The Great Landscape

Queen's View

Queen’s View

Bob accidentally takes his own picture.

Bob accidentally takes his own picture.

Bob takes my picture

Bob takes my picture

Bob and I take a selfie

Bob and I take a selfie

I’m sitting in the Bothy Bar watching the US/Belgium game in huge World Cup. There are others of our group here, 4 playing cards, 2 also watching the game. Many of others of our group are in the other area of the bar, and I had a very nice dinner there, talking with some of them. Everyone is very nice, almost unfailingly polite and cheerful.

I am also having a glass of cider and some treacle tart with custard. I have a habit of ordering things I have never had too find out what they are. (Let us not forget the prune pie incident.). I’ve heard of treacle tart of course, but imagined it looking a little mare like a tart. This is a hot, domed cake covered with some sort or syrup, swimming in a pool of custard. It’s working out well so far.

Today we began with a scenic drive to Queen’s view, a beautiful spot overlooking a long lake (loch.). I cannot overstate how beautiful it was. The colors are amazing. The weather was beautiful and the clouds were reflected in the still water. Queen Victoria visited her, but not until after it was named as being fit for a queen. There are silhouette cutouts of her at the visitors center, and Bob, the gentlemen with the cane offered to take my picture with one, but in the course of using my iPhone to do it, inadvertently took a selfie of himself and then held his finger down on the button, triggering the “burst” feature, so I had to deleted about 70 pictures. Then I showed him how to do a selfie and we did one together.

After this photo journey, our coach headed on to Pilochery, which boasts a hydroelectric damn, which brought electricity to the are in 1950. There is also a fish ladder there, but sadly, so salmon where leaping up it while we were there. I took a wander through the town, which, like everything has these beautiful stone, Georgian style (I think) buildings. I had some fish and chips for lunch, and now I know that I should order the half portion, as I was served a gigantic slab of fish and a bucket of chips. What did manage to eat was very tasty!

Our bus (coach) took us just down the road to the Blair Athol distillery. We had a tour, which was similar to the tour I took with Anne at a bourbon place, but whiskey uses barley instead of rye, and interestingly enough, they use casks from American bourbon distillers, or Spanish sherry makers. This provides a unique color and flavor to the whiskey. This distillery also had a little fish ladder by the stream where they get their spring water, and a family of ducks was swimming though in a charming and picturesque fashion.

Final stop of the day was Blair Castle. This is the seat of the Duke of Athol, who is currently a South African, the line having left the Scots after the 10th Duke’s six children had none of their own, having got caught up in World Wars I and II. I learned all this and more from a very knowledgeable young woman, who, wearing the tartan of the family, guided us through the rooms, which were elaborately decorated in the Georgian Style. Queen Victoria came to visit for an extended period, and they bought all new bedroom furniture for her. In addition, she had so many servants and hangers on that there family had to move out of the castle for the weeks she was there. She was so pleased by her visit that she gave colors and other official sanction to the workers of the estate who were serving as a guard while she was there. By doing this she created a private army for the duke, which is still in existence today, the only one of its kind in the country. Our bus driver said they really only are a group of guys who like to “don uniforms and play the pipes,” but that sounds pretty awesome to me.

I had a nice walk back to the hotel. Many in the group are what they call “ramblers” who like to go walking in nice country places, and I can see why this is popular. The weather is pleasant, the scenery is great the air fresh, and birds are chirping all around. Hard to beat that!

Tomorrow: The steam train from Ft. William to Mallig.

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