Monday, 19 March 2012

Day 8: What's the Story?

Sunday March 18th dawned bright and sunny on Tiree (which is officially the sunniest place in the UK and was living up to its reputation).  After breakfast I packed up the car again and headed for the ferry terminal in good time to catch the 1025 ferry back to Oban.  The crossing was really wonderful, with fantastic views of the islands in the sunshine as we cruised along the Sound of Mull past the lighthouse on Ardmor Point.

Soon we were arriving at Oban again, which even on a Sunday is a bustling town because of the ferry traffic.  As the "Lord of the Isles" pulled into the dock, my next ferry, the "Isle of Mull" was already moored and getting ready for boarding... it was a case of just driving off one boat and almost straight onto another - it felt just like making a flight connection:  I hadn't thought of Oban as the London Heathrow of the high seas!

The crossing to Craignure seemed very short indeed after the long journeys from Barra and to and from Tiree, but there was still time to admire yet more stunning views as we headed out past Kerrera and yet more lighthouses (with yet another striking rainbow in the background).

Sajely landed on Mull I made the short drive to Tobermory, pausing on the way just past Salen for a quick photo of the mainland, looking out towards the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

I finally reached Tobermory (aka Balamory!) about 5.30pm, and after a short stop down on the Main St for the obligatory photograph... was off to my B&B on Breadalbane St, which coincidentally is run by Rebecca MacDonald, maths teacher at Tobermory High School.  Rebecca and Donald Holmes, the physics teacher, had between them come up with a plan for my talks on Monday morning and I gave Donald a quick call to confirm all was well.  Donald suggested that, since the primary school was immediately adjacent to the High School, perhaps I could pay them a visit too.  I figured this would be fine:  my only real constraint on Monday was to catch the 5pm ferry back from Craignure to Oban, to set me up for the last leg of my epic journey, to Islay on Tuesday.

I headed off to An Tobar, the little arts centre where I'd be giving the last of my public talks that evening.

I was a bit unsure of numbers this time, but Rebecca said that she was coming along and expected that a few of her students would be coming too.  In the end there was more than 30 people, which filled the venue, so another big success.   We even managed a little bit of star gazing straight afterwards too - although it was noticeable that the streetlights of Tobermory limited what you could see, even if they were no where near as bad as Glasgow.  (I guess anywhere was going to suffer in comparison with Tiree!)  Unfortunately the clouds rolled in too and we only managed a quick look at Mars and a few other constellations, but there were lots of great questions - particularly from the children.

On the way back to Rebecca's place the clouds suddenly cleared and I got a much better idea of just how dark the skies over Mull could be.  Not having the telescope set up, I was limited to taking a snap of Venus and Jupiter on my phone - but even that was impressive, Venus in particular managing not to be drowned out by the lights of the town.

I was a bit sad that the evening public talks were now over, but looking forward to the final two rounds of schools talks on Monday and Tuesday.

May the force be with you

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