Sunday, 28 October 2012

Scotland, Single-malts, scenery, solitude and... sticky stuff!

Oh dear... my last post on my blog was on the 30th September - that seems a lifetime ago.  And it's not that it's been a quiet time with nothing to write about, either.  So, let me get you all up to date, as there is plenty to mention.

Firstly, after the bereavement of someone very close to me and having had a pretty busy time over the last few months, I decided that I had earned a break.  Seeking some solitude, scenery and Scottish single-malt whisky, I took myself off to one of my favourite parts of the world - the Scottish Highlands.  I was determined to sample some of the country's finest produce, and for that there is only one place to go - The Torridon Hotel, on the beautiful banks of Loch Torridon itself.  The hotel boasts a dedicated whisky bar, with some of the rarest and most amazing whiskies in the world.  Dexi-heaven, indeed.

Dexi - The Whisky Bar at The Torridon - and a very happy girl

The whisky bar and lounge offer breath-taking views of the Torridonian hills and loch - the perfect back-drop for the whiskies themselves.  As I considered the trip part of my 40th birthday celebrations, I decided not to skimp on my choices from the bar.  My favourite, and indeed now all-time favourite whisky, has to be the Ardbeg Galileo - ok, at £28 per measure it was pretty expensive, but worth every penny.  All the others that I tried (The Macallan 18-year old, Ardbeg Gator, Glen Mhor 1980, Glenfiddich 15-year old, Bruichladdich 18-year old... and er, a few others) were fantastic, with tremendous varying textures and flavours, but the Galileo was simply exquisite.  I had a couple of measures, just to make sure it really was my favourite.  My bill from the whisky bar managed to add up to £150, and that was before I started the 5-course evening meal!  Well... it was my birthday, sort of.

I know it may sound from that whisky-tasting list as though I didn't venture out of the bar for any of the time I was in Torridon, but I did - you cannot go all that way and ignore the draw to explore the scenery of the Highlands.  My travels took me up the west coast, from Applecross to Ullapool, and I definitely found the scenery and solitude that I was seeking.

I detoured on my way home to visit Aberfeldy and the Ben Lawers mountain range.  At Grandtully, near Aberfeldy, I was delighted to discover more Dexi-delites at The Scottish Chocolate Centre - the shop of the very talented Mr Iain Burnett.

Dexi - chocolate delights at the Scottish Chocolate Centre

It wasn't all chocolates and whisky, though.  I did manage to do some walking - despite not taking any proper walking boots I managed still to enjoy some of the views of the Ben Lawers Nature Reserve.  Although certainly not my highest heels, they were certainly the highest heels that I've clambered up a mountain in.

Dexi - definitely NOT my usual walking boots
It was a more refreshed and recharged girl that returned to Manchester than the one that left, and I have already promised to return to the Highlands soon, in order to enjoy more of that legendary Scottish hospitality (ie. whisky and chocolate!).

As mentioned in this post (and my last, er, two!) it was recently my 40th birthday.  I've had some lovely presents and treated myself too - Agent Provocateur have certainly benefitted from my recent celebrations.  I'm sure that there will be, er, photographic proof of my purchases coming to a website near here very soon!  However, the one thing that I did miss was a birthday cake - and surely a girl on her 40th must have a suitable cake.  With friends visiting to help me celebrate one evening last week I decided to surprise everyone, myself included, and make my own.  Sadly for me, and my friends, it didn't work out too well.  Luckily for you, it turned into a fairly messy disaster...

Dexi - cake mix and me equals a Cake Minx
Although the cake mix that turned me into a Cake Minx didn't supply dessert that evening, I hope the pictures will keep you entertained for a while once they are on my private gallery, so something good will have come out of the attempt.  As for dessert, at least I kept some of those chocolates from Mr Burnett for the party...