The Expat Files
A journal for my 8 months of study and travel in Europe.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
no ice, please
Our friends, Katie and Robby, came over this past week. We went to Pitlochry and toured some distilleries. Our favorite was Blair Athol Distillery. We had a great tour guide from Glasgow named John. He taught us everything we ever wanted to know about whisky. He also told us that they usually shoot Americans at his distillery because they put ice in their whisky. Apparently, ice cools the whisky when your hand should be warming it up and the melting ice will continually chance the ratio of water to whisky rather than maintaining a constant ratio. As such, I never put ice in my whisky (since last Friday). On the way out, he showed us the graveyard where they bury ice-loving Americans.
We also went to Edradour Distillery--the smallest distillery in all of Scotland. It was quant, but the tour wasn't nearly as good as Blair Athol; however, it was free (including a whisky tasting).
And we also went to the Dewars Whisky Experience, but the last tour had already passed (even though it was only 3:30). So we had a gander around the gift shop and Stacey convinced someone to give us a free tasting (glad to have her around).
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Monday, March 07, 2005
What the Hail?
I played golf on Saturday with some friends. As always, the weather vacillated between sunny and rainy with sustained winds; however, we had some hail this time. I had never played golf in hail before and I hope to never do so again. It didn't last long, but it was pretty heavy.
Anyway, we were on the Strathtyrum and we played "scramble." After being down 9 holes to 1, Michael and I had the best comeback of all time. We won the last 8 holes to tie David and Steve 9-9. If you don't understand anything I just wrote don't worry about it. Just know that it was a lot of fun and we had a great comeback.
Also, I played the Eden a couple of weeks ago. It was a lot of fun and very challenging. It's a good course to play if you need to lose some golf balls. Fortunately, I lost most of my golf balls on #3--so I didn't have to carry them for the next 15 holes. Unfortunately, I lost too many and had to go to the store to buy some more.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Cold and Wet in Iona
Stacey and I went to Iona last week. It took us nine hours, three trains, two busses, and two ferries to get there. As such, it really felt like a proper pilgrimage. I asked Stacey if she wanted to kiss the ground when we stepped off the ferry onto Iona, but she wasn't interested.
Though the trip was long, it was enjoyable. The west coast of Scotland between Glasgow and Oban was incredibly beautiful. Most of the mountains were snow capped with evergreen and birch trees in the lower altitudes. The ferry ride from Oban to Mull was also very nice.
On Iona, we stayed at the Argyll Hotel (www.argyllhoteliona.co.uk). Being the off-season, it was the only hotel that was open on the island and it housed the only restaurant open on the island. But it was a great restaurant. Even the Abbey wasn't fully open--which was a bit of a suprise to us.
I expected Iona to be a quasi-monastic community centered on formal daily worship in the Abbey (www.iona.org.uk). Instead, I was suprised to find that most of the members of the community are not in residence and not much happens at the Abbey during the winter. Basically, the community (450 members) is out in the world doing their work--mostly for social justice. On Iona, the Abbey and the MacLeod Center function more as retreat centers (normally, but not exclusively, for members of the Church of Scotland). While the community is unlike anything I have ever known, the actual island centers are like what Montreat is to the American Presbyterian: a retreat and conference center.
I was also suprised to find out that only about half (according to our waitress) of the people living on Iona are affiliated with the community. There is a convenience store, a post office, a couple of hotels, a pub, a golf course (!) and Iona Primary School (The convenience store clerk told me that the kids go to high school in Oban which is 2.5 hours away. They leave on Monday and come back on Friday.). I was suprised by all of this because I expected to find a bunch of holy looking people in coarse, brown clothes chanting while they worked between the prayers of the day. But I'm glad it wasn't that way.
It was a beautiful and wonderful place. I'm glad that we went and I would love to return someday. When I do return, I will pack wellies, waterproof pants, and a good rain jacket. And my golf clubs.
Friday, February 11, 2005
Say it with cheese!
The Cheesemonger in town has a new promotional for Valentine's Day: "Say it with cheese!" What better way is there to let someone know that you love them? So, I'm thinking about getting Stacey a wheel of Camambert for Valentine's Day (although Stacey would probably say that I usually say it with "cheese" anyway).
The Cheesemonger usually has funny signs in the window. Last fall, they had one that said: "Help Wanted: love of cheese is a must." Sounds like good advice. Cheese-haters need not apply.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Last week, I hosted a Burn's night supper (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to www.robertburns.org/suppers/). We had neeps, tatties, whisky, and haggis--both regular and vegetarian. It was great, but I have all this leftover haggis. I really liked haggis about a week ago, but I'm getting a little sick of it now.
I've been searching around, trying to find some new ways of preparing haggis. I haven't been able to find anything, but somebody could make a killin' if they began marketing some Haggis Helper in this country. I thought that I would end up with a mess o' bad haggis when I came up with a good idea yesterday: Haggis Salad. I simply mixed some mayo, pickle (relish), and walnuts with haggis and made a haggis salad sandwich. Sounds gross, but it was pretty good (for the recipe, send me a self addressed stamped envelope and $19.95--Georgia residents add 6% tax).
Tonight, I'm thinking about mixing it with salsa for a dish I like to call Haggis Sumpin' Fierce.