There are few enticements that can blast Buck and I out of our Longleaf cocoon, but a return to Scotland’s Isle of Arran is one.
We leave September 13th and return on September 26th. All the arrangements have been made: airline and ferry tickets purchased. Rental car booked. Maggie’s usual suite at the Magic Touch Dog Hotel and Spa reserved. I hate leaving her, but judging from her wagging tail on past trips, I think she looks forward to these infrequent visits with other four-legged critters. She hurt my feelings the last time by trotting off down the hall to her room without even a look back.
We’ll be staying in a self-catering house, so I’ll have an opportunity to cook for ourselves and local friends. I plan to pack along some pecans from Renfroe Pecan here in Pensacola, as well as some dried chiles and stone-ground corn meal. There’s an excellent Co-op grocery store in the main town of Brodick and a good seafood market and restaurant called Creelers. My favorite place for fresh veggies and baked goods such as raisin scones or veggie quiche is Collins Good Food Shop. They are a combination tea shop and market. I can still recall taking refuge there once on a chilly, windy day. I had been out walking and got caught in the rain. At Collins, I found a warm corner, and resuscitated myself with a pot of tea and a cup of curry-orange carrot soup. It was thick, fragrant and came with a fresh whole-meal bun. It was soul food for me on that afternoon. By the time I left, the rain had stopped and I walked into Brodick to pick up some remarkably decadent chocolates in a tiny designer box from James’s Chocolate Shop.
This small island has it all, from rich history, geological significance, standing stones and castles to mountains, a fault line crossing the island’s mid-section and nearby Holy Isle, which I hope to visit on this trip.
The first time I was on Arran, a small gathering of friends sharing a wee dram or two closed out a night of music and laughter with a song that brought us all to clasped hands and tears. It’s called Flower of Scotland, and was sung a capella that evening by our friend, Farquhar Ross, in her sibilant, passionate voice. Click here to link to Cantaria, a superb non-profit educational resource for aspiring bards and minstrels, where you can read about the history of Flower of Scotland, lyrics written by Roy Williamson, late of The Corries, and listen to an impressive rendition sung by Wild Mountain Thyme.
A person would have to be bereft of brain, heart and pencil not to be able to write interesting posts in such a setting, don’t you think?