Pavlos (pavlos) wrote,

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Images of Arran

For lack of any more useful plans, like going to Paris or anything, we went to Arran over the weekend. The hire car was a Rover 75, a car for middle-aged British men with class-related inferiority complexes. It's huge and green on the outside, cramped on the inside with many space-wasting features, and it's upholstered in cheap plastic imitations of walnut and leather. It's also too classy to have rear wipers, and visibility is terrible. I discovered later that that car has identical chassis to an MG ZT, though the latter is for middle-aged British men with sports-car-related inferiority complexes and is upholstered with tacky rally-style seats. The Rover was brand new when we got it and after 250 miles the engine had already started making inelegant noises. Go, British industry!

We boarded the expensive CalMac monopoly ferry at the catatonic harbour of Ardrossan and sailed to Brodick. As we were leaving the dock, a stern, uptight, live voice advised us that the front and rear watertight doors have closed (so no pissing through the doors, I guess) and that there were signs on the walls disclosing the method of donning a lifejacket (we felt privileged). Inside, the pale, unsexy passengers were eating curry at the cafeteria, which smelled of cheap chicken the way Teviot Row Union (a University cafeteria) did fifteen years ago. Remarkably, the ship managed to make a passable espresso, although its cappuccino-making implement was not functioning. Some progress, at least.

We arrived at the somewhat picturesque but certainly very small port of Brodick which, as the BBC 5-day forecast had predicted, was covered in rain clouds. We contemplated the fecund, mysterious, and rainy nature of the rain clouds as we would do several times more during the weekend. Once ashore, we passed the grant-funded landscaping and the bleak waterfront hotels of the tiny, rainy, port and headed for the castle, located in the rich (and wet) woods nearby.

The adequately solid, but really not very serious castle, had been inhabited by a truly unattractive family, who nonetheless saw fit to comission portraits of themselves. At least one member of the family had appalling taste, filling halls with the heads of Arran's puny deer, while another had a decent taste in Turkish antiques and Parisian or Viennese espresso dishes (the only enviable objects in the whole edifice). Yet another had left behind a collection of beautifully bound French books. Each room of the National Trust-run castle also contained a septagenarian or octogenarian guide who explained various things accurately in a slow, disembodied, slightly patronising voice.

We left the senile, life-extinguishing castle, its lush (and very rainy) garden of tree ferns, and its most Bavarian of Bavarian summer houses, to head north for the B&B. The route was sort of cosy, passing through several small, isolated, and dull waterfront villages. There were a few plastic-covered, unstylish cyclists pedalling alongside in the drizzle. We arrived at the serene and isolated B&B, near Lochranza, run by a worn-looking couple who had decorated everything beautifully in purple. As their old, libido-free guests were apparently regulars, they didn't believe in keys, which was good.

On Saturday evening we pointlessly contemplated the options for going out, before eating American-sized dinner in a spa hotel for lazy families that seemed to have been built entirely out of management and quality control, as opposed to any other human qualities. And the we went to bed, while it rained some more.

Sunday morning the weatherbeaten B&B couple cooked us an honest, Puritan breakfast and we left the Japanese birdwatcher and the other old, unsexy guests to go and visit the other very basic attractions of the island. Arran distillery was very phoney, so much so that it had a plaque commemorating a visit by the Queen, and they made undrinkable espresso. We drove through the annoying drizzling rain round the small-scale, unimpressive coastal route, passing tiny harbours and strikingly ugly grey hotels full of misguided wedding guests. Anastasia ran out of the car several times taking pictures of stupid grouses.

You can only drive round the tiny, rainy island for so long, so we arrived back in Brodick to look for its remaining pathetic tourist attractions. We visited the diligent but not very good Arran brewery and some very basic, overhyped, crafts works that were next to the overpriced Creelers fish restaurant. We bought some cheese that was sort of OK. Then went on to the haphazard heritage museum and looked at its puny, thrown-together exhibits, along the way offending the staff by not saying "hello" or "goodbye" and not paying enough attention to each thing. We didn't stay to listen to the stuffy band with the other elderly visitors.

So, in short, and entirely according to our expectations, there was nothing sexy or intellectually stimulating in the island. There were no crowds of people to watch, and hardly any locals or other visitors one could fancy. There were no theatres, no signs proclaiming "illy", or even "segafredo", no mass-transit system, no dodgy red light or night entertainment area, and no large squares or cinemas. Everywhere we went, there were too few people to engender a pleasant sense of anonymity, making social interaction awkward. Evidently, and naturally, there weren't enough people to support our rather elitist, city-centric, idea of entertainment. Predictably, we did not have much fun. We wanted to be in Tokyo. TOKYO! TOKYO! TOKYO!


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