Daily Archives: June 22, 2022

Break out the foulies

It’s another rainy day and Etive thinks a drive around her environs is a good idea. We agree, as a tour with a local is always rewarding. Taynuilt is a tiny village, with all the shops you need and everyone knows everyone. It’s the sort of place we’d choose to live if we ever settle down.

The sky brightened a bit and we made a beeline to Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel. The castle was built sometime in the 13th century and appears to have emerged right out of the rocks.

This castle is actually open but we didn’t take the time to go in, rather walked around the grounds and admired the architecture, particularly of the chapel.

Back home again we found the midges swarming and we quickly retreated to our homes. Jack and I thought we’d warm up with a cup of coffee, only to find our propane tank had ran out while we were gone. On Escape Velocity Jack elevated Tank Swap to an Olympic event. He could get us back up and running within about four minutes, and that included disconnecting the empty, carrying it up to the foredeck, pulling the fresh tank out of the deck locker, dropping the empty in its place, carrying the full (and heavy) tank back to the cockpit, persuading it into the vented locker, hooking it up and testing for leaks with dish soap. The kettle barely came off the boil before the flame was lit.

The campervan is more of a challenge, even without the “carrying the tank 40 feet along the side deck and back” part of the event. For one thing, these are 13kg tall bottles, as opposed to the 9kg we were used to. But the real bug-a-boo is that the spare tank is stored behind the operating tank, so both tanks have to be removed and places swapped before the fresh tank can be connected. And — let’s think ahead now — when we go to swap the empty at the gas depot, the operating tank has to be disconnected and removed so we can extract the empty behind it, then secure the new full bottle in the back of the locker before the working tank gets reinstalled, hooked up and tested again. Not a quick maneuver.

But back to today. The propane locker is inside the back door, so the whole time Jack is swapping the tanks, midges are swarming his head, flying in his nose and ears, and into the van. I’m fanning the midges back out of the van, mixing up the dish soap with water for testing, and spraying our tea tree/vinegar/water mixture all over in the hope that the midges will take a hike. There may have been swearing involved.

Jack announced “no leaks!” and slammed the back door, then ran to the side and back into the van. We were pleased to see that all the fanning and spritzing of tea tree oil did the job, and there were no midges inside, although Jack’s head had taken a toll.

Later, when we related the story, we were advised to get Smidge. “It works!”

Ugh. We do have Smidge, we just forgot to use it BEFORE going out in the midges. Lesson learned. The coffee was worth it.


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Local knowledge

One of the least mentioned but long-lasting benefits of ocean cruising is that you make friends from all over the world. When our friends Seathan and Audrie on the yacht Rehua, currently in the Seychelles, saw where we are Audrie introduced us via email to Seathan’s mother Etive who lives outside Oban. Etive invited us to visit, and even offered up her driveway as a parkup. We relished the idea of local knowledge to helps us formulate a travel plan.

Etive met us at the bottom of her lane and guided us to a perfect level spot beside her house, with the kind of long-distance view we’ve grown to love about Scotland.

We spent a couple of delightful hours enjoying the company and the garden views and good conversation before Jack and I retreated to the van for a good night’s sleep. Wind and rain rolled in overnight and by morning we stayed home as it poured, lingering over our morning coffee and catching up on writing.

Finally, we dashed between the raindrops to the conservatory and found Etive trying to summon a tennis tournament on the uncooperative TV. I was happy to discover a fellow tennis fan and we had more to talk about for awhile until another brief break in the rain urged us back to the van for the afternoon.

Seathan’s brother Nial arrived later and we were treated to a sumptuous buffet dinner complete with bubbly and more fine conversation.

We peppered them with questions about where to go and when to go there, which direction of travel is optimal, and what to skip. They offered up suggestions we hadn’t yet considered, and we noted the relative level of enthusiasm for places we thought we’d like to see.

We were disappointed to learn neither has been to Shetland, a place that has called to me since I was a child. I don’t know why, especially since I love trees and Shetland doesn’t have any. We want to visit the Hebrides, too, and the Highlands and Edinburgh. There’re so many places to go in this small country, and talking to Etive and Nial hasn’t helped us formulate an itinerary at all. The list just keeps getting longer. So much for local knowledge.

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