My sky is gray today, in the le drear way.
Sometimes, though, a gray sky can be one of the best things ever... adding to the moody beauty of the Scottish Highlands, say.
This is from a viewpoint as the A832 descends into Kinlochewe, overlooking Loch Maree -- one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen.
We stopped at that overlook a couple of times while we were in the area. One time, we'd just got out of the car when another zoomed in, came to a fast stop, and four young guys jumped out, practically unzipping their flies as they did! "Pardon us," they said, "we really need to wee!" Or something to that effect. It was so funny, made even funnier when we met eyes with one of the lads and there was instant recognition -- he'd been our waiter at a restaurant in Gairloch the day before! They quickly did what they came to do (not stopping to admire the view!), then jumped back into their car and zoomed off!
You can see this view featured a couple of times in the beginning of this ad for David Beckham's Haig Club Scotch Whisky. (Make it BIG!)
A week later, I finally downloaded photos from memory cards to my computer... and these aren't them. I've barely had a chance to look at them. It's been a week.
Instead, these are all of the food-related photos from my phone. We found some marvelous places to eat & drink, in Edinburgh and beyond!
I loved the Fresh Mint Tea display at The Elephant House, and who wouldn't love "Cake Of The Day"? I was in need of an Americano at the time (Friday), and as tempting as Lavender Cake is, I could not get enough shortbread! Also, I did go to the W.C., as everyone must do at The Elephant House, and spent some time reading but, alas, no photos of that.
That is the perfect & delicious Deli Plate at Edinburgh Larder for lunch -- it was not the last time on this trip that I had some variation of beet (-root) mash.
Lovecrumbs was a must-do coffee break. Unfortunately, we visited quite late in the day and the selection of cakes was... zero. I had a delicious pecan bar with my latte, but still feel a little pang when I see their instagram photos in my feed. It's worth a look... beautiful food, lovely styling. *snifffff*
There was nothing to do but drown my sorrows. Cocktails at Bar Kohl - Lavender Gin for Kate & me, Grapefruit for Rusty. Quite refreshing.
We'd passed Earthy on our way to the Botanic Garden on Saturday, and that's where Kate & I chose to have lunch, while Rusty went off to meet up with an artist acquaintance. The market was just gorgeous and, oh, my kingdom for eggs like that! I can't remember exactly what I had here, but I know it was fabulous -- the menu changes frequently, depending on what's available. I think there was a poached egg or two involved; I had a little thing for poached eggs on this trip, too.
Ice cream break on the Royal Mile!
On the recommendation of one of Kate's friends, we made reservations at Field for dinner on Saturday night, and it was just lovely. From top left, Kate had Fillet of Hake with Parmesan Dauphinoise, Chopped Egg & Asparagus; Rusty had Grilled Scottish Sea Trout, Wild Garlic Gnocchi, Heritage Tomatoes, Roast Red Peppers, Anchovies; and I had one of the featured dishes, Scottish Beef with Mushrooms and Potatoes and was most certainly described/named much better than that, but it couldn't have been any more delicious.
We were in Inverness on Sunday, and Kate had scouted out The Mustard Seed Restaurant on a previous visit. It is located in an old church and was quite beautifully done. I had (starter) a Scottish salmon & potato cake, served with a roast beetroot and horseradish puree, and (main) grilled sea bass with crushed new potatoes and a roast cherry tomato & smoked paprika sauce.
On Monday we were in the Highlands... rather remote, at that, and also arriving fairly late. Not every establishment is open everyday out there, but luckily Jan & Mark knew where to send us... right down the road to Badachro Inn where we picked seafood specials off the menu board. Hello, little langoustines!
We bought cold cuts, cheese, crackers, wine & beer and had some simple late meals in the atrium at our B&B a couple of times, followed by a Scrabble game or two -- using UK word lists (a whole new world of two-letter words) -- while planning the next day's activities.
At a cute upstairs coffee shop on Isle of Skye after our trek up to The Storr. We had yummy pub food (fish & chips!) at the rustic Seumas Bar in Sligachan that day.
There were plenty of lovely meals that I didn't document. I satisfied a sudden craving for pizza with a margherita for lunch at The Steading Bistro in Gairloch, with enough leftover to help fluff up one of our at-home meals. We had a fabulous dinner at The Whistlestop Cafe in Kinlochewe -- the building isn't really going to catch your eye, but the food is fantastic (with lots of great specials) as is the staff! The cafe isn't licensed, so we were invited to BYOB, which they kindly put on ice for us.
After a Steak & Guinness pie for lunch at The Seaforth, Rusty hiked down to water's edge while Katie and I walked around Ullapool, where I was charmed by this little sidewalk eggs & tatties stand!
Here are two butts in the one-butt kitchen in our airbnb Glasgow flat; there was a third, but none of us could move! We had dinner out on one of our nights in Glasgow, at The Manchurian Restaurant, walking distance from the flat.
Pretty (and delicious) cocktails at The Voodoo Rooms!
Next up: scenery!
I started with the selfies even before departure. Here we are, having both sailed through security at our local airport with TSA Pre-check. Rusty had his paint box packed in his carry-on, which included a few tools and things, and that was enough for a special look-through and no TSA Pre-check for him on the way home. I had it, though, and I'm not ashamed to say that I used it. I was hot, I was tired, I comfortably waited for him at the end of that long, long line. Heh.
I started taking them at every castle we visited and next thing you know, the SCOTTISH CASTLE SELFIE SERIES was born!
Old Man of Storr (not a castle, but towering)
Eilean Donan Castle again (WC/coffee break)
Once in selfie mode...
at Inverness Castle - River Ness behind us
in the rental car at Inverness, READY TO GO!
I have no idea where this is! Judging from attire and windblown-edness, it's somewhere on the Isle of Skye, maybe near Storr.
I think the smiles say everything that needs to be said here. :)
Ten on Tuesday/Wednesday: 10 Things I Did Last Weekend
Well, it was definitely not a typical weekend -- holiday or otherwise! We returned home on Tuesday (yesterday) from 12 days in Scotland, so the weekend was the end of a pretty great vacation.
1. On Saturday morning, I woke up at Croft 23 after the last of our 5-night stay. People, there is truth in advertising! If nothing else, just take a minute to watch the slideshow at the top of that page; minus the brilliant sunsets, the northern lights, and the sheep (they were apparently happy elsewhere last week), it was just that beautiful. Mark and Jan were our warm and welcoming hosts, and they were marvelous. Mark is an amazing landscape photographer and it's worth a "Like" on Croft 23's Facebook page just for the almost daily photo.
2. Later on Saturday morning, on our way to Glasgow, we stopped at a castle to use the facilities, and also to get coffee... and a selfie. Ha. Yeah, we really did! We'd already visited Eilean Donan Castle as admission-paying tourists several days before.
3. We drove through more of the never-tiring Scottish Highlands. Even after six days of driving through the Scottish Highlands, we still pulled over at almost every opportunity to take photos!
4. We had lunch at Crannog Seafood Restaurant -- a place I've been to before!! Fort William was as far north as we'd ventured three years ago and it was on our way to Glasgow this time, so we retraced some steps. It was kind of fun to feel a bit familiar with a place.
5. We arrived in Glasgow for the first of two nights at an adorable 2-bedroom 3rd-floor walk-up in the west end that I found on airbnb. It was my first airbnb experience and it was good; the place was just as advertised, easy to find, very clean, and well appointed. Cute enough to live in!
6. On Sunday, while Rusty walked about Glasgow*, visiting galleries and museums, Katie and I drove west and met up with Yvette! I've cyber-known Yvette for years -- 10 years, to be exact (through the magic that is searching the archives, I've determined that the first time she commented on my blog was May 31, 2004!) -- and had missed her move back to Scotland from France three years ago by mere weeks. It was so fun to meet!!
7. We drove a bit north, again on some familiar roads, to another familiar place. We'd visited Portencross Castle at West Kilbride a couple of times three years ago. I'd scattered some of Sharon's ashes there -- because she loved Scotland and had influenced our decision to go there (instead of Ireland) -- and it didn't feel right to be so close and not visit.
8. On Monday, we returned our rental car in Glasgow. We had one of the most uncomfortable encounters of the trip -- any trip any of us have ever been on -- when a guy from the rental company gave us a lift to the train station. He obviously didn't want anything to do with us -- because Americans? tourists? -- no greeting, no response, completely ignoring questions and attempts at conversation, or grunting a barely audible one-word response. Thankfully, it was a short drive! It was a quick train ride back to Edinburgh for our last night.
9. It may seem strange that our last meal in Scotland was at Wannaburger -- basically American fast-food burgers, fries & shakes -- but it is what it is, and it was really good! I'm more than a little envious of the food scene in the UK, and these weren't your typical American fast-food burgers! Wannaburger is a favorite of the American students in Edinburgh -- comfort food. Anyway, we ate very well in Scotland. If Wannaburger was the worst, then it was the best worst. Heh. I feel as though I've gained 20 pounds in the past two weeks (is that possible?). Anyway, while Rusty took one last walk-about in Edinburgh after dinner, Katie took me to a fun and gorgeous place called The Voodoo Rooms, right around the corner/behind our hotel for cocktails (mine, left, is Where The Wild Things Are, and Kate's is Mother Earth).
10. Finally, having learned a little bit about whisky on this trip, we enjoyed a lovely last view from the lounge at Motel One while the sun set on our visit, capping the night with a glass of single-malt... neat (eventually adding a wee bit of water to taste).
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Vacation was quite lovely. I fully intended to blog along the way, but our days were packed and connectivity limited. Don't worry, I'll fill you in!
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*The Glasgow School of Art was on the list but was devastated by fire just days before our arrival in Glasgow. One of Glasgow's -- indeed, Scotland's -- great treasures, firefighters took extraordinary measures to save as much of the structure as possible, well deserving of a lovely Thank You.