“Journey to the Highlands”

by ESP on July 13, 2013 · 7 comments


No trip to Scotland would be complete without visiting a few castles, curried chips, haggis, scotch, bagpipes, sticky toffee pudding and stunning scenery. Lucky for me I was going to have all of these – we were on a train bound for the highlands of Scotland to attend the 2013 European Pipe Band Championships.



The train was a great way to view the ever-changing scenery,


as we hugged the east coast of Scotland travelling north.


5 hours, three trains and a rather large quantity of tea and Walkers shortbread later, our train rolled into the small town of Forres on the shores of the Moray Firth, about 25 miles east of Inverness.


We hopped a cab and in no time we were pulling up to the Knockomie Hotel http://www.knockomie.co.uk/history-g.asp on the outskirts of the town.


The grounds of the hotel were a bonus with mature perimeter conifers and lots of foxgloves,



sages and laces and

Aruncus dioicus

stands of Goats Beard,

Aruncus dioicus



There were lots of flowering storybook pathways to run down


and lots of stinging nettles to avoid.


Not familiar with the plant she knelt on a patch – where is a Docken leaf when you need one?

After this incident she always found, picked and carried some leaves with here in her pocket or bag.


Dinner that evening (great food) was accompanied by this young drum major marching and spinning her mace, practicing for the competition tomorrow.


After resting up, it was breakfast and straight out to Grant Park.


They found what they wanted,

Grant_Park, Forres

and so did I.


Here are the current Grade 1 World Champions (Field Marshal Montgomery) from Ireland practicing in the bus park.

They added another European title with this exceptional performance.

Grant_Park, ForresThe day culminated with the massed bands and awards ceremony and

one or two trips to the beer tent.

Grant_Park, Forres


Till the next time Forres.


Another box of Walkers shortbread later and we were back in the borders


visiting castles,




and the occasional lighthouse.

This one in Southerness is the second oldest lighthouse in Scotland. As usual the wind here was howling.

Moving Along:

To catch the bus into local towns we had a 15min walk out of Powfoot to the main road, unfortunately for us, this involved walking past a rather random yet extensive pile of excrement.



Spending many years on farms this odor does not personally bother me, but for some with more sensitive dispositions it was much more challenging.


Walking past the offensive hillock made him continuously gag, his face contorted into a “are you serious?” grimace.

I could not bring myself to turn around for fear of laughing at him. This shot was snapped over my shoulder to the small sounds of his retching and the occasional “its hurting my eyes!”



“character building stuff, these strolls to the bus stop, right kids?”

comment was met with silence.


Getting to ride in the front of the bus with no seat belts was a very liberating experience for them and made the nasal onslaught worthwhile.

We visited remote beaches,


with tidal rock pools,


full of life,



and devoured some of the creamiest ice cream on the planet.


Naturally her collection grew and grew.


A fair amount of these artifacts ended up in zip-lock bags in our luggage winging their way back to Texas.

We had a final meal in our local and then it was time to say a really sad “Ach mun I got tae gaan” to Scotland,


and much loved Grandparents.


Her first in-flight duty-free shopping experience lifted her mood.


She was totally thrown that you could actually shop up there!


18 hours later, and now adorning expressions akin to this,


we finally made it back to Texas.

Tired but craving spicy food there was only one place for our fix…



Stay Tuned for:

“Trouble with the old Strobilus”



All material © 2013 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

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1 Donna Pringle July 14, 2013 at 12:31 am

Looks like you had a blast Phil, if I’d known you were here I’d have come to say hello! Raincheck? Xxx

We did Donna, it was nice to be in cooler temperatures for a few weeks, although I hear you have been having a heat wave since we left!

2 Pam/Digging July 14, 2013 at 8:16 am

It looks like a great trip, Philip. Chilly out there, but that’s a good thing at this time of year, right? We always mark a return to Austin with a trip to Chuy’s as well. Good ole Tex-Mex.

3 ESP July 14, 2013 at 8:42 am

Cannot beat that Chuy’s salsa :-)
It was a fun trip Pam, looks like you have been having some of the same. I look forward to reading more about the SF fling.

4 gail July 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I’m laughing so hard. At the end of the band segment, I hear Miss P say, “Mom, can I have 50 pounds?” Shopping as a sport, yes?

5 Desert Dweller / David C. July 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Suddenly, my day seems really pale and drab in comparison, except Chuy’s…we can easily out-Chuy Chuy’s :-) Thanks for sharing your great trip! How funny – the Scottish band “Frightened Rabbit” just started playing.

6 ESP July 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Hi David.

It is a pale and drab day in Austin today, not that I am complaining or anything. It appears I have taken (and left) Texas weather in Scotland and brought back some fine and wet Scottish weather to Austin!


7 Heather/xericstyle July 31, 2013 at 9:19 pm

thanks for a great tour …i really loved seeing your pictures. sooooo…….did your kids get to try a flaky

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