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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A couple of jottings on Oban, Staffa and RL Stevenson

Serendipity or what.  I had just finished the post below when up popped this item on my Twitter timeline.  It's a very interesting link to a letter written by RL Stevenson  during a trip to Erraid, via Oban,  Staffa and Iona.  Numerous illustrations, and of particular interest to me, a video of the relatively recent demolition of the Argyll Hotel, Oban, where Stevenson, according to his letter, had a rather dreadful meal;  apparently 'herrings in a state of mash, and potatoes like iron'.  He was 20 years old at the time and his young man's energy and zest for life shine through in quite an endearing way.
I have several photos of the old Argyll Hotel pre-demolition which I took a year or two ago with a view to them fitting in with the Sea Penguin tales. I was taken by its 18th century, olde worlde, sea-faring-style appearance, and I also remember the bar upstairs very well from a trip I made there in 1986.  I think I might also have a photograph of it from that time, but it's goodness knows where.  I'm sure they have kept the corner of the building where the bar was.  It would have been terrible to lose that as well as the rest.  I have had a story about that trip half-written for about five years!  I began re-writing it a month or so ago and I intend finishing it soon-ish.  I've made three trips to Staffa; all have been memorable for one reason or another - and none because of the undoubtedly amazing basalt pillars and booming cave.
the argyll hotel, oban sea penguin
The former Argyll Hotel,  Oban, where RL Stevenson once stayed - now demolished

argyll hotel 2 sea penguin
Another of the former Argyll Hotel, complete with Jubilee bunting

menu board argyll hotel sea penguin
Old menu board,  Argyll Hotel

oban at night sea penguin
Oban at night a year or two ago.  Stevenson describes a similar scene - albeit without the Calmac ferry terminal

inn sign sea penguin
The Harbour Inn, opposite the Argyll Hotel

trtan tavern, oban sea penguin
The Tartan Tavern, Oban.  Last time I was there it had shut down.

sea spray sea penguin
Sea spray from the Oban to Lismore ferry


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