Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wide Open Spaces...

May 18: Surprising as it might be, we weren't very hungover the morning after our whisky adventure. Scott and I had haggis with our breakfast...yummy. The only downfall for me was my sinuses and their drainage. Yuck! Our first journey was pony trekking at Cougie Farm. Our guide, Sasha, matched us all up with equines of appropriate size. The scenery was amazing. Our ponies were well trained to follow the leader. Unfortunately, there were two or three that insisted on being the leader. The ride was about three hours (I think), and at the peak we all shared a wee dram of Scot's signature blend. All along the way, we got used to hearing "Bru! Come!" (Sasha calling her dog) and "Walk on Rogie!" (Sasha shooing Scott's horse along). After we got back to the farm, we had tea and cake while watching the assortment of farm animals piddle around us.
Next up...we drove to Glen Affric and hiked along the river where we stopped to have a "Jamie and Claire" style picnic-meat, cheese, and ale (Goliath-very good). It got really warm and after eating, we all beached ourselves on the flat rock for some rare Scottish sunbathing.
Next walk was to Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin. It was a beautiful little spot on the water, perfect for camping. We only spent a half hour or so there but it was very relaxing after our long day.
In a daze, we drove to Inverness (Bluebell B&B). The six of us ate at Johnny Foxes, shitty service and weak ale. I'd bet we were the oldest patrons there. Our room at the Bluebell made up for it. Four poster bed with a canopy, great water pressure, and french press coffee with breakfast!

May 19: Castle Day!
We toured Cawdor Castle first, which is closest in description to Leoch in Outlander. The rooms seemed small to me, but Scot assures us that these were bigger than typical ones for Scotland. After the gift shop and lunch (WildCat ale-delish!) we walked the grounds and got some great pictures of the flora.
Castle Leod was next, located near Leoch, which is the actual castle for Clan MacKenzie. It's the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland-built in the early 1600's. We got a private tour from Lord John, the laird and chief of the clan. He was a most hospitable guide, and his favorite phrase was "whatever." Occasionally, his sporran would beep and he'd curse it..."damn messages." We each had a rather large dram of 15 year single malt whisky with him in the Drawing Room while he went over the family history through the Risings.
We stopped off at the Black Isle Brewery on our way back to the B&B. Great ales! We bought an assortment of about 14 bottles to take back with us. Later we went to Mustard Seed to eat dinner; then Scott, Erin, John, and I went to Hootenanny to see some live music. The band played mostly country covers you might hear in any college town in the South, but they were good none the less. The bass player was from NH near where Erin and Scott grew up. John and I talked to the lead guitarist, who told us his life's dream was to play in Nashville. Small world.


Anonymous said...

Love the pics from Castle Leod. That was the best night. Walk on Rogie!

Aven said...

I'm almost done with the next installment: Culloden, Wentworth, and Castle Stuart. Should be up by morning.