Thursday 18th, while Scotland voted Yes or No on Independence, we drove to Perth to do a bit of shopping. It was raining and miserable, so we stopped at a Tesco supermarket, did our shopping and drove on, not getting a look at the town I imagine gave it’s name to the city of Perth in Western Australia.
At Tesco, we were thrilled to get a fresh duck at a very reasonable price (Aus $14) and hovered over another Guinea fowl but decided against it.
We drove on in the rain to the small town of Meigle to visit the Pictish Sculptured Stone Museum. The museum houses around 30 stones and fragments (mainly from the church next door) and is really quite interesting. More interesting though to me is the fact that Meigle is the oldest known settlement in Scotland-it’s been inhabited since before Christ was born, and the church graveyard is believed to be the site of Lady Guinevere’s grave.
On the way out of town, I stopped the car in the rain to take a few photos of a building I noticed on the way in. It was falling down and covered with moss and lichen, grass and shrubs, and looked more like the earth itself than a building. I had to come home and Google to find out it’s the Meigle House steading and no one really knows who built it and when or why they did.
We were almost home (still raining) when I spied a dead pheasant on the road. It took about a kilometre to find a somewhere to turn around but I did, and we went back to check it out. It’s quite accepted here to pick up roadkill (but you mustn’t be the one who kills it) rather than see it go to waste, and I’d seen that this bird looked good. Russ leaned out and felt it was till warm, so scooped it into a bag and we went off home with our prize. He’s on the menu tomorrow night. It’s pheasant and grouse shooting season here now and the birds are everywhere. We’ve been keeping our eyes peeled for a fresh kill since we got to Scotland!
Dinner Thursday night was pan fried Scottish salmon served on creamed leeks and pea and potato mash and was mighty fine!
Today, (after a quick check to find out the vote was No) I got onto Tripadvisor to find somewhere to go for a drive. I found a castle in a fairly remote spot on the way to Oban-a town which lies at the end of Loch Evite on the North Atlantic.
We drove to Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe (certainly was Awesome), then through the Pass of Branda, to Aird Bay on one end of Loch Etive, for our lunch.
Castle Kichurn was all the reviews on Tripadvisor promised. Not easy to find, but remote and quite lovely sitting beside the loch. It originally stood on an island but had silted over over the centuries. It’s free, has no gift shop and is still well maintained with quite a bit of info on boards throughout. Some of the stairs were really narrow-if my bum was any bigger I think they’d have needed the jaws of life to extract me in one place! It was a great find!
One of us forgot the bread for our sandwiches (we had all the fillings) but we were able to buy a few bread rolls at a roadhouse along the pass so all was saved. We lunched at the Bay of Aird on a very untouristy part of the pretty Loch Etive. It was so unspoiled and undeveloped it really felt like a step back in time. The grassed pier and (rather old) new jetty beside the rotting remains of the (very) old one were lovely for a few photos.
After lunch we drove into the very pretty town of Oban and took a walk around the harbour and shops before heading home and cooking our duck.
Ducky was meaty, lean and delicious, and I made an apricot sauce for him with apricot preserves given to me in Switzerland by my dear friend and blogger Adriana. Her preserves were full of fruit, not at all sweet and made the base for an amazing sauce. * Here’s a link to her beautiful blog artandkitchen
Apricot sauce for duck (or chicken or pork)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons finely diced onion or shallot
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- small red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 cup apricot preserves-best quality you can get
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar (add it slowly, tasting, until you like it)
- 1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
- 1/2 cup rose (or white wine)
- Melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli a few minutes until softened.
Add the preserves, vinegar and sugar, stock powder and wine.
- Cook a few minutes to reduce, then taste and add more sugar or vinegar if you think it needs it.