Five Firsts on my Fifty Week

Three Chimneys, Skye

What a fantastic time I had. I was amazed that I managed five first. A couple were expected but not five.

Fifty First Timer No. 22
Stay and eat that the Three Chimney’s on Skye

This has been on my wish list for year. The Three Chimneys is reputed to be one of the best restaurants in the world. I didn’t realise they also had accommodation, so imagine my surprise when I discovered my birthday treat was two nights dinner, bed and breakfast at this exclusive establishment.

The drive up through Glen Coe and The Great Glen was dramatic with sun and sheet rain. We arrived at the House Over-by at 5.30 with just enough time to gaze in wonder at the view, experience the luxury of the room and dress for 7.30pm dinner.

That first glass of chilled champagne fair went doon a treat.

My starter was succulent scallops this was followed by the freshest oysters I have ever slurped, they were juicy and ripe and perfect. My main course included a first (see below) – Lamb with heart, sweetbread and kidney. Yummy.

We were too full for pudding because every course seemed to be preceded by an appetiser – pan fried mackeral on goosberry puree was about five mouthfuls too small – we settled for coffee, some dinky little cakes and a dram to finish off. I could see beads of relief wave off Colin’s brow when we were informed the 25 year old Talisker was finished, I had to settle for a 10 year old.

Fifty First Timer No. 23
Eat Sweetbread

I am conscious that a number of these first include eating weird food, but I am a foodie, I have to try everything at least once.

When I was younger and lived in Fife I bought all my meat from a travelling butcher’s van – Bert The Butcher. He came every Wednesday and Saturday and I always bought the same thing, mince, bacon, beef, square sausage for Sunday Breakfast. Ladies would flock to the van. ‘ony sweet breads the day Bert?’ they would ask. I was always curious as to what the elusive and desirable sweet breads were

I later found to my horror that it was testicle. And I still did until I checked before posting this blog.

I thought I had no desire to try this but couldn’t resist when it was offered with the lamb dish. It was delicious fried but not as nice as the heart, which I think I have tried before.

How naive was I? I now find out that sweet bread is a gland near the heart.

There you go, another urban (or Fife) myth bites the dust.

Fifty First Timer No. 24
See a Minke Whale

After a luxurious nights sleep we ate our fill at the House Over-by breakfast table. Homemade muffins, breads, pancakes, oatcakes Scones and applesauce, marmalade, jam. There was also smoked salmon, fish pate, cheese, fruit and a smoked salmon omelette on offer. We had to at least attempt to walk some of this off.

The Three Chimneys is located in the south west portion of Skye, an area we had never explored before. We drove round tiny single track roads to Neist Point where a well laid out path took us to a light house which can be rented as holiday accommodation. Loads of sea bird activity just off the shore alerted us. Some children were screaming with delight and jumping up and down. We rushed down to see what was happening.

I stared at the sea for about ten minutes watching the gulls dive bomb the waves and was rewarded with the sight of a small black fin and then the sweep of a black curled back arching out of the sea and sinking below the depth before I could take the camera out of its case. There was no doubt with that shape and size I had just encountered my first Minke Whale, out for a spot of fishing. We hung around for ages hoping for another glimpse but we only saw a few black fins. I felt privileged.

Sunset over Taransay from Horgabost camp site

Fifty First Timer No. 25
Visit Lewis and Harris

We left Uig in Skye on a CalMac ferry bound for Tarbert, Harris on Monday afternoon. We left the unusual sunshine on Skye for a murky Harris, where the clouds skiffed the roads. The missel soaked us during the ten minutes it took us to pitch our tent and carry our gear from the car to the pitch which was high on machair on a beach side site at Horgabost.
The campsite proved to be idylic so we stayed all week. White sand, bird watching, and the creaking gate call of the corncrake merged with the sound of crashing waves to lull you to sleep.

The next morning proved no better weather wise so we plumped to explore Lewis.
After reading Stornoway Way by Kevin MacNeil I expected a grim town, but Stornoway turned out to be a pretty little fishing town with fine brick buildings, an excellent art centre featuring local artists and crafts and a few good cafes. There were loads of pubs though and this is maybe where the tarred reputation of Stornoway stems from.

While we could still see the road from the mist we headed south to the Callanish Standing Stones.
These are described as the most spectacular megalithic standing stones in Scotland. They are impressive standing tall and fast against the western storms. There is something very touching about the fact that people gathered together and took such care 4000 years ago to erect these stones. I wonder then if they realised the fuss folks would make all these years later.

It was a good day to see the stones, not too many people milling around spoiling photo shots and quite dramatic backdrops.

Callanish Standing Stones

Fifty First Timer No. 26
Have a drink in an inflatable pub

I am pleased to say the weather improved. So much so we were forced to go for a drink in a pub. The main hotel in Tarbert is being renovated; the bar is out of commission for months, what could they do? They took a bouncy castle approach and erected an inflatable bar. It would have been perfect had it not been made out of plastic and had real window instead of painted on ones. Inside the bar on this hot day was like being inside the inside of a wellie. Everyone preferred to sit outside in the 24°heat.

Inflatable Pub, Tarbert

Back to auld claes and porridge

View from Skoon Art Cafe, Harris – The best plum and oatmeal muffins ever.

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