Tag Archives: David Attenborough

Scotland August 2, 2022: The Royal Yacht Britannia

Our hotel had a free hot breakfast each morning from 7-10. Most mornings, we got there just about 9:59 or so. Today was no exception. The breakfast was pretty good – most days it had baked beans, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, cereals, toast, juices. They may have had more offerings but not at the time we arrived.

The coffee machine was most impressive. In addition to black coffee, they had tea, latte, cappuccinos, mocha, hot chocolate, latte macchiato, espresso and some other drinks too numerous to mention. Out of curiosity, I tried the latte macchiato and found it wasn’t for me. Turns out, it’s mostly hot, steamed, frothy milk with a shot of espresso in it. Now I know!

Every breakfast the tv showed the Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowling. I’d never heard of Lawn Bowling before so I looked it up.

Bocce and Lawn Bowling are cousins but have some distinct differences. The Bocce Ball is round whereas the Lawn Bowl is round in only one direction and elliptical in the other, giving it a bias and causing it to curve. Second, the Bocce Ball is thrown underhand, like softball, and the Lawn Bowl is rolled.

This is a sample of what we saw every morning sans sound:

After breakfast we decided to walk across the street to the Ocean Terminal. It was a bit hard to remember that traffic was coming at us from the wrong direction and with the construction AND a roundabout right outside, crossing the street was taking our lives in our hands.

Although the map shows a 2 minute walk, it was a bit longer than that because of the construction, which turned out to be an extension of the tram.

The tram extension will be a good thing – eventually. I asked a few people and got varying estimates from 3 to 5 years. Right now, the tram goes from the airport to St. Andrews Square in Edinburgh but someday it will go all the way out to our hotel. How convenient that will be.

Current tram map

The Ocean Terminal Mall is pretty standard except that the stores and restaurants close pretty early – mostly by 8pm. One thing that I thought was pretty cool was that they had an “Indoor Beach” on the first level overlooking the water. When seen from above, it looked pretty much like a large sandbox in a mall. Kids seemed to be having fun, though. They also have a rollerskating rink and cinema. They also had a music and bookstore. We got 2 books for only £7 or $8.55. I got an interesting-looking book by David Attenborough (Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions) which currently sells on amazon for $13.74 and Tom got 1000 Years of Art which I haven’t found on amazon…yet. Tom was most unhappy with the music playing and we left the store quite quickly with Tom sharing his views with the sales clerk.

We looked at a bit of each of the three levels (lots of empty storefronts) until we got to the ticket office for the Royal Yacht Britannia.

A Royal residence for over 40 years, The Royal Yacht Britannia sailed over 1,000,000 nautical miles on 968 state visits with the Royal Family.

Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, on 16 April, 1953. For over 44 years the Royal Yacht served the Royal Family, travelling more than a million nautical miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world. To Her Majesty The Queen, Britannia provided the perfect Royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, Royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays. For Great Britain, she was a majestic symbol of the Commonwealth and a proud ambassador generating billions of pounds in trade deals. For the Royal Family and 220 dedicated crew of Royal Yachtsmen, she was home.

Some of our photos from the Britannia (we have hundreds more which will be shared in a giant album at the end of this trip)

After we left the ship, I was astounded to see that someone had used pianos as artwork.

We stopped for smoothies at a small restaurant (that was still open!) and sat on the open deck overlooking the water – a fine end to a great start to the vacation.

On the way out, we noticed a bus stop – including the blue line for Hop on/Hop off busses. Hmmm

After the smallest of naps (I’m still adjusting to this timezone which is 5 hours later than home (4pm in Fairfax is 9 pm in Scotland) we went to dinner. LIke breakfast, we just got in under the 9pm closure. if you noticed the menu from yesterday, some items like pizza and ice cream are available 24/7. I ended up having what they called a “chicken burger”. In reality, it’s 2 pieces of marinated, grilled chicken breast on leafy stuff with a sauce hamburg bun. Like the other meals here it came with fries.

The dinner tv each night was Commonwealth Games without the Lawn Bowling (HOORAY!)

Tomorrow will be an early day because we’re going to take a 12-hour bus tour to the Highlands and we need to be at 6 Waterloo Street by 7:45 am.

Scotland: The Cairngorms National Park

cairngorm-funicular

 

I woke up about 7 because it was very sunny, with the sun streaming through the bedroom windows. I was able to get back to sleep until 10:30. Then, at 11:30 it was cloudy and it began to rain.

We stopped at the Aviemore post office to change dollars to pounds since no one here is interested in American money.

cairngorm

 

Then, we went on to Cairn Gorm Mountain through Rothiemurchus Forest with a reindeer center, a sled dog center, clay pigeons shooting and Segways.  Stretching from the River Spey to the high mountain plateau, Rothiemurchus sits within the Cairngorms National Park.

We also went by Loch Murlich (Scottish Gaelic, Loch Mhùrlaig), a freshwater loch in the Badenoch and Strathspey area of Highland, Scotland near Aviemore. The loch is home to a watersports center with kayaking, sailing and windsurfing among the activities available. There is also a yacht club and cycling routes around the loch. The loch is at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains, just a few miles from Aviemore and were planning to go back another day but we didn’t make it.

Cairn Gorm (Cairngorm) (Gaelic: An Càrn Gorm, meaning Blue or Green Hill) is a mountain in the Scottish Highlands overlooking Strathspey and the town of Aviemore. At 1245 metres (4084 ft) it is the sixth highest mountain in the United Kingdom. It has given its name to the whole range, although these hills are properly known as Am Monadh Ruadh (the Red Hills) rather than the Cairngorms. Cairn Gorm is the most prominent of the Cairngorm mountains in the view from Speyside, but it is not the highest.

The mountain road was quite twisty and we had to go through a few snow gates but we got to the parking area – and it started raining.

We took funicular up, as far as it would let us go.  In the winter, skiers can go higher.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairngorm_Mountain_Railway

The funicular railway operates by ‘hauling’ up one carriage using electric motors to pull the haul rope as the other carriage descends at the same time. The system is powered by two stationary in series 500 kW electric motors, a gear box and a ‘soft start-soft stop’ control system which can increase the electrical frequency and vary the current and voltage to control the carriage speeds as they approach or leave a station. An hydraulically operated ‘counter’ rope is connected to both carriages to maintain haul rope tension. The two carriages are permanently connected by the haul rope and the counter rope and can never operate independently.

The funicular railway system is normally operated from a manned control room within the Ptarmigan building but can also be operated from the Base station control room or from each railway carriage. There are dedicated sophisticated computer control, instrumentation, communication and safety systems for the railway which have a range of back up systems and there are also standby generators and manual back up systems for moving the carriages.

At the top, they had a very nice display, including a replica of the funicular car – complete with working horn, which children delighted in honking over and over.

There was a short video and information about a huge snowstorm which had covered the funicular and the first floor of the station.

We also learned about the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui.

From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Am_Fear_Liath_Mòr

Am Fear Liath Mòr (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [əm fɛɾ ʎiə moːɾ]; also known as the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui or simply the Greyman) is the name of a presence or creature which is said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Scotland (and also in the British Isles).

It has been described as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain. Evidence of the existence of this creature is limited to various sightings and a few photographs of unusual footprints.

It is traditionally seen as a supernatural being, but Am Fear Liath Mòr has been compared to the Yeti of the Himalaya and the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of North America. References to wild ‘Greymen’ in Scotland and similar creatures elsewhere in Europe, sometimes called Wudewas or ‘Wood Men’, date back to the 13th century, and are believed by some to represent relict hominids.

 

We went through the giftshop – of course.  You always have to go through the giftshop to enter or leave anywhere that tourists might be.

We had lunch at the The Ptarmigan Restaurant, which is the highest restaurant in the UK.  The Ptarmigan offers great panoramic views down to Loch Morlich and across to Ben Nevis (Ben Nevis is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name “Beinn Nibheis”. “Beinn” is the most common Gaelic word for “mountain”) and Ben Hope (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Hòb).

I had Mac and cheese with slices of tomato and chips (fries) and Tom had chili over rice.  The TV was showing Benedict Cumberbatch complaining about fans taking cellphone pictures while he was acting in Hamlet.

The TV also showed stories on milk prices, nightclub owners complaining about losing business to festivals, the  Ferguson shooting.

We went to the observation deck.  It was still raining but I went out, anyway.

We had to go back through the restaurant to get to the funicular and ran into the waiter from yesterday. What are the odds of that?

We took the Funicular down instead of walking, since it was raining so hard.  Just before we got to the bottom station, we stopped.  The operator said it was because the other car wasn’t at the top yet, which is when I learned that funiculars could be operated by a counterweight.

 

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cushingshelp/23UW59
From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funicular

A funicular (/fjʉˈnɪkjʉlər/), also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. Funiculars of one sort or another have existed for hundreds of years and continue to be used for moving both passengers and goods. Its name derives from the latin, funiculus, diminutive of funis, meaning “rope”.

 

We drove back through the pouring rain and it was nap time!

We woke up about  7pm and went to reception for to report that the  sunroom heater stopped heating, then off to Tesco for groceries.  This time, we took bags since they weren’t eager to give us any yesterday.

Then, back to reception to find out about where the laundry facilities were.

Our dinner was soup and potato salad since we’d had peanut butter sandwiches earlier.

On TV – same Benedict story as we’d see on the mountain, followed by tattoo fixers.

I’d planned on going to bed but then there was David Attenborough showing us the animals he’d take if he had an ark.  We’d talked about him earlier since he had been prominently featured in a brochure onRothiemurchus and here he was on tv.

Then, there was a show on hormones, including Dr. Harvey Cushing, then a show on tower (bell) ringing. Aach.

I finally got to bed at 1:30am

All pictures

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cushingshelp/6C79E1

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