Photographs & tales, following a jazz saxophone & piano duo from Scotland, as they tour around the UK and beyond, in their Tour Bus (a converted ambulance). Click on a photo below to read each post.


Friday took us up past Loch Lomond, the “Rest & Be Thankful” pass, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, The Crinan Canal and into Knapdale to the village of Tayvallich [pronounced: tay-vee-allich (“ch” as in loch)], sheltered on the shores of Loch Sween.  Tayvallich comes from the Gaelic, meaning “house of the pass“.  There has been a settlement there since at least the 1750s.

Click here to see Tayvallich on Google Maps

It was very, very, very wet from Loch Lomond onwards!

A very wet Inveraray…..or should that be InverRAINY!

But the sun did come out for a wee while at The Crinan Canal.  It is known as “Scotland’s Most Beautiful Shortcut” and its 9 mile journey takes you from Crinan at Loch Crinan on the Sound of Jura to Ardrishaig near Lochgilphead.

Click here to see Cairbaan on Google Maps

Crinan Canal at Cairbaan

Yachts entering lock at Cairbaan

An old boat further up the Canal

Dom keeping dry in the Tour Bus!

The light, sky, water and trees in this photo remind me of Constable’s paintings!

Crinan Canal

Two old steamers moored at Crinan Basin

Crinan Basin

Click here to see Crinan Basin on Google Maps

Ian at the Crinan Lighthouse

Loch Crinan

Loch Crinan

Loch Crinan

A boat on Loch Crinan

Loch Crinan

A yacht at Loch Crinan

We were met with a very warm welcome at Tayvallich Village Hall by Ewan, Iain & David (and later, Martin).  They showed us round and set the room up whilst we unloaded our gear.

The audience gave us very warm & enthusiastic applause after each tune and finally an encore.  It was a very enjoyable concert for us.  Ewan has since told us that he’s had positive feedback about our concert from those who attended.

As we packed away in the dusk, the wind had stopped…..the rain had stopped….then midge hell began!  Thousands of little midges (like tiny, tiny flies that bite you and suck on your blood), swarmed all around our heads as we tried to load up the van at speed!

We were featured in the local newspaper!

Tayvallich Village Hall on the shores of Loch Sween

Ian & Dom at Tayvallich Village Hall (photo courtesy of Martin)

Ian playing soprano saxophone at Tayvallich Village Hall (photo courtesy of Martin)

Dom playing at Tayvallich Village Hall (photo courtesy of Martin)

Loch Sween at Tayvallich

Loch Sween at Tayvallich

Some pictures from the journey home the next day.

Inveraray’s Main Street with Glenaray & Inveraray Parish Church at the far end

Click here to see Invararay on Google Maps

The “Vital Spark” moored at Inveraray

The Vital Spark was the name of the fictional steam boat, known as Clyde Puffers from Neil Munro’s stories, featuring Para Handy as its captain. (Neil Munro was born in Inveraray. ) It was made into a BBC TV comedy series in 1959-60 with 6 episodes called “Para Handy – Master Mariner” featuring Duncan Macrae, Roddy McMillan and John Grieve.  A second version “Vital Spark” ran for 3 series between 1965 & 1974 starring: Roddy McMillan, Walter Carr and Alex McAvoy.  In 1974, BBC Scotland produced “The Tales of Para Handy” starring Gregor Fisher, Andrew Fairlie, Sean Scanlan, Rikki Fulton and David Tennant in one of his first acting roles.  The original “Vital Spark” used for the TV series was actually a puffer called “Auld Reekie” which at present is being restored at Crinan.  But this boat is now officially the “Vital Spark“.

You can watch it on YouTube:

And finally, a view of The Kelpies on the M9 motorway near Falkirk, through a rain-soaked windscreen.  These are 30m high horse head sculptures made of steel which stand at the connection of the Forth & Clyde Canals near the Falkirk Wheel, and pay homage to the working horses which used to pull barges along Scotland’s canals.

The Skelpies

Click here to see Tayvallich on Google Maps


Words and photos by Ian Millar © 2018

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