Oidhche na Bliadhn ‘Ùire – Hogmanay- Happy New Year

Edinburgh 31st December 2019

Last year we very busy chauffering customers across the country and in the evening I had the pleasure to take some of our regular clients to the big Hogmanay party in Edinburgh. Despite working and being stone-sober I throughly enjoyed the amazing athmosphere Edinburgh always has when there is a party on.

Those customers have meanwhile left this gorgeous country perhaps because of the pandemic or Brexit, or both?

The company who has been responsible for organisation of the Hagmonay is Underbelly. This year there will be no party so they created these amazing videos on their Edinburgh Hogmanay website.

As you all know I am terribly in love with this country and these films touch my heart.

Take a look:

Oidhche na Bliadhn ‘Ùire

One of my favourite places…

If you love what you do you are always trying to expand on that experience. Three years ago I was lucky enough to be accepted as volunteer at Kellie Castle, a property in the care of the NTS. There is a team of amazing volunteers at the castle, most of them put a lot more time into it then I and each single one of them plus the staff at the castle are a never ending source of knowledge and stories. Due to Covid-19 sadly none of us was able to provide advice as room guide or guided tours throughout the castle. Hopefully this will change again in 2021 and meanwhile the NTS produced thsi fantastic video so we all will not forget about Kellie Castle.

If you wish to support the trust you can opt to buy some Xmas presents here:

https://www.nts.org.uk/shop/collections/shop-winter-offers.html

Also, you can still visit the amazing garden and take a walk to Kellie Law

Whisky & ghosts

Last week a good whisky buddy of mine confronted me with this lovely label of “That Bontique Y Whisky Company” and asked if I could figure out from which undisclosed Speyside whisky distillery it came from. I failed badly…

What I love about Scotland in general is the fact that whatever draws your attention there is always more to it. So, this whisky label now leads us from whisky to ghosts and to a wee bit of story telling.

The above label we believe depict from left to right:

The GlenDronach -> The Spanish Lady

Bowmore -> The headless horseman

Glenrothes -> Biawa ‘Byeway’ Makalanga

Glenmorangie -> The White Lady

Jura -> two ghosts

Ghost stories involving the white and the Spanish lady are not exclusive to Glenmorangie, GlenDronach or even Scotland. You can find stories involving these two ladies all over the world. In Glenmorangie the white lady is haunting the now decommissioned malting floors. She allegedly removed wall paper without a tear. In the days when malting was still done at the distillery one sleepy shoveller could ruin the day’s maltings so the threat of the ghostly white lady might have helped to keep everyone awake.

The Spanish lady arrived at Glendronach in an Oloroso cask. Glendronach is famous for its sherried whisky after all. She did not appreciate the cold climate and was desperately lonely. She discovered a hidden tunnel to Glen House and ever after enjoyed the human company there, settling in the room named appropriately Glendronach.

The headless rider of Bowmore was spotted by crofter Lachlan Ban when returning home in a stormynight. Lachlan found the door of his croft ajar, an opened whisky bottle on the table and the fire had gone out. The un-ghostly explanation to this story was provided by Lachlan’s brother who arrived on horseback to share a dram with his brother, found the door open (blown open by the wind) so he walked in, had a dram but could not wait. When riding home he put the collar of his cloak up to keep the wind out, which must have been when Lachlan spotted him as the headless rider.

Biawa ‘Byeway’ Makalanga was a real person. He was found orphaned and hungry by Major James Grant (the than owner of Glen Grant) in South Africa. He took him to Scotland, where he became his servant, served during the first world war and even scored a goal for the Scottish football team. Biawa ‘Byeway’ Makalanga was only spotted twice in the neighbouring distillery Glenrothes during the installation of two new stills which after investigation had disturbed some leyline. Since setting this right Biawa ‘Byeway’ Makalanga ‘s ghost never re-appeared.

The whisky distillery on Jura can even claim two ghosts. In 1781 Laird Archibald Campbell banned distilling on the island only to be awoken 29 years later by an angry old lady who scared him to the extent that he opened a new disitllery in 1810. More recently, in 2010, the resident cat “Elvis” captured a spirit on his webcam which was identified as the ghost of the island’s school teacher Elisabeth. To honour this there is even a ghostly dram available.

Coming back to the craft label which depicts five ghosts sharing a dram, only one of them is from Speyside which is what the labe indicates, stating “Single malt Scotch whisky, Speyside, 8 years old” so it has to be a Glenrothes.

Map from the Scotch Advocate

There are more whisky related ghost stories and one of which can be found at GlenScotia of Campbeltown

Do you know more ghost stories? If so do leave us a comment below.

Is travelling on your mind?

With the secon wave of Corona in full swing the future of travelling becomes more and more insecure. We just do not know when travelling will be possible again.

Mainwhile here in the UK much of the accommodation is booked right into 2021 by UK residents who have already opted for a staycation.

If you dream about Scotland but are unsure if you will be able to travel on the date you had in mind do seek our advice and expertise.

Together we can dream up your bespoke tour once booked you can always change dates. Because we are a very small operator we do not require deposits. You can dream and hope and you do not need to invest anything but your imagination till such time you can put your feet on Scottish soil.

Contact

Or call Kirstin on 0044 7446112672

Click below for some tour examples

Family Fun at Stirling Castle

Mary Queen of Scots

Winter Tours

Less touring….

With the new restrictions put in place we could still go on a tour across Scotland but pretty much only with up to six people of one household.

So for sightseeing 2020 looks a little like a total write off. However, not all is bleak.

I foster a lifelong fascination for flying and think in general that it is a good idea to provide you, my customers, with more unusal activities which you could add on to future tours (potentially in 2021). Already in 2019 we added on the possibilitly to combine a tour with an airexperience at the Scottish Gliding Centre at Portmoak in Fife or to go flying with the Loch Lomond Seaplanes.

My own airexperience resulted in me aiming to one day fly solo in a glider. On the way there I had the opportunity to take these photographs below. Enjoy!!!

Views on Edinburgh

By accident – almost- Edinburgh happened to be my destination today and after a miserably rainy day yesterday today there was something to see indeed.

I ventured off initally to find a building which was mention in this interesting articly by Edinburgh Live on derelict buildings in Edinburgh.

Originally built as a police station it continued its life as one of Edinburgh’s most strangest restaurant. Sadly, though pretty much in the city centre it now sits empty:

55 Abbeyhill Road, Edinburgh Police Station/ Armenian restaurant

Next to it and very close to Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s summer residence, I found this wee lovely tower:

Wee tower next to Holyrood Palace

If you visit Edinburgh my advice always has been: use your feet. Especially in the old town which was build when people walked. You will discover so much more.

Calton Hill is worth climbing uphill. Here the view over the Firth of Forth towards Fife with the Isle of May on your right

View of Firth of Forthlton
Carlton Hill
Observatory on Carlton Hill, Edinburgh Tour
Why you need to walk in Edinburgh
Community garden at the back and bottom of the Royal Mile
What could have been a Parliament building
Looking on to the Royal Mile
toll house
Waverley Station
Waverley Station

SCITOUR project

As I am hoping to be part of this project with my tour offering I am very exited about tomorrow’s webinar.

Email: kirstin@starfishtravel.scot for log on details or get in touch with Andy : andy.ruck.perth@uhi.ac.uk

Webinar: Introduction to Scientific Tourism Thursday 1st October, 12-2PM

SCITOUR is a collaborative project centred around the development and promotion of ‘scientific tourism’. Scientific tourism puts scientific learning at the heart of the tourist experience, giving visitors a deeper knowledge and appreciation of a specific place, while taking scientific education into adventurous settings that inspire as well as educate.

SCITOUR brings together academic research institutions and small-to-medium businesses with the goal of helping tourism businesses in remote regions to develop and market new products based around scientific learning. SCITOUR is part-funded by the European Union’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA), and involves partners from Scotland, Iceland, Finland and Greenland.

Through SCITOUR, we aim to create an umbrella organisation that gives participating businesses access to an established scientific tourism brand and identity, a website where they can market their products, access to transnational promotional campaigns, and a supportive network of businesses offering similar products.

This webinar will provide an introduction to the project and the idea of scientific tourism, as well as enable us to gain the perspectives of those working in tourism businesses. You will hear from the researchers at the centre of the project, as well as one of our key partners – Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. As we are right at the beginning of the SCITOUR project, this is your chance to help shape its content and direction.

Through a mix of presentations and open discussions, this webinar will cover:

Aims of the SCITOUR project

What is (or what could be) scientific tourism?

SCITOUR brand and marketing

Ways forward, and how you can get involved

For joining instructions and to book your place, please contact Andy Ruck: andy.ruck.perth@uhi.ac.uk

New Restrictions

Since new restrictions have come into force last week booking a tour is most likely not good advice and certainly not if you wish to travel with more than one household.

You can still get in touch to plan tours for the future and most certainly also if you wish to get some help with planning or looking for ideas.

I sincerely hope that operations will resume to be normal by summer 2021 and meanwhile I aim to bring a little Scotland to you on this website and via social media.

Stay well & healthy!

Scottish Golf Courses-> Now is your time

Golf is open again and there are no international golfers this year. So 2020 maybe your best bet to get onto such famous courses as the Old Course or as remote as the Isle of Colonsay Golf course.

You can of course always combine your game with some Scottish Uisge Beatha = whisky, perhaps on Islay and if you do not understand anything try soma Gaidhlig: