March 3rd, 2020: All Things Scotland

The Author at a Scottish Country Dance Ball, All Things Scotland
The Author Showing Poor Form at Scottish Country Dancing

Before I get into All Things Scotland (and Scottish), I have a promise to keep from yesterday’s post.  Last night I made the Recipe of the Day, or Ground Beef Enchiladas, for supper.  I promised a review and here it is. 

Seriously, the hardest part of making this recipe was adding in the yogurt.  Rather it was hard cleaning out the measuring cup and not leaving any yogurt behind.  The rest of the recipe is easy-peasy.  Brown the ground beef with chopped green onions (and jalapeño, which I skipped).  Mix the yogurt, the condensed soup and the cheese.  Put some of the meat mixture, then some of the cheese/yogurt mixture on a tortilla. Roll the filled tortilla up and put it in the pan.  Repeat for the next five tortillas.  Cover the rolled tortillas with the remaining cheese/yogurt mix.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Dish out and enjoy.  And enjoy it we did.  This is a recipe we will be making again and again.

Now, On to Scotland–The Guest Site of the Day

When I started putting together today’s posts, I found a fascinating article about driving the North Coast 500, a 516 mile drive around the northern end of Scotland.  The article’s author, Emma John, credits Prince Charles for helping to establish this scenic byway, but I could find no other instance of His Royal Highness getting any credit.  Whoever came up with the idea of stringing together 516 miles of sometimes one-lane road so that tourists can visit the far north of Scotland, it was a great idea.  And Ms. John’s write up is well worth reading.  I personally have driven much of the road on my first adult multi-day road trip, not accompanying my parents.

Scotland in 1971

 June, 1971, found me in a chartered Boeing 707 flying from Oakland, California to London’s Stansted Airport.  A high school friend, stationed in East Anglia with the U.S. Air Force, picked me up and took me to his home.  The next day, somewhat over my jet lag, I took the train into London where I stayed one night before picking up my rental car, a new Ford Cortina.  A bit less jet lagged than earlier, I drove north from London, headed to Edinburgh and All Things Scotland.  Within 60 miles, I had passed two major road accidents, and could not figure out how to operate such non-essentials as windshield wipers, turn signals, high/low beams, etc.  Remember, I was driving on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD–at least by my standards.  

Having stopped in Wick to read the car’s owner’s manual, I continued north through Cambridge, Nottingham, Newcastle Upon Tyne, and finally, after sleeping in the car, crossed into Scotland.  There’s much I could say about that trip, and maybe at another time I shall, but for now, we’re talking just about the road trip.  I spent three days in Edinburgh, falling in love with the city, then headed north through Perth to Inverness, stopping at Culloden Battlefield, site of the last, disastrous battle between the Highland Scots and the English.  My Scottish forebears left Scotland long before the 1746 Battle, but looking around the historic site, I felt the presence of so many slain Scotsmen.  It’s a feeling I have experienced at the Big Hole Battlefield here in Montana, and a few other places.

Driving Around Scotland With Jeff

On the map above, our northbound route is marked with carets (^).  The southbound route is marked with a v.  East and west should be self-explanatory.

In Edinburgh, I stayed at the Y.  Another young American was also staying there, and he was hitchhiking north. I had a car; we were headed in the same direction; why not take him along?

As it turned out, he was going to visit a High School friend living in the Loch Ness village of Drumnadrochit.  (Say that name five times fast.)  When we arrived, his friend’s English husband asked where I was staying.  I replied that I’d get a room at the local hotel, and he told me “Not at this hour, you won’t.”  It was barely 6 p.m.  He offered to let me stay at their home, with my new friend Jeff, his High School friend–our host’s wife, their young Scottish nanny, and their three-day old baby.  I’ve never, before or since, been around a child that young.

A Day Trip Round Northern Scotland

I wanted to see as much of Scotland as I could. Jeff, for whatever reasons of his own, chose to come with me. We left early the next morning and headed north to Ullapool.  Ullapool is supposed to have palm trees, thanks to the Gulf Stream.  I didn’t see any.  What I did see were street signs in Gaelic, the first such signs I had seen in Scotland.

We continued north from Ullapool, driving on one-lane roads through Kylesku to Durness where the road turned eastward toward Thurso.  We did not take the side trip to Cape Wrath, the northwestern corner of Scotland.  At Thurso, we turned south toward Lybster and the North Sea.  We thus missed the intriguingly named John O’Groats.  At Dornoch we stopped for supper, a delicious meal of fish and chips.  Surprisingly, the fish was trout, not something like cod or haddock.  

Triumph Spitfire 1500
Triumph Spitfire 1500

No, we didn’t have a Triumph Spitfire for our drive around Scotland, but it sure would have been fun.  I’m including it because, after all, it is a British car.

Midnight Sun at Urquhart Castle

Arriving back at Drumnadrochit around eleven, we stopped at the local pub to pick up our hosts’ nanny.  The three of us, Jeff, Nanny and me, headed on to Urquhart Castle, Drumnadrochit’s most famous “home.”  The castle is a national treasure, and as such has regular hours.  It closes on a June evening at 8 p.m.  We arrived closer to midnight.  The gates were shut, but the fence was easy to climb.  For roughly three hours we sat on the shores of Loch Ness, our backs to the castle’s stone, and watched for Nessy.  We were young, foolish, and had wine and cheese to pass around.  It was a great evening, until, around 2:30, the sun finally set and immediately rose again.  That’s when I looked at my watch.

Heading South Again Across Scotland

After two nights in Drumnadrochit, Jeff and I needed to head back to London. We’d had a fantastic long day trip around the north, but we had places to go.  Driving west along Loch Ness, we passed through Fort William, turned south to Glen Coe, site of another internecine battle.  We stopped at Loch Lomond, which wasn’t as bonny as I’d imagined.  Driving through Glasgow without stopping, we stopped for supper in Kilmarnock and got a BandB in Mauchlin.  Our BandB hosts acknowledged that we had seen more of Scotland than they, real live Scottish people, had ever seen.  The next morning, after a hearty Scottish farm breakfast, we got back in the Cortina and drove south across Ayrshire to the English border, Stratford on Avon, and eventually London.

Video of the Day

I was reminded of my own road trip by watching today’s Video of the Day, Driving to the Highlands.  My trip ran in the opposite direction, but we saw many of the same sights.  Fortunately, the weather Jeff and I enjoyed was beautiful.  Not the typical Scottish rain.

In putting together today’s posts, I chose to include a British car, a Triumph Spitfire 1500 similar to one I myself own. The recipe of the day is also Scottish, a cabbage-potato-rutabaga mash called Rumbledethumps.  Don’t know if I’ll make that tonight, but when I do, I will post a review.

Photo of the Day

Today’s Photo is only peripherally all things Scotland.  The Glasgow referenced in the photo’s caption is Glasgow, Montana.  Glasgow is the seat of Valley County and the largest town in northeastern Montana.  The town takes its name from the larger and more famous Glasgow, Scotland.  The High School teams are the Scotties, and the marching band wears kilts.  If that’s not all about Scotland, I don’t know what is.

Montana Highway 24 crossing Valley County
The Road to Glasgow

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