Most will know that the vast majority of European cars are much smaller than the ones driven on the highways and byways of North America. There are several reasons for that of course. Fuel is expensive, so a smaller car burns less. The roads in some places are quite narrow and a small car helps navigate those journeys in a safer manner.
Most of our travels up until yesterday in the highlands and on Skye have been on normal dual carriageways and therefore you could be driving a tank and still have plenty of room to manoeuvre. That abruptly stopped yesterday. Trying to fit our Ford Focus between the gravel shoulders has been akin to watching me trying to fit more than one leg into a pair of 32” waiste jeans.
But miracles do happen and so far so good. Being attentive is key to survival. If a semi-truck fully laden with Cod is set for south when you are set for north on a road just a little narrower than the width of a Focus, then terror ensues. When I say terror I mean that phenomenon of fight or flight. That truck (lorry) is coming no matter what. What do you do? The clock is ticking. Do you break with force and reverse with vigor? Do you pull off to the left and hope that the peaty bog does not swallow you up and hold you hostage? Do you play chicken and hope not to become the latest in a plethora of hood ornaments on the massive Volvo truck speeding towards you?
Ten times out of ten I go with slam on the breaks and reverse trying not to deficate whilst screaming in terror. No, those are not tears you see. Tears or a show of emotion would be for big babies not experienced emergency vehicle operators such as myself. Suffice to say the only thing keeping me from my hotel bed and the fetal position is the liquid courage that comes in the form of a smokey golden viscous liquid produced from the purest of waters in the coldest of air.
Over the last couple of days we have had the immense pleasure to make stops along our way at two of Scotland’s finest Scotch Distilleries. Yesterday was Dalwhinnie and today on Skye we took in Talisker. Dalwhinnie has the distinct geographic notoriety as Scotland’s highest and coldest distillery. On both accounts it did not disappoint. Several layers of clothing along with woollen accoutrements were required to brave the tour. Regardless of the conditions the tour was wonderful and we both learned a lot about the distilling process.
Deanna is not one who has enjoyed the spoils of a wee dram before, so the tasting experience after the tour was timely and thoroughly enjoyed by both of us. There was absolutely no pressure to buy as we concluded but that did not put us off and a bottle of the 15 year old and two complimentary glasses went into the shopping bag.
We continued along the highway to Skye from the Highlands through the Cairngorms National Park. Our next stop was for an obligatory photo op at Eilean Donan Castle. I have seen hundreds of photos of this place in the past and it was just spectacular in person. We spent half hour just gazing across the bridge at its buttresses and ramparts. I am so glad the rain was on a tea break.
Next stop the Skye Bridge and Portree. I would suggest that if there were to be a “capital” of Skye this is it. Nothing major just a decent sized coop grocery store and a ton of souvenir shops and rudimentary pubs. Now, I am not suggesting that if one was to be hiding from a life of crime down in the big smoke that you have found the right place to disappear. Or that this type of Hebridean remoteness would cause a fellow to over consume Talisker or local ale, but I imagine that the significant police station just next door to the affor-mentioned pubs is for keeping the local sheep herders, lobster fisherman and English escapees in check.
Last night found us dining in Uig at what I would consider the most remote gourmet restaurant in the world. From the second we peaked through the door at opening to the moment we pushed back from our whisky infused Creme’ Brûlée was a gastronomic experience of epic proportion and not to be soon or possibly ever forgotten.
There are 60 local gins and we chose one from the Isle of Harris (Tweed) for our aperitifs. Great choice and made even better with a twist of grapefruit. We retired to our lodge and fell fast asleep in anticipation of tomorrow and Storr, Portree and a visit to the tiny village of Talisker and their pride of place distillery. We have this process down to a bit of an art now and as such the tasting was lovely and another small purchase was required prior to departure.
We made our way back into town for the COOP and picked up a few things for a picnic dinner in the room. As I sit here rambling I am almost driven to distraction from the winds outside pounding our windows from the west and the Irish Sea.
I am sure that you are sick and tired of this nonsense by now so I will provide you with some sorely earned respite from my rubbishy stories. Tomorrow finds us heading southeast to Edinburgh and the hopes that we arrive in time to find a pub that does not hate the English so much that we can watch their team take on Ireland in 6 Nations Rugby action at 2:45 pm.
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