Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Scotland #4 - Pitlochry, Gateway to the Highlands

Pitlochry Scotland
Jeanette had her first experience driving on the wrong side of the road as we left Edinburgh and headed towards Pitlochry and the Highlands. The drive was not terribly interesting as we were on a major highway most of the way, however there were a number of round-abouts which kept us alert and worried. The best thing about round-abouts is that you can just keep going around until you decide which is the correct exit. The worst thing is by the time we did that, the voice on our GPS was screaming at us. With a British accent.

Pitlochry Pine Trees Hotel
Pine Trees Hotel
Pitlochry is a charming little town. As elsewhere in Scotland, the houses are very uniformly made of hand cut grey stone. But there the similarities with Edinburgh ends. These houses are highly individual, many with peaked roofs and cornices and decorative touches. Some are two stories, others three. Our hotel, the Pine Trees, was originally a manor house surrounded by acres of land.  The innkeeper told us the land was gradually sold off except for a few acres and the manor house and its out-buildings. Because I require ground floor accommodation, we were in an annex that I suspect was once a carriage house. We have a lovely suite with views out over the gardens.

Pitlochry Atholl Highlanders
Atholl Highlanders
Our first full day we spent at nearby Blair Castle where we watched an impressive showing of the Atholl Highlanders, a private army that dates to Queen Victoria’s day. It seems that on a visit the queen was so impressed by them that she allowed by royal decree that they should exist in perpetuity as a private army. The only one in all of Great Britain. Of course the army, all kilt clad in good Scottish tradition, is accompanied by a pipe band. A truly marvelous pipe band.  Now I know among readers there are bound to be some who will think there is no such thing as a “good” pipe band, but I love the sound of bagpipes more than any other. So I was in heaven. It was an exhausting but good day.

We had our dinner in the dining room.  Because I am determined to try anything I’ve never eaten before, I had pigeon’s breast. Big mistake. One I won’t make again. On the other hand I had haggis for breakfast and quite liked it.

Tossing the Caber
Today, at Blair Castle it was Highland Games Day, with athletic looking, kilt cladded redheads tossing telephone poles about. I’ve never seen so many redheads gathered in one place before in my life. There was also a piping competition and Highland dancing. Fun for all.

Tomorrow after breakfast we head for Braemar and hope to get into Balmoral Castle on our way to Nairn.

Watch for Blair's newest thriller, Fatal Charm 
Coming in 2017

 Fatal Charm by Blair McDowell
A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.

With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?

Praise for Fatal Charm:

"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris,

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B,

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson,

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 The books of Blair McDowell


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Blair McDowell