Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Jamie and Claire Tour returns

DAY 10 - Return of the Natives

We leave the islands today. The ferry will take us to Eilean a'Cheò, Scotland's biggest island, from where we will drive to the mainland. Yesterday Scot bought some Harris tweed socks. It was in a wee 10 x 6 foot shed where Sandra has her workshop – she is one of the many cottage industry crafters here and one of the few that actually makes Harris Tweed bags on the island. She asked with a concerned look on her face “you do know to wash Harris tweed socks?” We misunderstood the question and began replying “yes, wool-wash programme...”
No. She meant that they were actually be washed, just checking. So unfolded the story of the man that bought three pairs from her. Sometime later she got a package in the post thinking that someone had sent her a present. She opened the bag to be greeted by a stench and three pairs of her own knitted socks. There was a note explaining that he had been told he could not wash tweed socks so here they were back again, having been worn extensively but never washed, and he'd like a refund. Some choice words were spoken about the, let's say level of knowledge of life-basics held by this customer. We never got the end of the story as to what she did in response. We'll email her and keep you posted.

This morning was spent in the tweed storehouse, pictured yesterday, trying to make a tweed choice in just two hours before the ferry sails. We were left running for the boat, bags in hand. The Sisters have bought tweed-leather holdall bags to augment their carrying capacity for the journey home. Scot has a new feilieadh beag (looks like a kilt) and I have a bent, warm credit card.

Tonight we dine on the side of Loch Linne.  The mist is about, the place looks fantastic as ever.

DAY 11 - Hiking Hills and visiting Lallybroch
So, back to the mainland and back "on book" to complete the Jamie and Claire Tour Cross, Bones and Island Stones.  The islands have been, of course, Amazing, and we've only done three out of about 800.   As ever, the sisters stayed in good form walking up and down wee mountains and hills - the best way to get yer land legs back!
Mare: "And we found Lallybroch this morning, strolling about the grounds with its gardens, fields and outbuildings including its own chapel. Sweet.."
The mountains and hills around Glencoe are spectacular, lush and green. So many trees in this part of Scotland. Loved that it was a sunny morning after yesterday's all day soaking. [Sam: It's raining in July... Oh, we must be in Scotland!]  Our B&B hostess begged us not to take the sunshine away from Glencoe, but we did anyway.  Scotland has an amazing variety of terrain, weather and scenery. [Sam:  We call it atmosphere].
Sam: Glencoe, for all it's history is still one of my favorite places. Being enveloped in lush green from all sides and making the rest of the world disappear; perhaps its own little Brigadoon.
Care: "Glencoe is a marvel, so very panoramic, I could barely take it all in as much as I would've liked...  Actually, all of Scotland, so very different wherever you go, has been a thrill, especially seeing it with our own special tour guides!"
We drove the length of Skye, stopping for some 'hill walking' aka hiking and discovering new sun bleached bones along the way; perhaps just one more for our collection?  Then on to a famous castle to see how the west was won.

We stopped in at The Storyteller's Cottage (our home). PIC: The Sisters in situ, proving that our house exists and is not in Brigadoon.
Mare: "Ah well...here we are [back] in Edinburgh to see what there is about, and with all the bustling, it should be an entertaining afternoon. Great view from our top floor flat in the middle of town and really fine to know what is behind those nondescript doors along the street. Away from the wind swept Isles now in sunny Edinburgh, happy to not be blown off our very feet.  Uh oh. Sam said I HAD to order Turkish food at this Edinburgh restaurant, so I reluctantly acquiesced and ordered chicken couscous. Of course the lady at the next table had some for me to examine first and of course, it looked pretty good."
Sam: Oy! Through the whole tour we're told about middle eastern and other exotic places the sisters love to eat at back home. So I take them to my favorite Turkish restaurant and Care attempts to order a basic British chicken and bacon wrap.....what!? No, no, no, you may as well order a burger!  New country - new experiences - that's my motto!

DAY 12 - Edinburgh ~ Claire Returns
Edinburgh. Today we walked the closes and haunts of old Edninburgh. In one of those great coincidences that we seem to happen upon quite a lot when on tour, we were stood in Carfax Close, reading the passage about Claire's arrival in search of A. Malcolm and the passage about dodging the “gardez loo!”, when a little old lady came out in cap and pinny and emptied a bucket of slop down the street, running between my feet. Being the 21st century, though, it was just bleach-water, thankfully.  Perfect timing though. It looked like we'd set it up for the Sisters. These things seem to happen a lot on the tour and really add to the authenticity.
We dined in Moubray's Tavern. OK it's been closed for more than a century so we didn't get oyster stew and “take a room” afterwards, but we did dine on the steps of the old tavern.
Mare: "Yes, the last day of the tour has arrived and then after our 3 day extension of Edinburgh on our own when the tour is complete, we will board the Big Blue Bus to the airport, kicking and screaming. Edinburgh is a fitting way to finish up (where we started), and we made the most of our morning.    Ate a different cuisine provided by Scot on the steps of Moubray's Tavern and listening to the appropriate readings from Voyager.  Then to the closes, the World's End, the tea shop in a close complete with a cafe owner swabbing down the pavement. So much to see and it's been wonderful to identify places that could have been the real thing had the book been non-fiction instead of a great story."
Sam: Fiction?! Fye! I'd say those were fighting words!
Mare:  "Thanks, Sam and Scot – it's been great and an experience we'll not forget, ever!"
Our Outlandish Spirits proved to be a joy to be around.  We enjoyed the humor and camaraderie of Marilyn and Carolyn and they will be truly missed.
PIC: our final time together.
 PIC: Scot's favourite tour picture: