Stirling

Forrest Gump was right. You never know what you are going to get. Our plan for today was simple – drive toward Stirling (about 160 km or 2.5 hours away), visit a farm recommended by Glen Postle along the way, and check into our accommodation which was also recommended by Glen. We did that and an extra 140 km or 2 hours side trip to Mallaig and back from Fort William.

Our plan called for us to be at West Moss-side Farm around noon so I was anticipating a departure not much before 10:00 am. There was no rush over breakfast and we were packed and ready soon after. I was working on some email and hoping to catch up on processing some photos when, a little before 8:30 am, Majella asked about leaving. I indicated my surprise, based on what I thought was the plan, and she then asked if we had time to go to Mallaig and back before we left Fort William for Stirling.

DSC_6024Of course we did. I had encouraged her to turn back yesterday for the coat she had seen at Ginger Morar Knitwear but she had declined, more than once, as we drove east. Overnight it seemed the coat had become even more the object of dreams. She had checked the Facebook page and determined the shop would be open this morning and off we went. I let Majella drive since she was on a mission and would get us there and back as quickly as possible. We drove the hour to Mallaig in intermittent rain without incident, found a parking space, walked to the shop, and tried on the coat. It was a fit and a purchase. The card machine would not connect (a wet weather problem) so I had to walk to the ATM and withdraw folding money rather than use my card. That made the price seem more real and I regretted the Qantas points I was not getting. We had to wait until this evening for the photo but I think it was worth the extra driving and the cost for that smile.

DSC_6009Back at Fort William we refuelled the car and set off. There was no time to refuel us since we would be at least an hour later than we had planned. We had some delays with roadworks up the pass at Glencoe and the traffic there was heavy with tourists who filled every parking bay. There was no time to stop for photographs so I had to resort to drive by photos, seldom a good option, and a few I managed to snap while we were waiting at a traffic control point near the top of the pass. The weather was a bit better at that point but the improvement did not last long.

Somewhere beyond Glencoe and Rannoch we encountered some heavy rain but it did not last long. We followed directions on my iPhone toward West Moss-side Farm. There was only intermittent phone coverage along the way and no useful data access so I was unable to do further checking on the location. Ultimately the phone directed us to a point on the A873 where it suggested we park and walk 300 metres. Fortunately Majella had seen a sign at a corner a little way back so we backtracked and followed that sign and another down a narrow country lane. We had just about given up on that when we saw two men by a parked car and asked. They knew nothing but there was a gate and sign ahead so we drove on and asked two walkers along the way. They confirmed that was our destination.

DSC_6015Kate Sankey greeted us warmly. She first met Glen Postle during one of his early stints working with colleagues at Stirling University. She got to know Glen well and had hosted him and Sonia at the farm. While we were enjoying a cup of coffee with a piece of Kate’s excellent oatmeal slice, Glen called on FaceTime and we were able to have a quick video chat. She and Majella found a common interest in a variety of crafts, including Fairisle knitting. Afterwards Kate took us on a tour of the farm which she operates as an organic farm and agritourism business with a small conference centre that is used for a variety of workshops and an annual art exhibition that attracts 300 or more visitors. We were fascinated by the story of the staircase acquired on eBay and which Glen helped assemble. After admiring the artworks and facilities in the centre we toured the three yurts that are managed as accommodation for visitors to the area. It was a fascinating visit to a farm with a wide variety of sustainable activities.

DSC_6026From West Moss-side Farm we drove on through Stirling to find our accommodation for the night at Broomhall Castle. We arrived here at about 3:30 pm but, since it has a restaurant, breakfast is included, and has been raining constantly since before we arrived we have not found a reason to venture out again. Our room is up two flights of stairs on the other side of the building and has access to its own little turret. It is not an historical castle but was built in 1874 as a residence but had a variety of other uses until it became a hotel, restaurant, wedding venue after the present owners acquired it in 2003.

Dinner was enjoyable. I had rib fillet with a glass of red wine. Majella had a pork cutlet and the house specialty cocktail, a Broomhall Honeysuckle. We don’t recall the ingredients but it packed a suitable punch. What more could a woman want?

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