A New Year in Scotland

Quite early on, we decided to go to Scotland to celebrate the New Year, of Hogmanay, as they call it up there. After some research we found a good new year's package on a hotel in Stirling that also allowed dogs. We've stayed at Barcelo hotels other places and like them really well. This was no exception.

We left early on Tuesday morning the 30th and drove northwards. It was a bit exciting due to the weather, but apart from some snowy showers and queues about Carlisle, we came well out of it, only about an hour delayed. On the hotel we had a nice 3 course-dinner, and had a short evening walk trough Stirling "city center" before going to bed.

On the new years day we had planned to see the Stirling castle, but I was a bit tired, so we went for the brewery that Tollef wanted to visit instead, hoping it included less walking. We tried to find the Allan Bridge brewery last time we were there a couple of years ago, but gave up finding it by foot. It appeared we turned around just a few hundred metres away from it. Of course. As we were there an hour before they opened, we decided to go to see the Wallace monument that we'd seen on the way to the Allan Bridge Brewery. It appeared to include some walking, but as we could bring Odin it was a good way to give him some exercise before the long evening ahead. It was a 15 minute partly slippery walk up to the monument, where Tollef and I walked to the top of the castle one by one, the other waiting with Odin outside. It was very nice and a lot of history to learn, and the view from the top was very nice when the snow showers stopped.

Both back down on the ground, we went to the brewery, which appeared to be very nice. We got to taste some very good beers, and bought a good bunch of them. The brewmaster was very nice and told us a lot about his beers. He also had a dog that wasn't there that day, because she didn't want to get out of bed. But he had a beer named after her, and we got one of those as a gift. I also bought some dog biscuits for Odin, that they made from the leftovers from brewing! We bought a good lot of beer to bring home, especially a bunch of the 1488 whisky beer, which was one of the best. It is actually beer made just like whisky, without the destillation!

We had a light lunch before going back to the hotel and got a couple of hours rest before the night's dinner. It was 4 courses, including haggis, with a lot of ceremony around it, with a kilt-dressed man playing the bagpipe and proclaiming Robert Burns poetry. I will now defer all rumors about haggis, it really tastes quite good! A bit like Norwegian meatcakes, just a bit more spicy. All the food was good, and afterwards we went to the "Academy Hall" for dancing. Tollef and I joined in one of the Scottish dances, and was complimented by some of the people there.

Just before midnight we dressed warmly (Odin also), and walked up towards Stirling Castle, where the fireworks would be. There was a concert by a Freddie Mercury-performer which was very good, and a lot of people in and around the castle. It was also a lot of ice everywhere, fortunately we got away with no accidents. The fireworks was a bit disappointing, it was only the one from the castle and nowhere else. But again, it was kind of nice knowing that there wasn't a million pounds "blowing up" that night.

After a good breakfast the morning after, we headed back towards the South. The weather was nice and clear, and ice cold, so the wiper liquid had frozen. The landscape looked like it could be anywhere in Norway, snowclad hills with some rocks and trees here and there. We passed the Camelot Theme park and decied to go there some time later. At dinner time we took off towards Stoke-on-Trent, and tried to find somewhere to eat. Everything was closed, all shops, restaurants and kiosks, and we used google maps and an hour to find the nearby retail park and Pizza Hut. Not being one of my favourites, we were both surprised by getting good food and good and fast service.

It was really good to get home, and we are happy to know that we are not going anywhere this far again in England. 60 Norwegian miles are a lot more in England than in Norway!