. Ken Baldry and Avis Saltsman's Christmas newsletter 2023

The Gerrard Chronicles 2023 - Scotland 17/7-20/7/2023

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Ken’s 80th Birthday party

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Monday 17th July 2023 To Balloch Lomond Park Hotel (261m)

We left Glossop just past 9 after a continental breakfast & Denise getting a vegan sub from Subway over the road. The usual traffic jam until the M67 but when we got onto the M60, the rain, in two batches was so torrential Ken could hardly see where he was going at 25mph or thereabouts. Since the junctions are complicated, I was a real nuisance to other drivers. When we finally got onto the M61, the weather was mixed, with somewhat damp pee-stops but by time the Lake District was in sight, the weather improved, so Ken took them over the Kirkstone Pass. Southwaite Services car park was packed, so we gave up & we stopped at Gretna instead. This was nearly as bad but Ken did get a disabled place, next to a big van that had no business being in a DPP. Ken ate nothing but had a decaf. mocha to avoid confusion with Avis,. Some light rain on the A74(M) but nothing like it had been. We went straight to the lake at Balloch.

Loch Lomond from the Balloch landing stage

Up Loch Lomond

Denise was ecstatic about the view. The Lomond Park Hotel is scruffy, to say the least & has no bathrooms in the rooms. We went to the Italian across the road for dinner. It was Italian all right but mediocre. There was nothing Denise could eat but she rang Deliveroo, who found her something vegan she ate at the hotel.

Tuesday 18th July 2023 To Balmacara but...

Copious Continental breakfast but nothing cooked. It was a nice day but Denise was suffering from back pain. She had not known she was a bad car passenger. Ken took more photos of Loch Garry, as last year’s were unsatisfactory.

Loch Tulla Viewpoint panorama

Denise above Loch Tulla

Loch Garry looking East

Loch Garry looking West

After coffee at Loch Clunie, Ken put Denise in front, where there is more space over her protests, because in Ireland, the Senior Woman Always gets the passenger seat. I had already changed the plan, so that we would go round Skye today, as there was time & we left Denise at the hotel (Old Post Office Hotel) to get some kip while Avis & Ken went round Skye. The Chilean chaps cleaning up said it would be ready ‘in a couple of minutes’ although it was just past 2 & check-in time was 3. We went to Skye, to Portree from Sligachan & from Portree to the west coast at Dunvegan & back round the coast to Sligachan again..

Skye left, across Loch Alsh

On Skye looking North from near Broadford

Across Loch Ainort

Loch Sligachan

Sgurr nan Gilean

The Storr


The Cuilins from the North

Loch Harport

Now, the whole trip went pear-shaped. When we got to Balmacara, Denise ran shouting to us when we pulled into the public car park as intended. She was carrying her bags & said that, after we left, the guys said the money had not come through & they were letting other people in. They threw her out (we had left her in the lobby). She had to go to the Balmacara Hotel (which we knew was full) & buy a Guiness before they would let her even sit down. Nor would they let her use their wi-fi, despite her obvious distress. Arseholes! When we got back, we all started off towards Loch Carron, quite a hike, to see if we could get a signal for Denise’s telephone but when we got to the Loch Carron Station Hotel, Ken went in to see if they had rooms. No, but the owner was very helpful & rang around. No go but Ken asked him to ring the Ledgowan we were supposed to stay in tomorrow. Result, of a sort. We have to have 2 double rooms & one being ‘superior’, so Denise will be in the ordinary one & we, in the posh one. We could not tell the difference, actually. The food was splendid but Denise crashed out after it. We exchanged the craic with a couple of electricians from Wigan, doing the 5-year total check of the hotel & two Swiss girls who teach & said they were from Lausanne but actually from Bercy outside & were surprised that Ken had heard of it. Bed at 22:10!

Wedesday 19th July 2023 To Newcastle Airport Britannia Hotel

Ken had a panic on the night about whether we would have enough fuel to get to the next pump. In the event, we had over 150 miles worth. Breakfast was extensive but Ken had 2 kippers, while Avis had the full Scottish minus the black pudding. Denise did all right, too, as they cooked her some mushrooms etc. We set off at about 9 & we filled up at the Tore Services at Inverness before depositing the still unwell Denise at Inverness Station with a ticket to London, only £106.60. We went the same way back as last year but the first pee stop was not until Newtonmore, something the Highlands are very short of. There were some villages with free-enterprise service & we had lunch butties at Ballinluig Services but some on the A68 did not work. I was particularly disgusted with the Co-op one which had no bog. The weather largely held up until we crossed Carter Bar, when it was mostly rainy. The Britannia Hotel is basic but efficient. While the rooms are austere, the public spaces are rather nice, the food acceptable (especially the Breakfast) & the craic was good.

Thursday 20th July 2023 Home

A few miles after the airport, we joined the A1, our own Upper Street for the 293 mile trip home. You should note the ‘hidden’ service to the West of Junction 59, which is not expensive, like the regular Motorway Services.

Art Scene

Ken’s 80th Birthday party

Xmas 2023 Index page

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Contact: Ken Baldry at 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 or e-mail him
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