As children grow up, in theory they become more independent, more able and inclined to their own minds and opinions, more likely to go their own ways… until, that is, there’s the chance that muggins agrees to pay for a family holiday on a rather splendid island just off the West Coast of Scotland, near Oban, and to include the sprogs’ other halves in the invite. Then a necessary dependency is restored and, indeed, welcomed on all sides.
And so it was that we found our six selves gathered at Heathrow airport in Good Friday morning, amongst the mewling and moaning hoards, equally intending for a few days break someone. The party mood was jolly – the flight was at 11.40 so no stupid o’clock starts – and the banter light. We’ve been to this rather scrumptious hotel-on-its-own-island before, but on those occasions it was under different ownership so there was a frisson to our chit-chattery – would there be changes?
Would they be sympathetic to our needs?
Would the food be as impeccably, unreconstructedly British as before? Would there be badgers coming to the back door?
One of the joys of adult children (apart from their willingness to help spread our pension more widely) is that they can be entrusted with the gritty admin – organising flights, affecting a hire car, even driving said car – thus allowing me to relax more and obviating the risk that Dick Head Tours might be involved in the planning and execution of this break. If you are newish here and haven’t discovered the merits of allowing DHT to organise your trip of a lifetime then have a look here.
The transport did lack a certain spaciousness, I’ll admit – I’ve been wrapped in clingfilm during one of those management team bonding thingummies that wasn’t quite so snug, though at least the seating here didn’t channel any unexpected wind straight into my face, so that was a win – and the traffic alongside Loch Lomond did have a sclerotic tinge to it, but we arrived in time for a welcome cup of tea and our first view of the island, post owner-swap.
Everything was as it should be. The fire in the main hall – which was said never to be allowed to go out – burnt with a welcoming brightness and warmth; the rooms were as light airy and well-appointed as we remembered and the welcome from the staff charming and Scottish – something in and of itself unusual.
We rested, we changed, we nestled into the lounge while we ordered dinner and we comforted ourselves that, yes, the owners might have moved on but, hey, the King is dead, long live the King.
One of the joys of staying on a self contained island (with many facilities, in terms of golf – should you be so inclined – and other sports) is the ability to walk around it.
It is approached by a narrow rattly bridge and surrounded by many islands, with Lismore a stone’s throw away and the mountains on all sides creating both a splendid backdrop and producing a super micro-climate.
Oban, too benefits from its proximity to the gulf stream and the protections from Atlantic winds.
Rarely does snow arrive here, even if the rest of Scotland is white; on one day, we heard, the Oban primary school FB page announced that it was the only school in Scotland not enjoying a snow day.
Shells and stunning stones abound, with at low tide, numerous rock pools.
There are eagles and birds of prey, seals and sea birds of many varied hues. It teems with life.
London, we heard, was enjoying a classic April marinade of rain and wind but we had the sort of skies that make you want to take pictures…
… and so it was that the Textiliste and I were lazing in our room on Saturday evening, relaxing and reading before dinner when no. 1 son appeared to suggest, tonight, we might like to eat a bit earlier and why didn’t we get dressed and come down now.
He added that it looked like being a rather splendid sunset and it would be great to snap a couple of family photos while the light was just right.
We nodded; why not, we agreed? Did we suspect subterfuge? Not at all. It all seemed natural, spontaneous.
The other three were by the large bay window overlooking the croquet lawn. The Vet moved towards us, sort of smiling but a little nervous.
She hesitated. She had news.
This is the Textiliste and I, captured forever by the Beautician as we heard that news.
Followed by this
People, I am to become an in-law, with the Vet sporting a rather super ring-a-ding.
Gosh, it was a good weekend…. even if the badgers never appeared. There’s always the next time…