I'm sure there's a famous poet in history that said that the journey is just as important as the destination, or words to that effect. Well, it is for me anyway.
The ferry journey to Islay has always been an adventure. It doesn't matter what age you are, there's something special about watching the boat arrive at the dock. Standing close by, those rigid tonnes of steel seem to reach up to the sky. The car doors open slowly and steadily right in front of you like some kind of steel whale about to give birth to a baby. Meanwhile you can enjoy yourself watching people run back to their cars despite the fact that it'll be another 20 minutes before you load.
With the new Finalaggan ferry, it feels more like a small, glitzy nightclub than a floating island bus service. Spacious restaurant, comfortable coffee shop and bar, and luxurious seating for everyone – that's what the brochure says anyway.
It wasn't always like this, you know. Before the advent of drive-on-drive-off ferries, you had to watch your Dad's car being loaded with the help of a net and a crane. That changed with the first of the drive on boats which allowed trucks and commercial vehicles on board for the first time.
Here we are then. The journey from Glasgow is behind us. You'll have driven through the mountain valley with the daftest name in motoring history – “The Rest And Be Thankful”. You might have stopped in beautiful Inverary and, shortly after, got back on the road having decided that you don't need tartan toys or a wooley jumper. Me? Well I always take time to get along to the end of the road at Tarbert and enjoy the view over to Cowal.
Back to the task in hand. As you motor onto the boat, watch for the visual instructions from those burly men in the hard hats and high vis jackets. With a subtle nod of the head and a pointed finger, you'll be directed this way and that. Keep going until you're sure you're about to bump into the car in front of you. Only then will your personal traffic director give you the thumbs up to stop. Here's a tip – if you need anything out of the car, get it quickly before the car behind wedges you against your tailgate.
Now it's the quick dash upstairs and into the queue for the world famous CalMac food. It'll involve chips, that's for sure. Now you really know you're on the West Coast of Scotland. By the time you've finished that you'll be ready for a snooze or a wander round deck – weather permitting. Islay should be in sight by now. It may be on the right or on the left, depending on whether you are landing at Port Ellen or Port Askaig. Before you know it, you're back in the car waiting for the doors to open.
But remember, whatever line of cars you are in, the other ones will always get off the ferry first. Enjoy your holiday.