We have just spent almost three weeks touring Scotland and for practically all the time had no internet access so I am going to try to remember the important bits to share with you.
Onslow does amateur dramatics and had a show every night (The Merry Widow) the week before we left and was very tired by the end of it. Consequently we arose early on Sunday morning and I drove the 496 miles from home to Aviemore in three stages. We stopped at Charnock Richard for fuel and then on to Westmoreland (Tebay) for brunch. I have previously always been really impressed with the food at Tebay but was quite disappointed this time. The sausages were as delicious as ever but the rest of the food was distinctly so so and on a par with all the rest of the motorway places. We stopped for a cup of tea at Perth and then got to Aviemore for around 1530 - a good run up, but Sunday on the M6 is not as bad as the rest of the week.
We had been invited by an old army friend to join him and another old friend at a time share he has at the Macdonald Dalfaber Golf and Country Club and it was absolutely superb. I love cooking and eating so I volunteered myself to do all the cooking for the week and I have to say that the kitchen was incredibly well equipped - much better than mine at home. I pottered happily all week making home style food and although Onslow is used to the standard of the food I produce the other two were very grateful. They are both divorced and tend to fend for themselves and eat alone most of the time. They both commented how lovely it was to sit around a table chatting and having another cup of coffee at breakfast and then lingering over the cheese in the evening.
The evening menus were as follows:
Sunday - a Cottage Pie brought from home with cabbage and carrots followed by raspberries and cream and a cheese board.
Monday - trout with new potatoes and a King John Salad (crispy lettuce with shards of bacon and blue cheese - eaten at the King John at Tollard Royal when we lived in Blandford Forum back in the early 80's and a real favourite ever since). Pudding was a warm apple pie with a streusel topping and vanilla ice cream and then the cheese came out again.
Tuesday I made a full roast pork dinner with crackling, apple sauce, roast parsnips and potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and green beans and cabbage. Pudding was a lemon meringue pie (a special request) with cream and ice cream and no-one had room for cheese.
Wednesday I made a meat and potato pie with pickled red cabbage and beetroot and then a big bowl of caramel oranges with Greek yoghurt. We had a bit of space for cheese that day.
Thursday brought on chicken breasts stuffed with Boursin cheese and wrapped in bacon with a mixed salad and new potatoes followed by bananas fried in butter and sugar with rum poured over and evaporated slightly served with cream and ice cream. We managed the cheese again.
Friday night we had haggis with neeps and tatties served with a whisky gravy and the bananas were demanded again.
Breakfast every day for the blokes was bacon and egg with fried up leftover potatoes and vegetables or grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and I was perfectly happy with yoghurt and fruit followed by toast.
I had baked a large fruit cake at home before we went and a slab of that or leftover pudding from the night before passed with a cup of tea for lunch.
I have to say that the Macdonald timeshare was most luxurious, Since the other two chaps were alone our friend gave Onslow and I the master suite which had a seven foot wide bed and a bathroom bigger than my sitting room. The others had a bedroom each and shared a bathroom which had a sauna on the side. We had a massive sitting dining room with a conservatory which overlooked the River Spey and also a little balcony at the side of that - both properly furnished with comfortable stuff. The kitchen cupboards had table settings for eight people with three sizes of plate, two sizes of bowl, cups and saucers as well as mugs and all the cutlery you could need including fish knives and forks.
We had access to the country club which had a nice pool and I was there at 0800 for my morning swim, the showers had dispensers for shampoo and conditioner as well as body wash and the changing room had body lotion and hairdryers, towels were picked up at reception and discarded in a large bin on the way out. There were never more than four people in the pool when I was there.
We had a couple of really nice days out from Aviemore. The first was to Cairngorm, we went up to the restaurant on the funicular railway and although it was possible to walk up the last bit it was quite misty so we elected not to bother since there was no view and went for a hot chocolate in the restaurant instead. And what a hot chocolate, thick and creamy with a handful of tiny marshmallows topped with whipped cream. I have no idea of the cost because one of the chaps insisted on paying for it but it was absolutely delicious. The other long day out was at the Scottish Folk Museum at Newtonmore which was absolutely fabulous. A nice sunny day and lots of wandering around outside seeing how people lived through the ages. We were very lucky because the day we were there was the last day of a visiting chap who goes up there for two weeks every year. He is a cordwainer by hobby and absolutely barking - a real enthusiast and dressed completely in fifteenth century clothing, all the leather stuff made by himself. We had a snack in the cafe there and I had some delicious chicken noodle soup - no-one makes soups as good as the Scots.
I think that is enough for now but I will regale you with the rest of the holiday over the next day day or two.