On July 16th 2015 a cab arrived for me at ‘stupid o’clock’, well 5:30am so could have been worse but not by much, to whisk me off to Heathrow Terminal 5 for a pre-flight breakfast, email check and long relaxation ahead of taking off for Glasgow and on to Oban, Gaelic for "Little Bay".
At around 4.45am that morning I had awoken to the panic of realising I had not, in my infinite packing efficiency, thought to check the weather forecast for that part of the world, leading to the frantic re-packing of my case to include both tweed and waterproof jackets, just in case.
On arrival into Glasgow I was greeted by the lovely Linda, owner of The Barn Bar, Lerags and member of the Oban and Lorn Tourism Association (OLTA) who was my host for the next 24 hours.
This all came about after Linda spotted the frankly shocking admission on the GreatDrams Whisky Bucket List that I had not had a chance to try Oban 14 as yet and she boldly wanted to rectify the situation.
We drove along the scenic roads along Loch Lomand, admiring the hills, the body of water, all the while we chatted away about all things Oban, got to know each other and I allowed my mind to relax, enjoying the calm feeling emanating from my surroundings.
This really is a beautiful part of the world, and a part of the world I hope to spend much more time in over the years.
We arrived in the town of Oban – Seafood Capital of Scotland, resident population a mere 8,500 (although this can quadruple in size during peak seasonal times in the year) with enough time to spare for Linda to show me the spectacular view from local landmark McCaig’s Tower down onto the bay.
My afternoon was then spent at the small but perfectly formed Oban distillery which you can read more about on GreatDrams.
Following the distillery visit my whisky radar took me to The Whisky Cellar down the road to enjoy a cocktail and a couple of drams in fine surroundings. Really nice bar.
That evening Linda, who owns The Barn Bar, hosted me for dinner with Audrey who provided my accommodation for the night at Aspen Lodge.
The Barn Bar is a proper local’s local, dogs are welcome, a two-piece band were playing and the food was superb.
Starting with hot and cold smoked salmon we all enjoyed fresh langoustines for main, and can honestly say they were probably the best I’d ever had.
Nothing could prepare me, however, for the homemade sticky toffee pudding served with tablet ice cream. Oh man that was immense.
Feeling stuffed and after having a lovely evening Audrey drove me back to Aspen Lodge where I got to enjoy the highland winds in all their glory from the deck outside my room before heading off to sleep.
Aspen Lodge was lovely, had a real homely feel to it with an impressive attention to sign detail throughout, all of which made for a very comfortable, if not far too brief stay.
The next morning a Scottish fry up awaited, complete with fruit pudding (a new one on me) and I headed off back to Glasgow and a flight home.
Thanks to OLTA, Linda and Audrey for being such great hosts, I really enjoyed the trip and can highly recommend Oban as a tourist destination – in fact I am already working out when I can go back with my wife in 2016.
If you’d like to learn more about Oban visit: Oban – Seafood Capital of Scotland.
Aspen Lodge can be found here http://aspenlodgeoban.co.uk