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Hazy shades of Autumn

I’m back, here, in my favourite place, Applecross, Wester Ross.

I’ve seen lots on my way here.  I’ve done lots, I’ve eaten lots… I should be keen to share it all, in great detail, but right now all I want to do is lay here in front of the wood burning stove, supping whisky and re-living a few special moments from the past 48 hours…

The drive North… heading into Glencoe…

Guy Fawkes night, on the shores of Lochcarron (Wicker Man comes to mind)…

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An Applecross prawn a day keeps the doctor away

I’ve just spent seven heavenly days in my favourite place in the world and I’m feeling pretty happy and chilled out.  My body may be back behind a boring desk at work for 8 hours today, but my spirit is still firmly in Applecross bay with the prawns and the squat lobsters and all the other lovely edible creatures just waiting to sacrifice themselves to please my belly.

I have eaten a lot this week.  A lot.  I may be having a food baby now, but it was worth every last mouthful.  In keeping with tradition our first meal was at the Applecross Inn where I devoured whole Applecross prawns swimming in garlic butter.  These bad boys were huge and juicy and oh so delicious.  It’s always the first meal of holiday prawns that are the most memorable.  Maybe because, after a few months since I was last in Applecross, my memory of them had started to fade, so when they arrived at the table on the first night there was a fanfare playing in my head.  When placed in front of me I felt like they should leap up off the plate with big jazz hands (or claws) going “ Taaa-Daaaaaa!”.  Yes, I know- that mental picture was pretty awesome, right?

Anyway, moving on from my prawn day dream…

Many other fabulous meals were had, including big beefy steaks, crispy fish and chips, half pints of prawn tails with cocktail sauce and lovely squat lobsters which you can find in abundance in and around Applecross, but not may other places further south.  This is a shame, as they are fantastic.  Apparently they don’t travel well- Perhaps they get car sick?  Let’s not dwell on that mental image.

I also concocted my very own creations in our wee but-n-ben- a slow cooked lamb and haricot bean stew in velvety tomato sauce yumminess, home baked shortbread and the vital scottish breakfast of kings (and queens) square sausage, fried onion and tatty scone in a roll!

Apart from the eating I did some moderate outdoor activities, including a walk to the mast above the Bealach-na-ba. Here is the view from the top:

However,most of my newly acquired protein fuelled energy was burnt on a walk through shin deep cow field muck and rivers to reach a beautiful remote beach only visible when the tide is super low.  It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and not another soul around for miles.  It also helped that this was on the most glorious day of the year so far.  I think I had a bit of a moment and tried to capture it on camera, but it just didn’t do it justice.

On Wednesday we were joined by friends from London who flew to Inverness and completed the journey in true ‘romantic’ highland fashion- by stinky diesel train.  However, I am underselling this as, if you have to travel by train, the route from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh is the one to do it on.

I’ve been to the Applecross area so many times over the years and I love it a bit more each time, but since my wedding there a few years ago, I forgot how much fun it was to show it to someone for the first time.  The drive over the Bealach-na-ba for starters- it’s a bit like the marmite of the road world. If you love driving, you will love the Bealach-na-ba, but if your not so confident, it’s hell on earth.

Personally, I love it and the views from the summit (on a clear day) are probably the most spectacular roadside views you’ll find in the world…or for at least….20 miles, bearing in mind the coastal road between Applecross and Shieldaig is equally as stunning.  As well as showing off the scenery it was a joy to impart our knowledge of all the food produced locally and share some lovely meals.  We destroyed cheeseboards from the West Highland dairy, decimated venison sausages from Roddy, the butcher in Lochcarron and obliterated all the Torridon and Shieldaig smoked salmon we could find.  Even the honestly box eggs from the roadside cupboard were the best eggs we had ever tasted and, over the week, we cleared out the top shelf leaving only the hats and gloves for sale (they were rather nice too, but it was just too sunny to justify knit wear, it was above 5 degrees after all!).

I can’t think of anywhere else in Scotland there is such a fantastic range of foodie places in such a small area, especially somewhere so remote.  On the down side, we missed the start of ‘the season’ by one week, therefore we missed out on food at the Kishorn seafood bar, The Potting Shed in the Applecross Walled Garden– my very favourite place to eat in all the world, not just because food is amazing, but it is also where I had my wedding- and Nanny’s place in Shieldaig.  Maybe just as well as I don’t think we had enough meals in each day to cover them all.  However, we did pay the Applecross Inn frequent visits and had a lovely lunch at the Shieldaig Bar and Coastal Kitchen where we were very pleased to see Clootie dumping with Drambuie custard on the menu.  I don’t think it surpassed the sticky toffee pudding from the Applecross Inn though- Sweet spongy syrupy magic in a bowl.

In between all this eating and occasional moderate/minimal exercise, we also did a good job of working our way through our very special bottles of whisky from Tam’s Drams in front of the stove, not to mention a good few more on offer behind the bar at the Applecross Inn.

Does this all sound very indulgent?  It was!  …..Most pleasing 🙂

Ahhhh, if only it could have gone on forever. I fully intend on moving to Applecross and when I do this will be doing every day.   I also intend on winning the lottery to fund such activities and maybe to invest some sort of cholesterol and calorie burning device.  On a tangent, we did befriend a lovely chap, we shall refer to as Santa, and I came close to negotiating the purchase of a caravan from him once he had finished building his new house and had moved out of said caravan.  I really believe I could have been spending many a happy weekend stuffed into Santa’s wee caravan in the middle of nowhere, full of squats and prawns and whisky….if only we had one more round of drinks to finalise the deal.  However, I was swiftly removed from my bar stool and promptly marched home under the light of the super moon, safely away from the temptation to trade the family jewels for a tin can on wheels….It would have been nice though!

Anyway, it all had to end at some point, so we finished our visit with a grand finale at the Applecross Inn where we had our last prawny supper, a lovely bottle of red (connoisseurs choice, no less) and many many whiskies to fuel our final journey home through the creepy woods, made slightly less creepy by our raised alcohol levels.  On Saturday we made a pit stop at Roddy’s butchers where the London collective bought the remaining stock of smoked fish to take home and we purchased a half cow half venison sausage monster, followed by a quick visit to the Carron Pottery where many tea towels and sheep skin slippers were adopted.  I am pleased to report they are now living happily with their new family in London.

I had a fabulous week and I’m glad everyone else had just as nice a time.  We all plan on a return visit soon, very soon.

Watch out prawns!

In the mean time here is the best of the rest…

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