A day out in the Lowlands of Scotland
Well, covid wasn't really what we needed...but, many have suffered much worse than us, but...the odd tourist is venturing forth and we recently had a coupe form Canada who were keen to explore their history. 
Being Pringles they wanted to see a little of the Borders, home of the Clan Pringle ( famous the world over for Pringle of Scotland, the finest woollen products and based in Hawick, 50miles south of Edinburgh ) What they didn't know was that a mere half an hour south of the Edinburgh ring road, on a desolate windswept hill lies the remains of Soutra Aisle.
High up, with commanding views back to Edinburgh and the Forth, Soutra Aisle is the remains of The House of the Holt Trinity, a hospital and friary dating from 1164!   Why would such a thing be if interest to them? Well, despite being founded by Malcolm IV for the " intention to found there a hospital for the reception of the poor rather than a religious place " it fell into poverty in the 15th Century after some ...er...undisclosed impropriety and only really survived intact because it became the burial site of the Clan Pringle. The surviving parts being a small element , a crypt in fact, of the original church. 
It is thought that much advanced medicine was conducted at Soutra hospital by an team of educated and forward thinking Friars.  As the hospital gradually fell into ruin, it is believed that it was that advanced thinking that moved to Edinburgh with the Friars became the basis for the Trinity College Hospital, the genesis of Edinburgh's place at the forefront of world medicine. 
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On the subject of Islay malts. In my other life I work in film and TV. I had the wonderful experience of spending three weeks working on a documentary about Whisky, called Water of Life which will air on Netflix later in 2020. During the course of the shoot, we found ourselves interviewing the inimitable and extraordinary Charles MacLean  at his home in Edinburgh's Newtown. Charles needs no introduction to the true whisky fan, but if you've not heard of him...he's a writer, advocate and ambassador of all things malty. As we were setting up the lights, I overheard a conversation between Charles and the cameraman, the latter explaining a circumstance of momentary alarm at home, which he calmed by reaching for a Bowmore...
"Bloody Hell" exclaimed Charles..." you don't keep the Islay malts in the house do you? ... they're meant to be in the shed with the guns and the animals" ​​​​​​​
 I'm still smiling.

Charles does private tastings by the way...could that be part of your itinerary? 

( Phtography by Tina Sorensen Photography, Edinburgh )
Charles Maclean whisky writer offers private tastings in Edinburgh
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Weddings aren't our normal 'stock in trade' but ...rules are for breaking!  Chris and Rachel got married at the City Chambers on a chilly but bright Thursday. They seemed a little nervous en route, so a wee flask of Glenfiddich in the glovebox served it's purpose admirably. 
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It really wasn't long before the Jag was required to take three Danish gentleman on a whisky tour of Islay and Dufftown in Speyside. Kennet, Lindy and Jan are Friends of Laphroaig ( it was Lindy's fourth visit!) so that was a bit of a holy grail for them.  They did enjoy their visit to Ardnahoe too, what a splendid visitor centre the new distillery sports.  They managed to fit in a tasting at Bunnahabhain too.  It was a pleasure to make their trip as comfortable and hassle free as possible, with treats, snacks and fresh coffee on board at the start of every day. Local knowledge is king in these situations, and the route to Dufftown gave us plenty of scope for historical chat and a visit to the Appin murder site.  With Lunch at the Clachaig Inn ( The boys really didn't want to leave!) and a quick spin of the area, we were in Dufftown in time for supper and a few drams at the Seven Stills before bed. 
Dufftown gave us a flying visit to The Macallan, a tour of Glenfiddich, lunch at the Grouse and a walking whisky tour with the inimitable Michelle of Speyside Tours which the Danes found most entertaining and informative. Kennet discovered the value of taking the independent bottlers seriously when Michelle gave him a dram of a  Gordon & MacPhail bottling of his favourite Mortlach which he preferred to his distillery bottled expression. Slainte Michelle.
The Monday saw the drive down to Edinburgh in the rain. The boys stayed in Leith and it was a opportunity to spend an hour or so showing some of Leith's fascinating history, before a trip up to Edinburgh and a few hours at the Queens Street Scottish Malt Whisky Society where it was a pleasure as a member to sign them in for a whisky flight in the members room.
Whisky tour of Islay and Speyside by luxury car.  Scotland tours by luxury and classic car. Picture shows view from the road to Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay

En route to Arndahoe distillery

The Danes do like their Fish n Chips it seems
The Danes do like their Fish n Chips it seems
https://www.islaywoollenmill.co.uk/
https://www.islaywoollenmill.co.uk/
Lindy 'owns' a bit of Laphroaig apparently!
Lindy 'owns' a bit of Laphroaig apparently!
Bye Bye Islay
Bye Bye Islay
Very fine burgers by all accounts
Very fine burgers by all accounts
A moment on Michelle's Speyside Tours walking tour of Dufftown
A moment on Michelle's Speyside Tours walking tour of Dufftown
SMWS
SMWS
Scottish Malt Whisky Society Queen Street.
Scottish Malt Whisky Society Queen Street.
Ah...the secret pubs....
Ah...the secret pubs....
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Well, the inevitable happened. A voice from the back of the Armstrong said..."Can you take us to Glencoe tomorrow?"

The answer I realised was, sadly...no.  The Star has been around, stoically surviving against the odds for 60 years, it's really too much to expect the old girl to do 240 miles in a day.
So, with that in mind, we've acquired a Jaguar. An obviously more modern, but still classic choice. Powerful and comfortable, air conditioned and elegant.   She's off to the isle of Islay at the start of October with three Danish Gentlemen on a Whisky tour. ...could it be you??
, pictured outside Harmony Garden in Melrose.
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May 2019

We had the pleasure of Louisa and Morten visiting from Norway. Louisa used to live here but Morten had only been to Scotland once, a long time ago. AJ enjoyed the opportunity to show Morten the Old and New Towns, with a wee stop on the Mound, overlooking the New Town for a whisky. We like to carry two whiskies for those that 'tak a dram'...generally a lighter, easy going, highly  'quaffable' malt like the local Glenkinchie ( Only an hour from Edinburgh, we can take you there too!) A lovely, light, grassy, honey like malt. Louisa had a Glenkinchie.
Morten however had stiffer tastes an elected to go for a classic Bruichladdich, a more meaty Islay malt. Can you taste the sea air?...I think you can...that and cinnamon and funnily enough...honey again. 
It also transpired that Morten wanted to buy what he called a tweed 'paperboy cap' ...so off we trotted to Walker Slater in Victoria Street ( Yup, the one that features in Harry Potter as Diagon Alley !)  
Morten was very happy with his cap!
 ( I got married in a Walker Slater Border Tweed suit...very nice it is too )​​​​​​​
Historical tour of Edinburgh by classic or modern luxury car.  Featuring an Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire. Parked up in Edinburgh's Victoria Street, the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter
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June 2019

Had a busy third weekend in June just relaxing!!!  Edinburgh's West End had their second classic car show on the streets of the capital's New Town West end. The lovely Sunil Varu invited us along again. There was street jazz cheerfully and expertly delivered by the Tenement Jazz Band and an interesting and varied collection of 'old iron'. Our good friends at Edinburgh Classic wedding cars brought a couple of cars along , including their latest acquisition, an enourmous '60's Cadillac that frankly should have been charged mooring fees. lovely car mind, but I don't fancy parking it.  Inevitably Tina took a bunch of pics..here's some....
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Hot on the heels of the West End car show, we trundled down to Kelso in the Scottish borders to have a look ( but not participate...we're not American you understand!) In the first Rutherford's American Classic car show, in the square of that delightful Border town. A collection of heavy transatlantic iron paraded outside the organisers own micro pub, Rutherfords. The organisers, the delightful Debbie and Simon Rutherford showed off their own Dodge Monaco with it's lovely preserved patina.  Rutherfords micropub really is a treat, fine ales gravity fed from wee barrels called Pins and Firkins behind the bar and a selection of gins from Simon and Debbies own brand, Deliquescent.  
 At lunchtime, the fleet ( what is the collective noun for yanktanks?) of burbling V8 goodness trailed off to Floors Castle for a BBQ before returning to the square in Kelso. Floors is quite something, part of the Roxburghe estates, it's the largest inhabited castle in the country.  we'd love to take you there in the Armstrong...and then on to Rutherfords micro pub for a locally sourced game pie and a pint of the landlords frothingest!!!! 
Kelso is a delightful Borders market town
Kelso is a delightful Borders market town
Simon Rutherford...mine host
Simon Rutherford...mine host
Kelso town square
Kelso town square
Kelso Abbey, partially destroyed during the Protestant Reformation
Kelso Abbey, partially destroyed during the Protestant Reformation

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