May 16: Woke up before John, and went downstairs to read before breakfast. It was a good hour or so before the others joined me. Erin and Scott gave me the run-down of their travel woes. At least they made it to Scotland with their luggage.
We all had a delicious "Scottish Breakfast" that consisted of bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes...parritch optional
Sam and Scot arrived just before 9am. We loaded the van, introductions were made, and a group picture was taken. (From Left: Jennifer Kellogg, Brenda Kecskes, Scott Moyers, Erin Moyers, Me, John, Scot AnSgeulaiche, and Samantha MacKenzie)
First stop Culross, or "Cranesmuir" for my fellow Outlander fanatics. We saw the home of Gellis Duncan, the herb garden, and the pillory. (Pics below)
Next we drove through the MacGregor (Oggs roots) and MacNab lands, wonderful rolling green hills, and into the Highlands.
While in MacNab territory we stopped for lunch and saw a water mill wheel that may have a pair of red underpants floating somewhere nearby :)
Strolling through the MacNab burial ground was a particular treat for John and myself. And all us Monty Python fans were elated to see Doune Castle which was used in 'Holy Grail.'
Glen Lyon provided some nice uphill trekking for us out of shape folk. Rain threatened for just a moment before the sun came out again. We were surprised at the end by a cleft stone, and of course all us ladies had to touch it just in case. Alas, no humming was heard and no one was magically transported back to the 18th century. No pictures of this, but stay tuned for the next cleft rock trip only days away....
We drove to Pitlochry where our B&B was located. Our hosts were Janice and Gerry-very kind folks. After putting up our bags, again on the third floor room (I'm thinking this is a hint from somewhere high up that we need to exercise more), we all walked to Fern Cottage for dinner and ales. Tried the Red MacGregor, in honor of my fellow clansmen/women, and found it to be a wonderful full-bodied red ale. Too bad we can't get it in the states :( On our way into the restaurant, we spotted Dougie Maclean (O Caledonia) in the restaurant. Always nice to spot a local celebrity.
After a nice birthday breakfast-with a tart provided by Sam and Scot, as well as a birthday song, to be eaten later- we conversed over cup after cup of amazing coffee from a press. Even Erin liked it, and she never drank coffee during all those night shifts we worked together. Finally we were dragged out to the van, reluctantly leaving behind the last dregs of our caffeine.
On our way to the Highland Museum, we stopped in Newtonmore to browse the Harris Tweed shop. Man was that a mistake! Erin and I stood there practically drooling over the double breasted coats. They were only $570 USD, I don't understand why John and Scott were against us buying them. To our chagrin, we left the store with nothing.
The Highland museum is an outdoor facility that recreates 18th century life. Here we also encountered our first of many "feral" animals. This inside joke provided lots of humor throughout the rest of the tour. Any living animal was considered feral after that day.
The lingering peat smoke on my jacket had me craving that special single malt blend that Scot carries (Laphroaig and Macallan) for the rest of the day.
Our next stop was a wee church (Cille Choirill) that resembles the one Jamie and Claire were married in. The view was spectacular from the old graveyard in the back.
We had tea, actually coffee, at Glengarry Castle (the new one, built in 1866, after the old one burned down) and had a stroll around the grounds afterwards.
Fort Augustus @ southern end of Loch Ness. Got some great pictures of flowers, and maybe Nessie herself! Brenda read the passage from Outlander where Claire encounters the Loch Ness Monster. (credit to Erin Moyers for the picture of John & me at Loch Ness).
Our next B&B was the Woodlands located in Drumnadrochit. After dropping off our stuff we set out for "Fiddler's," a pub and restaurant with a jaw-dropping whisky collection. The owner, Jon Beach, was most helpful in suggesting our wee drams after dinner. Among the gifts I got from the generous owner were a dram of 30 year blended whisky, a whisky glass with the Fiddler's label, and what can only be described as a water dispenser resembling a tiny bong. Our total came to around 20 whiskies. We stayed until closing time and walked back. "Tha smuid orm ann mo choire," or "The vapours are upon me in my cauldron," would be an appropriate saying for us all after that. Scot tells us that expression means you are only slightly drunk. When I asked what you'd say when you're really drunk, he replied that a Scot would never admit to that.
(view from our B&B; my birthday celebration)
After we returned to the Woodlands, John surprised me with a copper and agate necklace for my birthday. It matches the earrings he got me for Christmas last year.
There's no way to top this birthday. What a way to usher in my third decade!