Travel

Yes!! It’s a Real Thing!!

So, my adventure map had an adventure that soon became top of my list. It wasn’t a quick trip, it would require planning and time off work – oh well!😃

It was in Scotland, on an island called Easdale and it was The World Stone Skimming Championships. 😁

Needless to say I had difficulty in convincing people it was a real thing – did you know the World Record is 88!! Wow!! Mine just go ‘plop’😂

When people asked where I was going and I told them, a few would just roll their eyes and not be surprised, others would just look stunned and disbelieving😂 its a look I see a lot from people😄 and it doesn’t bother me. I know where I’m coming from!

So, the trip.

Was a long way. I knew I couldn’t do the journey in one day so I chose Darlington to stop at on the a Thursday night. The weekends accommodation took longer to decide on. I had a hotel booked but realised a cottage would be cheaper and give me more freedom. I eventually settled on an Air BnB ‘cottage’ on Seil Island, which was the neighbouring island to Easdale, it was to be my first foray into Airbnb.

I would be staying there for three nights and then after that I had no clue. Truly no clue.

The day of departure arrived, I had hours owing me so I took the afternoon off and left from work.

The drive to Darlington went well and I found the hotel. It was lovely. I booked dinner on check in and went down after freshening up. It wasn’t too busy. I chose a corner table with my back to the wall so I could watch people. There were two women, one of which never shut up – for the love of God woman!! Give it a rest!!! A guy on his own with a book – respect. And another couple, they sat down and he said Happy Anniversary to her and proceeded to not talk much – clearly married a while 😂 I saw these two again at breakfast, they were on their phones. Sad really.

Of course I had the usual ‘ is it just for one’ and ‘are you expecting anyone else’ 🙄 I’ve been given some great ideas for come backs by friends so watch this space 😂

Leaving there I had 285 miles, over 5 hours of driving ahead of me. The weather wasn’t great going over the Pennines and joining the M6, pretty bad in fact, had to drop my speed right down.

Navigating around Glasgow (where Vinnie clocked 100,000 miles) and past Loch Lomond I was soon on the windy roads around hills and lochs. I’m surprised I didn’t have an accident! So many stunning views but the places where you could stop weren’t good! I stopped a couple of times but I really wanted to arrive in daylight.

Google maps did its usual trick of taking me down roads that were single track with grass going down the middle – I swear it knows me! Perfect for me but for once I was itching to just get there so was a little frustrated I couldn’t relax and enjoy it.

I found Seil and went over the Bridge Over the Atlantic and continued on to find my Boathouse. I went straight to it, the directions were perfect. I opened their gate and drove in. The Boathouse was next to the owners house. The door as unlocked, I walked in and smiled. It was perfect. One big room with everything I needed, and a bathroom – with heated flooring, lush!!

The lady came and introduced herself and then I settled in. It was going dark and I was shattered. It had been a long and fairly intense drive. I had no plans for the Saturday so I had a glass of wine, wound down and went to bed.

The sunrise was beautiful. I watched it from the window and videoed it on time lapse, which was quite effective.

I didn’t rush, I cooked my breakfast, eventually got ready and made my way to Oban. It’s lovely there, I took myself for a little walk and then came back for a boat trip to see the seal colony.

The scenery from the water was just as stunning, it’s almost too big for it to be appreciated in a photo!! I snapped away and loved the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I could definitely live like that.

Unfortunately we only saw one seal, they were out feeding. But we did see a salmon farm, with salmon jumping inside.

We got back and I found my car and returned to my haven. Shattered again, but in a nice way.

Next day dawned. The day of the Stone Skimming. There was no rush, I figured I could get there lunchtime- ish so I cooked my breakfast again and got ready slowly.

I drove down to Ellenabeich where the ferry was. The ferry only carried 10 people and it was only a very short crossing.

Upon arriving on Easdale I paid £3 for a programme and the ferry ride and followed the path and the people. It’s not a very big island, only 60 inhabitants and no road or cars. It had a nice feel to it. I eventually found the crowd, a small group perched on the cliff top of a slate quarry, it’s what Easdale was known for before the great storm of 1850 that flooded the quarries with no means of pumping them out. Some of them went as deep as 300ft below sea level.

One of the quarries was a beautiful aquamarine colour, the one being used for the skimming was set up with a ‘lane’ the length of the quarry which I was to learn was 63m long.

The skimming had already started by the time I got there, people had registered earlier in the day between 10am and 1pm or until the maximum amount of contestants was reached, which was 350.

The stones were supplied, names were called and each contestant took their position on a rock on the shoreline and threw their stones. Three stones each, both feet on the ground and no run up, just from standing. There were varying degrees of expertise, ranging from someone like me – throwing stones behind, hitting the quarry wall on the left, hitting the boat on the left and even falling in! To people who had obviously practised. I knew this because I’d watched a video on it. It’s serious stuff. One guy had practised so much he had a bruise on his side from hitting himself with his follow through!! It really was a World Championship, people had come from around the world, there was even a team from Sweden!

Each throw of note was counted – to this day I have no idea how they did this, the skips were so fast and some so tiny!! – by guys dressed as jockeys on the top of the cliff along the length of the lane😁there was even someone dressed as a pantomime horse…..🤔😆 The throw only counted if there were more than two skips and if the stone sunk within the marked lane, so it had to be pretty straight too!!

It was very hard trying to stand on the little cliff and be able to see the action, one wrong step and I’d be helping a few people downwards towards the action.

Every contestant was cheered, regardless of success or epic fail and each contestant had a smile on their face. I watched for a while and then went off to have a little look round.

Easdale has a lovely feel to it, there were lots of little white cottages by this quarry, with a green space in front where some children were playing football. IlNothing was particularly manicured, I guess it must get a beating from the weather and I think some of them could have been holiday rentals as I’d looked at the possibility of booking one but they’d been fully booked. With hindsight I was kind of glad, I liked where I’d chosen and I could jump in my car and drive.

There was a fantastic community hall, they were selling burgers and hotdogs outside, teas, coffees and cake inside and also merchandise with World Stone Skimming Championships on them. Of course I had to buy something so I bought a hoodie, I wear it with pride😆

I went back out to the Stone skimming but I went and stood on the other side of the quarry, it was further away from the action but I could see the whole thing better, I could see when the stones hit the quarry wall, very exciting when that happened, pretty amazing really.

Time went really fast, it wasn’t long before the names were called for the finals. One of the finalists hit the quarry wall on each of his three throws – WOW!!

Once it was completed the crowds dispersed and the trophies were set out in the Community Hall, all very professional.

I queued up for the ferry, I was behind the German TV crew, with all their equipment in a wheelbarrow! My turn came for the ferry, but it wasn’t the little boat I’d come on, it was a Rib used for the Seafari, with seats you had to sit astride and hold on to a handle in front. Now I’d thought about doing this as a trip, being on it made me realise I had to do it before I left (another blog!!) as it seemed like it could be great fun.

I got back to Vinnie and made my way back to my cottage/boathouse, it wasn’t far and promptly began to book the Seafari for the next day.

What a great day!! I’d done it!! I’d been and experienced it, all from an adventure map where the idea had been planted and grown into reality.

I have so many other things I want to do, I know they are all possible, I just have to set my mind to them and keep earning the money to fund them!!🙄😂

Happy skimming Peeps!!😁

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