Tuesday 3 October 2006--My flight passes almost directly over Glasgow on the way to Amsterdam, and I'd have a fine view of
the Machars, the broad peninsula on the Galloway coast that is my destination, were I sitting on the other side of the plane.
I had a few days booked in Isle of Whithorn last year, lost when I had to go home on short notice. I've booked five nights
there to start this year's trip.
Arrive in Glasgow and pick up my rental car. I find, to my consternation, that it's a Fiat Punto. I hate Puntos!
"But it's the new Punto," the agent tells me. In my mind that's like saying "But it's a fresh cowplop." But
it doesn't take me very long to realize that he has a point--this new model is as comfortable and up-to-date as any economy car
I've had here. It even has a CD player, which I've rarely gotten from this agency before. Of course, they're still one step
behind--I've ditched the book of CDs for an iPod now.
It's a two and a half to three-hour drive to Isle of Whithorn, but it takes me four and a half hours. I stop no fewer
than three times to nap in lay-bys, and once in Maybole to buy stamps and Jacob's Cream Crackers to go with the Dutch cheese
I bought at Schiphol. A short stretch of the drive is along the Ayrshire coast, with a view of Ailsa Craig. I arrive in
midafternoon, check in to my B&B, and take another nap.
Isle of Whithorn, at the tip of the Machars on the Galloway coast, actually was an island once, but a causeway was built
in 1790, connecting it to the mainland and forming a pretty harbor. The village extends from the mainland out along the
causeway to the edge of the island. My B&B is on the mainland, looking out over to the isle. I nap until 6:00pm. Looking
groggily out the window when I awake, I see a rainbow leading directly to the Steampacket Inn over on the isle. I can take a hint.
The Steampacket's a nice place, with Cambridge Bitter and Theakston's XB in the cask, a small handful of malts,
and some culinary pretensions. But frozen swordfish is frozen swordfish. I am about falling asleep in my pint, and
so decide to head for bed. The night air is invigorating, though, and back on the mainland, I decide to spend some time
in the Queens Arms (hope Prince Philip doesn't find out). This is more the townie pub, complete with obligatory Old Gent
who comes in every night. There is beer from a local brewery, but I'm afraid it isn't very good. There's also a bottle
of Bladnoch, of which there was none at the Steampacket. Bladnoch is just up the road; I will visit tomorrow. The
friendly bartender gives me a bottle of beer from the local brewery, gratis, as I am on my way out. I drop it into the
trunk of my car and forget about it.