Day Six: John at 40

I have no idea what got into my darling bride, but she pulled out all the stops on this, the sixth day of our honeymoon and my actual 40th birthday. As I explained yesterday we spent the entire day at Cameron House on Loch Lomond, an absurdly luxurious mini-palace, the cost of which she’s never shared and I don’t ever want to know. We had buffet breakfast in the morning, which was basically Full Irish but, since we were in Scotland, was simply called “breakfast”. Then we went and met Cooper. Who’s Cooper?

This is Cooper.

This is Cooper.

We were taken around for an hour or so by Graeme, a passionate birder who keeps a half-dozen or so birds of prey. Cooper was our boy, though, and he was gorgeous. We (Lisa and I) would take turns wearing the glove, and as we wandered through the woods Graeme would occasionally tell us to put our hand up; he’d put a bit of chicken on it, and in a few moments – whoosh!!! Cooper alights to take his treat. It was wonderful. Apparently on some tours like this the bird is basically sent to and fro from human to tree, back and forth. No no no, not with us. Graeme would engineer it so that Cooper would have to dive and swoop through underbrush and branches to reach us, which he did seemingly effortlessly. Fabulous. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but apparently it’s a tough experience to come by in the United States, regulations being what the are here. At the end of the tour I distinctly remember Graeme setting up extended photo ops by giving Cooper a whole baby chick, which he tried to hide from us (I guess some of his tourists are squeamish?) by stuffing “the treat” deep into our gloved hand and immediately siccing Cooper on it. Whatever, it was an amazing time.

(Did I mention that we were meandering on the grounds of a Scottish estate, hard on the shores of a grand and beautiful lake, the whole time? Yeah.)

After hawking (I will never get tired of saying things like that. Ever.) we had a quick lunch and then it was on to a boat tour of Loch Lomond. Now, the boat was a pretty fancy affair and there were just a few people, so it was pretty cozy. Inside. Trouble was, to see anything you had to be topside. It was, at most, 45 degrees, and a steady drizzle followed us around the lake. We had a nice time overall, but JEBUS it was cold and wet. But really, it was beautiful out there, that should be the main take-away. The bone chilling cold is a distant, distant second. But it’s there.

The night before we had shmancy dinner at Martin Wyshart, which is I think the first meal I’ve had in a Michelin starred… no scratch that. But it was still quite shmancy. What we started to discover that night, though, is that perhaps we aren’t cut out for truly fine dining. I mean, it was more hit than miss, for sure, but for the reputation (and, frankly, the cost) the misses were still too numerous. By “miss” I don’t mean bad food, but the crazy ingredients and combinations were beyond my comfort zone. “Challenge yourself!” you say? “Then you pay!” I say. But that was the 6th. Tonight we ate a far simpler meal in the Boathouse, which was like the club restaurant in golf courses everywhere. But casual was up our alley after a busy, wonderful day. I tell her this all the time, but seriously – Lisa won birthdays forever.






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