solar panel charger will be useful.

So, what's the plan for today? The regular reader, and I'm sure you all are, will recall we changed our ferry time and decided to leave Arran without really visiting it. So we have just this morning to discover the delights of Brodick. Firstly the Arran Brewery which I must admit has the best porcelain breweriana bits we've seen. A few years ago when such nice plates etc weren't considered "stuff" to clutter the house we might have been interested. So just 4 additional beers to augment the dwindling van stock. Actually it's the first bargain of the day since they had some nice German lagers just out of their sell by date at very half price or less - we just had to buy a couple of bottles.

Next the Arran Cheese shop which seemed more a tourist attraction than anything else. Later in the day we saw a flyer for "The Real Arran Cheese Company" so there are obviously branding wars going on, reminiscent of Popular Fronts in Judea.

Ok the tourist attractions done let's take a look at the local shops, Active Arran outdoor shop had some good clothing in at decent prices but not the heavier weight quarter zip fleece I've been looking for.

Next to the tourist information there is a little charity shop - bargains of the day #2. I picked up copy of the recently released DVD "Carol" for 50p (yes David, the old serendipity mojo works even up her) as well as another Ladies Of Letters CD and Liz picked up several wonderful knitting patterns for 10p each including a fantastic vintage Aran wool hat. Yes, that is correct, apparently Arran the island is spelled differently to Aran the wool!

Finally the Co-op where, to be brutally honest we really only went in because they had customer toilets. There on the shelf was one of the questing beasts I'd given up the search for - a Nook Simple Touch Light ereader. We love our Kindles, they are absolutely brilliant in the van. Liz has read about a dozen or so books this trip, even as paperbacks that would have been a lot of van space. However we decided we'd also get either a Nook or Kobo to augment the Kindle. Nook and Kobo can read books loaned from UK libraries, Kindles have a wealth of Amazon books and the Amazon 99p daily deal or even free books. Having both would be best of both worlds. Also we wanted to try an ereader with backlight to decide whether it would be worth upgrading the Kindles at anytime. I missed the cheap Nooks when Barnes and Noble were clearing them through Sainsburys et al, about 6 months ago but here was one on the Co-op shelf at a real bargain price. I tried to get two but alas...

So all was good in Brodick and our moods uplifted by these bargains? Not quite, it was still very cold and grey but more importantly was the demeanour of Arranians, particularly shopkeepers and last night's camp site owner. Apart from the final gentleman till operator in the Co-op most had been at best uncommunicative, some a little curt and in one case downright rude. Had I not really, really wanted the Nook I may well have told the cashier at the quick service desk where to stuff the ruddy thing after she brusquely informed me there was a queue. Firstly there wasn't when I approached the desk from the side and secondly I only wanted to ask her to call someone to confirm that despite empty boxes in the shelves there really wasn't any hope of a second one. I did try to explain this only to be met with "There's a queue!" once again.

If you are from Arran and reading this then may I suggest taking a holiday over in Islay where people know the meaning of the word "friendly"!

The boat was late leaving (and jam packed) so we couldn't even get off the place quickly. 50 minutes later we arrived across the water on the mainland at Ardrossan. First thing to be done is remove the jumper, the grey cloud and cold wind that so reflected the mood of Arran shop keepers had instantly been transformed into bright sunshine. Talk of omens!

It was weird being back in the mainland. Buildings, traffic, traffic control, and being late it was now past 5pm on a Friday, rush hour and traffic queues. For the past week or two a traffic hold up means slowing for sheep on the road.

Still the campsite seems OK. The main thing is that the owner was very friendly and helpful. We already have a couple of changes of plan for tomorrow based upon attractions she mentioned that we were unaware of. She's obviously not from Arran!