Sometime in June 2016, my friend and I started to plan our holiday. We eventually settled for the U.K. She had never been there; but as I have been so many times, the only condition for me was to visit a place I had never been to. I mentioned to her that I had never been to Scotland so that seemed like our travel destination. We had to plan around our work schedules – which was not the easiest thing, but October was the best time we could agree on.
I found us a host through Couch Surfing (CS) who was super nice. From the time we started exchanging messages, he was unsure if he would be able to host during our chosen dates. Our back up plan of course was to find a hotel, but mixing with the locals in new places always helps me discover places that a tourist might never find.
I have used CS for meet ups in different places but I am exploring the option of being hosted more and this was the second time. Finding a host can be interesting but also daunting, especially when you read profiles that give so many conditions for them hosting.
I asked my friend, Bukky, if she was game and she was happy to try, so I sent out a few requests. I got two positive replies and one maybe. One cancelled close to our departure date, and another was not willing to provide information. I politely mentioned that we had found another host. Our host ended up being the maybe.
Our host picked us up from the central station so that was a good start. Bukky and I had not seen each other in about 5 years and live in different countries. It was great to finally see her.
Bukky arrived a week earlier than I did so she went around England. By the time I arrived we had a full week together in Scotland. We spent the first three nights in Edinburgh. We both agreed that it was a beautiful city but it was somewhat laid back for a capital. Getting around was easy, buses were everywhere but we walked mostly. My travel buddy, Bukky, was fascinated by the old buildings and the part where some were in rocky areas. She tried to imagine how the buildings were done without the technology available to us today. She studied building as her first degree, so this was not out of place.
I thought that it would be incomplete to visit Scotland and not go to an Island. During our planning days, I suggested this to Bukky who was also keen. Deciding on which was a struggle, so after a few e-mails back and forth, we decided to make that decision when we were together. We asked our host who gave us options which were not even on our list! Isle of Arran won eventually and it was easily accessible. The return trip to and from Edinburgh cost us £43.20 each which wasn’t bad.
We headed to the Island on our third day. We took a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow then a bus to the main station where we took another train to the harbour, and after a ferry ride, we were in Arran. We were excited to discover on the go so we didn’t make reservations for accommodation. The part of the Island we stayed in was Brodick, we opted not to go further in especially as we didn’t have a car.
We turned up and walked into the information office to ask for accommodation. After a few phone calls and we were walking up the street to Dunvegan guest house. We were told that each night would cost us £40 per person, so that was £120 in total. We asked if we could get discounts as we were sharing a room and we managed to get £100 per person. We thought that was a good deal. The place had the feel of home, it was cosy and not so commercialised.
We were told in Edinburgh that the fish and chips on the Island would be amazing. We arrived around late lunch time so we went looking. We asked someone and going with the recommendation, we were in a café waiting. It arrived but we were let down, we had eaten better!
We made enquiries about what we could possibly do in Arran. One of the waitresses was super nice and talked us through our options. And oh before I forget, we were probably the only black people so we got stared at, a lot! We could see some struggling not to stare, others staring hard with some level of shock, some walking past and giving that very oyibo smile that disappears immediately after they walk by, or some who were happy to say hello. It provided entertainment for us and we laughed a lot, it was all part of the thrill. By the time we got back to our room around 5, we were both exhausted and passed out.
The next morning, breakfast was a full Scottish one. The food looked so good, got us excited and we ate too much!
After about an hour, we headed to the Brodick Castle. It’s meant to be a 45-minute walk but with us stopping to take pictures, it took us an hour.
We left at 11am and were on the castle lawn at noon. We took pictures and wandered about before our guided tour at 2pm. The fee per head was £12.50.
As usual with these sorts of places, photography was not allowed inside. It was a two hour interesting history of the castle. At a point, the guide, lovely older woman, was uncomfortable as she had to tell us the part where some of the wealth of the families was from slave trade. There were some hideous looking square stools carved with the legs as sculptures of black slaves (extremely ugly looking, that I had to wonder whether that was the way black people appeared to them) holding up something heavy which was the seat. The guide described them as things she would have hidden away for the sheer ugliness but at the end, it’s all part of history and we cannot pretend that it didn’t happen.
This castle was rebuilt three times with extensions for different reasons. During the tour, one other shocking thing about the story was how slaves did not have sugar but the rich ate so much of it and when their teeth got rotten, they would buy off teeth from the slaves! What a world!
At the end of the tour, the poor tour guide apologised if there was anything that made us feel uncomfortable and added again that it was all history and if they didn’t say it, they would be dishonest. We agreed with her and assured her that we were fine before leaving.
Heading back to Dunvegan, temperatures had dropped so we did a power walk back, got some dinner on our way and retired for the day. After that heavy breakfast, we didn’t even notice that we did not have lunch!
The weather was glorious for this time of year as most of the locals thought, so we were in luck. This Island for me was a proper get away to rest. We retired quite early each day and there were no early wake up calls 🙂
The next day was my birthday and we planned to do some more site seeing but had no real plan.
I walked into the bathroom and returned to a beautiful pair of shoes and a set of perfumes from my dear Bukky. I tried the shoes on in my towel and did some modelling which just cracked her up!
Brodick is not so big so we went to a museum, a cheese shop and an aromatic shop. Bukky has no real love for cheese so was eager to get out of there but I on the other tasted quite a bit before settling for what I wanted. We spent more time in the aromatic shop picking out scented candles and home diffusers.
Bukky took me out to dinner, I loved the food but didn’t quite get the place, there was something I couldn’t place my finger on, then the rude owner…we ended up checking reviews on Trip Advisor and sadly he doesn’t have very good reviews.
Anyway, after dinner, I was slightly in a hurry to leave and although I was super pleased about the food, I almost felt like we could have stayed in, ordered something and had a party for two. Bukky understood so we tried to see if another place we had seen earlier had a better ambience as there was a sign that there would be live music. However, the live music was not our idea of live music so we went to the room and chatted away into the night.
We woke up to a grey day but it was alright as we were leaving. The ferry was to leave Brodick at 11am so we had breakfast, bid Dunvegan farewell and walked to the station. I wasn’t in very high spirits and Bukky kept asking if I missed her already because that was our last full day together. Maybe I did!
He gave me a present, put on some records and we had a mini birthday party for me, I even danced on his table! It was good fun.
We left the next morning. Bukky headed back to the U.S., while I went on to Coventry to see my sister.
My friend, Dolly came in from Nottingham same evening with her daughter. We had a fun night out, good food, laughter and generally catching up.
We had dinner at Cosmo which is a buffet restaurant. The food is soooo good! And there is a large variety of dishes. They are in different cities in the U.K so feel free to go by! It was such a short visit but it was totally worth it. They left the next morning.
My next stop was to see my god mother in Leicester. I hadn’t seen her in two years so we were excited.
It was amazing to spend two days with her and her husband. I’ve also been thinking more about meditation, she and her husband teach mindfulness. He has written books about this subject so she gave them to me and he signed them, whoop whoop!
I spent my last days in London catching up with a few friends. One came in from Ascot and another from Reading to see me. The one from Ascot, Eddie is an avid reader of my writing who follows me on twitter, we had exchanged a few e-mails before our meeting. We took a long walk on the South bank and I saw some corners I had never noticed. Some men displayed such creativity with beach sand, it was impressive. There was an alley where people practised their skills with skate boards, it was interesting to watch. We also happened on a free exhibition in Tate Modern which was nice.
My friend from Reading (we go way back) got me quite excited as he blew me away with the birthday present he got me
Remember the suggestion for a travel club? A few people reached out to me. But I understand that times are hard so there have been no plans. But, how about we start discussions again?
Then, my sisters succeeded in getting me to join Instagram recently after resisting for so long! Feel free to follow me @belle.tammy