Tales from Tobermory

In my previous post about finishing a project from a kit purchased in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, I set a little quiz question. Answers coming up!

I asked….. Tobermory has two connections to UK Children’s TV. What are they?

Connection 1

You answered correctly. Balamory: this series outlined life in the town with a diverse cast of fictional residents who lived or worked in the colourful houses, including some away from the main street which were painted specially for the filming. Incidentally, Archie’s castle (painted pink) was filmed elsewhere. We visited Bal…sorry… Tobermory several times, both before and since the series was shown and it had quite obvious effects on the place. It boosted the economy, with lots of tourists visiting the town, especially families with young children, which was great for the local businesses that benefited, though this did have some disadvantages. The traffic was much busier on normally quiet roads (especially the ones running between ferry terminals and Tobermory). I wondered if these visitors were day trippers or actually staying on the island. Some of the roads are single-track and not an easy drive for first time visitors. We did see a lot of damage to the verges. The shop that portrayed “Pocket and Sweet” seemed particularly popular. Balamory maps were on sale to help identify the locations used in the show. It is difficult living in a tourist area, trying to go about your usual business when there are visitors wandering in the middle of the road, blocking the road and gawping, I felt particularly sorry for a local police officer, who was on duty ( probably dealing with the traffic overload). A small child pointed at him and shouted, “Look! There’s PC Plum!” I’m sure he took things a lot more seriously than the comedic Balamory character (who keeps bursting into song and drinks lots of tea)! I had to try hard not to laugh!

Connection 2

There were a couple of other suggestions. Katie Morag was based on life on the island of Col but was filmed in Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, not Tobermory.

The film “When Eight Bells Toll” did indeed use Tobermory, but was not made for children.

We have to go back some years and remember this character

Tobermory was one of The Wombles in Elisabeth Berisford’s books, which came to TV in the 1970s. These animated creatures lived on Wimbledon Common, unseen by humans, collecting and repurposing litter. Some of this was used in Tobermory’s ingenious inventions. I suppose they were ahead of their time: they were upcycling long before the rest of us. All the Wombles had place names which they chose from Great Uncle Bulgaria’s Atlas. The theme tune (Underground Overground , written by Mike Batt) spawned an album (which I confess to owning) , a hit single (Remember your a Womble) and a Christmas record (We Wish You a Wombling Merry Christmas). I didn’t realise I was such a Womble nerd.

So there it is. And nobody got both the links!

Aros park, Tobermory – also worth a visit – lovely walks on easy paths.

I do have another link to Tobermory – this one is connected to knitting (or at least to fibres) and the sea. On our last visit to Tobermory we visited the Mull Aquarium and thought it was brilliant. It is small but that made it more of a personal experience – the staff were really helpful and knowledgeable. There were touch pools aimed at children to familiarise them with rock pool wildlife and they use “catch and release” – a conservation approach so the creatures are only held in the aquarium a short time before being returned to the wild. This rotation helps with research. As they rely on what is caught, this rotation of creatures gives an indication of local species distribution changes in a way that permanent exhibits never could. I was particularly interested in the session led by “Dr Plankton” who identified the microscopic life in seawater samples we examined using the aquarium’s microscopes. Among all the jellyfish lavae, fish eggs and tiny crustaceans were a lot of microfibres – plastics, from fishing gear or even clothing…..all clothing sheds a certain amout of fibre when washed and that drains into the sea eventually. It was after this that David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series raised awareness of marine plastic pollution. We are starting to see some great initiatives to reduce marine plastics, such as collection and repurposing of discarded fishing gear, but we can all do our bit. As far as my knitting is concerned, I’m trying to reduce the amount of artificial fibres I buy. I want to concentrate on using what I already have to avoid waste and buy natural fibres wherever possible. Wool, alpaca, cotton and so on are biodegradable and will not accumulate in the environment. It seems like an appropriate thing to do for Stitches by the Sea!

Serious stuff, so I’ll finish with a lighthearted question.

What are your favourite TV shows from your childhood? Describe each in one sentence in case others have never seen them.