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Tuesday, 20th September 2022

I went on holiday to Scotland and almost died

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Friends take a break after a day's walking on the Isle of Bute.

By Andy Spearman

My wife Jenny and I were really looking forward to our break in Scotland. The plan was to celebrate our wedding anniversary in Glasgow and a couple of days later join some friends on the Isle of Bute for a week of walking, exploring and general craic. Sadly, that was not the way things panned out.

The walking aspect of our holiday was knocked on the head even before we boarded the flight to Glasgow when Jenny tripped on a step and hurt her foot.

“It’ll be grand” she said. “I’ll walk it off over the next day or two.”

The next day it quickly became obvious that “walking it off” would not be an option so, in we went to A&E from where we emerged four hours later with Jenny’s foot encased in a big medical boot thing. Turns out she’d broken two bones in her right foot.

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Not the best of starts for a walking holiday but there’s lots more we could do. We did the hop on, hop off bus tour of Glasgow which was really, really good, I love Glasgow, much more interesting than Edinburgh, a bit down at heel at the moment but preservation projects are happening all over the place.

On the third day we travelled by train and ferry to the Isle of Bute to spend the next part of our holiday with a gang of friends.

Jenny confined to barracks on the Isle of Bute.

As I’ve said already, walking was the main activity planned but that was now ruled out so Jenny and I set out to explore the island by car. It really is a lovely place and whilst there we discovered connections between the Isle of Bute and County Louth.

In 1905 the fourth Marquis of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart, married Augusta Mary Monica Bellingham who was the daughter of Sir Alan Bellingham at Castle Bellingham. The lavish affair was one of the first weddings to be captured on film and can be seen online HERE

The holiday was going nicely, albeit not the way we had planned, but then things began to get a bit  scary and surreal, I started to feel really weak, out of breath and not really with it. Walking up a flight of stairs left me gasping for breath and dizzy.

Soon we were in the second A&E of the holiday and then things took a turn for the worse. Five minutes into our conversation the doctor was checking the availability of a helicopter to get me to hospital on the mainland.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, there was time to get the ferry and a taxi, but I spent the next three days in Invereclyde Royal Hospital whilst doctors and nurses treated me for bilateral pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in both lungs) which was putting severe pressure on my heart.

This experience has certainly put a stop to my gallop and will continue to do so for some time to come. I still have very low energy levels and will be desk bound and not going out to cover events for the foreseeable future.

I think the gods are trying to tell me something.

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