We are in Guinness country now

We really enjoyed our accommodations at Docharn with hosts, Katrina and Neil and would recommend them to anyone staying in the area. Last night We went to a little village for dinner and discovered an ancient bridge built to take coffins across the river to the grave yard during high waters.

This lorrie driver miscalculated the height of his truck.

A wee prop jet called Flybee took us from Inverness, Scotland to Belfast, Ireland in about one hour today. We arrived around noon, went to our hotel, then took a taxi to the Titanic museum.

Each point represents the bow of the Titanic.

See if you can find Jo, Tammy and Sue in the Titanic sign!

During the 19th century Belfast was the linen capital of the world. People flooded here to work in the mills. Besides textiles Belfast also had a ropeworks company, a tobacco industry, whisky distilleries, and a soft drink industry. The Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolfe shipyard in Belfast, sailed and sank in 1912. It was built by the White Star Corp. to be a world class Ocean liner but did not complete it’s first voyage to New York.

The museum was fascinating and a great tribute to the people who build the ship and those who sailed on it, survived or lost their lives.

After the museum we walked back to our hotel stopping along the way for a beer and then again for some dinner. Sue clocked in as walking five miles today so we did get a little exercise.

Canny Mind

Scottish slang for forgetfulness is “I have a canny mind” which really sums up the reason for this blog. In the future when we talk about our UK trip my “canny mind” can recall the details of our wonderful experiences.

The walk from Aviemore to Boat of Garden was a short one of about six miles but a beautiful six miles it was!

It is a well trodden path with many people just out for a walk and bikers going back and forth. We walked into Boat of Garden just before noon and found a beautiful community garden to eat our sandwiches or whatever. Sue just finished reading the book “Clean Protein” by Kathy Freston and Bruce Friedrich so has sworn off meat, no sandwiches for her! We are all interested in reading the book but I think I will have to ease into it cause I really like meat.

Our hostess picked us up after we bought some snacks to have for dinner and brought us to her lodge, The Docharn. It is absolutely beautiful, so modern and comfortable, we were happy to stay in and have our dinner here.

We are finding Scotland to be very energy efficient, probably due to the high cost here. This lodge is fully equipped with led lights, artificial lighting and auto lights. We saw a truck advertising the reuse of cooking oil and foods.

It is my Dad’s 96th birthday which I am missing, this picture is of my brother and his family helping to celebrate.

We were scheduled to hike 11 miles to Grantown today but the weather is rainy with 30-40 mph winds, we are not sure we could stay upright, nice to have this comfortable lounge area to spend the day.

We are in tourist country now

Aviemore has a different feel than the area of Scotland we just came from. It is more of a tourist destination for skiing, hiking, or bike riding. Ballater and Braemar were towns where everyone knew each other, we met April on the bus to Ballater, she spoke to Steve the driver and had him drop us off closer to our hotel, then the next day we ran into her on the street and it was like we were old friends. She introduced us to her friend, wanted to know everything we had done since we saw her last, we learned she was 83 but seemed 10 years younger. We started to feel like big fish in a small pond as we learned from our inn keeper in Braemar she had been discussing us with Julian, our safari driver.

Yesterday after a two hour car ride through the beautiful Cairngorms we arrived to the hustle bustle of a busy town where few people know each other as most are from out of town. We did a walk around, toured a brewery, with a tasting of course, checked out the local golf course, had dinner and called it a day.

Today we did an 11 mile hill walk (as they call hiking) around a Loch an Eilein. We encountered tons of bike riders, horse riders and many people walking with their dogs. I think Tammy and Joanne could tell you the name of every dog we met!

This castle is thought to have been the site of a defensive structure from early in the 1200’s. Since then it has been added to, and is particularly associated with a period of occupation by the Wolf of Badendoch (the grandson of Robert the Bruce) around 1400.

It has been another full and beautiful day in Scotland!

Information Overload!

We learned so much about Scotland today I don’t even know where to start. Julian, owner of Braemar Highland Experience picked us up first thing this morning in his land rover. He took us on a tour into the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. We were immediately treated to a sighting of a whole herd of red deer, stags and hinds. He explained that during mating season the stags are “addled testerone” going days without eating, thinking of nothing else but mating, fighting continuously until they are wretched. His words not mine. We saw red and black grouse, huge hares and beautiful scenery.

Julian was a history buff so filled our heads with Scottish history

After about four hours of touring he dropped us off at the Royal Lochnagar distillery.

There Annie took us on a tour explaining all the ins and outs of turning barley into whisky. We were given two tastings, unfortunately, it is not my drink of choice. I think Sue is the only one who appreciates it.

After dinner we were treated to a little ukulele jam going on in the room next to the dining room.

Tomorrow we are off to Aviemore and more hiking.

We met an old friend in Braemar

In 2011 Sue and I went on a hike in the Burgandy area of France with a company called “Adventure Women”. The hike leader was Gillian and her sweep was a Scot named James Renny. Sue was able to contact him this trip, he drove a little over an hour from his home to meet us in Braemar. James no longer works with Gillian or Adventure Women but was happy to join us on a hike in this area. He drove us to an area he thought we would enjoy and he was right.

It was a beautiful day, we hiked about five or six miles through countryside laden with heather. It is all brown now but when it is in bloom it is a beautiful purple color.

James is very knowledgable about botany, birds and the environment in general. He pointed out a giant ant hill that was just teaming with ants.

This is a dead newt, I only show you this because James told us that when a Scot is really drunk they say he is “pissed as a newt”. Pissed means drunk not mad. As he was talking he kept using the term “crikey” which is just so scottish!

James is an artist also and has sold paintings to the Queen and Prince Charles. He had lunch with us then left promising to visit Alaska or Palm Springs one day, it was a pleasure to hike with him again.

Later in the day we explored Braemar and learned that Robert Louis Stevenson and his family came here in 1881 to experience the fresh mountain air, away from the Edinburgh smog. While here he began to write one of the most famous novels in Scottish literature Treasure Island. A number of the book’s characters, including Long John Silver himself, are allegedly named after people in the village at the time. John Silver, a meal miller, lived in Braemar and his children Alex and Sarah, both attended Braemar school.

We visited the Queen but she wasn’t home.

The Queen and the Royal family have their summer home here at Balmoral, so we decided to make a visit. Unfortunately, it is so cold right now this is probably the last place they would want to be.

We needed to do laundry today so took our clothes to the laundromat and were told to be back in the afternoon to pick them up so we got on the bus for a short ride to the castle.

We are freezing as we wait for some royalty, any royalty, but I think they are not coming!

This is where the Queen’s sentry stay when she is in town and what they need to watch out for.

The slaughter house for game and beautiful flowers waiting to be planted on the grounds.

The Royal lineage.

Queen Victoria and her husband built Balmoral in 1854, the town Ballater, where we are staying, grew up because of the castle. Many of the homes here are also summer homes.

This is our host at Glen Lui in his normal everyday attire. We have been fortunate to stay here for two nights but tomorrow we are off again.

England to Scotland

As our cab driver was delivering us to the train station in Carlile, she pointed out a street that is closed to cars on the weekend so the people partying at the many bars can move about safely. She said they decided to do that after some drunk people got “knocked over” by cars. Love these English terms!

We are traveling on Virgin trains this morning which is very comfortable. Tammy used an app “Rome 2 Rio” which gives you all the options available to go from one destination in Europe to another. That led her to the app “train line” where you can find all the info necessary, train number, platform, name of the train, destination, and stops along the way making the travel as stress free as possible.

We have now arrived in Ballater, sitting in the Glen Lui Hotel lounge area sipping the local Caol Lia double malt scotch. It rained all day while we comfortably rode on the train and bus, we are grateful it is not a hiking day. We met many very friendly Scots including one lady who asked the bus driver to make a special stop to get us closer to our hotel. It is a 45 mile ride to Ballater so people are getting on and off the bus at different stops. At one point a guy gets on and announces “hello my fellow travelers, I have just come from the grocery and we are having shrimp scampi for dinner” When he exited he said “goodbye my fellow travelers, there it doesn’t cost anything to say goodbye” It was fun to listen to him because most people are so somber on public transportation systems. The lady who helped us said “he has a screw loose”

The dinner menu at our hotel has many delicious choices so we are looking forward to that.

Sue had chicken liver pate and guinea foul with haggis, haggis is a savory pudding containing sheeps pluck (heart, liver, and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with stock.

Jo had lamb.

Tammy and I went with beef filet.

Can’t believe those girls could eat those cute little animals we have been admiring all week.