News and Events
Spring is on the way 4th April 2017
After the past months of hunkering down during the darkest period in the year (and absence of wintery blog news) it’s a real boost to get the longer afternoons and have more time for chopping wood; a favourite occupation to generate heat over the winter months!
Suddenly, the clocks have jumped forward, we are all but through Lent and able to look forward to a happy family time over Easter with the younger generation back for a break from school and college; many reasons to be joyful at this time of year. Plus our camelia is covered in stunning deep pink blooms !
To cap it all, I am very pleased to be able to announce that I have acquired an upgrade in the vehicle department. My new Mercedez-Benz Vito will provide clients with all the space and comfort they would expect – I attach a hastily-taken snapshot of the new barouche…..
Summer Touring – a review 11th November 2016
Well, the touring life gets busy especially during the main part of the working season between May and October. That’s my only excuse for not posting more regular updates on my news page….!
I have a fun and enlightening few months on the road, in the company of some really charming clients. I’m glad of the business of course yet appreciate just as much the opportunity to meet the genuinely interesting folk with whom I get do some touring.
On the tours themselves, perhaps one of the favourite places along the well-worn routes remains the Isle of Skye. Without exception, clients this past few months have truly loved their travels on this Hebridean island. It does have some of the most striking, contrasting geology, wonderfully craggy mountains and other fantastic scenery. Also well worth remembering is the opportunity to treat yourself to a fabulous lunch at the unique Three Chimneys Restaurant, which will probably be the remotest eaterie you are likely to visit on a trip to Scotland. This is just the sort of thing (to my mind) that can really make your visit something to remember; just the sort of the thing that I hope my clients will experience. I always try to include the hidden gems along with the best, well-known historic and other places that are on the ‘must see’ list for Scotland. And – seeing as I am quite a fan of food – another lunch spot to experience (that you might not find on your own self-drive trip ! ) is the great seafood cafe at Kinlochleven.
Speaking of hidden gems, I think one of the highlights for me – and for the clients on tour that particular week – was a private visit to the Library at Innerpeffray, near Crieff in Perthshire. At this point, I need to confess quickly that it had previously not been on my radar at all. It is known for being the oldest Public Lending Library in the country, opened in 1680 and endowed by the Drummond family. It houses a unique collection and the ‘Keeper of the Library’ with the other staff are brilliant at bringing its treasures to life. I would really recommend it !
From the expanse and wilderness of Torridon in the North West to a blustery, blue sky day in St. Andrews on the East Coast with the nearby picture postcard harbour at Crail; from Loch Ness
(no sign of Nessie..) to Lossiemouth and the great views of the capital from Calton Hill in Edinburgh, I have shared lots of wonderful moments with clients during the past few months. To round it all off, I even enjoyed an unexpected encounter with ‘Digger’ the Clydesdale horse at the World Horse Rescue Farm just outside Aboyne ! What’s not to like !
North eastern adventures 16th May 2016
Early last week, Lucy & I took ourselves off for an overnight jaunt. While the lovely, warm Spring weather was tempting us to stay at home and crack on with the gardening it was equally enjoyable to be able to take our time as we journeyed up the A82 Great Glen road even stopping for a wee picnic on the shores of Loch Oich where the sun was sparkling on the water in the stiff breeze.
We reached the Inverness area early-mid afternoon and headed a little further north-east towards Nairn, following the signs for our destination; Cawdor Castle. This impressive, historic castle is also still family home to the Campbell Earls of Cawdor. The earliest parts of the old tower date from the 1400s and much of the existing house from the 17th Century. There are of course the legendary associations with Macbeth – the actual 11th Century Scots King as well as more mysterious Shakespearean character – and along with other great family stories and legends it is a fascinating place to visit. What seals it for me is the really wonderful garden with some very original sculptures, the maze and beautifully kept borders – especially on the lovely Spring day we were there. Highly recommended !
To top off our mini-break, we had a happy walk in the sunset along the wide sands on the edge of the Cromarty Firth and a successful visit for Lucy the next morning to the Black Isle Foundry to discuss all things Bronze…..
The World of Whisky 15th April 2016
Life in a rural village in the West Highlands rightly has the community at its heart and this involves all the individuals, groups and clubs that work to make the community what it is.
A couple of weeks back, a number of us had a fun evening with some great craic during the dinner for the Taynuilt Highland Games. For the last few years, I have enjoyed being on the committee that organise our Games and – alarmingly perhaps – I now appear to be the current Chairman !
Some of those on the committee worked on ideas for the evening’s format and the outcome was a great success. We approached two lovely friends to help put the event together ; firstly Clare Gilbert who produced a wonderful menu all beautifully presented on the night and secondly Deirdre Henderson who came up with a carefully selected list of single malt whisky options to go with the different courses of meal. I am not a regular when it comes to taking a dram and only have a vague notion of some of those “powerful peaty Islay malts”. Well, I am happy to report that I learned quite a bit from the whole experience and those others at the dinner who were also not die-hard whisky drinkers all had at least a sniff if not a taste or two of the different malts.
I think that in rounding this off, the best I can do is to layout the menu for you to feast your eyes on and to get your taste-buds going so please enjoy……
Smoked Trout & Lime Roulade
OBAN LITTLE BAY (Flavour led) West Highland Single Malt
Goats Cheese with Caramelised Apple & Walnuts / Puy Lentil & Bacon Soup
CAOL ILA 12 yr old Islay Single Malt
MIXED BERRY SORBET
DALWHINNIE D.E. secondary maturation in Oloroso Cask (Chilled)
Lamb Shank (slow cooked) with Lemon & Thyme / Baked Cod with Citrus Herb Crust
CRAGGANMORE 12 yr old Speyside Single Malt
Rich Dark Chocolate Mousse served with Crushed Roasted Coffee Beans
LAGAVULIN D.E. secondary maturation in Pedro Ximenez Sherry Cask
I HOPE THAT HAS WHETTED YOUR APPETITES TO TRY ANOTHER MALT OR TWO NEXT TIME IT’S OFFERED.
PERSONALLY, THE LAGAVULIN AFTER A MOUTHFUL OF THE MOUSSE WAS A REVELATION !
Hope Springeth Eternal 17th March 2016
In recent days, the view across Loch Etive to the peaks of Ben Cruachan, Ben Starav and others has looked truly wonderful. There IS always hope and Spring is really showing signs of really taking hold. Almost got a bit too hot tackling the brambles and burning all the ivy I pulled off the garden wall yesterday – well we’re not used to it here in the West Highlands !
As Spring arrives it traditionally heralds the start of the touring season; and I was out on the road looking after a guest who takes a regular short cruise at this time of year on the Hebridean Princess. I dusted off the ‘chauffeur’s cap’ and visited the car wash and was all set.
I have worked with the Hebridean Princess for several years and look forward to continuing that relationship. Like the Princess, The Royal Scotsman has a parallel reputation for being a wonderful way to travel. I have always loved train travel so it was exciting news that the restoration of the Flying Scotsman was complete and this world famous steam locomotive would be running a series of trips up the East coast mainline between London’s King Cross station north to York and also right up to Edinburgh. Suffice to say that there are so many folk out there who are hugely nostalgic about it that almost all the advertised trips were quickly fully booked !
If you are planning a visit to Scotland this year, whether or not a cruise or a romantic rail journey is on your wish list, I shall be delighted to help you plan it.