Arran Part One
The last week of school holidays before they went back and my second week having them full time (since my ex is working now, she only has them two weeks of the holidays. They went to summer camp thing at Skene Primary for two weeks, so that means I have them two as well. I split their two with me up and this was the last one.), I'd booked a week at a lodge in Arran.
I'd been promising my boy this for years - that I'd take him to the place that provided his first name.
We shoved everything we'd need into my work van and set off on the five hour journey.
I'd screwed my old iPad 2 onto the dash again and loaded it up with some of their films. Despicable Me 2 and part of Cloudy With Meatballs 2 got us all the way to Ardrossan and the ferry, a journey punctuated only by an unhealthy breakfast ordered by me, alongside a couple of kids' meals at a Tesco on Dundee's Kingsway. It was here that I also, without thinking, ordered a large mocha, remembering only as I lifted it to my lips that I'd kicked the caffeine habit in an earlier blog. Alas, I'd have to start again, from here.
I'm absolutely garbage at organising things so, true to form, I hadn't thought about booking the ferry across to Brodick. Lucky for us there was space for unbooked people so we managed to get squeezed on at the end.
I also hadn't factored in the hundred and twenty six quid return journey price, so that was something to take on the chin. Don't know what I'd been expecting, forty, fifty quid return, maybe? Hope there's enough left in there to cover the mortgage this month.
Getting off the ferry, I tried to re-boot the directions on the maps app, but the weak signal made this somewhat difficult. We'd just have to find Lamlash and drive around looking at signs, hopefully it would be obvious.
It wasn't. The phone suddenly picked up a signal though, and I got directions to the postcode I'd tapped in. The app took us to this farm house steading but no sign of our lodge could be seen. Hmmm... This postcode might cover a fair area around here. Back to driving around the vicinity, hoping for a glimpse of a sign of our destination.
Five minutes later I screeched the brakes on at the peak of one bend, spotting the correct wordage on a wooden sign out of the corner of my eye. Bingo, we'd found it.
The owner lady was very pleasant and showed us to our lodge. Tucked away in a leafy dell, it looked great. The usual Scandinavian type wooden dwelling you'd expect. We got our stuff unloaded and began to settle in.
The lodge was all you'd need, spacious enough, kitchenette, bathroom, two bedrooms (one double, one twin), dining table and lounge area. A small veranda thing with plastic seats.
One thing was obvious though, there was a distinct feeling of dampness about the place, thinly masked by air fresheners and fabric conditioner.
"The beds all smell of perfume," says my daughter, running back from the bedroom. I went through and had a sniff - aye, the duvets and pillows smelled like the bottom of a whore's handbag - if he or she had been using Shake 'n' Vac. I'm not the world's biggest perfume fan. Och well, a couple of days and they'd all be smelling of sweat and farts and it'd be just like home.
I've had a history of asthma since I was around seven, but luckily I shook it off in my twenties. Very occasionally it will rear its ugly head again though, but it has to be something I'm extremely allergic to that triggers it off these days. My son is not so lucky. Being ten and afflicted with the same condition, I feared how this dampness/perfume malarky might affect him. I was glad I'd had the foresight to pack his inhalers. It turned out we needed them. Both of us.
I'm not going to moan or complain about this dampness. Most people aren't affected by it and these lodges are evidently old, maybe even past their best one might conclude. The couple who owned the place had taken over only weeks before and by the looks of things the previous owners hadn't put a lot of, if any, t.l.c. into the place for a few years before they'd sold it.
What are they supposed to do, anyway? There must be a few months of every year when these dwellings are uninhabited. It would no doubt cost a fortune to continue to heat them over these lean times. We'd soldier on.
I'd casually mentioned to the bairns that I'd bought a new game, "Settlers of Catan", for us to learn and play if we had any rainy days while on the island. As soon as my boy heard this, it never left the forefront of his mind. Determined he was that we'd play it that first night and play it we did, at his (and my daughter's) insistance. I wasn't sure if it was maybe a bit too advanced for them but was really proud when they both picked it up, lightning quick, in the two hours we spent on our first game. Especially proud of my daughter who grasped it at her tender seven years.
So ended our first night on Arran. We went to bed in a wooden lodge, tired as well as eager to see what adventures the days ahead would bring.