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Making the most of the coast

semi-overcast 15 °C

Yesterday we left Aberdeen and enjoyed a particularly scenic drive along the east coast of Scotland, despite Feodora’s insistence on finding the quickest route. We kept telling her that we wanted the prettiest route, but she wouldn’t listen, so she had to be silenced. It was the only way.
Our journey took us north to Fraserburgh, and then west through Macduff, Banff, Portsoy and Cullen. Ah, Cullen! Home of Simon’s favourite Scottish delicacy – Cullen Skink! It was something of a triump for him to be there, in Cullen, eating Cullen Skink. Win.
We continued on our journey, accompanied by the soothing tones of BBC Gaelic (which may or may not have sent me to sleep for part of the trip). We found our way to Dallas Dhu Distillery, the delightfully alliterative former distillery that had been preserved in its practically Victorian-era condition for us all to explore (using our Historic Scotland membership, of course). We had the place to ourselves, except for a German couple who didn’t stay long, and a pigeon couple who weren’t supposed to be there. It was a good chance to see the distilling process up close without all the heat/smell/OH&S/tourists of a working distillery. And at the end of our self-guided tour, there was a free dram of Roderick Dhu and a hilariously tacky video about whisky featuring special effects from the 80s (and possibly a fake beard). Win win.
We made our way to our b&b on Loch Ness, and were greeted by English accents and a roaring fire. The pub 2 miles down the road was recommended for dinner – but unfortunately it had obviously been recommended to everyone else in the district as well, and was full. We braved it and sat outside for our meal, and although it was cold, sometimes in life you just have to eat your dinner at the edge of Loch Ness with ducks for company. Once Simon retrieved our beanies and gloves, it really was a win. And after dinner, I continued my winning streak, taking the 500 battle to 4-0. Sorry Simon!
This morning we were presented with the breakfast to end all breakfasts. Cereal, pastries, fruit, yoghurt, toast… oh and then a full cooked Scottish breakfast. Square sausage, haggis, fried egg, baked beans, black pudding, tattie scone, normal sausage and bacon. Let’s just say we weren’t worried about an iron deficiency after all that…
Fort George was today’s Historic Scotland destination. We managed to time our arrival perfectly for joining the morning’s guided tour. And when I say ‘joining’, I mean ‘being’. We were it. Just us and our knowledgeable guide Andy. Full credit to him, he made the whole Jacobite rebellion somewhat comprehensible, and for the first time I began to understand that it wasn’t as simple as Catholic vs Protestant or Scotland vs England. The weather was kind enough to let us wander the grounds of the Fort in relative peace – at one point I even removed my scarf! The seagulls were quite clearly staking a claim on the place, and were not fussed by the tourists or the soldiers walking around. The dolphins obligingly made themselves visible as they played in the Moray Firth, and once we had completed our Appreciation of the Views, the rains began. That was our cue to head indoors to the Highlanders Museum, which just reminded me how little the human race has learnt from centuries of warfare. Oh sure, we’ve learnt that steel helmets offer more protection than fancy looking leather hats, but not much else, it would seem. Sigh.
We returned to The Dores Inn again tonight – but this time, we were armed with a booking. Our indoor meal was amazing – and not just because we were sitting by a fire instead of at a picnic table outside. Simon’s tasting plate of haggis and seafood and cheese and spreads was rather substantial, and required assistance from his faithful wife to finish (obviously my support was purely cheese-based). We finished our meal with a walk along the pebbled shores of Loch Ness, and Simon demonstrated his rock-skimming prowess while laughing mercilessly at my prowesslessness. Pfft. Just wait for tomorrow’s update on the card scores, we’ll see who’s laughing then!

Posted by Buccas 13:27 Archived in Scotland

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