The gardens at Ballindalloch Castle. They are maintained|
by only one man, seen at center at 0:21. (30-second clip)
Thursday, 9 May: a formal dinner
on the train, but
The train began to move before I rose, and I guess I was showering when Mark left our room to go take pictures from the observation platform in the last car.
I did finally get to the dining room for breakfast—there were actually two dining cars, with open seating, but we generally sat with folks that we had gotten to know on our walks. So Mark and I did not make the acquaintance of many of the members of the other walking group. My journal says nothing about the breakfast, so I can only assume that I was once again pleased by the presence of kippers on the menu. They are so much better than the pathetic shadow of a kipper that we get at home from those long shallow cans.
After some distance by rail, we got off the train at Elgin, and onto a bus large enough for all thirty-some of us. Our trail started along a country road, but before too long we were on a disused railroad right of way (the tracks had even been taken up), thus very flat. And it was mostly well drained, no muddy boots for us today.
In the distance in the image at bottom right, in the block to the left, is the railroad station for the Tamdhu Distillery in the town of Knockando. It’s where we would stop for lunch.
Lunch was al fresco, from bags as I recall, and you see some of us there in the image to the right, sitting dining.
We walked a couple of miles after lunch, and for some
reason I took relatively few pictures then, hardly any of
them interesting to anyone at all, except for the two
of lichens that are below, and which I find interesting,
|Lichen (big image, small).||More lichen (big image, small).||
Lunch at Tamdhu Station
(big image, small).
After that two-mile stretch, we could take a bus directly to Ballindalloch Castle, or choose to walk another stretch, of two more miles’ length, I think; Mark and I chose to go directly to the castle.
|The garden at Ballindalloch Castle; you can get an even larger view as well.|
The castle is beautiful on the outside, and elegant within. It’s surrounded by a gem of a smaller garden, which you see above (and can see a video of up top) and, more extensively, broad expanses of plantings of daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus). I think I’ve mentioned before that this is a wildflower in this part of Europe.
The entrance to the
(big image, small).
The heraldic cartouche above the doorway—
I really like the wild men standing
on the family motto.
We entered the castle by the doorway you see at the left. If you’re a Macpherson-Grant, this is your home, and I’m sure you enjoy it very much.
On the inside, there is the expected excess of display of wealth, much of it even in good taste. I know that my mother the antique dealer would have been in ecstasy over the fine oriental porcelains in showcases superbly lit. The rooms were filled with marble statues, the walls covered with paintings of royalty and family. I suppose that many of the subjects were both royalty and family. For myself, I was more interested in the architectural details, and I confess that I flirted with the sin of envy at the ceilings.
There were many dimly-lit hallways lined with photographs of family, framed certificates, and documents that would be of interest to only the family, and with these I quickly got bored. We went back out where I spent some time admiring the wonderful little garden, but I got few pictures beyond the lovely red rhododendron to the right.
We went from there to the castle’s gift shop, where we were treated to High Tea. It was a pleasant opportunity to relax and chat, and rest our eyes after a bit of sensory overload. I bought some Walker’s Shortbread, but I fear that it wasn’t as good as the home-made item that we had at the youth center of Columba 1400 in Staffin, Monday.
Before leaving, the whole group of us, thirty-odd in number, stood still for Richard Koegl, the professional photographer on the tour, to take a group picture. I’m sure it’ll show up in Country Walkers’ brochures. From there it was back to the train, waiting for us in Keith.
Once we were back in our compartment, we got dressed for our seven-o’clock dinner. Mark’s kilt and all its associated kit were waiting for him there, and I helped him on with it all, taking a few pictures after the process was done.
In the observation car, there was a lot of talk and camaraderie, not all of it lubricated by the free-flowing alcohol. Good before-dinner relaxation. Mark got a lot of compliments and questions on his kilt, and there was general surprise at the low rental fee that Kinloch Anderson charged. I had worried that my dark-blue sport-coat and my dark pants would be too informal for the evening, but I think that the only man in the whole group to be more spiffily dressed than I was was Mark himself.
Linnea was one of the members of our walking group, but I guess I was only dimly aware that her grandmother, Barbara, was in the other. It turned out that Barbara had taken a huge number of Country Walkers tours before this one, and tonight she announced that this would be her last. All of us were impressed by her extensive experience with the company.
Dinner was very pleasant; Mark has a menu on his page, but here’s something the menu doesn’t show. I had said on the form we returned to CW before the tour that I couldn’t eat celery root. When I saw it on the menu, I thought, oh, I’ll just push it aside, no problem. But when everyone else’s salad came, I got a special version with no celeriac. This, I thought, was real service.
After dinner, there was wonderful entertainment with electronic keyboard and violin. But I wanted to enjoy myself in an uncomplicated and unencumbered fashion, so left my camera in our room. As a result, no more pictures till tomorrow.