S: 2011 SCOTLAND Fortnight Adventure VOLUME I
FC: Matt & Cheryl's Amazing Fortnight in Scotland May 27 to June 11, 2011 Volume I
1: Last Christmas, I was pretty sick with the flu so wasn't paying that much attention all round. Cheryl gave me a gift of a travel guidebook to Scotland, saying she wanted to go. Scotland? Why Scotland? Gardens. Oh, of course. When? I asked knowing it would be a far off time because Cheryl is not fond of travel. This spring she says. She repeats this over the next few weeks and I can see she's serious. So I say write down where you want to go and I'll make the travel plans. Travel planning is usually Jon or Hans' job so it takes me longer with more swearing. But I tuck in to the task and plan our first trip overseas since 2005. This trip celebrates our 30th wedding anniversary this year. What could be better? | You might well think this is a 2 week vacation in Scotland. But you'd be wrong. It's a fortnight in Scotland. Sounds Scottish already...
2: Uh, oh. Not so fast. About a week before departure, a volcano erupts in Iceland. But who cares? We're flying Iceland Air. Oh, yeah, Scotland is closed too. So we bite our nails and curse at the Gods. Sleeping with strangers in airports sounds like fun but we are going to try and avoid it.
3: What a difference a week makes. The volcano has gone back to sleep. The airport is all clear and we're off to Scotland. | How does Cheryl manage to pack for 2 weeks in that little case?
4: Welcome to Scotland lassie! Arriving at Glasgow International Airport, it was a short wait our luggage. Alien rental car waits for me to overcome my jet lagged fears and drive to Edinburgh. I hope nobody saw I got in on the wrong side. Nothing is familiar from the passenger side of the car. | Scotland looked pretty small on the map. 1,300 miles to go...
5: No sooner do we arrive in Edinburgh than we are off to the Royal Botanic Gardens from our comfortable nearby hotel, the Inverleith. I am already thinking there will not be a garden shortage this trip.
9: Damn that Blue Poppy! Its just there to taunt me since it won't grow for us at home.
13: We thought the Tartan Weaving Mill on the Royal Mile was a tourist trap. But it turned out to be the real McCoy. These looms are really used to weave the wonderful tartans we grew to love. Cheryl was trying to get me into a kilt the whole time. I do have rather nice legs...
15: The Great Hall in Edinburgh Castle
18: Cheryl hates heights and feared I would rush over and push her off. We're celebrating 30 years of trust issues this year! | Found a delicious Indian restaurant with a terrifying curry that we didn't order. The Kismot Killer. A bowl of "Killer" passed by and we teared up even though they opened the door and windows. It was that powerful. The customer took one bite & cried like a girl in the bathroom. Um, we'll pass on that one. | Shhh! St Margaret's chapel in Edinburgh Castle dates from 1130
19: Back to the Royal Botanic after being blown out the day before. Big windstorm closed the park.
20: Prehistoric ferns push their way to the glass ceiling.
21: Inside the Royal Botanic Conservatory...
24: A beautiful day for a cup of coffee at the Royal Botanic Cafe | Even the weeds are cool.
25: All the buildings in Scotland are stone. They take it for granite... | Good bye Royal Botanic garden.
26: Linlithgow Castle ruins. Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots
30: Legend has it that some king imprisoned the Lord of Linlithgow and made him watch his favorite dog, The Black Bitch, starve to death on an island in the lakefront. Hopefully he is still roasting in hell. Thereafter, all women born in Linlithgow were known as Black Bitches. There are a few left.
31: Even our shadows are in Scotland
32: Drummond Castle & formal gardens in Crieff
35: Ain't it lovely?
37: scottish thistle?
38: Cheryl and I sit on the Stone of Scone (pronounced skoon) where ancient kings of Scotland were crowned. We had a delicious scone (pronounced scon. Is nothing pronounced 'scone' in this country?) at Scone. Scone was the most beautiful castle we visited. Still lived in by the Laird, the 7th Earl of Mansfield.
39: Our beautiful lodging in Perth, the Huntingtower Hotel. Hint: plaid is popular here. Carpet, drapes, bedspread, upholstery. It grows on you! Look for the Flanagan plaid redecorating phase...
40: The Glenturret Distillery. "What? Ha ye na heerd of the Famous Grouse?" The locals are still pissed off at the Famous Grouse for taking over their ancient distillery. | Here is the stream which is the source of water for their whiskey.
41: Cheryl's been dreaming of Glendoick and here we are!
42: Glamis Castle in Glamis near Angus. Childhood home of the Queen Mother.
43: Welcome to Mary Culter House on the bonny banks of the River Dee a few miles from Aberdeen. A hotel or residence has been on this spot for 800 years. We loved this place.
45: Plaid, plaid and more plaid. Who doesn't like a nice plaid? | The placid River Dee rolls by our window. Naturally, a golf course lies across the river. I did wish for a fly rod...
46: A Day trip to scenic Drum Hall. Of course, its 80 degrees and Cheryl came dressed for rain. So a quick trip to the Scottish mall, bought a lovely sun dress and appropriate hat and we're off for a day of garden trekking. Apparently other people had the same idea and there was a huge kid festival going on complete with wheelbarrow races. I remember when we did that...
52: The old gardener's quarters & shed
53: Our trusty Vauxhall. Steering wheel's on the wrong side but the GPS was a flawless guide...right until the last day when it messed up royally. | Angry birds abound.
55: Crathes Castle & Garden Aberdeenshire
57: These handsome guys were carved onto the sides of a garden fountain
58: I have discovered heaven in a glass. It's called Best Beer. Only on draft. Only in Scotland. God that's good.
59: Site of a Knights of Templar church and cemetery dating back some 1000 years or so. | Haggis. The national dish of Scotland. The one thing I swore I would not try. They said, "Ya must ha' the haggis. It's day'lishus!" And they were right. It's the Scottish meatloaf.
60: Good bye Mary Culter House! Farewell to the room on the left which dates back 800 years. Sad we only stayed a little while.
61: Hello Glenfiddich in lovely Dufftown on the Whiskey Trail. The only thing better than a whiskey distillery tour at 10:30 a.m. is drinking the stuff at 11:00! Tough duty.
62: Barley+water+fermentation+distilling+oak barrels = a license to print money.
63: We are beginning to know this process by heart. Let's commence ta drinkin'.
64: Ahh, the Glenfiddich tasting room. 3 generous pours of their wares. 12 year old. 15 year old. 18 year old. All for free. Cheryl hones her Chardonnay taste buds for scotch. Glenfiddich was easily the best tour among all the distilleries. We were putty in their hands. And yes we bought some of their booze.
65: Strathisla. Home of Chivas Regal. We saved our 15 pounds and instead of a tour, soaked in the ambience on a sun warmed day.
66: Dramatic Castle Dunrobin. Reported to have fabulous gardens but we couldn't stay since we were on a march to Orkney.
67: Welcome to the friendly town of Spittal...and that's nothing to sneeze at.
68: Welcome aboard the ferry Hamnavoe "...where your every care is our concern." Scrabster to Stromness in 90 minutes.
69: Cheryl finds the ferry safety video amusing. Laugh at your own risk!
71: The Old Man of Hoy flanked by the beautiful woman of Lakewood.
72: We approach the port of Stromness on Orkney. The huge ferry barrels in, stops on a dime at a weird angle to the dock, turns 180 degrees around on its axis and docks perfectly. Amazing technology and seamanship. All in a day's work for the Hamnavoe.
73: 5,000 years old and not a cairn in the world. Cairns are burial chambers like this mound. You stoop to enter the crevice. Kinda creepy.
75: In 1850 a winter storm swept the grass off a sand dune which, instead, turned out to be a 5000 year old village. The people just disappeared. Artifacts of all kinds remained for us to see today. That makes you humble.
76: We are not young enough to hump for 100 yards. So we settled for 50 yards. Very nice.
77: The Standing Stones of Stenness. The Princess. And the Queen of Gunn's Close. I'll let you sort out who is who.
79: Welcome to Highland Park Distillery more whiskey? dammit!
80: The lovely copper stills that make the clearer than clear "spirit". Too strong? Dilute it. Too weak? Back in the stills. Just right? Into the oak barrels that have been storing spanish sherry for 2 years. 12 years later. Hoot mon! Its scotch whiskey for $60 a bottle. Like Cheryl says, its a license to print money. But what a delicious currency!
81: Gorgeous tasting bar at Highland Park made from the expired mash tun staves of Douglas Fir. David Douglas, another Scot, discovered the Douglas fir in our neck of the woods. BC. | we want one of these
82: The Italian Chapel near the Churchill Barriers on Orkney. And yes, make a note, we Pipemen are allowed to smoke our pipes anytime, anyplace. From a simple Nissen hut, prisoners of war made something beautiful for God and themselves.
84: The Mill of Eyrland our B&B in Stromness. Hostess'd by the fiery and altogether charming Morag. We heard all about the wedding & her ungrateful relatives within 2 minutes of arriving. | The mill was a working grain mill converted by Morag into this lovely B&B. We stayed in a very large & charming suite with a very low (ouch) door called the Hopper Suite.
85: We had a lovely dinner at the Ferry Inn. It was a lively pub recently taken over by new owners. Great food and a lot of fun. Bought a round for our pals from the Italian Chapel who told us about the place.
86: This morning we leave the Mill of Eyrland. I think Morag will miss us. One last cup of tea in the fancy breakfast room before we take the ferry Hamnavoe back for the drive down the west coast of Scotland to Ullapool
87: We expected rainy weather the whole trip but only got a little. The raincoats came out merely a couple times. But we're hardy Lakewoodians so we're used to a little rain now and then.
88: I kept trying to steer for John O'Groats, the northern most point of Scottish mainland but Cheryl kept us on our route.
91: Welcome to Ullapool. Our overnight stop on the way to Applecross. The place was packed with tourists for some reason. See how busy it was?
94: Cheryl is dwarfed by giant gunnera. | Inverewe! Another check on our voluminous Garden Check List. And free for us members of the National Trust of Scotland. Note the Gaelic. Aye, laddie.
95: Miniature greenhouses or more accurately, cloches for baby courgettes.
96: "Best walls of any garden we've seen so far", Cheryl Inverewe is a tropical type garden in a special micro climate located on a bay (loch)
98: Attadale. One of the prettiest gardens around. Started pouring just when we were leaving. Or did we leave because it was pouring?
99: Sunken garden...more gardening ideas for Flanagan | Could this be the end? Dinna fash yersel! (don't worry) Cheryl & Matt's Amazing Scottish Fortnight is continued in Volume 2...