And the heavens opened …

When Oli left you, we’d arrived in the beautiful town of Balloch. It was a scorcher of a day, and as we sat in the park writing on our flyers we took the necessary precautions and lathered up in sun cream. After all the flyers had been dropped off it was still a barmy summer’s day, so we did what any sane person would do at 4:30 on a sunny Thursday, we went to the pub. I was so hyped for my first PImms of the year, and Oli and I had decided to share a jug. The price, however, did not quite fit into my budget. You’ve got to give it to The Tullie Inn though because they do have a lovely selection of VERY reasonably priced gin, so it was a rhubarb gin and tonic for me!

Once the temperature had cooled a bit, we’d drunk our drinks, and made use of the pub’s free Wifi, we headed back to the van. The Balloch House Hotel had kindly let us stay in their car park, so we were super, super close to our performance location on the grass just behind their pub. This lovely spot provided us with a wonderful view of the lake. As team cook began our preparations for dinner, we were just in awe of how beautiful everything was.

Look at us all being so domestic!

This serenity, however, did not last for long. We arrived in Balloch with the threat of rain was looming over us. We didn’t believe it when we arrived because it was so warm. But on Saturday morning when we awoke, there were some VERY dark clouds looming over us. After a quick shower at the Duncan Mills memorial slipway, 50p for 5 minutes is a pretty good rate. On a side note, here’s a rant about something that has been bothering me: During the course of this tour we used many a campsite/public shower, and what I can tell you from our extensive fieldwork is that normally you have to pay 50p-£1 for 4 minutes. Now this has always bothered me, why 4 minutes? Who decided that 4 minutes was enough time? That is such a random number, and this was evidently decided by someone with incredibly short hair, because no way is 4 minutes long enough to wash your hair! Anyway, I digress, after we were nice and clean, Ana and I headed over to Loch Lommand Shores shopping centre to commence flyering. The weather was quite overcast, and it seemed that not many people wanted to do shopping on a grey Friday. But we did manage to hand out a couple of flyers to some very enthusiastic people, which is always good!

I have never been to a shopping centre that had such a beautiful view.

After our flyering shift, Ana and I headed back to the Tullie Inn. (Did I mention they had good, reasonably priced coffee, and free Wifi). The rain that had been a mild threat for the past couple of days, now seemed like a very, very real possibility. We were later joined by Oli and Rowan who had finished their flyering shift. All of us took it in turns to look worryingly out of the window and see if the rain had started. We even began to actively NOT learn from ‘To The Ocean’, saying things like ‘at least it’s not raining’, and ‘aw, I really hope it doesn’t rain’ in a futile attempt to get the weather to make up its mind and rain now so that it would be dry in time for our show. If you have been following this tour and are a regular reader of our blog posts, you will know that rain and our tent are a no. Not because it can’t withstand rain, but because we cannot pack away a damp tent into our little van. That will cause two very big problems, a mouldy tent, and possibly some very ill actors!

It got to 5:00pm, call time, and the rain had not yet descended so we set about warming up, BUT crucially we didn’t erect the tent. The plan was to leave that task to the last minute so that we could make sure our lovely tent would not get wet. This, we believed, was a solid plan. It got to 6:30pm and the promised rain had not arrived, so we put the tent up. At around 6:55pm however, the heavens opened. We all sprinted to the tent and managed to take it down in a couple of minutes before it got wet. The whole dissembling process didn’t take longer than five minutes, and although we were definitely given a kick up the butt by the fact that we didn’t want to be caught in a storm, the ease of the process must also be attributed to the fab Bell Tent Boutique, who have made their tents so easy to use!

The best tent-protection team one could ask for!

Once everything was packed away we dragged our soggy bodies to the Tullie Inn again. Another problem with the rain, apart from just getting wet, is that we cannot cook because we do that outside too. So that meant we just HAD to treat ourselves to a pub dinner. We were also joined by Balloch local (and friend) Colin, so you know, we REALLY had to treat ourselves. Especially considering he’d come to see us perform and we were not able to put on a show for him! All our food was delicious, even if Adam did have to wait a while for his crumble! And we all finished the evening feeling like maybe we’d eaten slightly too much food (and maybe spent a bit too much money). Colin left us just after 9, and we stayed in the pub for one more drink to keep out of the rain, and YES for the free WiFi. When we left the pub, the rain had well and truly started, there were streams instead of roads, and by the time we’d made the short walk back to the van, my feet were well and truly soaked. (My shoes are still not dry in case anyone’s interested.)

We do love a good bit of pub food.

The next morning, we did not wake to rain, but the clouds overhead promised that rain would soon be upon us. So, Oli and Rowan made the decision to cancel that evening’s show. There was a strange mix of relief (we didn’t have to spend all day anxiously waiting to see if it rained or not) and disappointment because we had to cancel both of our shows. But all was not lost because Rowan came up with a brilliant plan, we would perform ‘Play On!’ in any pub that was willing to take us at such short notice. I mean, it is supposed to be the ‘Back of the Van’ trilogy afterall! So after an afternoon of boring office work, which included sorting things out for the Edinburgh Fringe, tickets to both ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘To The Ocean’ are selling well guys so go and get yours now, we did our first proper performance of ‘Play On!’ and it was a success.

I promise we do all really enjoy rehearsing ‘Play On!’

The weather, however, was still rubbish which meant we couldn’t cook, and after the previous night’s expensive meal we could not afford another pub dinner. BUT if you will cast your mind back to our adventures in Eyemouth you will remember Rowan and Hanna’s quest to find a pizza crunch that had ended in disappointment. So, our choice of dinner establishment was made for us, we headed to the chippy for a nice cheap dinner, and Rowan introduced Ana and Hanna to the Scottish delicacy of the pizza crunch. Once our dinner had been eaten we headed back to the Tullie Inn as we had kindly been offered free drinks for our performance, and the game that has been known to ruin friendships and relationships returned, Monopoly Deal. We played a couple of rounds, had a couple of drinks, and then headed back to the van for a relatively early night.

On Sunday morning we awoke to yet more rain, but this did not put a dampener on our spirits because we were travelling to our last location Dollar. After nearly two months of travelling, Oli uttered for the last time ‘and to Aldi’, and we set off on the road again. I’ll let Oli fill you in on everything that occurred in Dollar, but here are some spoilers, we have had a very special person’s birthday, AND Oli surprised us all with something very, very nice!



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