A Selection of Murphy’s Laws: 2002

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In 1961, I went on holiday with my parents to the Isle of Man. I was 10.  It was very exciting, driving up to Lancashire, taking the car on the ferry.  There was lots to do in the Isle of Man;  one thing a lot of people did was to fly to Dublin on a day trip, which is what we decided to do.  This was not my first trip on a plane but I do remember that the flight was very noisy, and bumpy, and the plane was very small but it was an adventure.  After that, my parents went to Ireland several years running, staying in different regions (without me).  They loved Ireland, both north and south; they took loads of 16mm cine films of green fields, with a shaky hand and swinging the camera in wide sweeps so that you were almost dazed and dizzy watching it.  They certainly knew how to ‘entertain’ friends and family with cine films.  I still have them all; I must get them transferred to a DVD!!

Many years after my parents died, I often thought that I’d like to go to Ireland to find what they loved so much about it – beautiful countryside, friendly people, lots of history, good food; probably Guinness was also a factor.  In 2002, when Liz and I were planning a holiday I suggested Eire; it probably wasn’t my most inspired suggestion.  Neither of us had been (except for my day-jaunt 40 years previously), seemed like a good idea.  We decided to stay in a cottage near Skibbereen, sailing from Pembroke to Rosslare.  I remember the journey from Rosslare to Skibbereen being very long.  However, what Liz remembers is the most awful sailing, that had been delayed by several hours because of the appalling weather and how she spent the whole journey lying down on a bench after she had been sick several times.  She was not alone, almost all the other passengers did the same.  Me? No.  I wasn’t sea-sick and I sat and read, wanting a bacon sandwich but knowing that the sight of food may start off another round of sickness.  The journey was long; I was keen to chat or play Scrabble and Liz was keen to lie and groan for 7 hours.  As soon as she was off the ferry, Liz was fine but of course we arrived very late and it was too far to drive on long, winding, unlit roads to get to Skibbereen.  That first night we stayed in a strange motel in the middle of nowhere; there was a sense of Norman Bates about it.  We got up early the next morning and started the holiday-proper.  Not the best start to the holiday but I don’t remember my parents talking about bad sailings.  I wonder if they flew from Heathrow and hired a car? I’ll never know.

I thought Eire was a strange place.  There was lots that I loved about the holiday – the cottage, the garden, the view over the fields to the sea in the distance, the peace and quiet, the rows of brightly coloured terraced houses along village streets, scary cyclists, roads with virtually no traffic, quirkey shops.  But because we went in October, all the ‘tourist attractions’ were closed for the season as were many shops and restaurants.  There were no nice tea rooms, selling delicious scones and a pot of loose leaf tea.  The cottage was cute with an open fire and an endless supply of logs.  However, the custodians of the cottage were a ‘strange’ couple who regularly turned up at the door and just said “So?” And when we said we were fine they nodded and went away again.  One thing we did find was a shop selling thick, woollen jumpers; they were being sold off at very cheap prices because it was the end of the season.  Those jumpers served us well over many years.  Of course, with many other shops closed, there was little access to tea towels.  This was the only one I found which could vaguely have connection with Ireland.

I would never say that that holiday in Eire was one of my favourites but I did enjoy it and we learnt from it – the main lesson being, never cross the Irish Sea by boat if you want company – fly is my advice.

Today, didn’t get off to the best of starts so I was delighted to have the opportunity to Blog about this tea towel: A Selection of Murphy’s Laws.  It put the world in some kind of perspective.  I dedicate this blog to Liz and Lyn, for whom today would not be considered one of their best days.  Murphy’s Laws is an adage that is typically stated as “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.  From this brilliant, pure linen tea towel (complete with several tea stains) there are two very pertinent ‘variations’ of Murphy’s Law which Lyn and Liz have to hold on to.  The first is “If you think everything seems to be going well, you obviously don’t understand the situation” and the second is “The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train”.  Richard Dawkins of Oxford University says that scientifically Murphy’s Law cannot apply because the Laws require that inanimate objects have desires of their own, which cannot be true;  that means a bad day like today isn’t significant in the scheme of things, things can get better.

September 2016: Another trip through the airing cupboard has revealed that I have a second tea towel concerning Murphy’s laws; I thought it was appropriate to insert it into this Blog.  You can never have too many tea towels about Murphy’s Laws!!

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Brighton: 2012

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I bought this pure linen tea towel at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.  We had popped in for a cup of tea (very nice, loose leaf) and I got that twitching sensation, knowing a tea towel was within ‘spitting distance’.  Although I have been to Brighton several times in recent years, I did not have a tea towel dedicated to Brighton although I am sure that there is one of East Sussex lurking about somewhere in the airing cupboard.  I love the style of this tea towel, taking you back to times past.  I love the people strolling along the promenade in boaters and sun hats, suits and formal afternoon dress.  I like the parasols and striped jackets.  Those Victorian and Art Deco standard lamps and classic wooden decks chairs that no one can get out of with dignity, give the picture atmosphere.  The deck chairs conjure up photos from my childhood of days playing on the beach with Chris and Catherine (my ridiculously young aunt and uncle) with my parents and grandfather sitting in deck chairs looking bored.

This tea towel is obviously based on a poster for a ‘Free Handbook of Brighton available from the Publicity Manager’.   It is a great tea towel which brings back memories from my childhood;  my memories of the Brighton Belle. The Brighton Belle was introduced onto the Southern Line in January 1933 as the world’s only electric, all-Pullman service, running on a daily basis from Victoria to Brighton.  The Pullman Service is a mainline luxury railway service that operated Ist Class coaches and a Steward Service.  In the late 1950s and early 1960s, I travelled on the Brighton Belle for  day trips to Brighton, during the school summer holidays, with Mrs Atkins.

I was looked after by Mrs Atkins from the age of two while my mother was at work.  When I went to school, Mrs Atkins collected me from school and looked after me in the evenings and during school holidays.  Mrs Atkins (I called her Mrs A) was one of the most influential people in my life; she taught me to tie my shoe laces and my school tie; she taught me to read; she taught me to love cats; she taught me about gardening; she taught me to knit and sew (very badly).  The only thing she didn’t do was teach me to cook but I have survived more than 60 years without acquiring that skill.  I always thought she had an interesting life; she lived in a small terraced house with a garden; she came from a family of twelve siblings; her cousin Bernard lived in Moreton-in-the-Marsh.  Every week we went to Willesdon Post office to collect some money.  It was only much later, I realised what a hard life she had, scrimping and saving.  She brought up two sons as a single parent and the trips to Willesdon were to collect her alimony, what little there was of it.  She knew so much about life and made any trip out so interesting, she always had the answers to my questions.  She took me on the Green Line bus into the country, to places like Burnham Beeches and Kew Gardens; we used to go to London Zoo.  She taught me to play Rummy, Dominoes and Pontoon.  Kan-U-Go was her favourite card game (something we played during the GamesFest described in the Blog ‘Mine is Playing Mah Jongg dated 15/4/16).

The trips on the Brighton Belle were the most exciting things we did.  We had to leave early in the morning to get to Victoria; she used to carry a large basket full of sandwiches and biscuits and a flask of tea to eat on the beach when we arrived.  She always remembered to pack all the right clothes so we never got wet or were too hot or cold.  I remember travelling in the luxurious carriages, wood lined, soft comfortable seats, white antimacassars, white linen tablecloths and linen napkins in silver napkin rings; I remember being served tea and biscuits in the morning from individual silver tea pots, a jug of hot water, silver tea strainer, little milk jugs and fine bone china.  On the return journey we had sandwiches and little cakes.

Let’s face it, by this time, the carriages were already nearly 30 years old.  The journey was a bit rickety.  I can still hear the sound of the crockery clinking together and I can see Mrs Atkins desperately trying to pour a cup of tea without spilling anything on the pure white linen.  Today, I enjoy going on old steam engine journeys and I occasionally get in a carriage that feels a little like the Brighton Belle.  The fact is, that no matter how much you complain about Network Rail these days, the journeys are usually very smooth in comparison with the Brighton Belle in 1959.  I am sure that Mrs Atkins was, in fact, my first introduction to the joys of steam which Hamish continued many years later (See Blog dated 13/4/16).

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The Compleat Angler: 1986

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I love Portmeiron Pottery.  I love that feel of ‘chunky’ china with fine and detailed decoration on their pottery; it is the sort of tableware that gives you confidence to use, it isn’t going to chip easily.  It is solid.  I have various pieces from Portmeiron china from a teapot and cups, to serving dishes, vases, jugs and plates.  Most of my china is from the Botanical Gardens collection; however, John was a huge fan of Portmeiron Pottery and we often went to their Stoke-on-Trent Factory Shop to look for new pieces.  He was very much taken with the Compleat Angler collection and wanted to buy some pieces from that.  This probably wouldn’t have been my first choice but then the designer, Susan William-Ellis, described the Compleat Angler collection as “designed with a man in mind”.  Taking its inspiration from the ‘Compleat Angler’, the book by Izaak Walton first published in 1653 and celebrating the art and spirit of fishing, Susan William-Ellis designed a whole dinner service around fishing – salmon, perch, trout.  The tea towel is an exact representation of one of the plates – a fish having been caught, laid out in preparation for cooking.

I have four unusually shaped, oval dinner plates with salmon, trout and perch.  I know what Susan William-Ellis means, they feel very ‘masculine’, if you can describe crockery like that.  I have to say that I have grown to love the Compleat Angler plates, robust, strong illustrations with fine detail and 30 years later both the dinner plates and the tea towel are going strong.

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100 Glorious Years: 2000

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Today is the 90th birthday of the Queen.  I haven’t yet bought my ‘Queen’s 90th Birthday’ tea towel.  I’ve seen a few but I know which one I want.  When I saw the ‘100 Glorious Years’ tea towel, celebrating the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday in 2000, coming to the top of the airing cupboard pile, I thought that this would be the most appropriate Blog for today.  I love this tea towel, pure linen, good absorbancy and lovely strong colours which have held fast over the last 16 years.  I am assuming that the flowers around the central ‘plaque’ are camellias, her favourite flower, which she grew in all her gardens and which made up the funeral spray on the top of her coffin.  You can’t mistake an Ulster Weavers tea towel; if you look at their ‘Queen’s 90th Birthday’ tea towel there is a similarity in the use of strong vibrant colours, a tea towel that stands out.  I can’t wait to get one.

Elizabeth, Angela, Marguerite Bowes-Lyon is a bit of a mouthful; she was also known as Lillibet, by her family and the Queen Mother (or Mum) by the general population.  Born in 1900, married in 1923, first-time mother in 1926, Queen in 1936, widow in 1952 and died in 2002.  It is difficult to imagine someone being in public office, doing all the things she did and being widowed for 50 years, 20 more years than she was actually married. The Queen Mother’s birthplace has been subject to speculation, including being born in a horse carriage on the way to hospital.  However, her birth was registered in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.  She married the second son of King George V and Queen Mary, Albert by birth; but only after he had proposed three times.  Her reason for turning him down initially was being “afraid never, never again to be free to think, speak and act as I really ought”.

I remember my mother had very strong views about the Queen Mother.  My mother was a big ‘fan’ and supporter of Edward VIII (who abdicated when he wasn’t allowed to marry the woman of his choice, a twice-divorced Catholic, and for her to become Queen).  When Edward abdicated, Albert became George VI; Albert had not expected to be King.  Albert had a stammer and there was a feeling that the pressure of becoming king brought about an untimely death.  My mother felt that the Queen Mother was instrumental in the fact that the former king lived his life out in France, not returning to the United Kingdom (clearly my mother wasn’t the only person to think this).  There are many books on the subject; I know this because I inherited quite a lot from my mother.  But George V (the father of Edward and Albert) was clearly alarmed at the prospect of Edward becoming king and said shortly before he died “I pray God that my eldest son will never marry and that nothing will come between Bertie (Albert) and Lillibet and the throne”.

The Queen Mother, as Queen, played a significant part during the Second World War.  Adolf Hitler described her as “the most dangerous woman in Europe” because he regarded her as an ‘asset to British interests’.  While many children living in London were evacuated to the country because of the bombings, the Queen said “My children will not go without me.  I will not leave the King. And the King will never leave”.  She was jeered at one point during the war when she visited bombed houses wearing Norman Hartnell dresses. Her response was that if people came to visit the Queen they would want to dress up and that she should do those bombed the same courtesy.  When Buckingham Palace was bombed she said “I am glad we’ve been bombed.  It makes me feel that I can look the East End in the face”.

It is more likely today that it would be common knowledge that the Queen Mother had colon cancer in 1966, breast cancer in 1984 and a hip replacement in 1998, perhaps not so much so then.

When the Queen Mother married in 1923, on the way in to Westminster Abbey she laid her wedding bouquet, unexpectedly, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in memory of her brother Fergus who was killed during the First World War.  Her wish was that the spray of camellia’s that lay on her coffin should also be laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Going back to the reason that the Queen Mother turned down the offer of marriage to Albert, I like the following quote from her – something I seriously cannot imagine the current Queen ever saying – although Prince Philip might I suppose!!  “Wouldn’t it be terrible if you spent all your life doing everything you were supposed to do, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t eat things, took lots of exercise, all the things you didn’t want to do and suddenly one day you were run over by a big red bus and as the wheels were crunching into you you’d say ‘Oh my God, I could have got drunk the night before’.  That’s the way you should live your life, as if tomorrow you’ll be run over by a big red bus”. However, you can imagine the Queen Mother’s Spitting Image puppet (if you are of a certain age) saying that in a Birmingham accent!!

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Mushrooms: 2008

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I like mushrooms; I am not sure I am very good at telling the difference between the varieties in a ‘blind’ tasting.  They are good as an additional ingredient to a meal but I am not too keen on them as the main ingredient e.g. Mushroom risotto. For me, it is a bit disappointing, lacking a little something, not unpleasant but not something I would go out of my way for.  Occasionally, I really fancy mushrooms on toast but, I suspect, part of the appeal is the lashings of HP sauce I spread over them.

I remember Lynn and Helen telling me about a holiday they went on in Italy, mushroom picking.  Helen was incredibly enthusiastic so when Liz and I came across information about a mushroom farm in Lower Packington we thought it might be worth a visit, especially since it had a shop.  The problem with mushroom farming on a commercial basis is that it is done in the dark.  Basically, if you are visiting a mushroom farm, you are visiting a mushroom shop.  A mushroom shop sells mushrooms, not necessarily the most exciting thing to look at if you are not a cook.  I remember the shop in Lower Packington having a lot of packs of different sorts of mushroom and some jars of dried mushrooms.  Liz bought some dried mushrooms for Jai, who is a vegetarian.  The only other things on sale were (a) mushroom compost for which I had no use (b) some mugs which weren’t very exciting (c) a few recipe books and (d) the tea towel.  The fact is that I have seen a greater variety of mushrooms at West Bridgford Farmers Market than in Lower Packington, which was really disappointing but probably because most of their stock is being sold elsewhere, rather than in the Farm Shop, probably at West Bridgford Farmers Market!

I got excited about the tea towel because I wasn’t excited about anything else, so I bought it on a whim.  Given some thought I would probably have passed it by.  It is, however, designed by Richard Bramble, a well known artist who does a lot of work around foodstuffs.  It was very expensive at that time; actually it is still one of my most expensive tea towels.  Take a look at the tea towel.  It is boring, uninspiring and put together in the most annoying way.  The tea towel has 10 different sorts of mushrooms, 5 down each side of the tea towel length-ways.  So if you hang it up you can’t see the picture of the mushroom, or read its name, because it is sideways on. I like an informative tea towel so I think that a bit more information on it would have considerably improved it.

The learning for me is not to be fooled into buying a tea towel because it is there.  I need to be more careful in the future.  But, let’s face it, that is unlikely to happen.

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Happy Birthday: 18 April 2016

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Today is the first birthday of http://www.myteatowels.wordpress.com, my Tea Towel Blog; on this day last year, I did my first piece of writing explaining the ‘odyssey’ I was embarking upon.  It hadn’t occured to me that my first Blog (although sometimes referred to, by mistake, as Blob) would actually be published on the birthday of my great friend, Fee, who, much to my surprise, is a reader of the Blob.  She does admit to the fact that she reads the Blog but skips anything that is about history.  I suspect that there are a lot of readers like that.  I dedicate today’s Blob to Fee and wish her a Happy Birthday.  I know she will be thrilled that I didn’t send her a tea towel as a birthday present.

So first question – what is a tea towel with the Union Jack doing at the top of this Blog?  Simple.  It’s a Tea Towel Blog; I needed a tea towel and this one is ‘special’.  I bought it in London in 2012, to celebrate the London Olympics, not that I don’t have a lot of other tea towels from the Olympics that I haven’t blogged about as yet.  This is ‘special’ because it is a truly rubbish tea towel; it is made of the wrong sort of cotton, more like material used for sheets, no absorbancy.  Use it once and that’s it.  It needs to be properly dried, you can’t just leave it to dry on the back of the door.  With all the beautiful tea towels that I own, this is one of the worst, along with one of the French flag (bought in France) that has not yet come to the top of the pile. It seemed better not to waste a Blob dedicated just to this tea towel; this Blob is about my review of the last year and this tea towel has nothing to do with it, except to recognise that there are a lot of much finer tea towels out there!!  So one year on, what has it been like?  Nothing like I expected, if I am honest.

  • I think I probably imagined my pieces of writing would be considerably shorter.  Some Blogs are quite short – about 220 words but many more are over a thousand words and some have even beaten 2000 words.  The short ones are sometimes the result of where my memories are misty although I did think I did well to write 697 words about a New Zealand tea towel that I had no idea where it came from or 1432 words about Woolpit, a small village that I have probably only spent a total of 30 minutes in.
  • I think I probably thought that I would get bored after a few months and Blogs would become occasional pieces of writing.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  My passion for tea towels has grown with time; my collection has grown extremely fast over the last year and I love each new one that I get.  I am never bored with them.  In the last 12 months, I have written 179 tea towel blogs; this one is number 180.  In addition, I have written 11 pages (listed at the top of the Blog).  This has meant that I have written about 228 tea towels!  228 tea towels; that is ridiculous because I must have about 350 (if not more) still to write about.
  • I have stuck as rigidly as possible to writing about my tea towels in the order that they come up in my airing cupboard piles, interspersing them with a few new ones on the way.  Other new ones will emerge much later on in my journey because I have put them directly in the airing cupboard, without using them.  In this process, I have discovered that some are more ‘inspirational’ than others for writing about.  What I am surprised about is that some have provoked more reaction on Twitter, and via email, than others.  I don’t know if it has something to do with the time of day that they are posted or the subject matter or if there are links to other sites that I am not aware of.  The big reactions have come from “Things to do with a tea towel” (dated 4/1/16) – still a lot of readers; “Sidmouth 2015” (dated 2/6/15) resulted in an article in the Sidmouth Gazette; “Theatre Royal Nottingham: 2015 and back to 1978” (dated 18/10/15) after which I got a gift a mug and a programme from the Theatre Royal; “Uncle Chris” (dated 11/9/15) which still has a lot of readers; and “Clevedon Pier” (dated 11/4/16) which produced a lot of reaction, especially about the picture on the tea towel.
  • I never had a Twitter account until April 2015 and now I have more than 330 followers which I think is surprising since I am not writing about up-to-date stuff, food, sport or celebrities, nor am I advertising anything.
  • I get a lot of visitors to the Blog from Australia, USA, Russia and Slovenia (I don’t know anyone in Australia, USA, Russia or Slovenia)
  • This year I entered the UK Blog Awards in the Story Telling Category.  I didn’t get short-listed (nor did I expect to) but I did enjoy the process; having to think about the purpose of my Blog, think about my favourite Blogs (which were, at that time, Welsh Language 1970 – dated 22/5/15 and Rugby World Cup 2015 – dated 23/11/15).  I think perhaps now I might also include Caledonian MacBrayne 1998 (dated 23/3/16), Guernsey 1999 (dated 22/2/16) and St Agnes, Isles of Scilly 1984 (dated 27/1/16).  When you understand that around 60,000 public votes are cast in the UK Blog awards, across the 10 categories, I knew I didn’t stand a chance of being shortlisted but it was good fun to be in contact with a lot of my old friends
  • The last year has given me a chance to reconnect with friends I had lost touch with – people like Rory and Nick – but also to reflect on friendships, past and present, and to drag up the deep memories that I had thought I had buried forever, remembering things about my family that I probably haven’t discussed with anyone before.  It has been good for me, healing.  The last year has also challenged the memories of my friends who have been able to offer corrections of accuracy where my faulty memory has let me down.
  • I have discovered a beauty in some tea towels that I had never realised before and come across some brilliant designers like Penny Seume, Pat Albreck, Phil Clements and Gillian Kyle……to name but a few.  In the Weekend Magazine of the Daily Mail there is always an interview with someone where the question ‘If you hadn’t been a …..what would you have liked to have done?’  I have always said my career choice was exactly right for me.  Now, there is a tiny part of me that would have loved to have been part of tea towel design. That will never be, but I do have the option, in my retirement, of focussing on the beauty of tea towels.
  • I am still asked about my favourite tea towels.  I could never have a real favourite – my favourite is probably always the last one I worked on or the next one I will buy/or be given.  I am actually getting excited about what tea towels will come to the top of my airing cupboard pile in the next few months. The reality is that I will not have seen these ones for at least a year, or maybe nearer two years. I can think of a few that I know must be coming up soon which have a story attached to them – Calke Abbey, Kew Gardens, Coll, Only Men Aloud, Birmingham…… That is a bit worrying because that is only 5 and there are probably about 350 to come – I hope I can remember them all.
  • Surprisingly, in this process, I have only come across one person who has said they seriously collect tea towels but that person never uses them; they are still wrapped up.  Surely, I can’t be alone in this interest?
  • How do I see next year?  For those readers who may hope the ‘odyssey’ is nearly over, you will be disappointed.  The next year will be tea towels and more tea towels.  I would like to do some articles about my favourite tea towel designers; I still have my Christmas Tea Towels to finish off in December; I need to rebuild a cupboard for the storage of tea towels because the airing cupboard is reaching a crisis point with my growing collection; I would like to do a Blog about the Queen’s 90th Birthday (anyone got any tea towels?) and her Diamond Jubilee (I have already got some tea towels); then I need to do London Olympics 2012 (I’ve already got those tea towels) as well as Rio 2016 (anyone got any for Rio?) and hopefully someone will produce at least one tea towel about Euro 2016.  I wonder if the Radical Tea Towel Company have a European Referendum tea towel on their radar?  Then there are Gwyn’s mothers tea towels and Jean’s tea towels.  I must also follow Fee’s advice that I need to think about a better way of taking photos of my tea towels.  And, of course, I am up for any other opportunity that might arise over the next year.

My first twelve months as a Tea Towel Blogger has been great fun.  I am grateful that people read it, and possibly enjoy it, but the real thanks go to (a) those creative people who design tea towels and given me so much pleasure and (b) those people who have so generously given me tea towels to extend my collection.  Thank you.

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Oban, Lorn and Mull: 2010

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I bought this tea towel in 2010 but it definitely was not on my first visit to Oban.  Oban is one of my favourite towns.  To me, it is the gateway to the Hebrides; it is a small town, based on tourism (and the distillery) and is absolutely great.  There is loads to do, always something new.  The railway station is in the centre of the town, next to the bus station and the CalMac Ferry Terminal so you don’t need your own transport because there is plenty of good public transport, that is reliable and gets you around; that includes the Sightseeing Bus Tour which takes you out of Oban to nearby areas.  Every time that I have been to Oban I have discovered something new.  It is an understated town and this tea towel demonstrates that.  A standard cotton tea towel with good absorbancy, it has a map in the centre locating Oban on the Firth of Lorn, at the head of a perfect horseshoe-shaped bay and sheltered by the Isle of Kerrara.  Mull, Iona, Lismore, Kerrara, Seil, Easdale, Jura, Colonsay and Luing are islands all placed on the map, if not quite accurately located, nor in the correct scale!!

Surrounding the map are pictures of 12 places in or near Oban.  It gives me great pleasure to look at the tea towel and realise that I have been to many of the places and have tea towels of many of them, that I have already blogged about (or may blog about in the future)!!

I’ve travelled on the Isle of Mull Railway in 2010.  It was a 10.25 inch gauge line, one and a quarter miles long, running from the Ferry Terminal to Torosay Castle.  It was a great way to see the Castle, as the train travelled up through the wooded area.  However, sadly, the line closed at the end of 2010 and the castle closed its doors to the public in 2012.  I stayed near Connell Bridge in 2013, in a tiny wooden ‘hut’, one room plus a toilet and the tiniest shower in the world; it was on Loch Etive with a picnic bench outside the front door where we were able to have our breakfast each day.  From our ‘hut’ we travelled on the school bus each day, crossing the Connell Bridge on the way to Oban.  It was a delightful place to spend a week’s holiday.  I visited Dunallie Castle in 2013, walking along the Beach, the Esplanade and the road beyond, in warm sunshine, passing very few people on the way.  It was a fantastic walk and ended up with the most amazing views.  Many times I have been to the Isle of Seil and the Clachan Bridge, called the Bridge over the Atlantic (see Blog dated 16/7/15).

McCaig’s Folly is a wonderful building, completely useless, relatively modern, that could easily be described as iconic, designed as a tourist attraction, which I visited on the Sightseeing Bus Tour of Oban in 2010.  You get the most amazing views over the town, out to Mull and Kerrara, from the Folly.  Whenever you arrive at the Ferry Terminal, McCaig’s Folly welcomes you to Oban from the hillside.  Iona Cathedral is worth a visit any day, taking the CalMac ferry, stopping at Craignure and going by bus to Fionnaport with a short ferry crossing to Iona (CalMac Blog was dated 23/3/16 and Iona Blog was dated 27/3/16).  I’ve been around the Isle of Staffa on a number of occasions; the best trip was when I also visited St Kilda, I can remember seeing the basalt columns and having my breath taken away by the sheer magnitude of the geology and then hearing the sound of the waves crashing into the caves; it sent shivers up my spine.  Duart Castle was a splendid castle on Mull – a Blog to be done in the future because I can see where the Mull tea towel is in my airing cupboard pile.  While I have been through the Falls of Cruachan Railway Station, I have never been to the Cruachan Dam nor have I been to Kilchurn Castle but I  have been to  Loch Awe with its beautiful views.

What this tea towel doesn’t show is all the other amazing places that are near Oban and easy to get to like Arduaine Gardens, owned by the National Trust for Scotland, the Oban Distillery, the fantastic War and Peace Museum supported by volunteers, the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary, Loch Etive, the Oban Chocolate Company…….and many more, all places that I have visited.  Looking at the tea towel reminds me what a great area the west coast of Scotland is; people I know that haven’t visited, always use the excuse of the midges.  They are missing a treat; they should rethink their holiday plans!!  I know this will not have been the last I’ve visited Oban, I’m missing it already, as I write.

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