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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Snowdrops at Leoch (Starz)

Just a wee photo of Starz's film-set for Leoch from an angle you might not have seen.  We took the images while on our walk yesterday - the castle is just down the road from us.

Friday, 20 February 2015

What the Hell is Fish Tea?

Followers will know of our penchant for Fish and Chips, well, here we give you, the savvy traveller, the correct patois for your visit to Scotland for ordering the right thing in the Chippy without looking like a dunderheid  (translation: person of low IQ).

The picture above is of our lunch today.  We made a special research trip to our local chippy for this blog post, so appreciate it!

The Fish Supper

When you go into a takeaway chip shop, you can ask for the following options:
"a fush supper" translation: a battered fish (usually cod or haddock) with a portion of chips.
"a special fush supper" : a breaded haddock and a portion of chips.
"a single fush" : the battered haddock or cod, without any chips.  Expect to be given a crispy yellow battered sea beast the size of a juvenile shark.

After placing your order you will stand around awkwardly as nothing will seem to be happening.  Do not fret.  Your fish will be getting cooked.  This is the time when you turn to other customers (usually leaning awkwardly against the tiled walls or up against the front glass of the deep-fat frier despite the sign "Warning! Hot! Do not lean on the frier") and you will nod knowingly at them, and they at you.  You will mention the temperature of the weather outside (measurable by how close the customers are standing to the lethally hot frier).  You can talk about "fitbaa" or "footy", that being the national sport of soccer, but be careful to keep your comments about any given teams neutral until you ascertain whether your conversant is for or against said team and thus your new friend or your sworn enemy.

Now back to the fish, which will be cooked by now.  This will be announced by the person behind the frier shouting "Specialfushsupperandasinglefush", or whatever you have ordered (you do remember what you ordered, don't you? If you appear unsure if this is your order or the man's next you, you will be considered "Glaicket" - person of slow mental faculty).  Make your way to the till.

You will hear the following, asked of you by the girl at the till who will wrap your dinner.
"Ye waan sawl nn vineguh wi' that?" translation: Would you care for salt and vingear to be splashed liberally over your fish and chips?
The correct answer is "aye".
You may at this point request optional extras:
"gote ony broon sauce / gote ony ketchup?"  these being popular vinegar based condiments, or  "gonny gie us a pickult egg wi' 'at", this being a hard boiled egg, steeped in a jar of vinegar for about a year.

You pay, she wraps your purchase in newspaper, you leave, you eat.

All of the above would be used in a take-away situation.  If you choose to "sit in", then the vocabulary changes and you must use the following phrases or look like a numpty (translation: a person of low IQ).

Fish Tea

Sit in fish and chips is a more grand affair.  This is for middle class people or working class people on holiday at the seaside with the weans (children) who want to splash out, look respectable and have a dining experience that they can tell their neighbours about when they get home - "Ye should ha' seen the fush we had in Saltcoats! Ach it was rare!"

When your table is approached by the serving girl, she will ask you
"D'ye know whit yer wantin'?" translation : I'll take your order now please.
The correct answer is 
"I'll have a fush tea, please, love."

A Fish Tea is a battered haddock or cod, chips, served on a plate, a pot of tea and a side plate of buttered bread (so you can make a "chip butty", that is, a chip sandwich.)
There may be no pronounced Ts in the middle of the word butter - "buh-hur" - depending on your dialectical region.  Don't be confused by this - it' not butter anyway - it's margarine.

The tea will be regular black tea of a blend associated with the region: PG Tips, Breakfast Tea, Builder's Tea.  So do not expect or ask for decaf tea, lemon and orange zinger, jojoba and walnut or any other "gurrly tea" as your server will scowl, ask "whit?" and behind your back call you an "Eejit!"  (translation: a person of low IQ).

If you are in a middle class area, there will be salad with your Fush Tea.  The salad will be a handful of shredded Iceberg lettuce on the edge of your plate, soused with a brown "dressing" mostly made from malt vinegar (there's the vinegar again).

Again, you can request some optional condiments, indeed they may already be supplied in half-gallon-sized plastic squeezable bottles on your table, those being Brown Sauce, Ketchup (aka Red Sauce) or Tartare Sauce (a white vinegar based sauce with green bits in it, from undetermined source).

Pour your tea after it has "steeped", that is, brewed.  Butter your bread (with margarine), put chips onto half the slice of bread, "clap it shut", that is, fold it to form a rudimentary sandwich, and you are ready to enjoy your Fush Tea.

This blog was inspired by a music video we came across the other day.  It's from Lancashire in the North West of England, but the sentiments are the same.  Listen and watch The Lancashire Hotpots with their song Chippy Tea.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Snowdrops at Lallybroch

We were on a wee reconnaissance trip today for our Starz Outlander 1 day Extension.   Guess where.  We went to visit the owners of the castle and talk about our coming visits.
The Snowdrops are in full bloom at this time of year in Scotland and Lallybroch has more than an even share.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Introducing Scotland - The Kelpies

As the winter deepens, it is time for y'all to study up on some Scotland trivia. 
What's the picture above?  Don't know?  Well most Scots do, so here's the video to 'splain it all.  It's part of our Introducing Scotland series, covering things and places that visitors might not know about this fine country.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

What is Celtic Spirituality?

What is Celtic Spirituality?

Well there's a question that opens a leather bag of spiraling worms.
This tour that we are running is for our friend Mara Freeman who is a writer about and teacher of Celtic Spirituality, so the focus is on that aspect of Scottish Culture

Christianity came from the Middle East to Ireland very early, almost before Christ, you might say.  It bypassed the other European countries and flourished in the Emerald Isle a few hundred years before the rest of Britain.  This happened because there was a pre-existing connection between the Rabbis and the Irish Druids.  They liked to swap esoteric knowledge.

The upshot of this is that one of the many Christian sects, post Jesus, was Irish Christianity.  To the modern mind, it was somewhat pagan in its ideas, more about poverty and aestheticism, more about the flock, respectful of nature.

Fast forward to 664 AD and the church in Rome was fast becoming the dominant Christian sect (there were still others).  In Britain, the light of Christ shone from Iona, on the west coast of Scotland (and from where I write this blog tonight).  Ionan Christianity was Celtic, brought there by Collum Cille (AKA Saint Columba) from Ireland the previous century.

The Synod of Whitby in 664 was a ruling on who the Saxon king of Britain would follow - Rome or Iona.  He chose Rome, thus the sect later known as Catholic became the dominant one is Britain too.

The focus of this tour of Mara's is to visit Christian and pre-Christian sites that still show evidence of this early sect and its druidical and neo-lithic antecedents.  There are many in Scotland, especially on the west coast.  Along the way we share readings and spiritual practices that draw from the sites.

Pic above: There be stone circles here.  Arran, courtesy of our youngest guest, Miley, age 13.

Pic: looking down in contemplation from the heights of Dunadd, once a capital city of a Christian Irish colony and still the finest view in Argyll.

We have 16 guests with us, many with much learning and skill in this field.  This night we have arrived at the unco chancy place of Iona, where time has a liquid quality, sometimes turning in eddies; other times running backwards while forwards; sometimes it stands still and at others it rages through you disrupting all.  That's Iona for you.  No wonder they built their abbey here.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Mara's Celtic Spirit Journeys August

Mystical Scotland tour 2014.  We are privileged to be guiding this tour for a second year.  We have a grand bunch of 16 on a pilgrimage from Edinburgh to the Outer Isles. Today, day 2, we are on the Island of Arran and have visited the great standing stones on the moor of Machrie.  Pick below not of the stones, but taken from the stones looking up to Goat Fell where the stones mark the rising of the summer solstice sun.

Some words from three of our guests.

Thoughts by Sally (grandmother) and Miley (granddaughter):
The celtic  journey of a life time today was remarkable we very much enjoyed the dances and the humor between the people in our lovely group. Our favorite part of today was feeling the energy in the celtic standing stones,through that experience we learn much more through history. We are enjoying every second of our journey through the days. We are very happy to be on this celtic journey.

Thoughts by Sheila:  to my family and friends greetings from this beautiful island of Arran, such a magical spot.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Jamie and Claire 2015 tour dates announced!

Sin sibh a luchdh leanntan!  See youze, Diana Gabaldon Fans!  I have just posted the tour dates for 2015 for the Jamie and Claire tour.

The true "Colum MacKenzie" with our May crowd.

We're still having fun with this year, and our new optional "extensions", but I am already getting requests for 2015.
So, they're up on  for your delectation and the old "can I, can't I?" decision.  Maybe this is your year...

What's NOT there just yet are:
~ the optional extensions that were such fun this year.  I'm still working on those.  I'll put them up soon.
~  The Romantic Borders tour, which we have just come back from.  Quote from a guest:  "I had no idea the Borders would be so exciting!"   There will be the tour date posted soon AND a "What's it like?" video, once we've had a chance to edit it up.
~ Also not posted yet is the Dragonfly In Amber tour.  I'll get to that when I can as well.
~  Furtherly (not a word!) not posted is the Western Isles tour, which for the third year we will be offering in conjunction with Mara Freeman, noted Celtic spirituality author and teacher.  You can find details at Celtic Spirit

Now, I must just get back to other more pressing matters, like the impending tour in August and Sept.  Busy, busy....

By the way, have you seen the first few videos in the "Introducing Scotland" series that we have made?  It's a side-interest thing where we showcase some things about Scotland that you probably didn't know about.  
You'll find them on my MacKenzie Adventures Youtube channel  and I bet you'll find them interesting

Enjoy the summer, Outlandish People, and the websites.
Muchos regardos,
(Now where did I put that stack of booking forms...?)