/ Scotland2016

Sunday, avoiding conflict

We've deviated slightly from our vague itinerary. Originally we'd planned to pop down to New Lanark to revisit Robert Owen's socially experimental mill. Revisit, because we went there on our family trip to North Uist some 20 odd years ago. Anyway we got dates wrong and booked the Glasgow campsite a day early, so we have a spare day in the grueling schedule. Plan A is to spend another night in Glasgow. There are several museums etc we'd like to see. And indeed that was the plan until we realised the football was on. Now you don't need to be much of a fan of Scottish football to realise that Glasgow Celtic v Glasgow Rangers is THE local derby match. Both clubs have a fierce reputation for partisan fans. Add to that the fact that the two clubs haven't faced each other for 4 years (because of Rangers' demotion) and this is the Scottish Cup semi-final. Add to that a city which has already proven to us that many of the inhabitants daily consume more than the recommended weekly (monthly?) intake of alcohol.

OK so what's plan B?

Let's go to Stirling a day early then we get an additional day when we can bus out to Doune to see the castle (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and visit the nearby Deanston distillery. We've been in Scotland for a week already, so about time we had our first dram.

First things first. After a wetting in Edinburgh last week Liz's Gortex jacket has not proven itself to be up to the rigours of the Scottish weather. So we've been researching new rainproofs. My Berghaus Gortex seems a bit more robust, but, heck, it was only £4, a charity shop bargain. Perhaps I too should actually get the walking gear I really would choose for myself. So back to Go Outdoors which is conveniently en route. We'd seen the jackets we would like last week but were indecisive, as always. In the interim however we've found the same jackets on offer on the web quite a bit cheaper and Go Outdoors, price match and drop an extra 10%. So if we are to get them now is the time, it's a substantial saving. And surprisingly easy it was too. The Go Outdoors cashier ask for website details, wandered off to check the deal and discuss with manager and within a few minutes back returned with a price that was 20% off the store price. Sorted, although we did enquire whether Liz was still eligible for the normal 10% Girlguiding discount on to of that. You've got to try!

Armed with new jackets all we needed now was some rain to test them. And would you believe it, the sun was shining!! Still perishingly cold though.

Off to Falkirk to see the new Kelpies statue (two huge stainless steel horse heads) and the mightily impressive Falkirk Wheel boat lift. Basically the Wheel consists of two baths at either side of a wheel and as the wheel rotates the upper bath moves down to take the place of the lower one which is now at the top. The impressive bit is that the baths each hold a quarter of a million litres of water weighing 500 tonnes with another 50 tonnes for the baths (caissons, for the technically minded) themselves and the distance between top and bottom caissons is 24m. A lot of computer control is needed to ensure that weights balance when boats are in the caissons. Good old Archimedes! It's the only lift of its kind in the world and it was great to see it in operation. We were tempted to take a tourist ride in one of the boats, on a warmer day, perhaps.

Oh, and by the way, this is in Scotland so by the time we had got there from Go Outdoors we were able to test our new rain wear after all!

On then to the campsite for an earlier stop, do the washing, cook tea, empty the loo, have showers, write blog. The usual camping sort of stuff.

Q: What's the definition of a Scots optimist?
A: Someone with solar panels on the roof.