Category Archives: Quality of Life

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5 Reasons to Visit Scotland

The Scenery

Kyle of Tongue
Kyle of Tongue

Summer in Scotland isn’t a dream vacation for some; it rains often and doesn’t get very warm, however, it’s one of the greenest places in the world – it is so green you’ll think you’ve discovered a landscape painted a new undiscovered shade of green. The North Coast is cool with briny North Atlantic air so clean it nearly stings your nostrils. On clear days you can see mountains 50 miles away – it is truly big sky country where red sandstone bedrock drops off abruptly into the North Sea revealing spectacular headlands, hidden beaches, and sea cliffs over 600 feet tall.

Thor's throne
Dave on Thor’s throne

Seabirds live here by the thousands including: puffins, fulmars, skuas, cormorants, and arctic terns. In the Highlands, purple heather covered mountains rise above straths and glens containing herds of red deer, sheep, wild cats, and the occasional golden eagle.

Bettyhill beach
Bettyhill beach
Westerdale Mill
Westerdale Mill

Peat stained burns join to form lochs and rivers with good numbers of salmon and brown trout. Sometimes you just want to sit down and watch it all.

The People

Johnny Duncan
Johnny Duncan

It’s amazing how well traveled and worldly the British are and nearly everyone in Scotland is friendly. Of course, you can find a grumpy prawn every now and then, but they seem to be fewer and further between here.

Friendly Chip shop owner
Friendly Chip Shop owner

People will say hello and are quite happy to speak to a “Yank.” Don’t worry if you can’t understand a thing they say, especially in southern parts – that goes for the U.S as well. Scots relish their distinct and sometimes painful sounding accents. Sometimes I just watch when people speak and think, “that’s gotta hurt.” Once you get in the groove of understanding Scots, no other accent will sound better.

The Food

For decades, Britain has suffered a stereotype of bad food. This is the furthest thing from the truth. The larder of Scotland is second to none – the bad rap has come from preparation. Deep frying is still a national obsession, however, all the excellent foods available can be cooked any way you like. Just ask.
But I say when in Rome…

Fish & Chips
Fish & Chips
Thurso butcher
Thurso butcher
Thurso fishmonger
Thurso fishmonger

Most of the food available from butchers and fishmongers is local. Butchers can trace their beef back to the county and sometimes the farm of origin. Fishmongers receive what is fresh and in season. It all comes together for some fantastic eating.

The Whisky

Dalwhinne Distillery
Dalwhinne Distillery

Single Malt Whisky is made in a single distillery from malted grain. There are distilleries all over Scotland, but the largest concentration is in the Spey region. The air around an active distillery is magical – malted grain and wort hang heavy in the nose. The maturation warehouses, where they age the whisky also smell wonderful with the angel’s share evaporating skyward. Tours of distilleries are quite fun and end with samples of the spirit and some good gift shops. My favorite distillery tours are the Macallan, Clynelish and Highland Park in the Orkney Islands.

Scottish Pub
Scottish Pub

The Driving

Right up front you know things are different, the steering wheel is on the other side of the car. You’re shifting a manual transmission with your left hand. There are roundabouts everywhere. Driving in the UK is quite a challenge but really fun as well.

Watch your speed over there, they have speed cameras and remember NO turning on red at intersections. This site provides some great driving tips.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186216-c9626/United-Kingdom:Driving.Tips.For.Visitors.html

Overall, British drivers are quite good. They have comprehensive driver training and tend to follow the rules – there are some nuts on the road just not as many as in the U.S. It is best to have a good navigator in the passenger seat to help in the big cities. I’ll finish with the ultimate driving link. Enjoy the views.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkAT82-R0S8