Saturday, June 18, 2011

Days Before Departure

Coming back from the Spar on Tuesday afternoon, we saw a car pull out of a parking space in front of the shop. The driver had left a large black dry bag leaning on the rear bumper of the car. We shouted a bit (not too loudly because Tighnabruaich was relatively crowded with sedate tourists milling about and we did not want to make a scene) and waved our arms to get his attention to no avail. We fetched the bag from the street and found that it was filled with beer. Whoops. He was heading toward the boatyard, meaning that he was probably on a sailboat. The road to the boatyard has no exit so we decided to leave the bag on the sidewalk in front of the Spar and walk back to Rockbank, keeping an eye out for him. If we did not see him, we would hop on our bicycles and catch him at the boatyard. I brought the groceries upstairs and Ramona waited at the street to watch for the man to return. Seeing that he did not, we grabbed our bikes and headed to the boatyard, a 5 minute bike ride. Upon arriving, I saw our man in a dingy rowing to his boat. I hurried down the boat landing and hollered in my loudest shepherd voice, "You forgot your dry bag at the spar!". He reluctantly turned around and rowed the 300 yards back to the landing. He had not understood what I had said and he looked exceedingly annoyed that some bloke was yelling at him across the water. When he was within civil speaking distance I repeated myself and his scowl melted to a grin of supreme gratitude. His name was Rory. He wanted to buy us a beer. We'd saved his ballast! He hurried to his car and back to the Spar. We declined his offer of a beer satisfied that we had done a good deed - always wise before the start of a trip.

Wednesday was another day of waiting for Apple to approve the BikeCount app. Thomas and I had sent our latest appeal to their request for more details about why the app required location services. So with nothing left to do but goof off, Ramona and I decided to go to the Kames Hotel for lunch. We arrived there around 13:00 and ordered beer and nachos. We had a nice chat about Sail 2011 with this year's Greenock liason to the Norwegian tall ship Christian Radich. Then another beer and a talk with Wilma (a candidate to replace Ramona at Wellpark) and her friend Lee. And another beer and who should walk in, but our new best mate Rory and his two crew members. What followed was many many beers and single malts. They would buy a round and we would return the favor. Sometime around 16:00 I received a confirmation from Apple that BikeCount was approved, which was cause enough for a celebration. More beer and single malts. On and on until around 18:00. The crew of the Catalinia and we stumbled out of the Kames completely pissed. Them to their dingy and out the boat and us to our bicycles for the blessedly short ride home. We watched them drift away from shore for many minutes as they struggled to start the engine of the dingy, all of us laughing. We made it home and watched from the window as they motored their sailboat back to their mooring up the Kyle at the Tighnabruaich boatyard. After which I passed out until 2:00 when I woke up drunk and the beginnings of a fantastic hangover. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

On Thursday we said our goodbyes, finished our packing, and nursed our hangovers. All that was left to do was to walk our three boxes of non-tour essential possessions to the post-office and mail them ahead to Switzerland. Friday morning was rainy and, more to the point, windy. It was a force 6 or 7 gale and the Kyle was choppy. After a lot of back and forth about whether to brave the elements or spend a quiet day indoors we opted for the later. My feeling was that we would find wind and rain enough on our bike east across Scotland to counter any claims that we were fair weather cyclists.

Saturday was breezy, but in the right direction. It was drizzling, but not raining. So we were off. We were at the post-office at 9:00 to mail the packages. Each box weighed something like 6 kg and for the two without the computer the cost was about 100US$ to ship. The box with the computer cost something like 300$US to send because we wanted extra insurance which was only available through expedited service. Oh well. We hope it will arrive. Then we are off!

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