The quote above should have been our mantra. Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.
We woke up on Wednesday morning anxious to set off on the more adventurous part of our journey. With a promise from Air France that Telisa’s luggage would arrive by 10 am, we decided to slowly pack and then head downstairs for breakfast at The Scott House.
Just like the day before, we chatted it up with Jemima, thanking her for her hospitality and enjoying a nice homecooked breakfast. As it got closer to ten, we realized, her luggage was nowhere to be found. Air France said the courier service at the Edinburgh airport had it, and the courier service said that Air France had it and everyone was just being rude. They kept telling Telisa that there was nothing they could do about it and that it would be delivered to the address we gave them. Telisa tried to explain that we were leaving Edinburgh that morning and yet, still, there was nothing they could do. Luckily, Jemima said she would hold her luggage until we got back to Edinburgh…. in five days.
Five days without a coat and we were heading to The Highlands. Hoooo boy.
We reluctantly got in the cab and headed to the airport where Hertz Rental was located. Telisa decided to upgrade to an automatic, since driving on the other side of the road, on the other side of the car was hard enough, using her left hand to change gears might push her over the edge.
On the way over, we ended up in a cab with a woman who did not speak English very well. Clearly middle eastern, she wore a hijab and I recognized her accent right away; we tried to give her all of the information she needed to get us there. She got lost.
Yes, the cabbie got lost. She explained in broken English that she had only just arrived in the country and it was one of her first days working. I thought Telisa was going to blow a gasket. It was just too much. I decided to play good cop and tried to explain, in the easiest way possible what we are looking for. She finally stopped the cab, got out, and came around to my side. Telisa was on the phone with Daniele (her husband) and was venting to him. As I was talking to the woman, I realized that she had no idea where we were asking her to take us. I took it upon myself to type in the HERTZ and we finally got there. THEN she said the one thing she shouldn’t have, “No worry, I won’t charge you for us getting lost.” Telisa bolted upright and headed out the door. I used her credit card, paid the lady and grabbed a few pounds out of my pocket and handed it to her. She kept saying, ” No, no! I no accept.” I insisted and said, “It’s okay.” She thanked me profusely with tears in her eyes and drove off. I figured at the rate we were going, some good karma couldn’t hurt. Sometimes… kindness is all a person needs. I had a feeling that lady was going to have some difficult days ahead and maybe, just maybe, she will remember there once was this little American girl that showed her kindness.
You just never know.
So with a full tank of gas, full-coverage insurance, and a car of a brand we had never heard of – we packed it up and decided to head to Stirling.
Telisa tried to get in on the left side and just busted out laughing. Think about it….
That’s the passenger-side. Ha!
So we get situated and then started to take off. I wish I could share the video with you, just go to Tik Tok and look up QueenBeeNicole05. You will see the whole hilarious adventure unfold in video. We nearly get side-swiped, because, well, it was all different and I was a terrible navigator. I am married to a dyslexic and the words left and right mean nothing to him. I have to point and say, this way. Well… I was doing that for Telisa and she was super frustrated. Eek. I corrected my errors and we drove down the highway to the beautiful city of Stirling.
Stirling is a city in central Scotland, 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Glasgow and 37 miles (60 km) north-west of Edinburgh. We got to our next destination fairly quickly. I wanted to eat at this adorable restaurant I found online called the Lion and the Unicorn. It is a traditional family owned country hotel, pub & restaurant situated in Thornhill just outside Stirling. One of the requests Telisa had was for us to go to an old restaurant that had a roaring fire. This place had three log burning fireplaces! The restaurant had been serving food and ale since 1635! That’s crazy. And it was everything!!! One of the best meals to date.
The little town of Thornhill is absolutely adorable. Very quaint, very quiet, and the hills were dotted with sheep.
This is the picture I had in my head when I thought of Scotland.
Once we got situated, I ordered a latte to warm my bones up. We could definitely feel the change in weather and both agreed that it was time to order some comfort food.
As I took a gander at the menu, I could not stop laughing at the toppings for their baked potatoes. Creamed Haggis? Tuna Mayo? Holy Moly. I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore. I’d be lying if I started getting a little nervous about heading into the Highlands. I thought to myself, “Uh-oh. This might have the feel of Appalachians.”
Then the main courses appeared and all was right again. Telisa opted for the Roast Rib Eye of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Red Wine Gravy and I went for the Homemade hand-cut local farm assured steak pie topped with puff pastry lid.
This was the first time in two months I had eaten beef. I only took a few bites, just to savor the taste, and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.
We both savored this comfort food and discussed what we needed to do to remedy the luggage situation – 4 days later.
Telisa ended up finding a courier service that would pick up her luggage from the Scott House and deliver it to the farm in Inverness (our next stop.) It was going to cost her over $400. But she coughed it up.
As we were wrapping up our lunch, we realized there was something amazing on the menu that neither of us had ever tried. Apparently, sticky toffee pudding is a thing in the UK. So….
I took one bite. And it was the best bite of my life. Telisa, and I quote, said this was one of the top ten things she has ever put in her mouth.
That’s what she said. 😉
We hopped in the car after our awesome pit stop and regrouped. Off to Stirling proper where the William Wallace monument was located and Stirling Castle.
If you don’t know, William Wallace (c. 1270 – 23 August 1305) was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence. Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297. He was appointed Guardian of Scotland and served until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298. In August 1305, Wallace was captured in Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians.
Since his death, Wallace has obtained an iconic status far beyond his homeland. He is the protagonist of Blind Harry’s 15th-century epic poem The Wallace and the subject of literary works by Jane Porter and Sir Walter Scott, and of the Academy Award-winning film Braveheart. I had to get that iconic “FREEDOM” shot.
But to no avail. We simply could not find. And apparently it is HUGE.
Just look it up. It is simply shameful.
Then we see Stirling Castle waaaay up the hill. We enter it into navigation and start heading that way. Maybe a castle would save this side trip!
Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill and is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times. Most of the principal buildings of the castle date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A few structures remain from the fourteenth century, while the outer defenses fronting the town date from the early eighteenth century.
Before the union with England, Stirling Castle was also one of the most used of the many Scottish royal residences, very much a palace as well as a fortress. Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542, and others were born or died there. There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, including several during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle.
You can see why we HAD to see it.
And yet… we didn’t.
Navigation SUCKS in Scotland.
If we took one more second left at the round-about.
Abort. We aborted the mission and put in the address, or what we THOUGHT was the address for Black Isle Brewery in Inverness.
And off we went. To The Highlands of Scotland.
The altitude began to change, the sun began to set even quicker – it was 2:30 when we left Stirling, we had a 3 hour drive and the sun would set at 3:30 pm. Yep.
We stopped once for fuel and snacks and I noticed that snow was beginning to come down. I decided to check my trusty phone and this is what I found:
Alright, not to shabby. BUT… driving in the mountains in fresh snow… um…
And then we got a little further. It was pitch black outside, maybe close to 5ish and we are very close, when suddenly, we get this:
A freaking blizzard!!!
We end up in the Black Isle area, waaaay up in the north of Scotland and we can’t seem to find the farm. It is dark as can be, it is snowing, we are freezing and HUNGRY and finally, after about 30 minutes of phone calls and realizing to navigate up here you have to put in the postal code, because, we were apparently staying on an unnamed road, we made it to the Black Isle Brewery, which is located on an organic farm. We had the privilege of staying in the Shepherd’s Hut, right on the farm.
Armed with open handed mittens I picked up in Edinburgh…
We lugged our stuff up and basically had a quick confrontation (also known as releasing angst,) self-corrected and then the mood changed completely because…
Reunited and it felt so good.
Okay, now that we had EVERYTHING, it was time to heat up this… caravan of sorts.
We had to get a fire started in the wood burning stove. Yep.
And we did!
Next up – to navigate our way back five miles to Inverness to find food on a Wednesday night. We headed to the Scotch & Rye, but they were no longer serving food and found Platform 8, instead. We found a little corner, ordered up some grub and settled in to watch the Porto versus Liverpool soccer match. Because… when in Inverness…
We ate some medicore food to just have something and then stopped by a gas station to pick up breakfast and snacks.
We made it back with no problems and settled in for a snowy, cozy night in the Shepherd’s Hut on Black Isle Brewery Farm.
Next up: The Battlefield of Culloden, Loch Ness, and busted phone screens.