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Travels with the Prince

4 days in Scotland

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 21 October 2010 | Views [735]

Ice cream tastes as good in the Scottish Highlands as anywhere else in the world!

Ice cream tastes as good in the Scottish Highlands as anywhere else in the world!

It was a whistle stop visit.

Neither John, nor I had been to Scotland before so we decided to take advantage of a few days in between our organised home exchanges and get the feel of this land of Robert the Bruce.

After two days in the hustle and bustle of London (and a 100 POUND parking fine), Scotland sounded remote. Which suited us just fine.

A train trip was enticing… but we had a nifty little car so why not drive?  My younger daughter Kate asked on the phone from Australia: “You’re driving to Scotland from London - in a day? Are you crazy??"

And even though we spent a night in Leicester with friends, it was a long drive. It rained most of the way…and we realized we were, or are, a bit crazy.

Some UK residents would not drive to Scotland for their annual holidays.

We stopped in a little town called Pontefract for lunch. It’s the liquorice capital of Yorkshire. We found a tearoom - everything came with chips and baked beans, (sadly, no liquorice) but at least it was warm inside. We were dressed in warm coats and boots - this was July in Yorkshire. Perhaps summer was last week. After lunch we searched for an internet café but no such thing existed in this part of Yorkshire - free internet at the library was the only option. At least it was warm inside...

Tapping away on a public computer, I tuned into the conversations coming from a gaggle of elderly ladies who had settled into some armchairs nearby. One of them picked up a leaflet offering free internet for library users.

“Oi’m so sick of hearin’ aboot this internet stooff” she said. "Yer turrn on the telly and tis internet this and wee-fee that. It’s all yer heer. A load of roobish if you ask me.” Sorry if that doesn’t capture the Yorkshire accent – but you get the picture.

Well, that put us in our place – internet rules our life, pretty much. It determines where we stay while we are travelling, and we are pretty good at sniffing out any wi-fi on offer in any town between Perth, Australia, Perth Scotland and Perth Canada.

We packed up our brolly and laptops and jumped back in the car – our destination was a town called Aberfeldy in Perthshire Scotland. It’s not too far from Edinburgh, has plenty of accommodation, castles, walks, and solitude if you want it. And it has high speed internet.

In the process of launching our very own home exchange website called THE TRAVELLING  PRINCE HOME ECHANGE - internet access is very important to us.

In Aberfeldy, I found a lovely bookshop/coffee shop/homewares shop called The Watermill, - inside lay all sorts of treasures. Our anniversary was the following day, so I purchased some gifts for John. A beautifully illustrated coffee table book about the Perthshire countryside (the fact that it weighed a ton and we would have to carry it half way around the world temporarily escaped my mind), impulsively added a CD of Scottish music (there were at least 3 good tracks, we discovered later) plus a pocket guide to the wild flowers of the UK countryside. Now we could identify all the weeds along the side of the road as we bumped along the country lanes, the tune of “DONALD, PULL UP YER TROOSERS” causing the sheep to stop munching and stare up from the usually peaceful meadows. The Skye Boat Song was one of our favourites. It was much more melodious and better suited to the atmosphere of Scotland.

As anyone who knows Scotland will tell you, 4 days is not enough to scratch even the heather-clad surface. We visited Blair Castle, and chose the self guided tour. The present Earl resides in South Africa more or less permanently and spends the odd week or two in his castle when grand earl duties call. The castle was a friendly place, with a lived in feel despite his absence. We particularly enjoyed the dressing up box in the ball room, where we donned kilts and assorted gear from yesteryear and danced around the ball room in style. Luckily it was deserted, as our impromptu tango would have appeared pretty unusual, dressed as we were in a kilts, top hats and sneakers.

In the evening, after dining off a sword holding some delicious Angus rump, we watched a traditional Scottish dancing performance, accompanied by the local pipe-band - in the very same castle ballroom where we had tangoed in the afternoon.

Read more about the Blair Atholl and Pitlochry Pipe Band - in 2009 they were the supporting act for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Yes, it's true - read for yourself.

The hairs on our arms stood to attention as the pipes and drums reverberated around the flagstones, staghorns and ancestral portraits, and drifted out into the misty night air of lochs, dales and crannogs.

Och, Scotland - you are a bonny place.

Tags: australia, canada, holidays, home exchange, london, perth, scotland, summer, united kingdom

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