From Scotland to Canada – June 2015

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View from what will be my bedroom in Canada.

I am in Prince Edward Island, Canada and have been home for a few weeks now. I had an amazing Scottish adventure and cannot wait to return. Methinks I may have to return next year and golf a little more there before golfing in Ireland.

So many places to go.

My trip to Scotland was planned around a bit of a pilgrimage to Shiskine on the Isle of Arran, thanks to Preferred Lies by Andrew Greig, as the way he writes about Shiskine, I wanted to experience it for myself. I also might have google stalked Andrew and arranged to meet with him when I was in Edinburgh.

I am always happy golfing but Shiskine ... oh what a track

I am always happy golfing but Shiskine … oh what a track

Shiskine was fantastic. Played some amazing golf and also had a ten on one hole but overall golf was very good this day. I dropped a putt Piet and I were both astonished by and one I will remember for a long time yet.

The Isle of Arran is a foodies dream. Between the ice cream, cheese, and chocolate and then everything else they produce I ate and ate and ate. I interviewed Dawn from The Arran Butcher, James from The Chocolate Shop, Hansa (Turkish Chef) from Cafe Thyme, Tim from Creelers, Alastair from Taste of Arran, and had a good chat in The Cheese Shop and at Arran Fine Foods.

I also ate some amazing meals at Brodick Bar, Creelers, Cafe Thyme, Whiting Bay Golf Club, Shiskine Golf & Tennis Club and Burlington B&B. I was disappointed to miss Wolfi’s but I did interview and chat with Wolfi, just didn’t get to sample their fare.

Best meal I have had in a long time - Brodick Bar

Best meal I have had in a long time – Brodick Bar

I spent six nights on Arran and ate and golfed and interviewed my way around. I played at Lamlash, Whiting Bay, Shiskine, Machrie Bay and Brodick. I think I will have to return to play the rest of the Island. And did I mention the food???

Lined up for the ferry on my way to West Kilbride

Lined up for the ferry on my way to West Kilbride

As I waited for the ferry in Arran I watched a young girl with her grandparents and smiled at her sheer delight as she hung off her granddad’s hands and he swung her while still talking to the other adults. How could I not smile? I had a wonderful week in Arran, made some new friends and had just left the Brodick Bar where I had enjoyed roast red pepper and goat cheese soup with a chicken, corn and cheese toastie.

Perhaps I am easily pleased.

I left the Isle of Arran Friday afternoon and was meeting Marion (my mates mum) from the ferry for a spot of golf at her track, West Kilbride. It was a dull day for golf, not a bad day just the sun wasn’t out. I loved looking across the water at the Isle of Arran and thinking about the wonderful people, golf and food I had the pleasure of experiencing there.

Me and Marion at Portencross

Me and Marion at Portencross

It was great catching up with Marion and I stayed with her for a couple of nights in West Kilbride. While I was there I caught up with Foxy and Miller, went on a walk to Portencross, threw rocks in the water with Miller in Largs, ate sorbet, climbed a viking, bumped into Shanksy in the street and ate an amazing seafood feast at Scott’s in Largs.

I climbed a viking.

I climbed a viking.

What to choose?

What to choose?

Of course he wanted the blue one

Of course he wanted the blue one

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In Marion’s garden

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I love Scotland 

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Seafood feast for one at Scott’s

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Touring the hills around Largs

I left West Kilbride and was off to Edinburgh for a few days. Driving through a small village outside Glasgow a hitchhiker (who was carrying a pole and chair) gave me the finger after he tried to wave me down and I drove on by. He couldn’t see inside the car and that it is packed with all the seats down and my clubs jammed in on top. And as if I’d pick up an angry hitchhiker.

I dumped my stuff at my accommodation and then gunned it up north to St Andrews. Gordon, I cannot thank you enough for your tour and letting me hang out with you for hours on the Old Course. What an experience! What a day!

Me and Gordon

Me and Gordon

This bridge is significant, which I learnt while standing on it chatting to Gordon. Who knew?

This bridge is significant, which I learnt while standing on it chatting to Gordon. Who knew?

Played with a piper

Played with a piper

The next day I lunched in a castle then golfed at Balcomie Links in Crail – now that is an amazing course. And so many weather changes in one day.

Kellie Castle

Kellie Castle

Yes I am dressed like a golfer as I tour around

Yes I am dressed like a golfer as I tour around

Kilspindie Golf Course with Danny, a friend I made on twitter, was next on my schedule. After golfing in the windiest conditions I have ever played in (and not too badly either) I went and spent the afternoon with Andrew Greig and talked all things golf, life and writing. I had the pleasure (and envy) of seeing his writing shed in his garden.

A little envious of this writing shed.

A little envious of this writing shed.

with Andrew Greig

with Andrew Greig

Popped into Edinburgh that night for a Double Dead Ghost tour of the South Bridge Vaults and the Covenanter’s Prison in Greyfriars Graveyard. I didn’t bother any ghosts and they didn’t bother me.

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Appreciated a bit of architecture before hunting for ghosts.

I headed north the next day popping in to see Genna and Al in Perth for an amazing lunch. Had a great walking tour of Perth with Genna and then it took me more than an hour to drive five hundred metres trying to actually leave Perth.

Me and Genna

Me and Genna

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Random pics of Perth

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I got to my final Scottish destination (one which I had left to the last minute to book through AirBnB) and this was the only low point of my entire trip. The apartment was tired, carpets dirty but at least the sheets were clean. I had an early flight the next morning and was up at 5am trying to get out of the house only to find myself locked in. Couldn’t find keys for any doors and marched up stairs and banged on the owners door. He answered in his underpants and stated he didn’t like being woken up so early, I retorted that it would have been nice to be able to leave the house. He got the key out of his bedroom (um was I meant to go hunting for that?) and let me out.

Then it was off to London and some rest and relaxation with Vez, Andy and Finne Boy. I took over their kitchen the day I arrived (after checking they were cooking with gas) and didn’t allow them to cook while I was there. It was so nice to have access to a kitchen again.

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Foolishness with Vezza on the bus.

The weather was fantastic in London and while it rained one day, it was sunny and nice the whole time I was there. Unheard of! I went to The Natural History Museum with Silv, James, Vez and Finne, caught up with Cam, went to the Borough Market – a  must for any foodie, went on numerous walks in Richmond, Hyde Park and around Clapham and cooked and cooked and cooked.

On a 10km walk

On a 10km walk with Vezza and Finne 

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Had a pj party with Finne Boy

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Then grass angels in Hyde Park

Guess where I am?

Guess where I am?

Saw a T-Rex

Saw a T-Rex

A blue whale

A blue whale

And got attacked by a monkey

And got attacked by a monkey

While I was in London I also had the pleasure of catching up with some new golf friends but alas wasn’t able to golf but we did talk a lot. I spent a couple of hours with James and will catch up with him again next time I am in the UK. I will also see Renton again next time I am in London.

I had been given Renton Laidlaw’s phone number by a friend of mine, Frank, who told me to phone Renton when I was in the UK. Phone I did and we arranged to catch up before he had to shoot off to his Last Man Standing lunch. We had arranged to meet at the cafe on the corner across from Harrods. Turns out there are two, and we each sat in our respective cafes waiting. I went on a hunt and did a lap of Harrods and met Renton finally. We were only able to spend a short while together but as I said to him, I will hunt him down next year when I am back in the UK so we can have a better visit.

With Renton in London

With Renton in London

I played with Kay in London and helped him pick up supplies. A trolley packed with pork and I must say I was giggling to myself when I was on the hunt for Spam (who eats that anyway) and I realized I had nothing but pork in my trolley which I no longer eat it myself.

Pigging out

Pigging out

Cam came to Vezza and Andy’s and we got an update on his adventures. It was nice catching up as we had all been together at my farmhouse in Canada a couple of years ago (well without Finne) doing a spot of renovation.

Next week and Malika and Michael joined us for a delicious dinner. Yes I did cook it myself but it was delicious.

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Lamb and couscous

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My avocado chocolate mousse

I loved visiting with Vez and Andy and the Carcassonne challenges were fun but beating Pandemic was quite the achievement (so we thought). Who doesn’t love board games?

I think Vez and Andy were quite happy to have me cook every night and would have been happy for me to stay longer but I had golf and work and home to get to in Canada.

Waving Finne and Vez farewell

Waving Finne and Vez farewell 

I flew from Halifax to Charlottetown on the smallest plane I have ever been on. A total of twenty seats and rows of two, one on each side of the plane. It was a little odd but boy was I happy to be flying home. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and I was pleased to note there were only tiny patches of white in some areas of the woods so the nasty winter had retreated.

Yes that is the captain

Yes that is the captain 

I caught up with Sheldon and stayed with Papa Joe and Elizabeth for a few nights before getting the water on at my farmhouse. My house is old, about 140 years and has been tacked on to as the original family grew and I love it. It needs work and while I did plan on doing some this year, I think that for now I will just golf and do some renovations next year.

I always hit the ground running, no matter where I am or what I am doing so after arriving on PEI, I sorted my phone, home internet, post, job, car and golf membership within a day of arriving.

Two days in and I was back at Crossfit Charlottetown and very happy to be training and seeing my workout buddies again. I then went off to demo day at Brudenell and I hit many a club. While I don’t actually own one nor buy one (I am too new a golfer to be in the market for new clubs) I kind of fell in love with a Titleist.

At the range at Brudenell

At the range at Brudenell

I am now unpacked and settled in at home. I have my beloved blender and am back making my twenty seven ingredient breakfast smoothies (yes I counted), have whipped up a couple of batches of banana, oatmeal, cranberry slice and coconut delights (my golf partners love me) and now need to have a dinner party – if I have time around my golf.

I have played at Crowbush, Dundarave, Brudenell and Belfast since I have been back. I have spent hours on the range practicing, have my first tournament, the Nike Shootout, tomorrow with Cheryl, a friend from Crossfit and have lessons booked with Dave at Avondale on Friday.

Great first round at Dundarave

Great first round at Dundarave

I am back working at the golf resort and get to talk all day to people about golf and then I get to golf. I get to do this for months every year – no need to wonder why I am happy.

Quite the work uniform this year - I am glowing

Quite the work uniform this year – I am glowing

I love this part of the world, know how lucky I am to be able to spend months here every year and am very happy to be home.

Sunset at my house

Sunset at my house

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