Thursday 16 April 2009
After last night’s frantic phone calls to book accommodation today had been a frenzy of activity. It had been a frenzy of activity because J had absconded with her mum and the Cupcake Queen to the Roman Camp at Callander for afternoon tea, leaving me in charge of the packing…and the Fatdog! By 3pm I was totally frazzled but almost ready to leave. By 4pm the Fatdog and I had reached Callander, picked up J from the hotel and continued on our way north past Glencoe, Fort William and Invergarry. Sometime about 8pm we had reached our first stopover.
The Kintail Lodge Hotel is far from the most stylish hotel we have stayed in but is always spotlessly clean, takes the Fatdog and allows the hairy beast into the bar where the food is of good quality. This was our second visit. Some 3-4 hours from Central Scotland it is an ideal stop-over from a late afternoon start. There is enough time to get there and eat at a sensible hour. It saves the clock watching en route, whilst wondering whether you’ll get to your destination before they stop serving food.
Moby the Haddock must have been a mighty fish. As the girl behind the bar staggered towards our super-reinforced wooden table with the plates I knew we were in trouble. With a battered extremity suspended in thin air over the edge of each extra large plate, Moby’s last journey was undoubtedly a crowd gasper. Locals, a few seconds before slouched on their bar stools, stood respectfully as the cortege of the last great denizen of the deep moved slowly past. I quaked. Having wolfed down a bowl of big juicy mussels in a garlic cream sauce, mopped up with a healthy portion of chunky bread, I was staring rampant indigestion in the eyeball.
Managing to stagger the last couple of metres to the table without collapsing under the weight of our whale substitute, our server attempted a genuine smile before giving up through complete exhaustion. She crawled back to the kitchen praying that no other thoughtless tourist would order haddock and chips. And an excellent haddock and chips it was. Underneath a thin crispy batter lay juicy, perfectly cooked fish. Moby was accompanied by real chips and homemade tartar sauce. I was impressed. As I sat there with my fish ‘n chips and my pint of Cuillin Red I relaxed…it had been a busy day.
I slept fitfully that night. While the bed was perfectly comfortable Moby’s partly digested remains were sitting like a universe of dense matter somewhere between here…and there. I shuffled into a less uncomfortable position and drifted off to sleep once more, my dreams filled with images of black-hooded giant haddock waiting in ambush somewhere north of Achnasheen.
While J sleeps like the proverbial log I tend to wake early so the Fatdog and I managed a quick stroll along the shore path before breakfast. Other than the odd rumbling in the tum Moby was by now no more than a distant memory. It was a bit chilly with a cold NE wind whipping down from the mountains to the sea loch below. Pulled along in the stiff breeze pockets of thick cloud spilled over the Five Sisters and Beinn Fhada down into Strath Croe, but to the west down Loch Duich the sky was already clear blue, just waiting for us to start our journey to the coast. But now it was time for breakfast.
I had my mandatory bowl of fresh fruit salad then tested out the bacon, sausage and egg. Again the standard of the cooking was up to the mark with everything being cooked fresh to order. With a big pot of coffee and endless toast we were ready for the day ahead.
As we waddled out the hotel’s main door my tummy rumbled and once more my thoughts turned to last night’s supper. Moby had indeed been a mighty fish!
(to be continued…)