Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Scotland Day 11: Fairy Pools in the Morning.

  We knew that the Fairy Pools were popular and that there was not a lot of parking so we decided to get to it early.  We asked if we could get the To-Go Breakfast option and the lady seemed really worried when they didn’t have 8 rolls, but only 6.  We told her it was fine.
  We arrived and there were a few other people, but there were also a few open parking spots.  The walk up was very pretty and there were a few spots where the shorter people got to hop on rocks to get over some small streams.  One guy said he got there about 6am and there was already someone there even then.
  The pools themselves are a series of waterfalls of various sizes, and the pools or streams they create.  It is a really pretty walk with some really beautiful places with more than one waterfall within viewing distance at a time.
  As we were leaving there were more and more people passing us to go up.  The parking lot was definitely full and people were starting to get creative with their parking.  Some had better ideas than others; the middle of the road being one of the worse ones.  We got to watch this from our spot in a more secluded parking area as we ate our bagged breakfasts.
  The boys made a stop in at the Talisker distillery while Heather and I got tea from the tiny shop/shed across the street.

  Dunvegan Castle was another that you were not allowed to take pictures while inside of.  One thing I saw while in there was a Knockin’ Stane.  It was a stone about three feet wide with a good sized dip in the middle.  It was used to process grain.  Then in another room I saw a Singer Sewing machine.  It was one of the ones secured to a table and powered by treadle.
  While we were in one of the gift shops we saw one of the boards used for whiskey tasting flights sold separately from the glasses.  All the other places have only had the sets, which were expensive and we have a bunch of the glasses at home.  I told Bill to get the board alone because then he could hold fancy whisky tastings at home.  This one is curved and looks like it was made from a cask stave.
  We had considered going on a Seal Tour.  Not the Navy kind, but the lay in the sun kind.  The group in front of us was a group of 6 and the next one they could get fit on was over an hour later.  Since there was a good chance that our group of four would have space even later than that, we decided not to.

  Fairy Glen was a lot of fun for me.  There was a pond with a little tree that sheep liked to drink out of.  There was also a very large rock, pictured above, that people liked to climb and take pictures of the surrounding area from.  I also got some really good pictures of sheep and their lambs.

  One guy saw a pair over a ridge and yelled “SHEEP!”  When the lamb got scared and scampered off he called after it asking where it was going.  Definitely going away from the loud scary thing.

  Loch Snizort Béag Lake was something we had to drive by and take pictures of.  It wasn’t because it was overly impressive or pretty to look at, but how amazing is the name?

  Everyone else wanted to go back into town for a bit before our hotel reservations for dinner.  I didn’t really need anything so I stayed in the room and knitted, update the blog some, ate one of my Kinder Eggs, and just enjoyed the view from our room.
  I feel like Kinder Eggs are being made a bit more durable these days.  I remember when I first found them, if they were jostled too hard the chocolate coating would get broken and you wouldn't get that joy of breaking it open yourself.  One of the ones I have been carrying around felt like it got a dent in it that I knew wasn't there before.  I figured I would eat it first since it was most likely broken.  When I unwrapped it I found that the chocolate had dented a bit, but not broken.  I'm pretty impressed.

  Our dinner at the hotel was really good.  I had the soup, the fish, and then the sticky toffee pudding for dessert.  The soup was nice and light and had a swirl of cream on top.  The fish was nice, but I liked the nut topping best.  The sides were not what I was expecting; small white potatoes with cream coating, roasted butternut squash with onions, and zucchini julienned with a slight onion flavor to them.  The dessert was awesome, but that was to be expected.
  We get to sleep in some since the in-hotel breakfast isn’t until 8:30am.  Time to get a bunch of knitting done.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Scotland Day 10: On The Bridge to Skye

  On the menu for the hot foods at the hotel there was an option for French Toast and either bacon or mushrooms.  The menu assured us that the mushroom option was a Must Try.  I just can’t picture mushrooms and syrup going well together.  I was not brave enough to try it.  Neither was anyone else, even though two of us got the French Toast.
  On our drive we saw some elk.  Finally!  There have been signs to watch out for them crossing the road all the time, but we had not seen a one of them.  We have now passed a small herd of six.  Since they blended in with the landscape there wasn’t time to pull out cameras.

  As I’m working Better Together more it feels more and more like it would be easy to knit from the top down.  I would just always double wrap the increase on the edges because you would be increasing every row.  I would also consider double wrapping the center stitch on the second ‘plain’ row since you would slip it so many times after a double increase.
 The curl in the ends reminds me of fiddle-heads.

  Eilean Donan Castle was one of the ones that didn’t take our Adventure Passes so we would have had to pay to get in.  Since there was no photography allowed inside we all decided it wasn’t worth going in.  It had also started raining as we were walking in towards it and was really raining when we were done taking pictures of the bridge and the outside.


  This was a random spot we saw on our drive.  We were behind some slow traffic, so it’s not like we even really lost a lot of time by stopping.

  Viewfield House Country Hotel is pretty impressive.  They also have a tub, so I get to take a nice long soak tonight.  We checked in and tried to find lunch.  It seems that downtown Portree is just full.  We couldn’t find any empty parking spots that weren’t for a church.
 To further re-enforce this, every place with a room to stay said “No Vacancies”.  We ended up walking down to town and finally found a restaurant that was opened before 5pm.  I had my second round of mince and tatties.  The walk wasn’t too bad since part of it was a wooded area.

   We got stuck behind a caravan of caravans on our way to the Old Man of Storr.  A long queue makes the passing places a lot less effective.  The place was super busy and we decided to try for it tomorrow morning.  It was also raining and taking a picture of a rock in front of another rock is difficult when there isn’t good lighting.

  Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls were crowded.  You can see the falls in the foreground and the rock behind it.  The rock is popular due to the stripes of color that can be seen. 
   When we got there some sheep and lambs were hanging out close to where you parked and walked in.  I didn’t have my long lense on, but was hoping that on the way back I could grab it out of the car and come back.  Unfortunitly some of the other tourists were more eager to get cell phone pictures of them.  So a bunch of people walked towards them with their phones out.  The sheep then wondered away, as sheep do in those situations.
  I know I said right above that we decided to do the Old Man of Storr tomorrow morning, but as we were passing it on the way back to town we saw that there was more parking and the sun was starting to come out some.
  The way up had two sections.  The first three quarters was a bunch of uphill paths and the last quarter was a path up the very steep hill.  Jim was the only one of us who went up the steep hill.  On the top of the hill it was a bit windy and there was someone with a tripod with a few people holding equipment.  Jim figured his 15lb backpack on its back would be fine.  Nope, the wind tried to roll it downhill anyway.

   Sticking with the theme of Portee for the day, all the places we tried to go eat at needed a reservation.  One of the hotels we went to had an opening at 8:30pm, but we felt that was too late.  We found a place called The Prince of India.  There was only one person on as waitstaff so he had to take all the orders, and take them to the tables.  He had a little wheeled cart at least.  He was getting overwhelmed and it was showing.  The food was okay, but the spice levels seemed to be exaggerated.
  Super early morning for us tomorrow and I've already stayed up way too late!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Scotland Day 9: More Beaches for Your Buck

  Another day with a long drive and seeing what we can stop at along the way.  I do wish we could have spent more time at Pentland Lodge House if only to talk with Liz and pet her dogs some more.  She gives off very positive and happy energy.  She even had electric car charging stations out front.
  Along all these drives past the sheep filled pastures have let me see all levels of sheep laziness.  Sheep will be eating grass in one of the following states: standing, kneeling downward, laying with their legs curled under them, or flat on their sides and munching.
  I have also noticed that the lambs wag their tails like crazy when they are nursing.  This area also has the type of sheep that tend to have twins as long as the mother is healthy.  I’ve seen a lot with two, some with only one, and even some with three.

  Farr Beach was one of our random stops.  As we were driving by the sun was making it a very lovely sight, but by the time we pulled over and got the cameras out it decided to go into hiding.

  Coldbackie was another random stop with a beach.  It was a lot easier to stop at than the last one.  There was a picnic area and we didn’t have to stop in a No Parking pull off.

  Varrich Castle was a bit of a hike.  We also did not walk down the correct path at first.  We parked in a fine place, but when we walked down the road we found a gate that was locked and lead to the wastewater treatment area.  We were going to turn around, but one of the locals just told us to hop the gate and that it connected to the path that lead to the castle.
   The walk wasn’t too long but it was a lot of up hill.  The other day my calves cramped and I was unable to soak them, so the uphill was not fun.  I had to stop many times and try and stretch it out.  I did finally make it to the top though!  I didn’t go up the spiral stairs in the center because I felt it was unnecessary.

  Sango Sands Oasis Bar and Cafe was a very small eatery in a very small town.  The food was really good though and I could see it being a place I would go to if I lived closer.

  We stopped to take a few pictures of the scenery and some motorcyclists stopped to do the same.  They had been coming from the other direction and mentioned that there was a waterfall just down a bit on the left.  There was even parking right there for it.

  It had sounded like there was going to be a long walk but when we parked by the waterfall it was quite close.  My leg felt fine at that point so I had no problems going up and down the small hills.  My only problem was that I had my long view lense on and I had to get a bit of distance between me and whatever I wanted to take a picture of.

   Ceilidh Place in Ullapool has some nice big rooms.  They also have a very swanky lounge area where I am typing this now.  The bathrooms are also quite large, but unfortunately, no tub.  We got talked into booking dinner at the hotel, and while it wasn’t bad, I’m sure we could get good food if we had wondered around.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Scotland Day 8: Back on the Ferry

  Today we started with a more proper Scottish morning.  It was about 56°F and rainy.  Much better!  We were too early for the tour of Maeshowe Chambered Cairn so we took a quick stop at Loch of Harray.  There was a cute dog and a camper van.  Most of us were happy enough just looking at it from the parking area, but Jim ventured forth.  Can you find him in the picture?
   Turns out the first available time they had was at noon and we were hoping to get on the 10am one.  Since we are leaving later then we decided to go to another distillery since they only had two current expressions.  Though in true fashion for today, they didn’t open until 12:30pm.

   Orphir Round Church was another one of those things that we decided to go do since we had some time to kill.  The ferry’s earlier time was all booked, so we couldn’t move up our departure time.  We followed signs to the Earl’s Bu and Castle.
  It was everything promised.  There was a visible circle on the ground and some stones in a configuration that looked like it had once been a structure.  There were some lambs frolicking in the field nearby.

  Tomb of the Eagles was another fun trip back through time.  The first stop along the path was in the bronze age at a building that they feel was probably used as a community center and also used to make hot water.  There were a bunch of spots that were too small for beds, but looked like they would work for seating.
  The Tomb of Eagles was still very enclosed.  There was a tiny cart you laid on and pulled yourself in by rope.  It would have been nice if they had added a track or something because the little cart liked trying to run into a wall, not matter how hard you tried to aim down the middle.

  Scapa Distillery was a quick stop because while we didn’t want to get to the ferry too early, we also didn't have a lot of extra time.  Bill was happy because he was really hoping to get to one on the island.  He also got a bottle while we were there.  Below is a No Drinking and Driving sign we saw on our way in.

  While waiting for the ferry to load we had most of the windows closed and only the driver’s side fully open.  I saw something that looked like a small rock fly into the car but Jim didn’t seem to notice.  Upon further inspection it turned out that it was bird poop.  The bird had managed to hit him on his rain jacket about 8 inches inside the car without hitting any part of the car.  Nothing on the outside or on the seat belt.  There wasn’t even that much of a breeze.  That was one very talented bird.

  We got to be first on the boat this time!  The water was a bit rougher this time, so we got to see these more calm areas.  Once we got closer it almost looked like something bubbling up.  Bill thought it might be oil.
  We were also on the boat with impulsARTive.  Another website that needs to be translated unless you read German.  He was a really nice guy and had some good stories.  He had his website on his jacket and his UN vehicle.  If you go under “Active” you can see his travel log.

  We went to dinner at the Y Not restaurant.  Why? Because why not!  I got the Aloo Saag burger which was pretty much a giant falafel on a burger bun.  It was quite good.

  The lady who runs the Pentland Lodge House where we are staying really likes rocks and puts a particular rock from a variety of her favorite beaches in each room.  We have three stones of different sizes in our room.
  Pictured above are two stones I have collected from this trip.  The one on the left is from Arthur’s Seat, and the one on the right is from where we crossed to walk to the Brough of Birsay.  They are both smaller than my palm and fit nicely in my pockets.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Scotland Day 7: Walking to an Island

   Got up and had a nice shower before a buffet style breakfast.  Our first stop was the Stones of Stenness.  Oddly enough, there were a few sheep munching the grass around them or leaning on them.  There were more babies in the next field over.

  We took a quick walk to an area that had the ruins of a neolithic village.  There was not much left of the Barnhouse Village, though it was interesting to see the general layouts of the insides.

 A quick drive down the road lead us to the Ring of Brodgar which was a circle of stones on a hill.  It is a current archeological dig, so that is why there was a fence around it.  Most of the stones were still standing but a few have become more fragile over time and have broken.  We left just in time because as we were headed down, a whole tour bus was headed up.  A bit harder to take nice pictures with 20 strangers wandering around on a hill trying to do the same thing.
  Heather had a picture in mind that she wanted to take.  It would have been at these stones at either sun rise or sun set.  The only draw back was that the sun rose at 3am and didn't set again until about 10:30pm.  She might have been willing to do it if we had been staying another night and could stay up late then sleep in.

  Skara Brae was our next stop.  We just had to take a quick walk back in time so we could visit this little settlement.  The problem seemed to be that we didn’t walk far enough back because the place was in ruins and there was no one home.  Well, that isn’t right.  I saw a bunny in one of the houses.  I didn’t have enough zoom to get a picture of him in the doorway, but it was really cute.  The houses looked like they had all been connected.

  We then walked up the path to Skaill House.  It was really interesting that photography was allowed inside.  The house is the manor home of a Scottish Lord.

  Yesnaby place was nothing but amazing views.  There was also a group getting ready to go either snorkeling or scuba diving.  The walk was about four miles and took a bit because everything was just so pretty and I had to take a million pictures.  This is another spot that I would not mind going back to.  Castle Rock was really interesting because when you first came up on it all you saw was a tall rock.  As you kept walking around you saw the hole in it near the base.
   We needed to keep an eye on time so we could get everything done we wanted to before it all closed for the day, so lunch was MREs in the car.  It was a bit too windy to eat them outside, but the view was nice.  I had the cheese tortellini, it was the first I’ve had in awhile.

  Orkney Wine Company and the Italian Church were down the same small road.  We stopped in and I got some special yarn.  The sheep eat seaweed and are on a small island.  Heather and I also tried some brandies and liquors and each got a few.  I also got more yarn gifts for people, the price wasn’t too bad and comes with a fun story.

  It was a small, but interesting church.  The walls were just flat but were painted to look like nice stone work and bricks.  It looked very expensive on the inside.  The walls are delicate but have semi-recently received a touch-up since it had been built back in World War II.

  There was some time to kill before low tide so we took a drive all the way out to Broch of Gurness.  On the way there we passed under something that looked like a giant hedge with an arch cut out for the cars to go under it.
   The actual broch is really interesting.  It seems that when one was doing well they would build up and their neighbors were close enough that they could show off.  The view also wasn’t too bad.  The center structure was a big meeting hall, and the smaller ones houses.

  The reason we had to wait to get to Brough of Birsay was because it is on a island.  An island that you can walk to.  It is a bit of a long walk, but cool  They have a path that leads to the smooth rocks that are normally underwater.  The lighthouse itself was alright.  I was hoping for something taller, but it doesn’t need to be since the island was a tall hill.
  The sign said that there were no dogs allowed past a certain point on the island because there were sheep grazing.  Though it wasn’t a tiny island, it was big enough that you couldn’t really hide sheep on it.  We saw signs of sheep, but not recent ones.
  There is also a sign that tells you to call the emergency number and ask for the coast guard if you get stuck on the island.  Heather and I think it would be a good idea to open a tea room/lodge for the island.  Anyone who gets tired can stop in for tea, or someone can stay the night if they get stuck and don’t feel the need to hurry back until low tide again.

  It was getting late enough that we were all hungry and other things in the area were closing.  We had dinner at the Indian place again because the place that had fajitas needed reservations.  The Saag Balti was really good.

  After that I wanted to get more of that Volvic Juiced.  It was so nice.  A lot like if you were eating an orange.  You get the fresh orange flavor, but it is light and not overpoweringly sweet.  I have also heard talk of a Pimm’s Cup.  The Tesco Bill and I walked to had some in a can.  I decided to give it a try.  It is Pimm’s No.1 Spirit Drink mixed with lemonade.  The closest thing I can compare it to is if you took a spiced rum and mixed it with lightly carbonated lemon soda.  I like it.
  We still have two more things to get done on the island before we catch the ferry back, so it will be another early morning.  Hopefully it won’t be as sunny and my sunburn won’t get any worse.  People have actually been apologizing about how sunny and warm it has been.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Scotland Day 6: Stanes! Stanes Everywhere!

  A much better of a morning as we got ready to leave Archiestown.  I really like this little town and would not mind visiting it again at some point.  Charlie even let me pet him after we checked out.
  I made sure to have both colors of yarn with me because we had about a three hour drive to get to the ferry we had vouchers for.  There were also a lot of pheasants standing on or next to the road.  They are pretty but kind of dumb.  Tank would love chasing them, they are everywhere.  We had to slow down and go around them, other birds get out of the way when you get within their sight and they see you approaching, but these would glance over and meander away.
  As we were traveling to the ferry and looking at possible stopping places for interesting things I kept thinking that I wanted to keep an eye out for yarn shops.  The only problem with this is that the prices at the mill would be hard to beat.  I know the ones I got at the mill were at least half the price I would have seen at my local shops.  I also don’t know if any of the prices near me are because they are imported goods, or just because it is an actual store.

  As we were going Heather spotted something on the map that was the Hill o’Many Stanes.  I was excited because I take more pictures of sheep.  These had babies with them!  I wished I had had a bit more zoom, but I think they were cute.
  The stones were not easily visible from the road, so we had to take another winding one laned road to them.  They are 27 stones just standing there on the side of a small hill in a fan pattern.  Very perplexing and mysterious.

  On our way to lunch we passed the Carn Liath off of A9.  It was a fun looking thing.  A ring of rocks with a doorway and grass on the top.  No one deemed it something that we needed to stop for, but I am glad that I got to see it.

  We stopped for lunch at John O’Groats which is one of the ends of the End to Enders.  It is a popular thing for motorcyclists to take pictures of their bikes a both ends within 24 hours.  It seems like a lot of cyclists also like going from one end to the other, they just tend to take a bit longer.  While Bill thinks it would be fun to do it on a motorcycle, he also doesn’t want to try it in the 24 hour limit.

  The Castle and Gardens of Mey were the only ones actually owned by the Queen Mother.  She had many places to stay at, but this was the only one she owned.  She owned some tacked tacked-wellies so when it rained and she took her corgis out she would have traction going up the hill.

  There was also an animal center and I have to say that was my favorite part.  In pens there were a bunch of different animals.  A few kinds of chicken, sheep, a mule, pigs, and a few kinds of geese to name a few.  In the barn there were some lambs, birds, a rabbit, and eggs incubating.  I was so happy to get to see the lambs up close!
  The cage of chipmunks really threw us off though.
  Winding country roads are not the best to try and fix knitting on.  It seems that at some point I decided that one of the rows of slipped stitches didn’t really need to be slipped and I would just work it like all the other stitches on either side of it.  The front looks a fine and though the back looks a bit funny I am only on row 12, so I am not too worried about 
it.  They are long rows and to completely fix it, I would have to go back to the set-up row.  There was another one where I was slipping until about four rows ago, then I decided to just work those plain too.  So I need to remember to pay more attention when working the wrong side row.

  Dunnet Bay was another fun detour on our way to find the ferry.  We had allotted a lot of time to get there, so all these stops were only sort of planned in.  There were a bunch of sand worms and the sand dried out a little as you stepped on it and then rehydrated when you stepped off of it.

  We got to the ferry nice and early but still weren’t first in line.  Someone who arrived after us checked in first and queued up before we did.  The vouchers said that we needed to turn them in and get tickets in their office that was about 18 miles from the actual ferry.  A quick call told us that we just had to show our voucher to the person when we checked in before getting in line.  We had enough trouble finding the ferry, who knows what would have happened if we had to find another office as well.
  I had to borrow Heather’s sweatshirt because my suitcase fit the best in the car with the zipper facing inward.  The boat was pretty windy and got really chilly because of it.  It was a fun ride though and I even got some hot chocolate to help fight off the cold.  I am looking forward to when we do it again, but I am not in a hurry to leave.
  A lot of where we are on the island of Orkney closes fairly early.  The only place we found to try and eat at was an Indian place called Dil Se.  We weren’t the only ones in there for that same reason.  Luckily they had some good food, though I wish it had been a bit spicier.
  There are currently some guys driving their modified cars around town again and again, but hopefully they will get bored before I want to go to bed. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scotland Day 5: Naughty Kitties

  Mornings have not been my friend.  Yesterday I didn’t sleep well, and this morning I had to locate a missing contact.  I remember putting it in and pouring the solution on it, then I didn’t put the top on right away.  This morning I went to open it and all that was in there was solution.  Bill asked if I checked the lid (I did) or if I forgot to take it out (I didn’t).  I found it as a dry crumpled thing stuck partially inside the lid of my toothpaste tube.  No idea how it got there, but once it found it I put it right in some new solution.  I was so worried since that had been my back-up pair and I have no idea how you go about getting contact lenses when in another country.  Bill’s sight is about -1.25 off from mine and I don’t think it is advisable to only use one contact when you need two.

  While my contact was figuring itself out after an hour soak we went to see a bridge.  It was very picturesque but I have not looked up anything about it.  Craigellachie looked like it had been a drivable bridge at one point, but definitely not any more.

  Macallan was our first distillery.  I tried a bit of their Amber.  It wasn’t as bad as some of the other general scotches I have had.  The visitor’s center opened at 9:30am, but they couldn’t serve any alcohol until 10am.  This explains why most of the ones we were looking at didn’t open until 10.
  There was also a lot of construction.  Seems that they are working on making a whole new distillery and plan for it to be open by next spring.  Bill kind of wants to come back once they open the new areas.

  Though we passed 3 Bags Wool on the way to Ballindalloch castle, I had a feeling that the mill we had planned might have better prices, so I wanted to hold off until after we went there.  The mill was planned for lunch since they had a cafe, and it was still too early, so here we are.
  We took the tour and it was interesting, but didn’t feel like a castle.  The general consensus was that it felt more like a manor or an estate house.  It is also still partially being lived in.  There had also been many signs warning of red squirrels.  We didn’t see a one!  I was interested to see how differently they looked.

  We did see two alpaca, two ponies, and two mules.  There were also a bunch of sheep when we got in and some cattle as we left.
  We also ran into one of the Camper Dogs RVs.  They had their website on their camper.  I didn’t know they existed, but once I saw the website and heard the dogs barking I got curious.  It is an RV rental company that is dog friendly.  Their website is also in German.
  Down the road some the castle also has a distillery and a golf course.  The distillery seemed to only have tours by appointment, so it was our fastest one so far.

  The Pictish stones were both hard to find and underwhelming.  First you had to look for the name of the Church to find them on any GPS searches.  Then they were also on the porch of the church.  While they were interesting, they weren’t as interesting as we were hoping.

  Knockando Woolmill had a fun drive to get to having us pass many pastures of sheep.  We had actually passed it a few times in our other travels.  I was hoping that there was going to be a field with some fluffy (or recently made not fluffy) sheep with some cute babies that I could take pictures of.  There was none within sight, but that didn’t stop me from perusing the yarn.  I also got a sandwich with tomato, rocket, and mozzarella.  Since we had to pay for our lunch back in the gift shop, I decided to get more yarn.  I have at least 2 cowls and a few hats worth.  I didn’t ask, but I do wonder if they ship.  Their prices were quite nice, so I definitely didn’t feel the need to try and go to 3 Bags Wool.
  We didn't get there in time to see Leslie or Margaret.  I hope they had a lot of fun and bought a bunch of wool.

  Cardhu distillery was pretty much across the street.  The tour price wasn’t bad and they had spots available.  Since I have never been on one, I decided to go too.  Before our tour we were told that there was some “hairy coo” in the field within view.  Diesel and Harry were the closest to the fence(right), and Treasure and baby Hector (who was 2 weeks old) were hanging out a bit farther in.  It also turns out that they really like digestive biscuits and Harry wandered over for one.  I feel like this trip is more complete now.  We later found out that another baby had been rejected and it had looked like Diesel had recently had one.

  To get them to come closer a guy who works there got out of his truck and threw them some treats.  We saw that he was tossing them some McVitie's Digestives.  They are round biscuits that are slightly sweet.  Hairy was nosing the ground to see if more could be found.
  Our tour ended with a tasting.  I enjoyed the nosing test at the beginning and I liked the scents from some of the ones we tried, I was not a fan of the taste of any of the ones I tried.  The first and the third I tried weren’t horrible, but I probably would never drink them on my own.
  They didn’t let you take any pictures while in the buildings, but that makes sense.  You don’t want to make it easy for anyone to steal your secrets.  I thought Molly made our tour really fun.  She was excited when other people liked her favorites.  Some of the rooms for the various stages smelled really nice, one like bananas and one was like raisins.  It was really fun to see how the stuff was made and they really like the American bourbon casks.

  The boys wanted to stop by the Balvenie distillery, but it turns out they don’t do tastings or sell anything on site.  We took a driving tour of the buildings before someone looked it up and found this out.

  Balvenie Castle was a fun one.  Many places to go up and down stairs that lead to similar places.  The second floor had a bunch of rooms and I had a lot of fun exploring.  I went up some more floors and some guy was ahead of me.  His wife called up asking if that was as high as it went.  He called down that it went up four more floors.  He mouthed a ‘thank you’ when I said “At least” to his comment.  She did not come up.

  We were starting to run out of time to visit things that closed before 5pm.  There was the option to just go back to the hotel or to try and make it to one more distillery.  Of course this means there was franking map searching so we could get to one more.
  Glenfarclas was still open when we got there.  It smelled at lot like all the other ones we had been to.

  Since we were done with all of our adventuring early and had an hour before dinner I decided I wanted to walk down the road and take some pictures of the sheep we saw.  There were no babies in this group, but I did interest them with my camera click noises.  I would get close and they would wonder off a little, then they would hear the click and come back a little.
  Before dinner we got a visit from both Archie and Charlie, who had turned one in July.  I found out that the reason they were in so much trouble the night before was because they managed to get into a bird’s nest.  Hopefully they will be more behaved tonight.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Scotland Day 4: Did Someone Say "Kinder Eggs?"

  The bed in this hotel has a very firm mattress.  This means a bad night’s sleep for me.  However, I got to see one of the residential ginger cats and even took a few pictures.
  This is said cat.  Archie was sweet and Jim got to pet him.  He really wanted to get into the breakfast area, but since that wasn’t an option he went to the back to do some filing.
  We headed out and were going to stop by a grocery store before heading out for the day.  The car’s GPS/Sat-Nav decided we were there.  The only building with an open or closed sign said it was closed.  The grocery’s website said they should be opened.  A quick internet search told us that we were nowhere near the grocery.  It was a cute town with a pathway to another castle.   There was something I did see that was really funny.  There was a small car, a tiny bit longer than a Smart Car that had some conflicting stickers in the back window.  One said “I’m not leaking oil, I'm sweating power” and another said “0-60 Eventually.”  That is a very confusing message.

  Since I’m me, I had to get some Kinder Eggs.  I got one Barbie and one Justice League.  I didn’t know which I wanted more.    They were also only 83P each which is more expensive than the £1 for a three pack we saw in Germany, but it sure beats the $3.49 I find at home.
  It is also true when they tell you that Fanta tastes differently in Europe than in the States.  It tastes more like real oranges in Europe and more like orange syrup.  I've also seen a bunch of people out and about with a bottle of that Volvic juiced and decided to give it a try.  I have not opened it yet, but I will report back when I do.

  Winding country roads are fun to be on (unless you easily get car sick) and lend themselves for some good views, but are not good for pictures.  Especially when you have never been in the area and don’t know when to ready the camera.  I got to see at least two, and go no pictures of, “hairy coo”, they are just so fluffy and are really cute.
  Average speed cameras are also very interesting.  They get two pictures of your plates and time how long it takes you to get from one to the other.  They are also a fairly new thing.

  We spotted a whiskey distillery and decided to make a stop.  Tomatin is the softer side of the highlands.  Bill tried a few and the boys bought some items.  I have a feeling that the one Bill got sounded expensive to him, but was so good that he couldn’t resist.  He had me try one and I did not like it.  There was one I was tempted to try, but they didn’t have it open for tasting and they only had two more for sale.   We also got a fly by from a Gripen.  The fighter jet was low enough that we could identify it by sight.  It was a bit disconcerting and another time that a ready camera would have been nice.
  The one lane roads are interesting.  There is one wide-ish lane for both directions.  Since two cars can’t fit down one wide-ish lane, and the sides usually have fences, trees, raised banks, or some combination of them, there are pull off areas.  So that means that if you are driving on the side with the passing places and you see a car coming from the other way, you have to pull over and let them pass because they have the right-of-way.   There was also a road near Inverness with one wide-ish lane and a bike lane on either side.  The general consensus seems to be that everyone drives in half the road and the bike lane unless there is a parked car or bike in it, then you scoot over.   The Longman roundabout had a few fun things going for it.  It had lights, so you can get more traffic into it without too much back-up.  It was also spiraled.  Bill says he has seen videos of them but the rest of us have never heard of them.

  Lunch was a quick stop at the Oakwood Restaurant before heading over to Loch Ness.  We stopped in at the first pull off.  Nessy didn’t show up, but there were a lot of people there and everyone knows that she is shy.

  Poor Urquhart castle.  Before time and Mother Nature even had a chance at it, the local villagers started looting for building materials.  The lead that was used for roofing was found all over the village later.  It had also been built up over time, so the layout was a bit wonky and with all the looting the historians have been having problems guessing what buildings and rooms were used for what.  They were able to make some good guesses on a few of them.
  We did a quick stop at the Loch Ness tourist trap and got some presents for people at home.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get the change purse or the wallet.  I got both and a little Nessy for myself.  We also got some stuff for a few more people.

  When getting dinner in Aberlour I saw a yarn shop.  3 Bags Wool's website said they weren’t opened at all on Wednesdays, but the gate was open.  I wanted to take a peek at what they had, but we were also all hungry for dinner.  I was curious to see if they had a website or not.  I found it but even though it looked like it had a little shopping basket, it wouldn’t show me any of the yarn.  It was probably a mobile browser problem.  Once we were out from dinner the gate was closed.  There may or may not be time for us to go tomorrow, we shall see what we do.
  The boys are excited about all the scotch adventures they have planned for tomorrow.  They are discussing which distilleries have tours and which they would want to tour and taste versus just going for a taste.  They want to find some expressions that they can’t get in the states.   There are now two ginger cats and we are all distracted.  They are brothers.  Time to do some knitting by the fire and finish my merlot.
  While some of us were sitting there another group came into the sitting room.  One of them noticed that I was knitting and pointed it out to another.  Margaret is a knitter too.  She mostly does hats.  They were going on the guided tour of the mill at 10:30am the next day.  I told them that I might see them there, but I also wasn’t sure since we had our scotch/castle/yarn route planned out and I wasn’t sure when we would make it there.  I wonder if I will see them there or not.