Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Scotland Fall 2018 #1


It may be trite to call this "a Scottish traffic jam," but that what it is.

The AMS Toilet Adventure

In the men’s toilet at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam I was at one urinal and there was a lady cleaning the urinal next to me. We both agreed it was no big deal.
Anne, Dave, Charleen, and the docent at St Serf's Church in Dunning. The cross is  a Pictish carved cross from the 9th century, the Dupplin Cross.

Being Tour Guides
The group heads in to tour Duone Castle, an Outlander site.

We didn't get to tour Tullibardine Distillery, but we still had a taste.

We did tour Edradour Distillery, the smallest commercial distillery in Scotland.

We’ve been talking to Anne’s younger sister Charleen and her husband Dave for years about coming to Scotland with us—both have Scottish heritage. After both finally retired, we got the opportunity to be tour guides to family travelers. Charleen and Dave joined us for nine days of our month long fall Scotland trip.


Anne, Charleen, and Dave ready to visit Drummond Gardens, one of the best formal gardens in Britain.

The drive into Drummond Castle and Gardens is stunning.


Dave examines Earthquake House in Comrie village, home to the most seismic activity in the UK.

The trip actually started long before any of us got to Scotland. Charleen and Dave had research to do to determine what kind of things they wanted to see—distilleries, gardens, ruined castles, lived-in castles, ancient sites, big cities, small villages, etc. Anne and I had major and sometimes lively discussions about what they must see or ought to see or need to avoid considering where we were going to stay (self catering in central Scotland and timeshare in the Highlands). A couple of dinner meetings and numerous emails confirmed our itinerary, always with flexibility.
After nine successful days as tour guide here are some of my observations:
Our group (minus the photographer) assembled outside one of the reconstructed early dwellings in the Highland Folk Village in Newtonmore.

First, much of the success of the trip owes to the fact that Charleen and Dave did their homework both before the trip and nightly while in Scotland. They had good ideas of what they were seeing and thus could really enjoy the experience. Even when we threw in some last minute site, they were knowledgeable enough to understand what they were seeing or to ask the right questions. 
Charleen and Dave's first dinner in Scotland at the Tower Hotel Gastro Pub just across the road from our self-catering Thistle Cottage in Crieff. Notice, I managed to get in the picture, too.

Visiting a Crannog, a family dwelling build out into a loch, on Loch Tay.

Second, for me, the pressure was intense. I much better appreciate those tour guides who take on the responsibility for someone else’s good holiday. I think I checked too much on whether Charleen and Dave were enjoying what we were doing, but they were always positive.
Dave hand feeding a member of the Cairngorm Reindeer herd.

Impressive!

Third, I felt like I was controlling too much of the time and needed to let go more. We did separate as couples in St Andrews and met up later and we did tour Urquhart Castle independently. I probably should have planned in more of that kind of experience (Or is planning free time an oxymoron?).
We gather in front of Anderson's in Boat of Garden before going in for Pie Night--meat or fish pies.

The Packhorse Bridge at Carr-bridge not far from Boat of Garden.

Fourth, for Anne and I it was the most intense touring we’ve done for quite a while, but it was great fun. We wore them out each day which is what they wanted, but it wore us out too. In nine days we put more than 1100 miles on our rental car with me doing all the driving. As tiring as it was, the driving was never too much for me, and for Charleen and Dave it was sort of break time. Anne was stuck with her same old job, Grand Wizard of Navigation, which she did admirably.
Dave discovers the Scot's love of sweets as he tries a butterscotch sunday at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore.

Lastly, Charleen and Dave’s enthusiasm and excitement energized us as we saw things through their eyes. For instance, Anne and I have toured almost forty distilleries (many more than once), but Dave’s interest in learning about the process and tasting infected us all. And though we’d been to Innerpeffray Library (the oldest lending library in Scotland) four times before, we got a new appreciation for the facility through Charleen’s experience as a school librarian. 
We got a personal tour of the Innerpeffray Library from the curator.


The massive ruins of Elgin Cathedral.

For Anne and me it is always a joy to share our Scotland with our friends, especially those who visit Scotland with us. This was even more special. And even if we still need work to be accomplished tour guides, at least we can say we had a perfect time.
At the largest commercial distillery in Scotland, Glenfiddich, we got to watch part of the bottling process.



NEXT: Part 2 -- Photos Allowed plus more