Northern Ireland - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 188

Near Glasgow

Tuesday 16th September

With the effects of my flu still lingering, it was quite a lethargic start to the day. The drowsiness lasted pretty much all day but we soldiered on with the exploration of nearby Culzean castle (pronounced colleen castle) nevertheless. It’s more of a stately home than a castle and is quite a big property, set amidst acres and acres of land. It’s one of Scotland National Trust’s flagship properties, as it happens. Much like the National Trust of England, the Scottish National Trust receives no subsidies from the government and so must rely more heavily on admission charges than do the various Heritage organisations. It only cost us £7.50 to join English Heritage and just €15 to join Dúchas of Ireland. Becoming a member of either the English or Scottish National Trust organisations, however, would have set us back something like £60 each. With just an expected two weeks ahead of us here in Scotland, it didn’t seem likely we would be able to visit enough properties to make the membership pay for itself. We had to make do, then, with the minor discount our student cards afforded us.

A guided tour of the house was going to start about thirty minutes after we arrived and so we decided to stroll through the grounds admiring the gardens and so on. We went in search of something called the swan lake but never did find it. Getting lost is clearly not something that is restricted to our driving practices.

The guided tour itself was interesting. The property is quite impressive with a long and rich history. Both Sandy and I had a great deal of fun trying to spot the little Lego men; one of which had been hidden in each room of the house. By the end of the tour, we were so engrossed in the competition that had developed between us that we barely heard a word of what the tour-guide was talking about. Sandy insists that I record in the log the fact that she beat me having found seven little men to my five. Honestly!

Having seen what we wanted to see at Culzean, we partook in a spot of lunch in the car park and I called the Glasgow Tourist Information office to ask about where to park in the city. I also wanted to find out if there were any decent sauna complexes within a reasonable distance but Scotland suffers from the same fate as England and Ireland in that saunas are apparently just not that popular here. The best they could come up with were a couple of hotels that had fitness centres annexed to them with a steam room as a part of the complex. Hardly the same as somewhere like Thermea 2000 in Valkenburg that has something like fifteen different saunas and steam rooms.

Parking in Glasgow was, however, a more optimistic affair and we were given directions to an open-air car park just minutes from the city centre. We arrived, parked the brick and set off into town to see what we could see. As usual, the TIC provided us with sufficient bearings to start our tour of the city but the lateness of the day meant that it was going to be impractical to try to take on any of the city’s fine museums. Instead, we went full-blown tourist (shudder!) and bought tickets to one of the hop-on hop-off, open-top, double-decker buses that ferries tourist around the city for an hour or so whilst some student stands up front giving a blow-by-blow account of all the buildings and landmarks as we pass. It served our purpose for the afternoon. I’ve stated on a number of occasions throughout this log that I dislike being a ‘tourist’ but I must say that I found the experience to be a little uplifting this afternoon. I suppose anything can be tolerated in moderation.

After a couple of failed attempts at getting a bite to eat, we left the city centre and went in search of one of the two camp-sites that are relatively close to town. We spotted a huge supermarket along the way and couldn’t resist, so we stopped off and re-stocked everything again.

The camp-site is small, compact yet comfortable. Perhaps predictably so, there is very little ‘green’ here so close to a major city but at least we got to run two loads of laundry through the camp-site washing machine and dryers. It’s ironic that we always seem to be in the vicinity of a laundrette each time it’s my turn to do the laundry. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m the driver.