Thursday, February 28, 2013

Clachnaben Take Three

Our good friends Debbie and Luke are being relocated to London in a few weeks. I haven’t mentioned it yet, because I’m pretty stinkin' sad about it and still a tad bit in denial. I was just getting over Tanvi and Ram’s departure when Debbie announced that they too were leaving Aberdeen. I’m starting to feel mighty abandoned. 

Anyways…since Debbie and Luke ended up living in bonnie Scotland for a total of 7 measly months, there is still a lot that they want to see. Debbie, in particular, wanted to climb Clachnaben before moving, which is how I came to climb this hill for the 3rd time. 

I decided to leave Bailey behind today so that I could focus on girl time rather than nagging my Brittany Spaniel every 30 seconds to ‘PLEASE STAY WITHIN 100 YARDS OF ME’. 
Up and down the hill is about 6 miles total. The first leg is mainly uphill, so it’s quite the workout. Luckily me and Nary were on the same page with taking ‘breathers’ so while Debbie and Jillian hiked at a world record pace, we took a more leisurely stroll to the top. 
I like taking my time because it allows me to soak in the scenery. Once you get near the summit of Clachnaben, the scenery opens up to 360 degree views of snowcapped mountains and picturesque farmland. 

It never gets old. 

Each time I climb Clachnaben, it’s my tradition to take a picture of the final rock tor from the same angle. I like to go back and look at the difference that the season and weather can make in the same photo. Here is an example in October
and February: 
Once at the top, Nary, Jillian, and Debbie scrambled up to the top of that very tor, while my scared-of-heights butt stayed on solid ground and took photos. 
Though we were quite warm while making the ascent, the freezing temperatures and high winds at the top coaxed us to start our descent back to the car. I always forget how stinkin long this hike is. It’s like a Disney World line. As soon as you think you’re almost to the front, it winds around and you realize you’ve got a good 30 minutes to go. 

All I could think about was sitting down and eating the fish and chips that Debbie requested for lunch. But fate had other plans. When we got to the car, Nary realized she couldn’t find her phone. It had been in her jacket pocket and must have fallen out along the way. I went with her to try to hunt it down on the trail, but after backtracking a mile without success, we had to admit defeat. 

I was really bummed for her. I know how devastated I would be if that happened to me, but she kept her usual cheery attitude and we headed  on to Stonehaven for fish and chips at The Bay. 

The Bay was just named ‘best fish and chips in the UK’ which is a pretty big honor here in the kingdom. We were arriving for our sample when they were putting out a sign listing their newest accolade. 
Once we got inside, we saw several other awards mounted on the wall, including a few for ‘Young Fish Fryer of the Year’.
I gotta kick out of that one. But jokes aside, The Bay serves up some pretty stinkin’ good fish and chips, y’all. 

The fried haddock was superbly crispy without being greasy, which is the optimal balance I want from a good fish and chips platter. Young Fish Fryer of the Year indeed. 

Too bad I insulted all of Scotland for asking for a heaping side of ketchup to go with it. At least I had the courtesy to act sheepishly embarrassed as I flaunted my Americaness. I ain’t eatin no fried fish without some ketchup, y’all. Don’t you shove that vinegar and tartar sauce at me. 
Yummy perfection. 

And as if stuffing our faces with a plate full of fish and French fries weren’t enough, we decided to pop in next door at Auntie Betty’s for some ice cream. 
Have I told you how amazing the dairy products are here? Amazing. So rich and creamy. Anytime I go for ice cream (which is like 3 times a year because it is always cold here), it takes me about 20 minutes to narrow down my flavor decision. 
This time I went for Buckie’s Bounty which was described to me as ‘a coconut ice cream with chocolate chunks’. You had me at ‘coconut’. 
It was so stinkin good. 

So that’s the second late lunch I’ve had this week which has made it impossible to eat my supper. Four hours later and I am still stuffed to the max. 

Not wanting to leave the dogs out of the feast, I picked up two fancy dog cookies at the ice cream shop. 
They are so funny in how differently they consumed their treats. Bailey scarfed hers down so quickly that I thought I might have to give her the Heimlich maneuver. 
Samson, on the other hand, savored his. It probably took him a total of 5 minutes to completely finish, while poor Bailey had to jealously look on. 
Had it not been for Nary losing her phone, it would have been quite the perfect outing. Luckily, when she got home, she called her phone and someone answered. Apparently they spotted it on the trail and picked it up. She’s picking it up from them tonight. 

Scotland is full of great Samaritans. Both its people and its scenery make it such a beautiful place to live. 


  1. Great pictures and congrats on making it a 3rd time. Sounds like it was a great outing and so glad your Nary found her phone. Two of the hardest things about being an expat: 1) living far from family; 2) saying goodbye to the friends that become your family Hopefully you will run into each other again one day.

  2. Cannot believe you climbed Clachna-ending a 3rd time! So pictures all look different with the weather, amazing. Luca eats his treats super slow too, must be a Cavalier thing!