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    August 2017
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    It’s all about fish and chips

    Upon reading Mairiuna’s post on Scotiana’s Favourite Castles and enjoying the beautiful pictures inside the article, the view of Blair Castle reminded me of a sign post above the entrance door of a nearby fish and chips restaurant that had caught my eye for its originality.  😉

    sign outside of scottish fish and chips restaurant

    Sign outside of fish and chips restaurant. Blair Atholl, Scotland © Scotiana

    You’ve surely heard about the traditional fish in batter along with fries, or as they call it in Scotland  “A Fish Supper.” It’s our favorite dish when boarding ferries and travelling across Scotland, even though it is not the healthiest plate in the world. 😉

    Fish and Chips

    Fish and Chips – Stornoway Ullapool Ferry © Scotiana

    Winston Churchill called them “the good companions”. John Lennon smothered his in tomato ketchup. Michael Jackson liked them with mushy peas.

    Everyone has their own preferences and tastes vary from one part of the country to another. Cod or haddock? Salt and vinegar? Pickled onion? Scraps?

    Like Morecambe and Wise or Wallace and Gromit, fish and chips are a classic double act – and yet they started life as solo performers. And their roots are not as British as you might think.

    The story of the humble chip goes back to the 17th Century to either Belgium or France, depending who you believe.

    Oddly enough, the chip may have been invented as a substitute for fish, rather than an accompaniment. When the rivers froze over and nothing could be caught, resourceful housewives began cutting potatoes into fishy shapes and frying them as an alternative.

    Around the same time, fried fish was introduced into Britain by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain.

    The fish was usually sold by street sellers from large trays hung round their necks. Charles Dickens refers to an early fish shop or “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist (1839) where the fish generally came with bread or baked potatoes. (…)

    Italian migrants passing through English towns and cities saw the growing queues and sensed a business opportunity, setting up shops in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

    To keep prices down, portions were often wrapped in old newspaper – a practice that survived as late as the 1980s when it was ruled unsafe for food to come into contact with newspaper ink without grease-proof paper in between. (…)

    Read full article….



    Fish & Chips Restaurant and Trinafour Post Office – Blair Atholl, Scotland © Scotiana


    Of course some owners claim to have a ‘special and secret’ ingredient that makes ‘theirs’ better than anyone else’s.

    During World War 2 when food was often rationed, fish and potatoes were two food that were not – and it’s often been said by that generation that it kept the nation going during the war.

    You might be thinking that Fish and Chips is also famous in England.

    The difference is that in Scotland, the Fish Supper is made with Haddock, while in England it was traditionally made with cod.

    The chips are made with good ‘floury’ potatoes such as Golden Wonder (definitely NOT your wee French Fries). They are often served with ‘mushy peas’ – made from dried marrowfat peas.

    Read more…


    So, if you crave for a fish and chips, after, or before, visiting Blair Castle, drive to the nearby old village school, and give it a try at the restaurant beside the oak tree that was planted in 1902 by the Blair Atholl school children to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII.

    tree commemorating King edward VII

    The Atholl Country Life Museum and Trifanour Post Office are open to visitors.

    Tree for Edward VII in Blair AthollAs you might know, I love postage stamps as I find they are art in miniature, and when I see a post office, I just can’t resist taking a picture of it. Mail is still a central fact of life. You can be wired via tablets, cellphones, smartphones and the Internet, yet there is hardly an office or a business or a home where mail time goes unnoticed.

    How many times, as we were driving across Scottish villages, did I ask Jean-Claude to stop the car so I could take a picture of a post office? Too many to count! Blair Atholl was one of them. :-)

    The wooden post office building was relocated from Trinafour, a small settlement in a remote location at the head of Glen Errochty, nine miles to the east of Blair Atholl. It was closed when we got there so could not experience its characteristics of having the ‘looks and feels exactly as it would have done in the 1930s, even down to the stock on display behind the counter and the phone next to the door.’  But nevertheless I could admire the beautiful green and red color of this neat little post office building.Scottish Post Office Trifanour Blair Athollatholl


    Trifanour Post Office Blair Atholl Scotland


    Wishing you a magnific stroll down memory lane on your next trip to Blair Castle and Blair Atholl in the Perthshire region of Scotland.

    Travel on!


    PS: Just for the fun of it, we’ve searched for a postage stamp depicting fish and chips….and to our great surprise found one!! When I tell you that you can find almost everything featured on a postage stamp, do believe me my friends. 😉

    Fish and chips on postage stamps

    Fish and Chips on New Zealand postage stamp


    A night at the Valente Chip shop in Auchtermuchty, Fife, Scotland

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    Scotiana’s Favourite Castles in Scotland…

    We’ve already visited a number of castles in Scotland but there are still many more to discover for as a taxi driver told us in Glasgow: “In Scotland one can find a castle, or what remains of it, at every turn of the road.” As I was writing my post about Linlithgow Palace, the first of a series dedicated to places linked with Mary Queen of Scots, I decided to begin another series specifically devoted to our favourite Scottish castles, including Linlithgow Palace where Mary Stuart was born.


    Edinburgh Castle & Ross Theatre in West Princes Street Gardens © 2015 Scotiana

    Edinburgh Castle & Ross Theatre in West Princes Street Gardens © 2015 Scotiana

    How many castles are there in Scotland, I wonder. It may well prove as difficult to answer such a question as to try and give the exact number of Scottish lochs and islands. In fact, it depends on what we consider to be a “castle”. But if you catch a glimpse on my selection of pictures you can get and idea of the architectural jewels we’ve discovered in Scotland during our eight trips there. As our curiosity is insatiable, I’m already making a new list for our Itinerary 9.

    Fyvie, Crathes and Stalker castles in Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Fyvie, Crathes and Stalker castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Glamis, Threave and  Abbotsford castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Glamis, Threave and Abbotsford castles in Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Traquair House, Drum  and Blair castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Traquair House, Drum and Blair castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    To find a satisfactory definition of what can be considered as a “castle” is not simple and historians are divided about the question, but it is all the more complicated in Scotland that you can find vestiges of old defensive structures everywhere. The fact that most Scottish “castles” have undergone a number of changes over the centuries, from the dark and tumultuous ages when it was a question of survival for a chief to be able to defend his family and people against permanent attacks to more peaceful times when the castle became a symbol of prestige for its owner, doesn’t facilitate the distinction between the different kinds of buildings.  It is generally admitted that a castle is a fortified structure built in the Middle Ages and what distinguishes it from a fortress is that it was – and sometimes still is – used as a private residence for the nobility.

    Corgaff, Craigievar and Dunrobin castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Corgaff, Craigievar and Dunrobin castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Ardvreck Cawdor Dunvegan castles - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Ardvreck, Cawdor and Dunvegan castles – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace & Armadale © 2017 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace & Armadale © 2017 Scotiana

    So far, we’ve visited about 50 castles in Scotland but we’re happy to know there are still many more to discover there for we do love the Scottish castles which mingle so well with the already beautiful landscape, adding a touch of awe and mystery in an ever-changing atmosphere quite specific to Scotland.

    The Castles of Scotland Martin Coventry 5th edition Goblinshead Prestongrange House 2015

    The Castles of Scotland Martin Coventry 5th edition Goblinshead Prestongrange House 2015

    Now, I turn to Martin Coventry’s The Castles of Scotland, my bible in matter of castles, to see if I can find the beginning of an answer to my question about the number of Scottish Castles. There must be something there. I recently bought the 5th edition of Martin Coventry’s book. Mine was beginning to be out of date.

    On Amazon one can read under the picture of the book : “The Castles of Scotland: A Comprehensive Guide to More Than 4,100 Castles, Towers, Historic Houses, Stately Homes and Family Lands”, which is a first indication. I’ve read elsewhere on the Internet that there were more than 3,000 castles in Scotland. Anyway, what is sure is that there are a great number of them and for our greater pleasure !


    Tantallon Castle BeBop aerial view © 2017 Scotiana

    Tantallon Castle BeBop aerial view © 2017 Scotiana


    As you can see on my selection of pictures which represents only a few of the castles we’ve visited in Scotland there is a great variety of castles. Some are called “palaces” (Holyrood Palace, Linlithgow Palace, Falkland Palace, Dunfermline Palace, Earl’s Palace ), other are called “houses” (Traquair House)  or ” towers” (Greenknowe Tower, Smailholm Tower) though most of them are simply called castles.

    Many of these castles stand in the middle of magnificent parks (Scone Palace, Blair Castle). I remember pretty well the first time when we went to Scone Palace.  It was too late to visit the castle but we lingered a long time in the magnificent park surrounding the ivy-covered building. It was as if we had landed in the garden of Eden. We strolled about in the middle of a forest of rhododendrons in full bloom. It was magical. I was the last one to get out of this wonderful place and the gatekeeper was waiting for me, with a friendly smile, to close the big gates. A number of ruined castles, a major source of inspiration for the romantic artists and poets, stand amidst breathtaking landscapes (Ardvreck Castle, Kilchurm Castle, Lochranza Castle), some of them overlooking the ocean (Tantallon Castle, Sinclair Castle).

    Carnasserie Castle, Scone Palace and Mountstuart - Scotland © 2017 Scotiana

    Carnasserie Castle, Scone Palace and Mountstuart – Scotland © 2017 Scotiana


    Learning the history and mysteries of so many different castles, photographing them in every angle while discovering the creativity of the architects which is reflected in the smallest details ornating door lintels, walls, roofs, turrets, is one of our favourite activities when we travel in Scotland. Most castles shelter treasures : magnificent painted ceilings, elaborate plasterwork, painting masterpieces, fine furniture, refined china, silver or pewter cups and table settings… you can spend hours inside their walls to avoid to be drenched to the skin in the park when it is raining. But mind the closing hours for fear of being forgotten inside the castle in company of the ghost(s) which keep the place. That’s a joke for in Scotland you can be sure that people in charge of the castles won’t let you closed in… that’s a pity!

    Caerlaverock Castle aerial view r1 Bebop Drone © 2015 Scotiana

    Caerlaverock Castle aerial view r1 Bebop Drone © 2015 Scotiana

    I hope to have made you feel like visiting or revisiting a number of these emblematic Scottish castles but stay tuned for this post is only the first one of a new series about our favourite castles. We’ll make you discover them one after one, beginning with Linlithgow Palace where Mary Queen of Scots was born.

    Bonne lecture !

    À bientôt.




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