A friend of mine is very much “in to” the QE2, in fact he uses the word awesomealot when describing the ship (it is not a boat; as I have been told many time ;o).

When he heard that the last of the Clyde built ocean liners was being retired to life as a floating hotel off one of the palms in Dubai he was a little distraught and immediantly jumped on to Cunard’s website to book a cruise (or 2!). It was at that time he asked me if I wanted to go on one and, interested, I said yup.

To put it (and him) in context a bit, my friends dad used to be one of the people who would have to fly out around the world when a QE2 engine/turbine started to play up. So he was brought up with liners, and you could say it is in his blood.

I understood the majesty of the QE2, rather than being an ocean going hotel she was the last of the liners and she was Clyde built at John Brown’s, so there is a degree of history with her.

This was all fine and dandy until she started her 40th birthday lap of Britain. I had never seen the her with my own eyes so I booked up, with my friend, to take the Balmoral down the Clyde to escort her out of port and down the Firth of Clyde. A couple of days before we went to see her on the Forth and I was impressed. She was larger than I though and with the black hull and bright white decks looked good, but this trip down the Clyde made me understand a bit more about his “thing” with this liner.

Our first views were from up the Clyde as she was still docked at Gourock, just seeing the height of her against the cranes gave me a some kind of yard stick as to how bit this ship was. I am sure I could easily ask how long and how high, but suffice to say that in my eyes she was big, impressively big, but at the same time very stylish and proper. It is difficult to explain; maybe to say she was not big in the ostentatious or OTT way, there was a dignity and grace that I started to understand.

When she pulled away from the quayside and the floatila of boats were heading down the firth we got exteremly close and she was awe inspiring (have I just fallen head first into the awesome trap?). To hear the horn blow, it was one of those sounds that reverbarates in your chest; a sound you can feel, and that is always something.

I now can’t wait until December and my first (and most probably last) trip on the QE2, now I just wish it was transatlantic and not a weekend of the North Sea!

More pictures of the day are on my flickr

Barassie Beach

I keep forgetting that Glasgow has some wonderful open and clean beaches about a half hour drive away. Yesterday I spent an afternoon meandering along from Barassie to Troon and back, and it was a perfectly calming experience.

I saw the real world getting on with itself, dogs running in the tides and people wandering and enjoying a sunny, if blustery, afternoon. Peaceful.

I admit I had a bit of a funk as I sat staring out over the Firth of Clyde over to Arran, but I am learning to understand the funks and all they mean. I am not so shocked at some of the things I think and I realise that they are normal and natural. And what better place to have funks than on a beautiful open beach with a sunny breeze, looking out into the west.
The Red Sails in the West

There are more at my Scotland flickr set


What to do on a changeable Easter Sunday, than go to Kilmartin Glen. This is one of Scotland’s most prolific sites of neolithic activity.

Some photos are on my flickr with some background info on the pics. However I think in the fair scheme of things this place gets raw deal from the VisitScotland/tourism industry. So much so it has it’s main entry on Undiscovered Scotland!

Kilmartin.org is the main site for the local museum and town, the site is a little ropey (don’t get me started on disorganised and sometimes bloody Hostile (Historic) Scotland – who make it exceedingly difficult!) but it is well worth a visit….