Saturday, 31 July 2010

Orkney to Bladnoch...

Knackered in Bladnoch, after a superb haggis, neeps and tatties at the excellent Bladnoch Inn. An early night looms before heading to Stranraer tomorrow to catch the ferry for Belfast.

I just don’t have the energy to write our adventures up in detail: Hugh Kerr’s BMW suffering a mechanical breakdown between Wick and Scrabster, and subsequently Hugh abandoning the Scottish leg, much to his and our regret. The very odd West End Hotel in Kirkwall. The start of the Barnard Challenge proper, with the presentation by Highland Park brand amabassador Gerry Tosh of an extremely special bottle for future auction, and our departure (at 5.00am) from Kirkwall to catch the Stromness ferry south.

Yesterday was a hard day. While I headed to Inverness for my last live TM show of the trip, Rob went to Dalmore to collect both an auction bottle and samples for last night’s performance of the Malt and Barley Revue in Strathpefffer. Stephen from Fairpley picked us up from The Anderson in Fortrose and the gig, a house concert courtesy of the splendid Steve and Clancy Macdonald, went really well. Good crowd, old and new friends, and the three Dalmores we tasted, guided by Rob, were excellent. £240 raised as well. Bed at midnight, some 20 hours after getting up...

Today we were off the Black isle by 9.30am and heading for the Ralia Cafe on the A9 to meet regular TM Show listener Hugh Docherty on his Suzuki 1250 Bandit Grand Toursimo. Bad weather to Stirling, where we lunched al fresco in the rain. And then...

...Rob got lost. He took the M9 to Edinburgh before we could stop him (he was leading, it was a roundabout exit) , and Hugh and I headed for Glasgow on the M90. The rain came down in torrents, and Hugh decided to head for his sister’s in Kilmarnock. Rob texted to say he’d meet me at Bladnoch. I took the route through Ayr and Stranraer, he, satnav guided, went M74, Abington, Galloway Forest Route. And lo, Rob was there 45 minutes before me, which was just as well, as he was able to pick up the auction bottle form the distillery before it shut.

So there we are. Pictures include us at Scrabster, the excellent Anderson in Fortrose, Mr Hugh

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