Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nessie and the loch

My first evening in the abbey I got a tour of the place and explanation of how everything works. Then I hauled my suitcases up four flights of stairs with the extremely appreciated help from the caretaker, Charles. It was 8:00pm by then and I hadn't eaten since 11:00am, so I walked just down the path to the Boathouse restaurant that sits on the shore of the loch.
I am not a fan of salmon at home, but Scottish salmon is really good. It does not have that overpowering fishy taste that the salmon in the US has. The Boathouse is run by two gentlemen from Turkey, so the menu has a Middle Eastern flair to it that really complemented the salmon nicely. They dressed it in a light lemon sauce with a lovely salad, some lightly cooked carrots and zucchini and finished it off with some pan seared potatoes. (That description was for you, DiscoJen) Add a nice glass of Shiraz, and it was a good way to start my Scottish holiday. Charles came in for a pint as I neared the end of my dinner, so we sat and chatted for about an hour. I love talking with the local residents when I travel, it's the best way to get to know the real character of the place and to find out where to go and what to do that you wouldn't find in the guide books.
My first day at the abbey was really uneventful as I did really domestic and completely unexciting things such as;unpacking, grocery shopping, and a massive amount of laundry (behind those fab cabinets in the kitchen are a fridge, dishwasher, combo washer/dryer and microwave). Just being able to look out the window at Loch Ness and the glens made the mundane work much more enjoyable.
I have to say that I am not a fan of the combo washer/dryer. It takes 4 hours and 43 minutes to do a load, and a load is no more than two pairs of jeans or 4 t-shirts. Any more than that, and it errors out. My first few loads didn't even dry, so I got out the drying rack and hung it all up. Then I realized that the radiators put out some good heat, and that's how Anne dried all of her laundry, so I draped the radiators with sox, undergarments and shirts. It worked very well too. The laundry was mostly dried in about an hour. Thank goodness there's a lot of radiators. I also employed the towel warmer in the bathroom to dry clothes, which was also effective. It really makes me appreciate my washer and dryer at home. Years ago a friend from Argentina exclaimed "You have drying machine? What a luxury!" I totally get what she means by that now.

It was a cold and windy day, but I wandered around the town some to get the lay of the land. Even though the abbey looks like it's isolated, it's actually just a few hundred yards from town, which I love. It's fantastic to be able to walk to the grocery store and restaurants. I walked around the Caledonian Locks, up the hills, down the hills and then over to the shore of Loch Ness, just across from the Abbey. It was extremely cold and windy, causing whitecaps on the loch. The clouds were moody and dark over the mountains. The atmosphere really was conducive to Nessie sightings!
After a small dinner and a couple glasses of wine, I settled in for the night and reviewed my plan for the next day as well as the book and movie selections provided in the apt. They have a whole range of books and movies featuring Scotland including Outlander, my favorite historical fiction novels by Diana Gabaldon, and Monarch of the Glen, a series that I found on PBS years ago about a young Laird trying to save his family homestead and his totally wacky family. Oh, and let's not overlook Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Robbie is named for Brave Sir Robin in the movie after all, because he also bravely runs away. I think I need to make Robbie a tunic coat w/a chicken on it, don't you?
The photos below are taken on two different days. The first ones in the dusk were my first day here, the rest were all the day after I went skiing. I was so sore and the weather was really nasty so I decided to stay in and take more pictures of the abbey.
The stained glass windows and floors are totally quilt patterns just waiting to happen. And every time I see the Abbey logo I think that it would look great as a wool appliqué project.

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