Thursday, 31 October 2013

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Tobermory has been made famous by a mixture of interesting and bizarre things most superficially the coloured buildings that encircle the bay.

Errrr .... not the MV Isle of Mull !!, Tobermory Harbour
After disembarking the MV Isle of Mull (previous post) at Craignure, I was met with a strange sight of a hive of activity with a packed temporary bus and coach station ready to take passengers to the onward destinations of their dreams. This moment occurs at least twice a day before returning to an insignificant and desolate village beside the waters edge.

Bowmans Coaches seem to have a monopoly on Mull & took me some time to find the right one.

Tobermory Bay
Although the coach to Tobermory looked like something for the tourist, it operated as a local bus service along the north of the island connecting with a smaller ferry terminal on the return route.

Tobermory Promenade
Arriving in Tobermory for the agreed 4 - 5 hour stop to fit in with the bus service times, I seemed to have proved my Guest House host wrong with my choice of weather day.

Tobermory Seagull
To be fair, there was a mix of clouds and weather throughout the day but was fortunate enough to be able to enjoy being outdoors !!

The Tobermory Galleon !!
Legend suggests that back in the year 1588 there was a large Spanish Galleon full of Gold hiding from the English fleet in Tobermory Bay. The crew supposedly had a dispute over payments with local traders as they were taking on supplies and subsequently the vessel caught fire from an explosion of gunpowder and was sunk without trace.


Attempts were made to locate it in 1950 without success although it did help with the development of products in this process.

Fishing port founded on the bicentenary in 1788 by Thomas Telford !, Tobermory Harbour

Awaiting a treasure trip !!, Tobermory Harbour
Tobermory Distillery
Ten years later, with an abundant supply of water and the new access route open, the distillery was founded. The business has had a chequered history with the most notable occasion being its closure in 1930 due a drop in demand from the prohibition of alcohol law in the USA for 10 years. It took until 1972 for the doors to re-open but subsequent problems with the production and suitability of the buildings caused further disruption before the present owners (A finance company in Trinidad ! ) took it on in 2002.

Mishnish, Tobermory
Due to the coloured buildings, the town was chosen to become famous in more recent times as a location for the children's television programme Balamory from 2002 - 2005. It was good enough to last 254 episodes but only the kind of thing very small children would like !!

Balamory map
Imagine the disappointment on a child's face when they realise that Archie's Castle is on the other side of the country.
With the passage of time, the town may have readjusted to tourist normality whatever that is, but the tourist board continue to flog the nostalgic horse years after the programme ended. Who would have thought that Balamory would have become the focus for an intellectual media tourism study paper  ...

media tourism with Balamory study

It's a long pdf paper that is tedious at first but there are figures in a table at the end that gives an interesting public survey overview along with a map of the island depicting the difficulties of travel to such a place for large numbers of people.

Boom & Bust tourism ?? !!, Balamory
I have to say about the next bit here ... this is totally alien to my blog as I didn't come on blogger to do this !! haha ...
I couldn't find a short clip of the programme but in the interests of journalism, a few shots of the town (and a North Berwick Castle !!), children's TV, a local otter,  me being a completist & if you have up to 20 minutes of your life to waste !!! well here it is.... haha

youtube Balamory episode example          .... back to reality !!!

Tobermory Pier
Tobermory pier was built for the larger boats at the advice of Thomas Telford in 1814. Today the old ferry waiting room now houses a cafe with the ferry ticket office and tourist board information room next door. An award winning quality restaurant is located upstairs called Cafe Fish. The main ferry link from Calmac is to Kilchoan on the remote peninsula of Ardnamurchan that is a community link for the local people. It is also an exit route off the island for those tourists on a Calmac Island Hopscotch ticket that want to explore a variety of places on a preplanned tour of the Inner Hebrides.


Stopped for a lunch break in a cafe that was converted from an old church ... What a fantastic viewpoint I had from the the table just inside the doorway.


Next door was an active church with a sign outside that gave me meaning both then and now. No doubt the weather can often seem grim in places like this although I had no reason to complain today. I thought it was worth capturing and sharing, a help to others in recent times of difficulties.

M.V. Loch Linnhe
"Anyone for Balamory today ? " ........ errr no

The Western Isle Hotel built in 1882



Just to give you a close up flavour of some colour and the shops available in 2013

Number 47
Not a laundry ... but a gift shop

Balamory location changed beyond recognition


The Co-operative food chain store provide the green ... haha
Lastly, as I was fixed to a time slot for the coach back to Craignure, I was starting to repeat my images with brighter skies and not much left to see. I thought it was time to sample some coffee shop wares and took a fancy to a chocolate orange cheesecake. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the best piece of cake for 2013 ... if not the decade !!  On leaving the Tobermory Bakery, I said to the cashier .....

Tobermory Bakery GJC_IMG_4016
"Please don't ever stop selling that !!"

Sunday, 20 October 2013

M.V.Isle of Mull, Oban


The starting point for some of the more popular destinations from Oban is usually a trip aboard the car ferry MV Isle of Mull.

Departure lounge  GJC_011887

As the destinations are so popular, the operations run on a more professional level. I couldn't help but think that the Oban Terminal was almost like an airport !!

Calmac terminal    Oban GJC_012116
... With a bit of added humour !

Mull view GJC_011921

The 90m long 4,700 ton vessel built in 1998 has regular sailings throughout the day to Craignure on The Isle of Mull. This is greatly helped by the 15 knots speed which assists in the 23 mile round trip being completed in well under 2 hours.

Windows  GJC_012118



Throughout it's lifetime the ferry has had a few internal renovations making the 46min single journey pleasurable for the traveller.

Red seat  :-)   GJC_011899
Other minor renovations !!

Take a seat    GJC_011903
... and one of my renovations !
I'll take a quick diversionary break here to discuss a technical issue that caused me to delay publishing this post. Thanks to my original blog mentor, I have been using Picasa from the outset to store and publish images. I am not a techno computer wizard as some followers know by now, but have generally found it a decent quality compared to other sites. Recently I have noticed a definition loss with the images maybe not on my computer but on a standard PC with a larger screen which particularly occurs with edited material. When uploaded into Picasa, the standard megapixel image can be reduced down to kilobyte proportions in the displayed accompanying data. I suppose in the long run it will give me more value in space but on the other hand, I was concerned that viewers might also notice this loss in quality.
I dabbled in Flickr a while back but didn't find it suitable to the way I publish i.e. one image followed by a piece of text. Recently though I was enthused with the Flickr site as it has shown significant improvement both in quality and the very tempting storage account. Unfortunately it's a fail on trying to load more than several images into one post. Maybe the Flickr user who follows me can help me out as my Flickr account is just a source of amusement to me that ... errr ... takes up just a little bit more time :-)
Update May 2014 ... Cracked it and finally got around to copying and pasting this set the following month.
Back to the post ....

Summer day ... seats full ! ... errr ... not a summer day!
It may be inconceivable to some that staying in Oban for a full five days, I had to use the ferry on three of those days. On the first morning, the weather was grim and the host for my accommodation advised me that if the there were waves in Oban Bay, don't travel as it would be worse on the more exposed distant part of the route. The excitement of risk reeled me in ...

... as long as I checked out the lifeboats ....

... and stayed near the funnel for warmth !

"Just get me there" !  GJC_012358
"Just get me there quick, I'm not interested in the scenery"


Once I was happy with what I had captured upstairs, there was just enough time to grab a hot drink...

Pricing, Eh ? 2013 menu  GJC_011934

... although I was a bit bemused about how the pricing policy managed to get into this state !!!

ferry queue ? GJC_012542
The Craignure Ferry Terminal building !!

Breakfast ... MV Isle of Mull  GJC_012759

One of my objectives of the week was to try and vary the ferries I travelled on but as I discovered, the MV Clansman and MV Lord of The Isles either departed or arrived at unearthly hours. It took me a whole week to research alternatives to the standard routes and destinations with the aid of guides from the ... err ... ship shop ! and the exploration of the calmac on board restaurant facilities.

Ferry Food GJC_013136

It was the last crossing on my last day and final trip back to base, so there was no alternative but to choose, queue and try and get through this lot in 46 minutes !!

That just leaves one lasting image remaining in my head ....

Boat giving birth to a bus !!
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