The Vital Spark on the Crinan Canal

02 Dec

OK – so it isn’t called the Vital Spark any more as it only had that moniker for the Parahandy TV series. The VIC 27 has reverted to her original name of ‘The Auld Reekie’ and is up on stocks in the big shed having a major restoration job done  in Cairnbaan at the seaward end of the Crinan Canal.

How do I know? Well I went to see the Doc this morning which involved a short ferry journey —


Then it was a case of killing time till my second appointment in the afternoon so we decided to visit Lochgilphead a mere forty miles away over one of the most scenic – up-and-down – twisty roads in the country. We loved the drive despite the low cloud and mist hanging around. H took dozens of pics on the way down – none of which survived the Edit Button.

Lochgilphead proved to be a surprise – rather worn and frayed – it’s a town I have tended to pass around where possible on previous trips as I have usually been on my way to somewhere else. Today we took the time to look around and found enough interesting little shops all with their own speciality and most important – staffed by helpful pleasant folks. The proof in the pudding being that Helen did most of her Christmas shopping there and even I – who has been known to give Christmas a wide berth got carried away – if you can call coming home with two bags of coal in the back of the Yeti ‘getting carried away’.


Money well spent – still with an extra half hour in our pockets – we took a detour along the Crinan Canal to Cairnbaan where we spotted the Auld Reekie under tarps in the big shed just before we stopped across the road from the hotel with the ‘closed till March’ signs in every window.


The hotel didn’t spoil the view out by the Isles of Jura and Islay —


only I was allowed to do that —


Up by the first – or last lock and canal basin all was closed . not even a sniff of coffee —


or even coal dust come to that.


For there – partially hidden by the Duke of Normandy was Vic 32 – the very Puffer that features on every page of the only cookery book I ever bought. The Puffer Cook Book by Mandy Hamilton & David Hawson – it features my kind of cooking plus little anecdotes and drawings gathered from it’s travels around the Western Isles.


I couldn’t resist it when I found the book for sale in our local Atlantic Centre on Luing. I don’t even need a recipe to cook that stuff – it’s mostly common sense and a basic understanding of food without the frills but it’s a very attractive book in it’s own right and I had to have it.


Time to get back on the road – suffering from cafiene deficiency the return journey was bound to take longer. We followed the canal back to the first ninety left over the bridge to the infamous Moine Mohr.


Obviously a gaelic name for a bog – or even a big bog – the single track road runs straight as a Roman Road due north for several miles and hits the Oban/Lochgilphead highway a tad south of Kilmartin –

which has a fine church by the roadside complete with terraced grave yard.


I had to turn down H’s kind offer of a night B&B in the Hobbit House behind the church. Fortunately I was able to claim a prior the Beehive appeared to be lacking in some essential mod-cons. There was no telly for a start —


If there’s one thing we are not short of on Luing it’s stones – maybe I could build her one of her own for Christmas.

We made it back to the surgery on the Isle of Seil with five minutes to spare – all-in-all the most painless day of Christmas shopping I have ever ‘suffered’.


Don 🙂


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Posted by on December 2, 2016 in Isle of Luing, out and about


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