Road trip: West Scotland
For this year's August Bank Holiday trip to Scotland, we decided on exploring the sunny west coast, and sunny it was! For starters, the welcome at our hotel bed and breakfast in Stranraer is 5*. I now know why hospitable people prefer to own B&Bs rather than hotels; they are not 'governed' by hotel standards and can run it how they like. In a good way! Is this like any B&B you've seen? Well then, you're probably ahead of me - do share any recommendations!
As if waking up to that view from our room isn't enough, there is a full spa on the side of Thornbank House - which does look like a house in a highly residential area, there's hardly any signage! We managed a Jacuzzi visit even after coming back from our day trip to Belfast after 10.30pm. Fiona, the owner had a little fright when she saw our travel buddy Maurice sitting on the armchair when she tidied up our room. But once they'd made friends, she let him sit on the bed with a bottle of water watching TV. You don't get that extra touch in 5* hotels!
A trip out to another part of the coast, via Dunmore, the last village, took us up a lighthouse. We even got certificates for climbing the 100 steps, no mean feat for an asthmatic who is scared of heights AND water! That blue building on the edge of a cliff is a coffee shop/restaurant/tourist gift shop and of course that's where we ended up after the climb. I was slightly more scared than excited walking along the unspoilt cliff top with no barriers mind.
Our lovely hotel room! Ordinarily, a bath would be a must have, especially when I'm on travels that involve a lot of walking but we made the sacrifice for this bathroom because we had the Jacuzzi, pool, sauna too. The shower turns into a steam room and if I was here in January, my favourite time to be on the UK coastline, I'd be taking advantage of that. What puts me off is then having to wash it all out of my hair, a chore I dislike at the best of times.
We enjoyed scrumptious meals at reasonable prices every night, just a short drive away. Salmon two nights running for me - I'm very happy with that. As is often the case, several restaurants were closed on the Monday we arrived but hotel dining is always a good option. That's the other difference between hotels and B&Bs, the latter don't have a dining option - although the especially cooked breakfast was lovely. Fiona even had snack bags made up for us the night before when we had an early start to Belfast. So my salmon came from Craignelder Hotel locally and Campbells in Portpatrick (or PortFantastic as I call it). The former was quiet but a delight for a Monday evening and Campbells was lovely and we happened to be there on their popular Lobster Tuesday although I found it to be really cold. I obviously sat in a draft as no-one else seemed to feel it.
Having a had a fantastic day tip to Belfast on our feet, on our last day in Scotland, we explored a wider area by car. First stop, Wigtown, Scotland's book capital, just before it held its book fair. We stopped off at one of the many book cafés - the first one we spotted and ended up coming back to, of course - where I enjoyed a hot chocolate while browsing the festival schedule. It really felt like the calm before the storm with tourists and a bevy of authors about to arrive. A beautiful place where locals stopped to chat to us (for ages) on the street and we eventually made our way to Kitty's Tea Room where they appeared to have every range of china to choose from.
We're off to Austria next for my October birthday trip. Then at Christmas, after the family gathering in France, this year we're hoping our festive holiday will be firework-free as we're in Ireland. One of the few countries like the UK where private fireworks use is restricted. We expect it to be gloriously peaceful and riotously fun with fireworks in the sky, rather than being let off in the street next to me. Location and hotel B&B recommendations welcome! @RickieWrites or email mel.