On My Bike: A flying visit to Argyll & Bute

The weather fared well on Monday as I packed up my motorbike. Trying to cram a business suit, MGS information packs and an overnight bag into a tank bag requires a new skill set, and I began to wonder if my ‘curator on a bike’ idea was such a good one.  I headed north and quickly discovered the good weather had also brought out the bugs, I found myself riding through swarms of green fly and viewing the road through a hazy green visor!  Leaving urban sprawl behind I went past that petrol station in Callender and spotted the little sign that said something about that being the last petrol for……oh dear missed that bit.  5 minutes later and the fuel light came on and I debated a U turn, but decided it couldn’t be too far to the next station. I spent the next half hour wondering just how big that reserve tank was before, joy of joys a fuel stop appeared on the horizon. Filling up and watching the pump rack up the litres I realised I had literally been riding on fumes.  I then discovered I had lost an essential ear plug but was saved by a kind gentleman on a very large scooter who gallantly gave me his spare set. 

 I arrived in Inveraray with glorious sunshine and I set out to find The George Hotel where I spent a pleasant evening eating delicious food and amusing myself by watching the German biker tourists with their ‘Long Way Round’ T shirts taking pictures of themselves with the top shelf of single malts.  I retired to my room which was actually a lovely apartment which was fine until 6.30am the next morning when deliveries to the Co-Op downstairs started. 

My first appointment was with Inveraray Jail where I met with the ‘Governor’ Gavin Dick who showed me round this wonderful building which really does retain the austere atmosphere of the Jail. A kindly warder offered to lock me up for an hour which some might see as a good thing but I politely declined.  Gavin explained how they are extending their audience and bringing in new income through a series of Ghost Hunting nights. The Jail makes very effective use of online marketing channels and regularly updates their Google pages, with visitor number in excess of 60,000 thousand so things are obviously working well.

 It was soon time to load up the bike and take the short run down to Lochgilphead  for a meeting with Argyll and Bute Council. I did a quick change back into business suit and persuaded the nice lady on reception to look after the huge pile of biker clothing. I did get a few funny looks and went off to meet with Donald McVicar to hear what issues the Council is facing in the current climate of public funding cuts. I was able to update on what MGS is doing to support Local Authorities through this time of change from our suite of publications to our research on trusts.   The fact I had made the visit was warmly appreciated and was rounded off with a quick look at the bike which was definitely a talking point.

I did another swift change and got back on the road with the sun still shining. Argyll and Bute really is worth a visit in May as it is stunning, my one regret is that I did not have time to stop at Auchindrain, as it was getting late so I will have to save this for my next trip.

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