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SCOTLAND 22-30/3 1997  DIARY 1 



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 I have been home for 14 days in a row, and have begun to feel bored. Fortunately, Jesper has found a good deal: Scotland by car. Morten is easy to lour along.

22/2 1997. Morten, Jesper and the undersigned lands in Aberdeen, get our Vaxhall Vectra and drive through the first roundabouts. Morten and Jesper are driving, I come up with harsh remarks, pointed tips and unpleasant exclamations from the back seat. The first set of roundabouts, right outside the airport is three connected, like a father frost. O0o. Considering it is the first time we drive in the left side, we cope well (well, most Jesper at the wheel).

99.9% of all Scottish houses are built of granite, they have 1-2 meters thick walls and the style has not changed in the last 2-500 years. All of the city's road shoulders are covered by crocuses or daffodils in billions. Very beautiful and it is neat and tidy everywhere. You automatically think of an environmentally-correct country until you find in a photo shop that in Scotland you just throw mercury batteries in the trash. Where is the European Union when to finally need it?

We head into Aberdeen city centre, loot a tourist office, and find a pub where we make plans for the first afternoon. We start in the botanical garden which has Europe's largest greenhouse. Nice collection of plants.
Then we drive out of Aberdeen to the northwest, ending in Huntly. We find a Bed & Breakfast (BB), go to town and eat (anything but beef). After learning that hate doc is hate doc (and still don't know what it is), we get trifle. To date, it is the best dessert I have ever tasted.

We return home to get over the trifle and examine the tourist material. We have photos, sights lists and 4-5 maps. In spite of the fact that our interests are rather coincidental, it takes a long time to put together a combined list and roadmap. We have certain criteria for castles: They must be by / in the water, they must be well preserved, beautiful and have a historical significance. (At a later B&B, we find the biggest, most beautiful, historic and most well-preserved: A photo of Kronborg on a cake box! - and yes, it is Danish).
We soon discover Scotland will only open 1/4, due to Easter, but find alternative targets. Scotland is also closed on Sundays, so tomorrow we just have to go fishing.

23. After a classic English breakfast table (serials, toast, bacon, sausages, fried eggs, tomato, beans and - no thanks - kippers), we head south to get to the hotel that sells fishing permits. Find it eventually, but they only have 2 fishing spots and there is a lot of obstacles. We get the name and address of a place that has multiple spots. Drive around town, and finally we finding the place: Our own BB! Experience now that even the fishing grounds have closed on Sundays! There is "Put & Take", but it is nature calling.

Cruise around a bit, down to Ballater, and find a river that does not require fishing permits - or at least have no signs. Catching nothing, but now we have tried. Cruise more, see plenty of sheep on pasture or beet fields. It is teeming with rabbits, even on the road. Stops at a few castle ruins, including Corgarff Castle. The landscape consists of large hills.
Returns to Huntly and the nice old lady, eats in town, goes to the pub and returns to the room to finish off tomorrow's program.

24. After a hearty and varied breakfast, we head north. The first stop of the day is a falcon park. Here we encounter, for the first time, the horrible entrance prices we never really get used to (£ 2-5.50). About 50 falcons, owls and eagles sit in their own small dog house, on a small stick at a height of 30 centimetres. There is a show in an hour, but we have the raincoats on for the first (and only) time, and have seen a falcon fly before. In the fields, there are plenty of cheeps, and as we drive through the puddles they say "Chip & Chap!"

Continue west, where we find the Glenfiddish distillery in Dufftown. Starts the tour of the truck that unloads the sprouted grain. It is ground, fermented for 3-4 days, rinsed with warm water 3 times, fermented for 4-5 days in giant 6-8 meter high open barrels, distilled 3 times, stored in oak barrels (10% recycled Madeira barrels for sweetness and colour) for 5-15 years, and poured on bottles. We get a taste and visit the shop. Most places we come there are gift shops, even in a church.

Now we head through the beautiful giant hills to Spryside, which has one of Scotland's last barrel workshops. It's called Spryside Cooperage (derived from Latin: Barrel Maker). They get the barrels from all the distilleries, USA (they get 6 more boards so volume fits) and Madeira. Everything is happening at a frantic pace and they are not on the chord.
Next stop is Elgin cashmier weaving, the wool comes from China and is incredibly soft and fine. Many things in the gift shop, but sure steep prices!
Then we get to Fort George, still used by the military. Huge complex, several museums with cold-bagpipes-war-exchange-medals-sables-rifles-things.
South on, down Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle, just about to close. Stop by a few places to enjoy the view of the lake, and maybe catch a glimpse of Nessie. The day ends in Inverness.

25. After the massive morning meal, it head north to Moniach, where there is a wine and jam factory. The marmalade is made by Magrith, who stands in something similar to an old-fashioned kitchen. It all looks a little messy and decrepit, but it's also out of season.
Passing Donrubin Castle on the way to Wick, where we will visit a glass-making factory. impressive large and new building holds a flashy business, and some totally primitive workshops, where 50 "schoolchildren" breathe, grind, colour and pack glass.

After being on the northernmost point of Scotland: John O 'Groates, we head west to Bettyhill, where we see a small museum in a closed church. It is mostly about the terrible migration of 1802-12, where Lord Sutherland replaced the residents of the area with sheep. This gives us the explanation for the huge amount of stone fences that are everywhere, in the otherwise inhospitable landscape.

He had 1.5 million archers, more than anyone else in the entire British Empire! When Queen Victoria visited him, she is told to have said: "I have left my house to visit you in your castle!".
In Durness we see the Smoo Cave, which is impressive. Darkness is creeping up, and on our way down to Ullapool we see many deer on the roadside.
          The story goes on in
Diary 2

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