By David Madeira, ACM CEO and AAT President & CEO
When we awoke this morning and made our way to the kitchen, our Balvenie hosts once again had breakfast waiting for us this time served by Sarah, a young woman working there part time while going to law school. We enjoyed a traditional breakfast with homemade pastries and a gorgeous fruit compote with homemade yogurt. Then it was time to depart to drive further north into the highlands to Inverness on the eastern coast.
Our three black BMW‘s awaited us – two X-5 SUVs and an X-4 Crossover. These all-wheel-drive vehicles are sure-footed in the rain, have incredibly easy to use navigation systems which we sorely needed, and are incredibly comfortable. They’re also quick and fast – especially the M Series cars which we were lucky to have! These are cars that you want to drive and drive them we did!
The roads, too, were meant to be driven. Fairly narrow with superb macadam surface, they wound up and down through the highland hills. Around us were endless green pastures dotted with white sheep and shaggy Highland or black Angus cattle. It was easy to see why the diet here is heavy of beef and lamb. We also passed through little farm towns with a church and a pub and little more each surrounded by fields of straw colored recently baled hay. As we neared the coast the multi-chimneyed, stone homes also made sense as the cold winds were ever present.
We stopped in Findhorn at the tip of a peninsula jutting into the North Sea at the Crown and Anchor Pub with its view of the harbor, fishing boats and sea wall guarding the harbor entrance. There of course we enjoyed beautiful Haddock fish and chips filets, seared scallops and a bucket of mussels – all brought in by local fishermen and accompanied by the local ‘Black Sheep Ale’. I feel rather at home in Scotland!
The drive today was leisurely and we arrived mid-afternoon in the Highlands’ capital, Inverness staying in the Royal Highland Hotel on the waterfront. Time to relax. Tomorrow we visit the famous Loch Ness by boat and tour the historic Culloden battlefield where in the 1740s Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Stuarts were decisively routed by the English and the clan system destroyed. Since that time, England and Scotland have been united as parts of the United Kingdom. However, the history of Great Britain for more than a thousand years has been repeated discussions and wars over how closely to be tied to the continent and particularly France and the Papacy of Rome and whether the Scots and the English would unite or be separate. That discussion is alive and well today as evidenced by the Brexit vote to leave the EU and the Scottish national referendum which only narrowly defeated those who want Scottish independence. Stay tuned!