The trend of welcoming visitors (versions 1 and 2) into our home during our second year in Scotland continued last week with a surprise visit from my Mom! Well it wasn't a total surprise, but it was planned about two weeks before she came. We had so much fun!
We got to do a lot of sightseeing that James and I haven't done yet.
Here we are at the William Wallace monument in Stirling, where the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge took place. You might remember this battle being depicted in the movie Braveheart, but in the somewhat inaccurate portrayal, they fail to mention the bridge which was key in the Scot's defeat of the English.
There was a substantial uphill hike to get to the monument. Here's the view from the parking lot.
A statue of Sir Wallace
And a somewhat difficult to see view of the Monument. We were standing at Stirling Castle across town.
Showing our support of the World Series champions (that happened to be the day that they would clinch the title)
Whiskey is extremely popular in Scotland (for all my fellow non-whiskey drinkers, Scottish whiskey is referred to as Scotch in America). There are over a hundred distilleries in Scotland which is impressive considering the area of Scotland is slightly less than the state of South Carolina. The Glenmorangie distillery is in a town next to Dornoch and we decided to go on a tour.
These are the stills where the distillation process happens.
Here are some of the casks where the whiskey sits for at least TEN YEARS to mature, sometimes longer.
They have a 14 warehouses full of casks like these. Our tour ended with a little tasting of some of their best whiskey; I still don't like it.
One day my mom and I drove to the West Coast of Scotland, the scenery is different from the east coast. We wanted to go to a local pottery shop and eat at a pie shop that we've heard people rave about (the pies are absolutely delicious. well worth the 1.5 hour drive. if you visit us we will do everything we can to take you there so you also can enjoy the wonderful pies)
We drove by these ruins when my parents visited after Christmas and were able to walk over to them; as you can see we couldn't do that this time, the water was super high and blocked the path. This picture can help to give you a bit of an understanding of how the weather changes so drastically at a moments notice in Scotland. You can see a bit of blue sky in the foreground, grey clouds in the background, lots of raining coming out of some clouds in the middle of the photo, and snow on the mountain peak. the famous phrase here is, "don't like the weather? wait five minutes."
Lochinver: home of the pie shop. I had a venison and cranberry pie for my meal and a peach and apricot for dessert. Mom had potato, leek, and something else for dinner, and strawberry and rhubarb for dessert. We took James a Steak and Guinness pie as well as an apple pie. yum.
The coolest part about the pottery shop were the sculptures they made out of extra or broken pottery.
The roads we were driving on were single carriageway (one lane) with passing places (tiny areas to pull over on) when you meet a car coming from the other direction.
Sometimes the road looked like it should've just been a walking path. Other times the sheep let us know that we were imposing on their land and they have the right of way.
The locals were kind enough to warn us of such a problem
The drive along the coast was breathtaking
We came to a tow truck in the process of removing a caravan(motor home)from being stuck in the middle of the road. Since the driver said it would take at least an hour and there was no way to go around, we figured we should turn around and go back the way we came. Kinda out of the way, but that's how it goes on these roads.
Another day we took a trip north up the east coast to a town called Helmsdale and went to a museum called Timespan. It was insanely windy.
We ate at a popular restaurant in Helmsdale: La Mirage. They had some of the tackiest decorations I've ever seen. Including this lamp that looks like the one in A Christmas Story. But the fish and chips were really tasty!
Another day we took a trip to the Black Isle, which isn't an island but a peninsula located about 30 minutes south of Dornoch. We saw a few funny sights there. (You can't buy Aunt Jemima's pancake syrup in Scotland, but maybe this is where the name came from?)
This has got to be the smallest Post Office in operation
Personally, I prefer to do my bathing indoors.
No trip to Dornoch is complete without a visit to Shin Falls. (Richmonders: For a funny story about the name of this place, find one of the team members from Stony Point who came for the Holiday Bible Club during Easter) In the spring you can see tons of salmon leaping up the falls, but typically not in the winter, but mom spotted one!
So that's it, a sampling of what we did when my mom was visiting. It was awesome having you here mom, thanks for coming!