Whisk-y Me Away to Tolquhon!

It's been a really busy week with guests in and guests out. We celebrated St. Patrick's day in good style on Wednesday, drinking our fair share of lager (no green beer here, I'm afraid). Though there are a couple Irish bars in town, we spent our time out at a local watering hole with some of Mike's co-workers, which made for a good crowd. There weren't tons of people celebrating like we're used to at home, the Scots Aberdeen didn't seem to be too big on the Irish holiday. Imagine that.

My cousin Leah arrived at the rail station on Saturday and we picked her up then immediately headed down a country road out of town to the Glendronach distillery. It is one of the few currently open (everything re-opens for the summer on April 1) and since it was pretty quiet, we ended up with a private tour of our own. The tasty whisky is made at a small distillery, but it's picturesque and nestled in the Speyside area, where Scotland's malt whisky trail resides. It was started in 1826 and closed down a few years ago but reopened under new ownership (The BenRiach Distillery Company) in 2008. We even saw the cutest baby lambs in the adjoining pasture... adorable!

When we got back to Aberdeen, we headed to Soul for dinner and out for a few pints afterward, calling it a night somewhere around.... well, let's just say we did finally call it a night. Next on the agenda was a trip out to Tolquhon castle (the 'q' is silent, pronounced Tol-hon), which turned out to be a welcome surprise. It was so beautiful and was more than just a pile of ruins, there were plenty of still-standing walls, spiral staircases and baking ovens to keep us occupied. Built in a span of six years, the castle was created in 1584 under the direction of William Forbes, seventh Lord of Tolquhon. There were no major battles at this castle, the reason for its well-preserved architecture and its peacefule existence in the hilly green Highlands. We saw triplet gunloops in the gatehouse facade; Preston's Tower, which dates back to 1420 and was the initial residence for Forbes and his wife, but was replaced by the enlarged castle in 1584; the original castle well; and an old brewhouse. Though the cloudy skies seemed to threaten rain, it was actually the perfect weather for a day of outdoor sightseeing and the overcast made for some gorgeous pictures. There were birds happily singing around us at the castle, and for awhile we were the only ones there. Sigh.

Just two miles away, we visited the Tolquhon tomb in Tarves Kirkyard, where William Forbes was laid to rest in 1596. There were so many elaborate headstones and we walked around the perimeter of the cemetery, somberly reading a glimpse into people's past through their engravings and inscriptions. There was even one for a schoolmaster of 21 years in Tarves who was buried in 1864. How different that town must have looked then. Seeing all this history really makes me wish for a glimpse into what it was truly like, and I realize yet again just how far we've all come.

We drove back to Aberdeen just in time to meet Terri and Ryan at our flat and I made a huge spaghetti supper with all the trimmings, while we watched Old School. Yup, the one with Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn. My cousin had never seen it!

Leah will be hanging out in Aberdeen until Wednesday, so we're looking forward to spending a little more time with her before she goes. Mike and I are also looking into a road trip to the western isles of Scotland next weekend. I've finally cracked open my Fodor's guide to Scotland (we have for Europe too) and it's coming in pretty handy. After that it's a weekend at the spa for me and some golf for Mike, then a weekend in London (our tickets to Love Never Dies arrived this week!!!), then a weekend at the Granite City Rally, then a weekend with Mike's parents, then....

1 comment:

  1. Sounds awesome!!! Squeeze every good experience out of this year abroad! I always love to see the pics from your adventures.....and hear as many details as possible. Many of us are enjoying our 'travels' with you in this way!!


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