john o’groats says so


I don’t know how many of you have driven on the left side of the road before, but it is totally exhilarating. The joy is ultimately followed by exhaustion, from the mental energy required for making a right turn in Scotland. I was fine with everything else, but making a right turn in the United Kingdom is an exercise in paranoia. Still, what a ride.

Once in Inverness, I laid my hands on another SD card, and the camera took its last few gasps of pictures. Lucky, really, because we went to Tessa’s grade school, a now-abandoned mansion called Aberlour House, sitting silently on its hill overlooking the Spey, wondering what happened to the hundreds of kids that once burst from every misshapen door. Lucy had fun on the grounds, however:


And it seemed to rejuvenate Tessa:


What was truly miraculous is that my wife went to grade school about five hundred yards from my favorite everyday single-malt Scotch, The Macallan. We popped over to Craigellachie long enough to take in the awesome barley smell, and purchase some rare classics from the Macallan line. For those of you who find such things boring, be prepared: I have a whole blog dedicated to Scotch coming up.


at the Macallan distillery

I have gone on so many road trips that they all blend together in a treacly syrup of fond memory, but I have to say tooling around the back roads of Speyside with Tessa and Lucy is way, way up there. Up there with midnight treks to New Orleans and drug-fueled exhortations to Wilmington.

Note to friends: we all must do this together sometime. Golfing in St. Andrews, three choice distilleries on the way back, then a few nights at some Inverness pubs. Throw in some poker, and how can any of you say no? You heard it here first: Scotland is the new Vegas.


select single malts at The Whiskey Shop

0 thoughts on “john o’groats says so

  1. Alan

    One of my family who did not emigrate who has departed was an incredibly dapper man who owned a pub in Glasgow but really was a independent whisky broker. I understand that many of the finest examples of the dram (at least until the 70s when I knew him as an older gent) include notes which are bootlegged whiskies, found in barns, hidden in forests. His calling was to place these in the right hands in a way that did not offend the authorities which he underook with grace and discretion.

  2. Cris

    Fantastic photos! Golf, distilleries, and an Inverness pub crawl sound amazing. If you plan that trip, I’m inviting myself along.

  3. eric g.

    Wow, my jealousy at your visit to the Macallan distillery is clouding my judgment. I should have led off with compliments about your beautiful family. But those lovely barrels of future scotch…
    Okay, I’ve snapped out of it. Lovely pics, all of them. Congrats on surviving right turns in Scotland. Have you driven in Rome? If you get the chance, you might consider passing it up.

  4. emma

    My memories of Scotland are very magical as well. After spending two months living in London in the summer of 91, I found myself without a job and with a landlord who wanted to kick us out of our flat and a week to go before my Eurail pass went into effect, so I headed north on a bus bound for Edinburgh. The busdriver took a wrong turn and we ended up in Glasgow, he apologized and then we headed to Edinburgh. Amazingly, noone was perturbed. Then, I stumbled into to Edinburgh during the middle of this Fringe Festival, which consisted of plays being performed in all these different venues. Somehow, I ventured out to the countryside for a night at a b & b, rented a bicycle and just wandered. I think it was the only time I ever traveled completely by myself. It was lonely at mealtimes, but otherwise, I really enjoyed it.

  5. Annie

    Speaking of Chapel Hill and November, I’ve been wondering (the Hawks/Bobcats preseason game this weekend fueling my curiosity) when are y’all going to be here? I miss you all terribly! And the last time I saw Lucy she was not even really walking! She was saying “agua” and “Daddo,” though. Dang. The pix are truly sustaining.
    Reports to High Street are required in these sorts of circumstances.


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