United Kingdom

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(>Pictures at the bottom!)

…or was it Scotland?
After a very restless night we soon stood outside on the railing. But there was nothing more to marvel at than fog and drizzly weather. So we went inside the ship again and enjoyed the freshly brewed coffee and – especially for Chantal – a “Croissant francais”.

Once again our “RuGa-li” was housed in the hull of the ship as a small car and so we were able to take our time leaving the ship rather than the stressed out English people with their mobile homes. Finally the time had come and we slipped out of the belly of the ship into the grey-covered English world. Outside we were led into different columns after strict looks of the officials. Our hearts were pounding and the tension was written all over our faces. Already we were questioned by a health assistant in front of the actual customs. Thanks to the advance notification at the health office everything was a quick and very calm affair. But our car was a bit suspicious for the customs authorities, just like in Holland, and needed a closer inspection. To our relief: Again, the officials were more interested in our equipment than they would have checked it. But when they saw the hatchet they immediately wanted to know what we would use this battle axe for. With normal camping you don’t need such a thing after all!
End of Good All Good; with best wishes we were released into English left-hand traffic. Whew, actually went very fast and for heaven’s sake, why were we so afraid of this entry.

(Note on the Corona situation: 2 days later the borders to the Kingdom of Great Britain closed again, resp. you had to go into a controlled two-week quarantine immediately on entry!  Once again we were very lucky. Where should we have spent this time 🙂

In the meantime, our son, who is now at home in Shrewsbury, told us that we should perhaps delay our visit for about two weeks, as he had to finish an important work and we parents, although welcome, would take up valuable time. No problem; then we will first go to Scotland and enjoy the north of the British Isles off the English heartland.

Instead of turning left, we turned right towards Edinburgh and, remember, always keep left. Actually no problem for me (Tom), but at crossroads and junctions a left-hand drive vehicle is often a big handicap; you often really can’t see anything! In these moments my navigator (Chantal) was always challenged to the right side, which was sometimes not always easy and succeeded at first go.

Up to now we were very reluctant to visit cities, museums and other highlights and mostly limited ourselves to nature where there were fewer crowds of people. So we continued to travel in Great Britain and avoided large crowds as far as possible. As far as corona measures are concerned, the Scots were very disciplined in this matter and always kept a reasonable distance as far as possible. Face masks were also part of this protection and shops were not allowed to be entered without them.

After the short transit from Edinburgh we were soon far out in the Highlands and were very surprised by the beautiful landscape. Chantal immediately fell in love with Scotland and the picture book landscapes. But the millions upon millions of Scottish midges were not well-disposed towards us and in some places it was pure horror. As a miracle weapon we discovered the smoking spirals from North America and the spray bought in the farmer’s shop; these made the evenings a bit more cosy after all.

Our next highlight was the visit to Nessie. We circumnavigated Loch Ness in the hope that this shy mythical creature could be seen for a short time. Nessie did not show itself to us or the other travellers, but there was a lot going on at the various tourist hotspots and the crowds of people were crowding in single file through the Nessie exhibition, small towns and souvenir shops. So we even did without the “Nessie Museum”, which Chantal absolutely wanted to visit.

After the Highlands and Nessie we reached the northernmost point of the British mainland and continued our journey counterclockwise along the coast. We did not translate to the islands north of the coast for time and financial reasons. Also the weather forecast for the next days did not promise too much sunshine. So we continued to follow the coastal road, turned off again and again and explored the hinterland before a prohibition sign or a closed gate forced us to return.

After the many detours in the heartland of the “Midges”, we crossed over to the offshore Skye-Island to get a taste of the Scottish island air. This time we drove clockwise around the island and were astonished that there were still a lot of tourists on the way and all kinds of adventures on land and water were offered. Also the tourist hotspots attracted a lot of people and the closer the car park was, the more people were taking pictures in the area.

In the meantime our tour through Scotland was slowly closing, the first rain experiences were already behind us when another storm hit the island. During the drive to Glasgow – our car required an oil change via the on-board computer – it poured so much from the sky that whole streets were under water within minutes. To our surprise, the Scotsmen put this away with a smile and walked along the streets in their T-shirts.

At our insistence, our jeep was serviced the next day and we did not carry out the rest of the inspection work, as any parts that were subject to wear and tear were not immediately available and would have forced us to stay in Glasgow for a longer period of time, which we ruled out in advance. We were not in a big city mood and cities tick completely different from rural areas even in Corona times.

In Southern Upland and the south-western corner the sun came out from behind the clouds and made our trip again a pleasure tour through the vast countryside where sheep and cattle breeding dominate the landscape.

The border to England was getting closer and closer and we looked back on the last two weeks with a little bit of melancholy; this Scotland totally inspired us, rain or no rain. After Gretna we slipped almost unnoticed over the inner British border into the English heartland. The onward journey to central England, where we were already expected, was still a few miles away and much lay ahead of us.

And, Chantal had wanted to visit Scotland all her life, be it for Nessie, Harry Potter or the beautiful landscapes. Her enthusiasm was unbroken and finally she said Norway is beautiful – Scotland is unique. I will certainly come back again!

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