A MUSEUM ON SKYE

The Skye Museum of Island Life  at Kilmuir is another cool site on the Trotternish Penninsula.

Tucked away on the shore above the water is a village of thatched cottages at one time inhabited by the crofters (tenants of the landowners).

Each cottage is filled with memorabilia from the era (however pictures could not be taken inside the buildings.)

The museum was opened in 1965  with a focus on preserving a few of the cottages that were once the major type of homestead on Skye.  It is within these cottages (a few hundred years ago) that families and friends sat around the peat fire and passed on the stories and songs of the Hebrides which are now famous worldwide.

After visiting Skye in 1773 and staying in a croft house, James Boswell wrote: ‘We had no rooms that we could command, for the good people here had no notion that a man could have any occasion but for a mere sleeping-place’.

As we were riding around the Trotternish Penninsula, Anne told us about the Great Disruption of 1843. A lot happened at this time – but one basis of the Disruption is that the Evangelical Party gained a majority in the General Assembly. They wanted the church to feel free to call their own ministers rather than a wealthy church member/government being the one to choose.

On May 18th of that year – 450 ministers walked out of the Church of Scotland General Assembly at St. Andrews in Edinburgh and proceeded down the hill to Tanfield Hall. There they formed the Free Church of Scotland. They sacrificed a lot – gave up their churches and homes to stand on principal. They needed to work from the ground up to establish a church.  The Great Disruption is considered a major event in Scottish history.

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Above the museum is Flora MacDonald’s grave -she’s the one who risked her life to help Bonnie Prince Charlie escape (the one he never thanked).  I did not walk up there because I chose to meander around the village instead – but with enough time, one could do both at the same stop.

KILT ROCK

In every place, where there is any thing worthy of observation, there should be a short printed directory for strangers.
James Boswell in The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides 1773 (The Isle of Skye is in the north most Inner Hebrides)

I thought this sign was quite succinct.

Up the road from the Old Man of Storr is Kilt Rock. (Many people say that Skye is the most beautiful area in a beautiful country. I agree!) The Rock is named Kilt Rock because (drumroll!) it looks like the pleats of a kilt.  The observation point is also quite windy – in fact I have a picture of Me and Two of the Other Three looking like we are being blown off the observation point. They warned me against posting it – but not to worry – I don’t want it posted either. 🙂 The rock stands 200 feet above the sea (and during these past couple ninety degree plus days, I wish I were once again standing there!)  Notice that the sun was out and the sky at least somewhat blue at this point in the day.

This is a popular tourist spot and the observation area was crowded when we were there – so I did not get the clear picture of the waterfall (in the foreground) that I would’ve liked – but you can still see it.

MARY MAC’S TEA ROOM

I will talk more about what I saw in Georgia later, but I did want to talk about the place Brian and Carolyn took me to lunch yesterday!

Talk about real southern cooking!  The food was beyond delicious.

Right after World War II, many women who had lost their husbands in the war – needed to earn money to live. One of the things they knew how to do well was cook, so they opened restaurants, but called them tea rooms to make what they were doing more “acceptable.”

One of those women was Mary McKinsey who opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in downtown Atlanta – right down the street from the Bank of America Tower (which is actually the 36th tallest building in the world). Mary Mac’s tea room was one of 16 tea rooms opened at the time – but the only one still open  65 years later.

Mary Mac’s IS the place to go for real southern cooking in Atlanta, and the food is still prepared the way it was back in the 40s. As they say themselves: “Every morning we shuck bushels of corn, handwash our carefully-selected greens and snap fresh green beans by hand.” Considering they often serve 1,000 guests a day, that’s a lot of shucking, handwashing and snapping.

Outside,  the restaurant is very unpretentious – but inside it is well-decorated – with hundreds of pictures on the walls of people who have eaten there.  Everyone from Dick Van Patten, Taylor Hicks, President Carter, Hilary Clinton, JoAnne Worley, Jesse Ventura, Lester Maddox … etc.  Paula Deen is a big fan.

Anyhow, we sat down and Cory, our friendly server came over and asked if this was our first time at the restaurant. Well, for me, of course, that was true, so the next thing you know, we all get a dish of pot likker with a cracklin corn muffin – given to first-time guests and the people who bring them. Pot likker is the juice leftover from cooking greens – such as collard and mustard greens. Cracklins are pieces of fried pork fat.  I know it might not sound that appetizing – but I loved it!  This would be such a great comfort food on a cold, snowy day.

For our entree – we ordered the special where you got a little of everything – or maybe I should say a lot of everything. (Warning – you cannot doggie-bag the leftovers when you order the meal for three – which seems like a waste of food, but so be it.)

We had:

Chicken and dumplings – good.

Fried chicken – good.

Meatloaf – I like meatloaf, but this wasn’t my favorite.

Mac and cheese – good – they claim it’s the world’s best.

Fried green tomatoes with horseradish sauce – loved those tomatoes!

Sweet potato souffle

This was my favorite and I don’t even like sweet potatoes!  Unbelievably tasty.

For dessert – peach cobbler – good.

Cory offered to take our picture, so we let him.

Then I asked if I could take his picture and put it on my blog and he said,

“Sure!”

So here he is – Cory, the friendly server in front of just one of the countless walls filled with pictures of famous people.

If you ever go to Atlanta, I would highly recommend Mary Mac’s for a true southern cooking experience.

I’m just wondering why they didn’t ask for OUR picture for wall 🙂

TIME OUT FOR A QUICK TRIP

I am not done with sharing my Scotland trip (and in the process, writing my own journal of my time there), but meanwhile – I just arrived home from a quick trip to Northern Georgia. (Well, everything about it was quick except for the journey home – a total of eight hours from being dropped off at the airport to arriving at my front door – and I could actually add an hour to that since it was an hour to the airport from the place where I was staying. The flight itself was only 1 hour and 23 minutes – all the rest was spent waiting and waiting and waiting …  Did you ever watch 150 suitcases come around a carousel literally one at a time?)  But the good news – we were the last plane allowed to leave the Atlanta airport and fly north to the Midwest before they canceled flights because of the severe weather coming through (halfway between there and here).  So at least I GOT home.

Otherwise, the trip was fantastic. Brian and Carolyn were fantastic hosts and I met a lot of great people with GREAT ideas! But the time there was fast-paced and busy. Normally I do four or five different workshops at one place – this time I did the same presentation in four different places.

I spoke in Dallas, Georgia at Picketts Hill on Thursday night.

In Fort Olglethorp on Friday morning.

In Dalton at Welcome Hill (isn’t that a cool name?) on Friday night.

And on Saturday morning I was in Cartersville.

Again – great people with great ideas.

ENJOY SOME SCOTTISH MUSIC

As we drove through Skye, Anne played us some Scottish music!

That was fun.

If you’d like to hear some of it, I found these three artists/groups on iTunes.

Karen Matheson.

Runrig (If you want to get just one of their songs, I would suggest the Hampden remix of Loch Lomand)

Red Hot Chilli Pipers. (Funny, hunh?) I would get their Flower of Scotland and Auld Lang Syne.

(SCOTLAND FACT: Scotland doesn’t really have a National Anthem, but Flower of Scotland is the song you hear played at sporting events, etc.)

(SCOTLAND FACT: You might wonder what they don’t adopt God Save the Queen. Hmmm … it might be that second verse which people DON’T sing anymore, but still … people remember it.

Lord grant that Marshal Wade

May by thy mighty aid

Victory bring.

May he sedition hush,

And like a torrent rush,

Rebellious Scots to crush.

God save the Queen!)

QUAINT PORTREE

Portree is the largest town on the Isle of Skye and has the only high school. (It is also the location for one of the fictional Quidditch teams in the Harry Potter Series.)

I had seen pictures and was very excited about seeing the real thing – especially the painted harbor shoppes.

The day continued cold and rainy and our first stop was the Mackenzie Coffee and Bakery to have some cream of tomato soup – which tasted delicious. We then dashed from one store to another in the rain, but I was determined to find those painted shoppes. (The town was surrounded by harbor, so we had to ask for directions.)

Later, as we were leaving, we noticed a wedding was happening in the church. Ladies in their Ascot-worthy hats and men in their kilts. We did not, however, see the bridal party – but we did hear the bagpiper play.

(SCOTLAND FACT: The thistle is the national flower of Scotland.)

SKYE TRAVEL

The next morning dawned with more mist and rain (but isn’t that what the Isle of Skye is all about)?  We drove past green-covered hills sprinkled with purple heather. (The other kind of heather blooms in August and covers the hills.) White stone cottages were tucked in all the niches of the land, identical in their black-framed windows. Seagulls soared over the lochs.

We stopped at the Talisker Distillery and learned about whiskey production and to the cellar where bottles of whiskey bottled as far back as the 70s waited to be open.

Outside, it rained harder and a lone seagull hovered near the grassy shore.

You can see how hard it’s raining by the texture of the pond.

A not-very inviting loo stood by the edge of the road.

(As Anne would say at each restroom stop, “Time to skip to the loo.”) Fortunately, the ones we stopped at to use, were a lot better than this one.