Tag Archives: review

Mull holiday photos get fancy with Tripwow

These days we’re really spoiled when it comes to ways to share images with friends and family. I’ve been a fan of Flickr for as long as it’s been around and it’s better than ever today. It’s also ideal for the occasional snapper as the free account allows you to upload 100MB a month.

However, we’re not in any way occasional, having taken thousands of pictures since the kids were born. That’s why we went for a pro account on Flickr many years ago. This gives you unlimited uploads.

But the big problem with having so many pictures is how to best present them to your friends and family. Well that question might have been usefully answered by a recent visitor to Mull who posted to the Isle of Mull discussion forum on TripAdvisor, providing a link to a service I’d not come across previously.

Called TripWow the service (as illustrated above) lets you pick your favourite snaps and turn them into a really slick-looking slideshow with music, which you can then share with friends. That’s just what ‘woodybark’ has done with her selection of shots from a recent trip to the Isle of Mull.

Rather handily TripWow works with a bunch of online photography websites. Using the free service you can log in to your Flickr, Picasa or Facebook account, or just upload directly from your computer.

It’s a great way to give friends a flavour of what you did and saw on your holiday and, once created, your photo presentation is easy to share on services like Twitter and Facebook.

Ralph
Beach House Self-Catering, Isle of Mull
Twitter: mullescape

Chartering a private boat when visiting Mull

Here’s another local business (based out of Oban) with some rather interesting snippets of information on its blog and facebook page. Called Coastal Connections it has quite a lot of attractive pictures taken on past charter trips around the coast and islands on its blog. Just click on the blog archive to see an overview.

Coastal Connections is based out of Oban and runs private charters to Mull and other parts of the Inner Hebrides.Coastal Connections has a rather beautiful website featuring a map of the west coast of Scotland pin-pointing its location and, presumably, the area it services with two boats. “We aim to make your journey to the islands as enjoyable as possible. Both our Redbay 11 metre cabined RIBs provide a safe, dry and comfortable environment in which to relax and take in the scenery and wildlife along the west coast. Cruising at an average speed of 30 knots you will reach your destination in no time at all. Our services range from commercial exercises to scenic tours of the Western Isles as well as private charters.”

Apart from using smaller boats to ferry myself to dive sites up the Sound of Mull, a past-time I can no longer do these days, it’s never occurred to me to charter a boat for a cruise around the islands. But, if you are a large group or have extended family members on Mull for a holiday, it could be a great way to spend a day.

There really is nothing quite like being able to take a view of the land from the sea. It’s more akin to how our ancestors would have seen the world, when the seas were our highways and venturing inland was a dangerous prospect.

That’s also why our forebears would have not seen the national distinctions we recognise today. Peoples from modern Ireland and Northern Ireland would have been ferrying back and forth between Scotland’s Islands and mainland in much the same way we take a car on the M6, to or from the south.

Anyway, if the idea of hiring a private boat to flit you around the islands holds some appeal, you should go check out what they have to offer.

Ralph
Beach House Self-Catering
Twitter: mullescape

Grand Tour of Scotland hits Mull, Iona and Staffa

I learnt something new after watching Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland on the BBC’s iPlayer. Seems that the whole Thomas Cook travel empire started life thanks to the said Mr Cook, a baptist and worker for the temperance movement, sending the working classes to bonnie Scotland. He apparently thought that taking people on tours of Scotland would keep them sober and away from the gin palaces.

Paul Murton visits Mull, Iona and Staffa in Scotland's Inner Hebrides in the TV programme 'Grand Tours of Scotland'Another little gem was that Cook was so shocked at the poverty which he found Iona locals living under that he set up a fund to which his tourists could contribute. This raised enough funds to buy 24 fishing boats for islanders. So Thomas Cook must rank as one of the very first eco-tourists, wanting to help the community he was visiting.

Anyway, these interesting historical snippets were recounted as Paul spoke to transport historian Nikki Macleod from the University of Greenwich, whilst they sat on the last ocean-going paddle steamer the Waverley, on its way to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull after leaving from Oban. This all starts about 15 minutes into the half hour programme, so it’s a good place to start if your main interest in this episode is his travels to the inner hebrides of Mull, Iona and Staffa.

A few other interesting pieces of information on the presenter include Paul’s connections with Mull. Seems he also has family on the island which he mentions as the Waverley steams into Tobermory harbour … in his opinion the most beautiful in Scotland. And, much like myself, he also chose to get married on Mull. Good call. Worked for us!

I should mention that, unless the programme gets re-broadcast at a later date, you’ll only be able to view this online if you’re somewhere in the UK up until the 17th of November.

Ralph
Twitter: mullescape

How to find self-catering on Mull… the best places to start

We’ve only recently been renting Beach House as a self-catering location on the Isle of Mull. We’re in our third year and it’s been a learning experience.

But, from a holiday-maker’s perspective, trying to find the right piece of advice or information about good self catering properties and locations on the island can be quite a challenge. Without doubt there are a load of middling websites which are pumped up with paid-for property listings that are being touted on the basis of quantity over quality. For the poor person trawling through these it can be down-right drudgery.

Fact is, there really are only a few places on the web where you can get something approaching an independent, credible idea of what to expect.

Now, as someone on the rental side of the equation, I think I can give a view on which are the best places for any families or groups looking to rent a self-catering property on the Isle of Mull.

I plan to list a few I think will make life easier for people wanting to book their own holiday accommodation. But I’m starting with what I believe is probably the best resource of all if you’re looking, not just for self-catering on Mull, but anywhere else in the UK. I’m talking about Google’s very own Maps service. You can see it in action here with a map we created ourselves.

But it’s also an excellent way to visually pinpoint places all across the island — from Tobermory at the top to Fionnphort just next to Iona and everywhere in-between. It’s also much more than a mapping service. Listings on there can offer a wealth of additional information put up by property owners and independent reviews from former holidaymakers.

Here’s my run-though on how easy it is to use Maps to quickly find what you’re looking for:

Ralph
Twitter: mullescape

Mull… the Otter’s paradise

At this time of year the BBC trots out its usual gaggle of over-enthusiastic wildlife presenters to coo over all sorts of soft and cuddly creatures in Autumnwatch. It’s just started a new run, “for an eight week celebration of UK wildlife”.

But I am not meaning to belittle overly-keen TV wildlife presenters. It’s great that our national broadcaster makes a big deal out of the country’s wildlife and tries to educate a predominantly urban population about the nature that’s all around us.

In his own small way, that’s also what landscape painter, and more recently, film-maker Angus Stewart is trying to do. I recently discovered his film, made over two years, of a local otter living in amongst the people of Mull and specifically the town of Tobermory. Aptly called ‘Tobermory and the Otter’, it recounts the tale of wild otters which become bold enough to live and interact with Tobermory’s local characters going about their daily lives.

As Angus explains, “This film is a rare insight into the usually secretive life of wild otters. You will see how an otter makes use of a community, its ingenuity and strategies, how it went about stealing… from fishing boats and the range of fish it caught as well as showing the remarkable interactions it chose to have with the town’s residents.”

The film reflects the changing nature of Mull weather throughout the year, with the ever-familiar backdrop of Tobermory’s painted facade completing the background of footage showing the extrovert otter in action.

It’s certainly a far cry from our all too camera-shy otters at our self-catering holiday home, Beach House. We have otters that live in and around the mouth of the local river, also called Beach. The Beach river flows into a crescent-shaped pebble-strewn beach which has large beds of seaweed towards the eastern tip of the bay. This is a perfect playground where the otters like to potter, most likely looking for tasty morsels of shellfish and unfortunate crab.

By contrast, the otters in Angus’s film seem far more relaxed in the hustle and bustle of life in and around Tobermory. So, if you rather like otters you might want to check out the movie clips of the full 50 minute presentation on his website and YouTube page. Though not currently available on DVD, it may be in the future.

Ralph
Twitter: mullescape

British Sea Power reports on recent Mull Trip

According to Last.fm, “British Sea Power are a four-man indie rock band based in Brighton, England, although three of the band hail originally from Kendal in Cumbria. Their style encompasses sweeping and often epic guitar pop with more visceral, angular and esoteric noises and instruments. Critics have likened their sound to a variety of groups, from The Cure to Pixies. They have released four albums and a number of EPs (most on Rough Trade) since they formed in 2000.”

Post Gig at An Tobar Arts Centre, British Sea Power and pals gathered at The Mishnish as illustrated by Tony HusbandThe band were up on Mull (and then Eigg) to perform at An Tobar, Tobermory’s 60-seater Arts Centre, last September. For any followers of the band, there is now an entertaining two-parter about the trip up to the Isle of Mull on the music website Drowned In Sound… presumably that’s not a literal reference to a tragedy in the Sound of Mull! 🙂

It’s an entertaining tale of drivers getting lost on the wrong side of Scotland, comic scenes, such as losing recording equipment over the side of a CalMac boat and a gig where the band premiered their new eight track CD ZEUS after having consumed one too many whiskies beforehand. It was then rounded off by a trip to the Mishnish to carry on the important work of whisky sampling into the small hours.

The jaunt has now been recounted, not just in words and pictures, but also through the eyes of the cartoonist Tony Husband. Well worth the few minutes of your time that it will take to read the two-parter.

If you’re unfamiliar with the band and you’d like to know what they sound like, you can visit their MySpace page to hear a few of the new tracks which they performed at An Tobar.

Ralph
Twitter: mullescape

Derek Fogg’s images of Mull

Derek Fogg, a landscape photographer based in North West England, runs the website British Landscapes. He’s recently added a new set of pictures called the “Isles of Mull and Iona” which contains some beautiful landscape images captured during his recent visit.

As Derek explains in his blog, he started out with about 600 images from all over Mull and Iona, but he’s now cut this down to 40, some of which are now live for others to appreciate.

These latest photos are part of his wider project to journey around the British Isles capturing landscapes. But, whilst he had some pretty challenging conditions during his stint on Mull, he’s managed to capture some really evocative and beatifully composed images.

Salen is on the east coast of the island, on the Sound of Mull, approximately halfway between Craignure and Tobermory. Copyright Derek Fogg @ britishlandscapes.comYou often see photographs from Mull which, perhaps inevitably, represent familiar subjects that crop up again and again. The three rotting fishing boats on the Salen coast road to Tobermory are pretty iconic with everyone who passes by with a camera. But Derek has managed to take those old hulls and place them in the context of their surroundings beautifully, with a backdrop that follows the line of the Sound of Mull northwards and thus gives a great sense of overall place.

Check out his other photos. It’s well worth the visit.

Ralph
Twitter: mullescape

Sea Soundscape recorded on the Isle of Mull

Ok, so someone had the bright idea that if what people like and take away from a visit to the Isle of Mull is the peace and seclusion so close to civilisation, then why not try to capture some of it? What they’ve (that’s Sounds Relaxing ) come up with is an hour long chill tape. Essentially it’s a bunch of continuous tinkly music with, supposedly, the sounds of the sea recorded from Mull’s beaches. It’s very reminiscent of the kind of stuff you might hear in one of those hydro-therapy or massage businesses, to help lull you into a stupor and forget all your worries.

And, as it turns out, on checking the website that’s exactly what the company producing this stuff has in mind too. You can either order the CD or buy it as a download. Or, if you prefer the real thing, you could always make plans for another holiday on Mull and go hear those sounds first-hand… minus the tinkly stuff of course 🙂

Mini-Review: Mull Eagle Paradise

Things I didn’t know before I watched ‘Mull – Eagle Paradise‘ using the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service…

  • Wildlife Cameraman Gordon Buchanan is from Mull
  • The last Eagle was killed in the UK in 1918
  • Eagles were re-introduced initially to the island of Rhum in the 60s
  • Despite 140 birds being released in the 60s, the first Eagle chick to be born didn’t happen until 1985 on Mull
  • Mull is particularly appealing to Sea Eagles because, despite the name, they rather like the plentiful supply of rabbits
  • A third of all the sea eagles live on Mull

So, all things considered, I found this rather short BBC programme quite informative. With only 10 minutes there wasn’t much talk of some of the resistance to the growth in eagle numbers from farmers, who feel that these beautiful birds are predating lambs. More studies are being done but, for now at least, it’s uncertain whether eagles actively kill live lambs or are simply scavenging dead carcasses.

There’s no doubt that eagles have been very beneficial to tourism on the Island. At Beach House we’ve seen them floating around high up over Loch Scridain and the Ross of Mull. Of course, people visit the island for many reasons, but there’s no denying that the eagles add something special to the mix.

Ralph
Twitter: mullescape

St Columba’s Hospice group leaves kind comment

Many thanks to Chaplain Michael Paterson who took a group of his staff from St Columba’s Hospice up to Beach House for a bit of respite and a visit to Iona. He left some kind words on our reviews page on Google’s Maps service saying, “A group of staff from St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh came here to rest and recover from our labours and boy did we enjoy ourselves. The house is everything we could have hoped for: warm, well furnished, comfortable, well equipped and with breathtaking views across the loch. We really could not have asked for a better location for our needs. Highly recommended for anyone wanting away from it all!

Thanks Michael and I hope you’ll come stay again sometime.

Ralph

Twitter: mullescape