From rural Netherley near Stonehaven on the east coast of Scotland, where we stayed at Schonwald B & B with our vivacious hostess, Christine, who makes her own yogurt and granola (truly a woman after my own heart), we drove up to Aberdeen. (That’s a Pictish name, by the way, but more about Picts later.)
In Aberdeen, we met Bose, Amy’s sister-in-law. She’d come for her graduation from the University of Aberdeen on Friday. It was lovely to meet her, and I wish we had been able to spend more time with her. While we waited for her to arrive, we went to the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens on the university campus in Old Aberdeen. It was a lovely way to pass the time, and some of Amy’s flower pictures will be over on the other blog at http://www.gardenforestfield.com. She does such a good job with her phone camera.
We ended up going to Inverness by way of Cairngorms National Park, and there was still snow on the mountains. I have given up trying to take pictures from a moving car, and once Amy gets that car moving, she doesn’t like to stop unless something like ice cream is involved. However, we did make a couple of stops, once so I could take pictures of a river (which one I have yet to work out because we were nowhere near where I thought we were when I took the picures), and once because we saw a sign that said “Pictish Stones.” Amy whipped that Renault off the highway and on to a lane so fast it’s no wonder my neck is sore.
We both have become fascinated with the Picts and have learned that they didn’t just disappear, as was once thought, but were assimilated by the Gaels. However, their language survived in place names, most frequently in the prefixes pit- (Pitcairn) which means farm or unit of land, and aber- (Aberdeen) which means the mouth of a river or stream, in this case, the Dee. We learned this at Pictavia yesterday, where we saw a few old stones behind glass and a bunch of replicas. But today, at the Old church at Invararon, we saw four Pictish stones, displayed on the porch of the church, up close and personal, touchable. It was a thrill for us both.
We are staying at a guesthouse in Inverness that’s like a small hotel, quite different from the bed and breakfast places we’ve been staying in, but the room is quite comfortable. We will have to find our own breakfast tomorrow. Amy thinks she’s found a place that has pancakes which is rightbacross from the Joy of Taste, where we had dinner tonight. I had Highland venison fillets on onion polenta with beautifully cooked vegetables (a first, really, since we’ve been here), and a scrumptious vanilla cheesecake with fresh raspberries and raspberry gelee. It was interesting to compare the venison tonight with our venison at home. Ours tastes wilder, which I suppose isn’t surprising since it is not pasture-raised. The Highland venison was very good, although I would probably have cooked it a bit less if I’d cooked it myself. Still, it was tender enough to cut with a butter knife!
Tomorrow, after we visit Culloden Moor and the Clava Cairns, we turn south for Glasgow, and the next morning we fly to Dublin for a couple of days. We are both getting a bit homesick and more than a bit road-weary, but we have seen so many interesting things and met so many wonderful people, I know we will be sad to leave Britain behind.