Thursday, March 20, 2014

STORIES AND PHOTOS #2: Black and White

Mt Hood and Mollala River

Anne and I have spent quite a bit of time in the last four months preparing our next travel guide.  It is a revision and expansion of our third guide, Hidden Gems II: Scotland and Wales.  The new edition, Golf in Scotland II: Hidden Gems of Scotland and Wales, has descriptions of more golf courses in both Scotland and Wales, more than double the number of B&Bs and small guest houses, numerous more recommendations for pubs, restaurants, and tearooms, and plenty of suggestions for non-golfing days.  Now that the book is done and out on and AmazonUK in print-on-demand as well as Kindle, my reflectiions on all this work, most of it in black and white, has inspired the two parts of this blog entry: an introduction to the new book and random black and white photos.
Windows to the Soul

Old Farm, Yoder, OR

Isle of Skye Road, Scotland

To introduce Golf in Scotland II; Hidden Gems of Scotland and Wales I present the story we use in the opening of "Chapter I: Getting Started":

The day was not going to be the weather we really wanted when playing a world class course like Royal Porthcawl in southern Wales--it was fiercely windy, spitting rain in squalls, and completely overcast.  We also knew by the friendly greeting we got in the golf shop from pro Peter Evans that it was going to be a great day of golf despite the weather.  We weren’t disappointed.  
Rain gear, including jacket, pants, gloves, hat, and bag cover on from the start, we headed to the first tee.  I like it better when we can start fully prepared rather than having to interrupt play to don our gear; it’s always easier to shed rain suits than to put them on during the round.  The first hole, the one seen in the Wales tourism commercial with duffers and Wee Welshman Ian Woosnam teeing off in glorious conditions, is a fair starting hole.  A demanding drive, but not too demanding, followed by a tricky second onto an elevated green with interesting slopes.  The wind, howling at a steady thirty miles an hour straight into us (measured with a portable anemometer), added character to the shotmaking.  Bogeys were good on this championship start, but the score really isn’t that important. Anne and I are retired after more than thirty years of teaching, we’re in Wales, the land of at least my paternal ancestors (although there’s English on that side as well), and we’re playing golf on one of the world’s great golf courses.  Bogey, double-bogey, or even birdie doesn’t much matter.  The rest of the round was a little better than the start.  The wind stiffened a little, but the rain lightened and stopped while we were still on the front. One curiosity was we kept coming into greens with the flags pulled out.  The first couple downed flags we ran into we cursed the inconsiderates in front of us.  Then as we continued to find flags down and realized it was the wind blowing them out, we apologized under our breaths.  
As we came off the tough 410-yard 18th with dips and hills and lush rough, we talked to the visitor who had played in front of us.  He was leaning against the building catching his breath. As we approached him, he smiled and said, “The course won.”  But he was smiling!  We told Peter about the four flags we found down on the greens.  He responded, “Oh, an average day at Royal Porthcawl.  Only a four flag day; we often see six or eight flags out in a round.”  And he was smiling!
From the golf course it’s only a few miles back to the Prince of Wales Pub in Kenfig near the interesting Pyle and Kenfig GC we’d played a couple of days before. We’d heard about the pub from the golf pro at P&K who said, “It should be in your book”--a phrase we’d heard several times before referring to this pub, that restaurant, or yon attraction.  After a drink in the 16th century (rebuilt in 1808) Prince of Wales Inn we knew he’d been right.  This pub needed to be in the book.  We enjoyed a pint, Guinness for Anne and local ale for me, heard about the ghosts, talked to a few locals who said “Good day for golf, isn’t it.”  And they smiled!   With a little adjusting of our itinerary, we planned a return trip to the pub for a meal, and then headed out for the hour drive to tonight’s B&B in Laugharne.   
Laugharne has a ruined castle and a literary heritage.  It’s the literary connection that gives the Boat House Bed and Breakfast its name--the Boathouse (around the corner from the castle along the water) was where poet Dylan Thomas did much of his writing.  We arrived in time to take a quick peek at the castle before checking in at the B&B.  We rang the bell and introduced ourselves to Angi, who looked at us a little strangely, but showed us to the Towy suite.  When we asked about her husband George a look of recognition came over her face.   Ann then introduced herself and her daughter Jenni who recently bought the B&B from Angi and George.  They said Angi and George had left our reservation, but no details or contact information.  After a good laugh we were told the dinner we had arranged would be in the dining room in about an hour.  
Whenever we can we take advantage of B&Bs who do dinners--a nice change from always eating out.  The dinner at Boat House was superb!  A special smoked haddock appetizer started the meal for us and three other guests. The starter was followed by a main of chicken breast in special sauce served with potatoes and fresh veggies. Dinner ended with a scrumptious homemade pear pie.  My Anne and I sat for an hour after dinner visiting with Jenni and Ann about the process of starting up a B&B.  
Windy golf on a fantastic course. Pub ghosts and Guinness. New friends in a marvelous B&B. All in a day of touring in Wales.  
Eilean Musdile Lighthouse, Loch Linnhe, Scotland

Lights, Rothenburg, Germany

Tearoom Conversation, Kirriemuir, Scotland

We are now preparing for out spring visit to Scotland, but I will try to get one more entry up before we leave in the middle of April.  Welcome spring!
George the Cat