XXXX II: The Return of the Wallaby

So we have returned to XXXX!
After the last hurried wet day trip to Inchconnachan on Loch Lomond, Benji and I were crazy keen to go and have a closer look at the cute marsupials that roam the island. Our planned trip to Ireland fell through and that opened an opportunity for another trip out to the Bonnie Banks. So we hired a car for two days, prepared sandwiches, bought steaks, wine and diposable barbecues, packed up boats, tents, tarpaulin covers (yes, we were smarter this time), Benji’s brother Adam, spare clothes, gumboots and cameras and headed out to the wilderness…

It started well when we were upgraded to a Vauxhall Zafira, instead of the small car we paid for. The boot space turned out to be very handy as it looked like we were going for a week. The start on Saturday was slow and painful since we’d failed to pack the night before but we eventually made it to the island before nightfall. As usual, the rain started in Glasgow, and the Trossachs looked even bleaker. It was raining while we were preparing to launch, raining while we rowed, raining when we got there, raining while we were setting up the camp… in fact, it didn’t stop raining until about midnight. When the tarpaulin and the tents were up and we were cosy in dry, warm clothes with the bbq aflame, Fate struck us in the face with its mighty fist. The steaks! The steaks were left behind, all alone, in the deep dark compartments of the fridge. Yet far was it from us to be discouraged by this cruel twist of fortune. We grilled bread with cheese instead. For dessert, we grilled halloumi. Yum! We drank wine and beer and sang merry songs (ok, we didn’t sing, as far as I remember). As it now gets dark very early, and there wasn’t much to do once the wine was gone, we opted for an early night.

When I woke up at 3 am the moon was so bright it cast shadows and the sky was clear enough to see Orion. For a while. The morning was also dry and mostly clear. The coffee from the thermo-flask was still luke warm for me and Benji, piss warm for Adam.
We were finally ready to head into the depths of the island in search of marsupials. Our first critter sighting was enlightening and disappointing at the same time. When we peered over the ledge, on which we had originally spotted what we thought was an albino wallaby, into the valley where we’d been at the time, we found our situation had turned. Up from the hill, we were peering into the valley at the albino wallaby! Or should I say… the white deer! Maybe it was an albino deer. It was stark white while one of his friends was sand coloured and another wallaby coloured. We took but a blurry picture before they pranced away.

The first real wallaby sighting occurred not long afterwards.Two marsupials hopped up towards us from behind a hill and started feeding. When we didn’t move, they didn’t seem to notice us much. So we watched me wallabies feed, mate, for about an hour and a half. We stalked them sneakily and stole their souls on many occasions, as they were scratching their pouches, heads, arms and munching twigs. We got close enough to one to hear it chew before it got bored and hopped away. They were very cute up close. Like a hybrid of a bunny, a rat and an antelope… i.e. bunny-ratelopes. Here’s one:

When we hit a boggy area we decided to turn back and break our fast. We lit another fire, finished the food and packed up the tents. Because it was a clear and sunny day we decided to casually row around our island before heading back to Luss. The loch was perfectly still with no hint of the wind or waves from last time. When we were to the west of the island, that somehow seemed huge all of a sudden, we stopped taking pictures for reasons that will be clear very shortly. Here is the end of that story:




Needless to say, we had steaks for dinner!

Moral of the story: When rowing gets tough, the tough hitch a ride.

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From the Bonnie Banks to XXXX…

This post tells the story of yet another epic adventure of the Marchmont Road crew of fierce pirates. Only seven days smarter than last week, we avoided the mistake no. 1 and hired a car for this trip, which ended up being an amazing idea.

Due to the parties of the night before, we were low on pancakes (we had none) but high on… well, that’s another story and not one for public consumption so I will just say high on hope, morale, energy and suchlike. Very excited about the trip but as it turned out later, not incredibly optimistic about sighting wallabies.

On yeah, wallabies! How did we come on to that? High indeed you might think…
However, the trip I had planned was all to do with wallabies. Several years ago, I came across an article that kind of mentioned wallabies having been introduced to an island of Loch Lomond in the 1920’s. I found this piece of information useful so I stored it securely in the clean and tidy drawers of my brain. But now that we have the boats, it was ripe and ready to be unleashed upon the world.

We took our hire car to Luss, a little village on the west bank of Loch Lomond, and there we found a conveniently designed river (yes, Tiffanie, this one is for you). By the time our boats were inflated and ready to go, we were pretty wet, shoe and sock and pants wise. Placing our buttocks in the wet boats did the rest. The trip took about an hour each way, both against the wind and waves (thanks Metoffice, you mofo!) but we eventually made it to Inchconnachan, the island of the wallabies.

We left our boats on the local “beach” and relying on the trustworthiness of the locals we headed out to the jungle that was the island. The autumn colours were beautiful and the ground was soft and squishy (and unfortunately wet). After about ten minutes, we no longer cared about not stepping in the omnipresent puddles. We roamed around for about 15 minutes when we decided to dig into our freshly prepared sandwiches from the night before. Not two minutes later, our first sighting occurred. It was a white wallaby, possibly an albino. Helle and I saw it in the distance, watching us from the top of the hill, but only for a second before it hopped away, its white ears flapping in the wind as it moved away at the speed of light. We followed it. I guess that sighting was a little unfortunate as afterwards most of us were looking out for huge motherfucking white things that move. We saw none. Eventually, Philipp, who has been to the Last Continent and was expecting tiny brown thingees spotted a huge grey wallaby and we all had a good look. We took some pictures too but they came out kind of blurry in the darkness of the jungle.
We decided to head for the boats and not five minutes later I was walking past a cluster of trees, where Hellipp walked only a few seconds before, when a wallaby hopped out of the cluster and fled, leaving me with the image of its huge feet and its tail in my head. Then I might have seen it again in the distance, or it might have been another one. Those goddamned marsupials were probably all around us but invisible until they moved.

Happy about the sightings we headed for the boats. To our great relief they were still there and we could commence our voyage back to the mainland, soaked and freezing. Helle had her first go at rowing, but further from the island the waves and the wind were not suited for a beginner rower. It was hard work rowing to the shore; we scared some birds, almost knocked an island into the water, tried and failed to defy the current of the river that brought us in and angered a swan (Helle did anyway). While the boys took the charge of the boats, Helle and I went to get the car and just missed the last heavy rainfall that Metoffice kept secret from us.

The ride back was crazy rainy but by that point Hellipp were comfortably naked under the blankets in the back seat and even though we were still wet, at least we were warm. We made it to Edinburgh ok and still managed to check out the piles of rubble left from the demolition of the Sighthill blocks of flats that detoured us on the way home from the car hire place that morning.

All-in-all an epic day of adventuring. My neck is crazy sore!

Moral of the story: Always take waterproofs and a change of clothing even if it is sunny and beautiful, Metoffice is just messing with you. Mistake no. 2.

Highlight: The motherfucking wallaby!!!