Sunday, 16 October 2011

Skye - Day 7

LT had always planned this to be a day in the cottage as the weather forecast wasn't the best.  I supervised while LT sewed some bee blocks, and uttered some words at one of them that I shall not repeat in polite company!  We were saving ourselves all day to go out to dinner though.

LT, Col, Pete and I went out to the Three Chimneys, a very highly rated restaurant not just within Scotland, but within the UK.  The head chef was on the latest series of The Great British Menu (getting all the way to the final week), and we were really looking forward to it.  We decided to go for the Taste Of Skye menu, a mere 7 courses (or 8 if you were greedy like us and did cheese as well as dessert ;o) - LT)

To start with, we got some amuse bouche of mini cheese scones, accompanied by freshly churned butter.  This was just my size:

Next was another amuse bouche of Jerusalem artichoke soup topped with a Jerusalem artichoke crisp:

I had a little sherry before we got our first course, with some water and white wine lined up in the background for later...

Here's our first proper course, Loch Dunvegan langoustines with tattie scones and Glendale organic mesculun. Inside the head (which had been cleaned out - LT) there was a mango salsa too.  Please note that LT was on the diet coke too, as she was driving:

This is our second course, Colbost crab risotto with shellfish essence and a cheese wafer:

For our third course, we have a selection of west coast cold and hot smoked fish - salmon, trout and I think haddock, a Brunigill farm quail egg, some beetroot, a nasturtium leaf and a melba toast.  LT is usually not a fish fan, but she actually liked this (although I'll not be rushing out to the fish counter at Tesco any time soon... - LT)

The next course was our very favourite, Sconser king scallop with hazelnut crust, split pea and ham hough puree, pickled winkles and claret jus.  We could have eaten an entire meal of this:

Round 5 was three Loch Harport oysters, with cucumber and mint jelly, home made creme fraiche and herring roe.  This was our least favourite, as the over-riding taste was of cucumber, and that's not our favourite thing.  It was quite funny when we came to eat them though, as we discovered that none of us had ever eaten one before, so we weren't quite sure how it was meant to go:

Sometimes, you never know the minute, someone steals your camera and demands that you smile in return for getting it back again:

Here I am showing how to 'down in one' an oyster:

For this course we acquired some beer to go along with it:

It was at this point that we made some new friends.  First, the American lady at the next table asked LT why she wasn't using the flash on her camera.  She replied that she was being polite and not flashing people by cranking up the ISO.  Next thing we knew, the lady from the table in the corner came over and asked if LT would take her photo.  She and her partner were staying there to celebrate her 50th Birthday, and he had been trying, unsuccessfully, to take her photo with her iPhone.  Pete leapt into action, rearranged the tables behind LT (now thankfully empty - LT), roped in the American guy from the next table and between them they covered some of the halogen downlights so that Melanie and Mark were lit mainly by candle light (Col took a photo of the entire farce on Pete's compact - LT)

After that little break, we got course number 6, a beautifully cooked Lochalsh beef fillet on a bed of shredded shin of beef with pearl barley and Totaig vegetable broth, and topped with a little horseradish cream:

It was at this point that we had the terribly hard decision of whether to have the cheese course, the dessert course or both.  We decided that we were 'in for a penny' and went for both (I didn't have breakfast the next day I was that full - LT)  

Here we have the cheese course with, from left to right, 4 home made oatcakes, a quenelle of crowdie (a type of Scottish cream cheese - LT), a wedge of Isle of Mull Cheddar, a piece of damson jelly, a piece of brie that LT can't remember the provenance of, a glass of red grapes, and a wedge of Dunsyre Blue, which immediately got donated to Pete and Col: 

And for our final course, a hot marmalade pudding souffle with Drambuie syrup and mealie ice cream (vanilla ice cream with oats - LT)  The girl that was serving came round with a wee spoon and attacked the souffles as they were served, and then explained it was to pour the syrup into.  We had been a little concerned that we weren't going to get to eat the whole thing, so it was a relief to find out that was all it was for:

I may have been a little cheeky at this point, so Col put me in a time out:

Now, did you think we were finished eating?  Ha!  Next up were the petit fours - 6 each!  Mini meringues with hazelnut cream and strawberries, mini apple and caramel tarts, dark chocolate and fruit fudge, tablet, white truffles with a coconut ice like centre, and a bit of shortbread with a cream and apricot top that LT missed the proper description of (after all that food it was surprising I remembered to take you home, never mind miniscule details! - LT)

Of course we had to have some whisky to wash it all down:

It was rather good, I didn't want to waste a drop:

Please sir, I want some more:

We arrived at the restaurant at 7:15, and we finally rolled out again at 11:30, by far the last ones there, and the staff were nice enough not to comment about the mad photo taking, and even offered us a menu to take away.  Alas, there was no food to take away...  Still, we've decided to make this an annual jaunt - wonder what will be on the menu next year!

Skye - Day 6

It was a quiet day today.  We started off at the 'market' in Portree, which consisted of 2 stalls this week, as it was the school holidays, so the fish lady and the sushi lady were off with their kids.  We did get to see the local produce stall and got a 2 1/2 ft leek (no, he's not joking! - LT) and a HUGE cauliflower.  We also got a lunch roll from the Isle of Skye Baking Company, which had spinach and goat's cheese baked inside, and was very yummy.

Our next stop was the Quiraing, at the northern tip of the island.  As you can see, it wasn't exactly a wonderful day weather-wise up there, although at least it wasn't raining.

I decided to skip posing for this one, as it was a sheer drop from that heather down the cliff!

This is at 90 degrees to the shot above.  There are some little blobs on the left that are people walking over the scree slope.  Among the stupider outfits we saw on people scrambling about there was a girl in previously turquoise Converse (it was more than a little muddy - LT) and skin tight jeans...

We stopped briefly to look at the Old Man Of Storr on the way back, but he had a lot of cloud cover, so we decided to skip the hike up there, and went back for a relaxing afternoon in the cottage.

Ian and Robbie, who were staying in one of the other cottages, went out to get dinner for us from the shore line just outside the cottages that afternoon.  Fresh mussels all round, with lots of white wine - yummy!

Skye - Day 5

Apologies for the further delay, first the staff were tired, then they went out for dinner, twice, and THEN they were tired again!  I'm totally advertising for a new secretary for the next trip...

We started the day with a walk round to the headland opposite the cottages to get a good view back across the sea loch.  If you see the row of 3 cottages together just to the right of centre, we were in the left hand one:

After that we went back to the cottage and caught up with H, who had been out for a run, and decided that after lunch we should head over to the mainland to Plockton.  This is a village that was formed by the Clearances of the local laird's land.  He built the village to be a fishing village, and the cottages had runrigs, or small strips of crofting land, behind them.  There were a few famous people passed through, including Thomas Telford, who built the parish church, however what we really want to know was what happened in 1843 when the villagers refused to use the parish church and built themselves an outdoor one instead!  It was briefly mentioned on the tourist information board, but we thought it was quite funny.

This is looking across the bay to some of the cottages, taken whilst LT and I were perched on a small island in the bay that we got to while the tide was out:

This is looking the other way past all the moored boats towards Duncraig Castle:

This is the Plockton Inn, can you see me perched on top of the menu?  What do you mean no?!

After Plockton we headed round to what I've decided is going to be the new family seat.  If Sebastian can have a crown, then I can have a castle!  (You might otherwise know this as Eilean Donan Castle - LT)

How do you like the family crest?  This is the right side:

And this is the left side.  I think I'm more scared of the dog than the lion...:

Alas, we didn't get much of a sunset, but it looks pretty all lit up, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Skye - Day 4

We decided that today it was our way or the highway, so we got to do everything we wanted to do by ourselves (don't forget it you want to follow our adventures, Google Map Isle Of Skye).  We went back to see if we could get any good photos of the harbour at Dunvegan, but failed spectacularly.  Still, we did see this boat on the way to Glendale and thought it was quite photogenic, although we were surprised it was still afloat:

We went all the way to Glendale, stopped briefly at the craft fair, and then went out on Dunvegan Head.  We found these toadstools near the Glendale Mill.  Those fairies have been at it again:

On our way back to Dunvegan, we made some new friends while taking a photo of the view down to the Cuillins and Red Hills:

We then headed round to Waternish Head, and took this at Trumpan church, which is a ruin, but surrounded by graves.  We thought this one was a pretty good view, as it looks over to the Isle Of North Uist.  Round the other side of the church, you got views to the Isle Of Harris:

There were furry graves too...

Finally we ended up at the Fairy Glen near Uig on the northern tip of the island, although it took us longer to get there than planned after LT had a blowout after driving over a large rock in the road.  She got most of the wheel changed herself before a nice lorry driver stopped to help her finish it off.  Anyway, the Fairy Glen was a magical wee place, and a nice place to end the day:

Skye - Day 3

Hooray, it was a drier day today, so we went further afield!  Again, you can follow our adventures around, if you go to Google maps, and search for Isle Of Skye.

We started at Neist Point today, in the North West corner of the island, and trudged all the way down to the lighthouse - that would be at the end of the rock down there, trust me...  Also, please note she's back to the cliff edge thing again! (we're only half way down at this point, and you were whole feet away from the edge! - LT)

We went all the way down to the lighthouse and then scrambled down to some of the rocks to the south of it.  Here I am with it in the background:

And then LT tried to be arty farty with depth of field:

Next we climbed round to the rocks to the west of it, where you can see the cliffs in the background (including the one we walked down - LT)  There are lots of little piles of rock dotted around, here I am with a wee man shaped one: 

A more conventional shot with the lighthouse and cliff:

And then LT found this funny shaped rock, and decided to pose me at the same angle... (uh, no, I think you'll find you did that all by yourself! - LT)

Right next to it was a very battered old lobster pot, so of course I had to pose with it:

Another arty farty one, apparently because the colour matches my fur:

Proof from just above the lighthouse that the fairies are here too:

After this we headed to Dunvegan for lunch at Jann's Bakery.  Wow.  We had the BEST soup EVER from a restaurant here, even though the 7 of us took up every available seat and space in their shop.  It was proper bacon and lentil soup with loads of bacon and loads of lentils.  I would show you a photo, but LT was too busy hoovering it up to think about it.  We got something else too, but I'll show you that later.

Our next stop was a ruined church on the way down to Elgol.  This is really the most undignified position to have been stuck in, no matter how amazing this tree was:

Alas, at the church the light left us, never to return.  When we got to Elgol, LT and I took one look outside at the cloud covered Cuillins that we were meant to be seeing sunset over, and made an executive decision not to get out of the car.  We let everyone else get cold and wet while we took a nap.  This is what it looked like when we woke up.  There's a whole mountain range there, honest!

It cleared a little:

Rained some more and cleared a little more:

And eventually we left the car to get this shot, and it started to rain again, so that was the end of that!  I certainly wasn't about to set sail in the wind out there either.

Back at the cottage that night, we surveyed the extras for the day.  Firstly the purchases at Dunvegan.  LT burnt her thumb on the oven getting the rice out, and it had blistered.  She then managed to scrape the blister down at the lighthouse, so we had to hunt down antiseptic and plasters before her thumb fell off...

And then the extra from the bakery.  The others had all ordered lunch and a cake, but LT wasn't exactly paying attention to the size of the pieces.  Please note that this carrot cake is about 3 times the size of me, still, I'll happily make a valiant effort to get through it.  Thankfully they gave us a 'doggy bag' to take it away in, and LT had it for breakfast in the morning.