Day 4 of the Highlands

M and I decided it was our turn to do something together, so we decided to go to Inverness.  We needed to go grocery shopping and I needed to get some presents for the kids and grandkids. We also hit the charity shops.  We had a great time exploring the town.  I had been there many times before but it is always nice to go back.

We left our men on their own, a little scary but we needed some quiet time.  They were sitting at the dining table when we left.  When we got back they were still there.  I think the only thing that they did was Fred showed David around the sound studio. I think the rest of the time they were just looking things up online.

 

M and I had wonderful day together.  We came home and the boys were still at the table. Believe it or not they were still talking.

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Day 3 in the Highlands

I told M that I wanted to take David to see the sock tree.  I had driven past it many times but never stopped to check it out.  Off we went again with our piece of paper with places to go. Clootie Well is not far from Fred and M’s house, so we started there.

The Clootie Well is a rather weird remnant of an ancient tradition once commonly found in Scotland and Ireland, of holy wells to which pilgrims would come and make offerings, usually in the hope of having an illness cured. The tradition dates far back into pre-Christian times, to the practice of leaving votive offerings to the local spirits or gods in wells and springs. With the arrival of Christianity, the practice was simply adapted to the new circumstances.

The holy well at Munlochy is said to date back to – and probably beyond – the time of St Boniface or Curitan, who worked as a missionary in Scotland in about AD620. Pilgrims would come, perform a ceremony that involved circling the well sunwise three times before splashing some of its water on the ground and making a prayer. They would then tie a piece of cloth or “cloot” that had been in contact with the ill person to a nearby tree.

As the cloot rotted away the illness would go away as was believed back then.  They even would leave their children there over night in hopes of making them well.  Not sure if that worked or not because I think it would have scared them more than anything else.  It is a very eerie place.

Today people leave pieces of clothing but they are made from man-made material and don’t rot away. David said the  whole place smelled of mildew from all the damp clothing. This isn’t great for the environment but people still believe that it might work, so they leave all kinds of articles of clothing.

David and I tied a couple of Fred’s socks to a limb. I wonder if that means Fred will get double healing, since we tied his sock there.  I hope he can be fixed but I doubt that there is anything that can cure him of crazy.

https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/munlochy/clootiewell/index.html

 

Our next stop which will be a big surprise to everyone was Black Isle Brewery.  We were given a tour by one of the brewers, Sandy.

This is from their site

Welcome to Black Isle. We are the UK’s premier organic brewery, making world-class beers from the finest organic malt and hops grown on farms without chemicals, just as nature intended.
We have our own organic farm where we grow malting barley for brewing and even have our own brewery house cow, who eats the malt from the brewery mash tun and gives us 20 pints of fresh, creamy milk every day.
Based near Inverness, this is our beautiful, unspoiled, unpolluted, wild, and more than a little bit wet highland home – and we love it!

It was a great place.  Well worth a visit. They have won several awards for their beers.

https://www.blackislebrewery.com/

 

Fred got to talking to the girl that waited on us and she mentioned she had written a couple of books.  Fred got into telling her about his film studio he was starting.  We finally managed to pull him away so we could go on our next adventure. One of the lighthouses on Moray Firth.

The dolphins were out but were not playing so I didn’t get any pictures of them.  It was a nice day, so I did get some nice photos.

The last stop of the day was at Clava Cairns. There is not a whole lot known about the cairns except that they are believed to be around 4000 years old.  It is believed that they were used for burial.  I just always thought it was a peaceful place but the day we went there were several tours there.  I guess it is now a tourist attraction.  I just thought of it as a cool park in the country.

There are a lot of stones circles and cairns all over Scotland.  Many people have them on their land.  They just don’t say anything about them because they want to be left alone.

Well the boys did pretty good on this day because we were out of the car a lot.  They tried to make up for it when the got back in the car by talking even more.

We headed back home after the cairns where Fred cooked yet another good meal.

 

Day 2 in Scotland

Armed with a piece of paper that M wrote down all the places she had planned for us to go see today we headed out.

First stop was Glen Ord distillery where we planned to go on a tour but the next one was a tasting one which was 18 quid.  We thought that a little pricey, we just went through the museum which was just our price, FREE.

Glen Ord is a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands and is the only remaining single malt scotch whisky distillery on the Black Isle. Its principal product is an eponymous 12-year-old single malt whisky. The distillery won awards for the best single malt at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 1994 and 1996

The distillery is off the A832 at Muir of Ord, 15 miles west of Inverness.

https://www.malts.com/en-gb/distilleries/glen-ord/

Our next stop was Rogie Falls.  I really enjoyed the nice, easy walk to the falls.  We walked across the suspension bridge.  There was a couple with a small dog, who was scared to death on the bridge.  The poor dog just laid there shaking. I thought the bridge was way cool.

I read that you can see the salmon leaping up the falls in August and September.  Just like at home in Alaska. The falls flows from slopes of Ben Wyvis. The falls are really worth seeing if you are in the area.

https://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/visit/rogie-falls

Here I also discovered that the men stopped talking as much when they are walking and enjoying the nature. I hope M plans more trips with a little walking in nature, so I can get some peace.

Next stop was Ullapool where you can get the best fish and chips. Ullapool is a small, quaint fishing village which has many things going for it; like hillwalking, nature, and beautiful views.  You can also take the ferry to Stornoway.

http://www.ullapool.com/

Seaforth Bar & Restaurant is the place to go for fish and chips.  Don’t go into the fancy bar and restaurant just go to the chippy that is on one side of it.  They are always busy, but the make the fish fresh and it is wonderful.  There is nothing like chips from a chippy shop. The chippy has won all kinds of awards.  Sit at the picnic tables outside and enjoy the sea air.

https://www.theseaforth.com/

After stuffing ourselves on the great fish and chips we started off to Achmelvich beach.  Now is time for taking pictures out of a moving car.  Fred did actually stop once for a photo op.

Achmelvich Beach is a stunning, white sandy beach with a popular caravan and camping spot nearby. A popular spot with water skiers, windsurfers and kayakers, Achmelvich is a bustling beach during the summer months. Dogs are not permitted on the beach during the peak tourist season and neither of the camping and caravan sites allow dogs. The unique morphology of the area, means there are many nearby walks and climbs, including the famous Suilven, for those interested in hiking. The beach is popular with fishers with cod, haddock, whiting, pollack, saithe and mackerel being common catches.

The sand reminded me of where we I grew up on Padre Island in Texas.  I just love the sea and beach. I think they are so peaceful.  We went early enough in the season that there was not many people there which was really nice.

We did make one more stop on our way back to the Byre. We stopped at Ardvreck Castle and Calda House.

Ardvreck Castle was built by the Macleod Clan in the fifteenth century on a promontory of land that juts into Loch Assynt. It witnessed regular local clan warfare throughout its history but it became infamous for its role in national events in 1650 when James Graham, Marquis of Montrose was betrayed there and handed over to his Covenanter enemies.

http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/highland/ardvreck_castle.html

Calda House
The second MacKenzie of Assynt , Kenneth, was persuaded by his wife to abandon the austerity and discomfort of Ardvrek in favor a new house at nearby Calda. Begun in 1726 it was the first classical style house in the northwest highlands and at that time would have been very grand indeed.

Amid mounting debts the luxury loving Mackenzies were forced to put their grand house up for sale and a struggle for control of Assynt now ensued between the MacKenzie Earl of Seaforth and the Earl of Sutherland. In 1736 some MacKenzie supporters deliberately torched Calda House to prevent it ever being used by the Sutherlands!

 

Now it was getting late, so it was a fast trip back to the Byre.  M says she has to stay home for the business and Sam, the great dane, but I believe it is because she wants peace and quiet.  David and Fred have not stopped talking since the have met.  Good thing I raised 5 kids because I can tune them out.

 

Flat Ole Hippies Do England

This nice couple, Cindy and David, are so much fun.  They take us everywhere with them. We went to The Four Thieves and had a beer with them.

We got to ride the underground.  It was a really big train.

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We went to Swiss Cottage where we had a beer and fish and chips.  We hung out by the taps and our friends David and Gary.

 

We got to go to Chester on a train.  It was a lot of fun. To our surprise our new friends found yet another brewery pub called Brewery & Kitchen.  We had a nice beer there with a good head.

Then back on the train to go to Bebington which we were told was on the Wirral.  We were really tired and kind of slept through those few days.  We did get up to ride the ferry to Liverpool.

We got to go to The Cavern but I didn’t see the Beatles.

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Back on the train we went to head back to London.  We were told we were flying to Scotland next.

 

 

Liverpool

We had a few hours before we caught our train back to London, so we went to explore Liverpool.  I wanted to take David to The Cavern. On our way we found this group busking, playing music in the street or another public place for voluntary donations. They were really good and David got to talking to them.  They will be making a CD soon and are sending one to David to play on his radio show.

 

I then managed to find the Cavern with the help of the band.  This is not the original cavern but they used a lot of the bricks from the old one.  It is still pretty cool.  We went in and had a beer.

 

When you leave the cavern and walk to the corner you will find the Beatles Hotel.

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There is tons more to see in Liverpool, but we had limited time.  We then headed to the train station to get our train back to London.

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After a few hours we were back in London and back at Gary’s flat.  I then had to pack for our trip to Scotland the next day.

 

The Royal Iris Ferry

No trip is complete without a trip across the Mersey River on the ferry, as “Ferry on the Mersey” plays on the speakers.

This Royal Iris is not the famous one because it is decaying in the Thames River.

The MV Royal Iris sits in a dilapidated state whilst moored on the south side of the River Thames near to the Thames Barrier.To use the royal on a boat, pubs, hotels and any other thing you can thing of can only be used if there has been someone royal in or on the place.  The Royal Iris had hosted the Queen and Prince Phillip on Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

The Queen and Prince Philip aboard the Royal Iris on the Mersey in 1977.

So I think the new one just stole the royal from the original ferry because it was previously the Mountwood.  I feel that this is like stealing some war heroes medals because Iris was awarded the Royal.

Enough of my ranting and back to our ride across the Mersey River.  Before catching the ferry we went and looked at the World War I submarine and some old buoys. I got some photos of Liverpool from Birkenhead.

 

We then went and got our tickets.  We walked down the walkway which I think is so cool because it goes up and down with the tide.  The tide was out when we went because the walkway was going downward.  Got some great shots of Liverpool while crossing the Mersey.

 

If you every get to visit Liverpool or the Wirral it is well worth the ride.  They also have special cruises that are always fun.

The Wirral

I wanted David to see the little village I lived in and meet my very close friends Anna and William Stead, so off we went to Bebington.DSC_0288

After they picked us up at Bebington train station we headed to their house for a nice drink.

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The boys went to William’s allotment and got some fresh strawberries.  After the drinks we moved to some beer.

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We had a wonderful meal and then off to bed.

The next day we were going to show David the Wirral.  I wanted to show him Port Sunlight. In 1887, Lever Brothers began looking for a new site on which to expand its soap-making business, which was at that time based in Warrington. The company bought 56 acres (23 ha) of flat unused marshy land in Cheshire, south of the River Mersey. It was large enough to allow space for expansion, and had a prime location between the river and a railway line. The site became Port Sunlight, where William Lever built his works and a model village to house his employees. William Lever personally supervised planning the village, and employed nearly thirty different architects. Between 1899 and 1914, 800 houses were built to house a population of 3,500. The garden village had allotments and public buildings including the Lady Lever Art Gallery, a cottage hospital, schools, a concert hall, open air swimming pool, church, and a temperance hotel. Lever introduced welfare schemes, and provided for the education and entertainment of his workforce, encouraging recreation and organizations which promoted art, literature, science or music. It was raining, this was not a surprise because we were in England, while we were there.  We stopped for a little bit but then moved on and planned to come back which we didn’t do.

Not sure why the posts there had crocheted covers. I guess it was to protect you in case you fall after a pint.

 

Then was the whirlwind trip around the Wirral.
Wirral (/ˈwɪrəl/), also known as The Wirral, is a peninsula in northwest England. It is bounded to the west by the River Dee, forming a boundary with Wales, to the east by the River Mersey, and to the north by the Irish Sea.
The roughly rectangular peninsula is about 15 miles (24 km) long and 7 miles (11 km) wide. Historically, Wirral was wholly within Cheshire; in the Domesday Book, its border with the rest of the county was placed at “two arrow falls from Chester city walls.” However, since the passing of the Local Government Act 1972, only the southern third has been in Cheshire, with the rest in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in the modern county of Merseyside.

 

We ate lunch at Remember When. It was a very nice tea room and food was good.

 

We headed back to Anna and William’s house.  We walked to the allotment where we pulled weeds and picked currents.

 

When we returned Anna made us a wonderful meal.  David got to eat pheasant for the first time.  We then had an ice cream that Anna topped with the strawberries and currents that we had picked.  We had a nice couple of bottles of wine and had some good laughs.  Anna told us how when she was at the university they had to stand with different sandwich boards to make money.  She actually still had one.

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The next day we had to leave our dear friends to head back to London.  I am so glad that they had a few days to spend with us because they have been running around like a chicken with its head chopped off and its wings flapping. They have been going to Wales, Ansty and Bebington trying to take care of 3 houses.  Luckily, they just got the one in Wales sold.  Now all the work will begin on their one in Antsy which is an old thatched roof house. Thanks again Anna and William for showing us a good time.

 

 

 

Chester

Chester is one of my favorite cities with its city walls, roman remains, medieval buildings and Victorian restorations.  Chester was originally a Roman fort on the River Dee and close to Wales. I could not wait to show the town to David.

We got to Euston station to catch the train to Chester .  We were actually heading to the Wirral where I had lived before with my late husband.  I wanted to introduce David to my dear friends  Anna and William Stead, who we were staying with.

We grabbed some breakfast before we left in the train station where we were joined by a pigeon.

 

We arrived in Chester ready to go do the tourist thing, but wait there was a brewery near by.  Off we went to find it hoping that it was there.  I had in my hand the address and directions.  We headed out and were not sure what we were on because the United Kingdom likes to hide the street signs on the buildings if there even is one.  David saw a taxi stand and headed over there to get directions.  When he came out he said throw those directions away because they are totally wrong.  The Brewhouse & Kitchen was just around the corner.

The Brewhouse & Kitchen is a bit different from your traditional pub. They  brew their own, unique craft beers on-site in there brew-tiful microbrewery! As well as matching every dish on their menu to a style of beer they also love cooking with beer, be sure to keep an eye out for recipes that make use of the beers they brew.  We had a nice meal there also.

 

 

I guess the brewery was more important than the tour of Chester.  We checked the time and noticed we had only a short time before we had to catch the train to Bebington.  We walked a little ways down main street to check out Chester.

 

 

We walked across the Dee to the railway station to catch Mersey Rail to Bebington.

 

The Search for Breweries

I wanted to go visit my friend, Ian Mcinnes, in Hampstead.  I once again did a search for breweries and Gary, David and I set off.  We took the underground at Earl’s Court to King’s Cross where we walked to Euston.  I picked up my tickets for our trip to Chester the next day.

 

 

 

 

After our visit we were off on the search for the greatest beer.  We used our Oyster card to hop on a couple of buses.  We got off and started down the road.  We then noticed that the numbers were getting smaller, then turning around we started back up the road.  We found the address just where we had gotten off the bus.  As we all stood there looking dumbfounded at the empty building, we wondered if there was another building 100.  We had now gone completely around the building looking for a brewery.  Gary saw a security guard in the building, so he knocked, asking is this 100 and told yes.  Is there a brewery here?  No, this building is empty and has been closed for many years.

Ok no big deal we have another one to find.  We  got directions, so off we went.  We found the address with no problem.  Only problem was it is now Tesco Express.  Once again Gary went in to see what he could find out.  No one knew anything, until a gentleman came out and told us that the brewery has been gone for many years.

Once again it was rush hours, so we decided to go to the Ye Old Swiss Cottage to eat dinner.  We walked in and David noticed all the taps were Samuel Smith beers.  I guess I should mention that the one thing he wanted to do while we were here was going to Samuel Smith brewery which is in Tadcaster.  I tried to get us there but it was just going to be a pain, so we decided to skip it. David was in heaven.

The Swiss Tavern was built in 1804 in the style of a Swiss chalet on the site of a former toll gate keeper’s cottage, and later renamed Swiss Inn and in the early 20th century Swiss Cottage.

Swiss Cottage is a district of the London Borough of Camden in England. It is part of Hampstead and is centered on the junction of Avenue Road and Finchley Road, at the tripoint of the postcodes of Hampstead NW3, Kilburn/West Hampstead NW6 and St Johns Wood NW8. Swiss Cottage is 3.25 miles (5.23 km) north-northwest of Charing Cross. It is the location of Swiss Cottage tube station.