Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Holiday in the Highlands - Part 1 (Dog Kennels, McDonald's, and the Drive)

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.
-Robert Burns-
My Heart's in the Highlands.

So we had a terrific journey ahead of us... and we had no idea how terrific, but first, I had to drive the puppies to the kennel. We took them to Cairnview Boarding Kennels and Cattery. I'm not going to lie, I missed them.
How could I not miss two creatures that are this cute? (Thanks Randi for the picture.) They did really well. The owner said they were very relaxed. It cost us £96 total for the two dogs' boarding for 4 nights. It was about a 45 minute drive from Aberdeen even though it was only 28 miles! It reminded me a little of Houston, except the drive was prettier. The place is a little difficult to find. It's about 2 miles before you get to Laurencekirk. When you get to that point you should see a large, blue, tin building on the right (going South). At that point, slow down and turn left down the road just past the three houses that are across the duel carriageway from that blue building (seriously, these directions saved me after 30 minutes of not being able to find it.. SATNAV you suck... You too Google). I turned onto several dirt roads including one that ended behind a barn. (*sighs*)

When I finally got home, we loaded the car and were ready for our holiday, but we were hungry. McDonald's here we come. This was our first fast-food chain stop since we've moved to Scotland. I had a sudden moment of panic as I tried to figure out the drive-through in my mind. I like to picture things as a way of planning. 'It must wrap around the building in the opposite direction of the US...' When we got there, we decided to just park. What did I learn at McDonald's in Scotland?
  • The menu has different stuff on it.
  • They don't have numbers for the meals so you can't say that you want a "number one."
  • The paper containers for ketchup are really small...smaller than in the US. For somebody like Steve, that meant about 2.5 dunks emptied the container. I filled up 7 little containers. Steve started to eat his fries with all 7 in front of him. "I know you are going to share those." hehe
  • BBQ sauce is NOT BBQ sauce
  • The food tastes the same.
What can I say? Yep, still yummy... except the "BBQ" sauce.

We made the entire drive in the dark (I drove... I like to drive, and Steve doesn't. It works.). We had to go through so many round-o-bouts. The GPS kept saying, "Stay on A96 for 2 miles." Then, after a round-o-bout, "Stay on A96 for 3/4 of a mile." Then, "Stay on A96 for 5 miles."

"Sweet!! 5 miles without a round-o-bout? We might hit 70 mph this time..."

It went on like that for a while. It was so dark that we really couldn't see much around us. There's not a lot of light out there. After a while, my ears started popping. I told Steve, "We must be getting higher in altitude."

"Yep, I can see the reflection of snow on tops of mountains."

Eventually, we came across a sign that said, "Caution. One-track road."

"Are we going the right way?"
"He (GPS voice) says we are..."

Steve and I are pretty "go-with-it" types. We just assume that we'll figure something out if things don't go as planned. Now, driving on one-track roads in the dark with occasional snow, up and down and around sharp curves is a little stressful. I kept having to take deep breaths to remind myself to (A) breathe and (B) relax my shoulders and my grip on the steering wheel. Hey, I'm still new to driving on the left. Occasionally we'd come across another vehicle (maybe 2 cars in 30 miles.. hehe). On those one-track roads you have to pass at a passing place, so one of you may have to reverse the car... in the dark...possibly on a cliff if you don't happen across each other at the passing point.

Once I saw a slender thing that looked like a post by the road, but something wasn't right. I looked a little longer (with glances of course because I was driving) and realized that it looked like a meerkat standing up staring across the road. Yep, it bent down and crawled away from the road as we drove near it. Steve said that maybe it was a cat, but I told him it had a long body and was standing up. Not like a cat. I found out later that it was a pine marten! Look how cute it is:

Photo from:
 Anyway, after twists and bends, a couple of wrong turns, and a steep ascent up a rock driveway, we entered the realm of the Ardoch Bothy bolt-hole. It was perfect. The fire was roaring in the fireplace. The floors were heated throughout. We relaxed with a couple of beers and a game of Scrabble before bed. The bed was so comfortable.

This is from the next day. Steve kept the fire going each night. :o)

The next morning, I was amazed when I opened the shutters to see this:

Yes, it was cloudy, but it was still breathtaking. By noon, the clouds cleared completely, and we had an amazing day ahead of us.

Flashback is over for today. More tomorrow. Today I picked up two very excited dogs, and had our dryer inspected. The belt is broken so the dryer isn't working. I've been hanging everything on heated towel racks, door knobs and furniture near radiators, and on the banisters!

Later this afternoon, I went with a group of great ladies to The Marcliffe Hotel for afternoon tea to celebrate Pam's birthday. We sat on cozy couches by a fire. The tea was good. The sandwiches were de-crusted, cut into 4 squares, and served on a tiered platter. Then came the deserts! Oh yeah... super yummy. Afternoon tea for 7 there was about £120. That's not too bad, and it was really fun.


  1. I'd love to read more fresh episodes on this series. Love the way you write and explain things. You keep us engage, full marks ;D

    1. Thank you for the compliments. My friend, Randi, says that I write the way that I talk, and so she imagines everything in my voice while she is reading. :o)


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