Monday, 15 September 2014

Our first weekend away - Tarbert

We have just returned from our first weekend away and my first flight with EasyJet - a very smooth and easy experience. Luton airport is quite a large hectic hub, flying out to 40 different destinations on the continent. The nice part of being back in the UK is that nothing is very far, and the longest flight is 2 hours, and we are ourselves only 10 minutes from Luton airport. So leaving early on Friday morning, we flew to Glasgow (under an hour) and then drove down to have the weekend with Pete's mum in Tarbert on the west coast of Scotland. We wound our way along Loch Lommond, then up through the rugged mountains of the 'Rest and be Thankful', then down to Inverary and Loch Fyne and finally into Tarbert. A tiny wee village set around a harbour and marina, where nothing much changes from visit to visit - no matter how long it is between. Our last trip there was only 2 years ago but in a different season being November.

The heather was still in bloom giving the hills a pinkish tinge, and the autumn colours more advanced than in England. On our arrival, the sun was shining on the little white houses and the views across the harbour stunning. lots of lovely scenic walks up to the castle ruins looking back down over the marina. All along the roadside, bramble bushes flourish and we helped ourselves to the sweet black fruit (much like mulberries but smaller).The big talk in the village was all about the referendum this coming week, whether Scotland should become independent from England and the people seem to be divided. Big banners of 'Yes' or 'No Thanks' are displayed in paddocks, smaller signs attached to street poles and plastered to kitchen windows. An interesting few days ahead.

                               From Tarbert Castle ruins looking back over the village

                                     Looking across Loch Fyne to Portavadie in the distance

                                                                      Sweet brambles

       Tarbert harbour and marina. Pete's mums house 'Rockfield' can be seen on the point R hand side

Never seen such large fuschias - the size of a tennis ball

We're back !!

After what seems like a life time ago, we are back to blogging - though the next 12 months will be land based rather than on sea based on Kittani. We are finally both back together in the UK after a somewhat tenuous start to our year back in the work force. Whilst  Kittani was being worked on in Satun boat yard, Pete was approached by his boss from Amex days and coaxed out of retirement for a 12 month contract with EasyJet at Luton airport, UK. It would give us the opportunity to see a lot more of family in London and Scotland, as well as staff travel to the continent to places we hadn't been, so we decided it was too good to pass up. With Kittani safely stored away on the hard at Pangkor, we headed to the UK only to face some unexpected issues.

In a nutshell, I was refused entry as I hadn't pre arranged a visa to stay for such a long period. After 6 hours of detention, interviews, photos and fingerprints, I was put on a plane and sent back to Oz, leaving Pete to start our new adventure on his own. I then had to start the lengthy process of obtaining a 'Spousal Settlement Visa' and after having the spent the last 9 months hopping in and out of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore where they hardly bat an eyelid at you - UK immigration was a whole different ball game. After putting our life under a microscope and jumping through numerous hoops, I was finally granted a visa to come and go as I like, so after 3 months back in Oz, I have arrived.

We are set up in an small apartment (though after living the last 4 years on Kittani - it is huge!) in the little village of Harpenden, about 10 mins drive south of Luton. A very pretty quintessential English village set around the common, lovely gardens and pretty hedged lane ways. There is no shortage of pubs and they all look inviting, so on our next rainy cold weekend, we will have to start trying them out. I completely missed the Summer, which I believe was quite a good one, but there is always next year. The trees are just starting to change colour and the next few weeks should quite spectacular. So for now I am just sussing out my new environment, finding out where things are and getting used to the pounds and pence.

Two of our local pubs - looking forward to sitting in front of an open fire on a cold and rainy day.

Harpenden - Our home for the next 12 months.