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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Rawson


Updated: Aug 6, 2020

Right now we are rocketing through the countryside, on the train from Glasgow to London. It’s a bleak day out, with the rain running in rivulets, sideways across the window. Still, it doesn’t detract from the stunning landscape of rich green pasture, black faced sheep, old, mossy stonewalls and the solid, stone houses dotted here and there.

We stayed a few nights with Tom and Margo, our Glaswegians friends, who shared our NC 500 trip around the Scottish Highlands, back in August 2019. On New Year’s Eve morning we woke to -2 deg. The sun was doing its best to push through the light fog and we could see it was going to be a gorgeous day. Tom chipped the thick ice off the windscreen and windows of the car with the heating blasting inside it, to make it habitable for our journey. He was driving us to Loch Lomond, the wee village of Luss and then on to Tarbet.

Leaving sunny Barrhead, it wasn’t long before we were enveloped in Scotch Mist - but really a dense fog. All the cars lights were on, trying to navigate their way through. The fog was still down round our ears, so to speak, when we got out at Luss. What a gorgeous village. Even in the middle of winter it was busy with tourists. The warmth of the Coach House cafe was so welcoming as were the Scottish staff at the counter. Barb had recommended the scone with jam and cream here, so that’s what we ordered with our coffee. Tom opted for lentil soup - probably the most sensible choice, after all the Christmas indulgence.

Outside again we took the path down to the waterfront, still unable to see much in front of us. First though, we stopped in the graveyard of the church. For over 1500 years, a church has stood here at Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond. The current church has stood since 1875 and a few celebrities have been married there. Old graveyards are always fascinating places as they often tell a story about the person and their families and their profession at the time of death.

From Luss Tom drove us through to Tarbet, which also sits on Loch Lomond. Finally we got a break in the fog and had the most stunning view up part of the Loch. What a gorgeous part of Scotland.

It was still bitterly cold when we caught the evening train into Glasgow city. Our first experience of the Scottish Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) was absolutely brilliant. I don’t know what I was thinking when I packed, but I definitely didn’t have the appropriate evening attire with me. Never mind, it didn’t matter. I certainly was the odd one out as a lot of the women were in sparkly, full length evening gowns and heels and others in mini/mid length sparkly dresses. Margo looked stunning in hers and Tom very handsome in his tartan shirt and waistcoat. Yes, he had trousers on too! Most of the men were in full traditional kilt dress and looked so elegant.

The Ceilidh got underway and as the instructions were explained for the first dance, the floor was mobbed with dancers, all eager to start. The first is always the Gay Gordon. Steve and I just watched but Margo and Tom joined in. Each of the traditional dances was interspersed with a popular number and this is where Steve and I got up.

The night disappeared in jigs and reels, waltzes and the twist. It was so much fun, everyone really enjoying all the dancing. The age group ranged from early 20s through to 70s. A great mix. Some of the young ones were getting rather merry towards the end and one strapping lad in his kilt lifted his partner (in a very short mini) over his shoulder at one point. She wasn’t wearing any underwear!!!! We couldn’t stop laughing. She was mortified, tugging at her dress and bashing him on the back to put her down.

A piper arrived on stage a couple of minutes before midnight and piped us into the New Year. Everyone was up holding hands, swinging in and out of the centre of the floor, singing Old Lang Syne at the tops of their voices. The evening ended with the band (and all of us) singing the Banks of Loch Lomond. It was very moving and emotional. Steve was remembering his mum (a Glaswegian) singing him that song as a little boy and my dad, too, used to sing it to us.

Margo and Tom’s daughter arrived at 12.30pm to drive us home. Margo and I pulled on our jim-jams and the four of us sat up having cups of tea and hot buttered toast and reminiscing about the evening and New Year’s Eves of old. We fell into bed about 1.45am, having had such a wonderful and memorable time.

Tarbet Hotel

Frosty morning in Barrhead

On the jetty at Tarbet

The beautiful church at Luss

Loch Lomond from Luss

At the Ceilidh


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