We had a simple, early supper because Sabrina and Simon had to leave at daybreak the next day to catch a ferry to Orkney … or was it Shetland? I can barely keep track of my own life, much less others’.
Lynn and Richard and I were in the kitchen at 7:00 to see them off. We waited, glancing at the clock every few minutes.
“I told them they need to leave by 8:00 at the latest,” Lynn said. Lynn is one of the most maternal people I know. I think she learned from her mother, who from all accounts was a real “mom’s mom.”
Simon emerged. “She’s still sleeping,” he said helplessly.
“I wanted to make you a proper breakfast before you leave,” Lynn declared from the stove, where she was frying sausages and eggs and mushrooms and bacon. Simon sat down and started eating for two.
It was close to 8:00 when Sabrina came down, and demurred about eating. “I’ll be fine,” she said.
“Is that a Minnesota ‘I’ll be fine?’” I asked, “Meaning ‘I’m starving”’”
“No, no, I really will be fine without breakfast. We can stop somewhere for lunch.”
“There aren’t many places to stop,” said Lynn, as she handed them each a bag lunch and bottle of water, “So I made lunches for you.”
“Wow!” said Sabrina, “Thanks so much! You didn’t have to do this!” I wondered if the lunches included smoked Haddock sandwiches.
The three of us caught up on work and other projects that day, then Richard dashed off to pick up the next pair of house guests from the train station and also some fish and chips for dinner.
Michael and Gwen were old work colleagues of Lynn and Richard’s from British Telecom. They would stay for a week, long enough to attend the summer party. They had come all the way from Rye, in the south, which they described as even more picturesque than Eton. I have a standing invitation to visit Rye, which I must bear in mind. Apparently The Mermaid is the pubbiest pub in all of Britain.
The next morning all of us except Lynn piled into a Land Rover and made a tour of the Glenfarclas distillery. Glenfarclas is the only distillery that is still family owned. It was founded by the Grant family in 1836 and the adjacent Speyside cooperage—or barrel making factory—opened in 1947.
We had coffee in the café while we waited for the tour to begin, and then nosed around in the extensive gift shop, where I bought a plaid coin purse.
Our tour guide was an extremely serious guy from New Zealand who seemed completely unaware of how dishy he was. He taught us what separates the rye from the chaff.
The copper distilling vats are works of art.
Although I am not a whisky drinker, I appreciate the heavenly aroma that arises from fermenting vats.
This wall mural provided a run-down on barrel sizes, in case you’ve ever wondered.
Coopers undergo a 4-year apprenticeship. They’re paid by the piece.
This guy holds the world record for assembling a barrel in 3-some minutes. It’s hard, repetitive physical labor.
We walked through the warehouse where the whiskey is aged. A small amount of spirits, called the angels’ share, evaporates each year. There’s a charming Scottish movie called The Angel’s Share. Watch it with subtitles.
The paneling in the tasting room was salvaged from an ocean liner that sank. Hmm … I seem to have taken a lot of photos of our guide.
And then there was another gift shop! Yes, $14,500 for a bottle of whiskey. Priced well beyond my palette.
I bought a small water pitcher which I managed to leave behind at Dunrovin, and a small bottle of the stuff for my cousin.
We had worked up an appetite so we went to a local pub for lunch where the special was a nouveau cuisine-style layered tower of haggis, creamed tatties (mashed potatoes), and creamed neeps (turnips). We all ordered it, and it was fantastic. Lest you think I don’t like haddock, I also ordered the Cullen Skink, just to test how good it was compared to the skink at The Bank.