Saturday, August 21, 2010

Looking for Nessie

We are in Inverness, Scotland today. The weather has been wonderful and for the first time I feel like I could live here. Inverness is in the Scottish highlands. To get here we drove through hills covered in purple heather in full bloom. It was foreign and quite lovely. On arrival however, it just felt like home. Finally, there are conifers with some height and density. The town is not huge but large enough. The hostel is up a hill again. What is it about hostels and hills, anyway? The walk back to town is not as lovely as the one in Bath but we are in a very high end area so the houses are spectacular. We walk along Crown Street, which may I say, lives up to its name. Each house is a mini-castle and kind of reminds me of Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. There is just something about the houses, the air, the plant life or whatever that is reminiscent of home.

We drove out to Urqhart Castle yesterday. The drive was beautiful along the Loch Ness but it was the lake itself that made us all gasp. It could have been Shuswap! We ate our lunch on the grounds of the castle ruins overlooking the lake exclaiming again and again at how similar it felt…except of course, the castle part. A piper piped us in as we arrived at the castle. Actually, I think he was piping a boat in to the dock but as we were walking towards the castle entrance at the same time, I like to think it was for us. It was beautiful. I got all teary…again. I am a bit of a wet mop these days.

Interestingly, a piper piped us into the hostel as well but that didn’t seem to have the same emotional pull. My family was joking about the sound being abysmal but I don’t mind the pipes. I actually find them quite stirring. Tom felt that was probably why men started playing the pipes in the first place: to get the girls.

So as we ate our picnic lunch we looked in vain for that darn monster. You’d think with all the media coverage, the thing would pop out every so often. Although we were not lucky enough to see Nessie, we did notice that no one was water-skiing, tubing, swimming or engaging in any water sports of any kind. Obviously, after the first few people go missing each summer, only the foolhardy would enter the water unprotected. It would drive the monster crazy all those tasty morsels zooming around. Kind of like a cheeseburger floating in the air around your head all the time.

Our first Scottish meal was at the Castle Tavern, a cutesy typically pub-like place. Tom had the Haggis, neeps and tatties. I had the Cullen skink. The kids both enjoyed an Irn Bru. Sound perfectly foreign, eh? We all LOVED it. Haggis is what most people describe to each other when trying to gross the other out. It was fabulous. It may be cooked in a sheep’s stomach but we all thought it tasted great. Neeps are mashed turnips which go surprisingly well with Haggis, and tatties are mashed potatoes. Cullen skink is actually a Haddock chowder. As I love clam chowder, the skink was marvelous. Irn Bru, pronounced Iron Brew, is their version of cream soda. It isn’t as sweet, though, and I think it tastes better. It is bright orange looking pop. We may have to import it.


Mynnette said...

Holly-crying is good- you are genetically predispositioned to weep and feel the tug of Scotland. Gma Sheller's family; BAIRDS, in the north central part of the country, also Farnsworths, Lomas.Love that you ALL are eating local food. Can't wiat for each bolg to come up. Thanks. Mynnette