“The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, the hills of the Highlands for ever I love.”
For a number of years now I’ve had a dream of gathering a small group of friends I could ship off to Scotland to celebrate “Hogmanay” with. In a Scottish Castle, that part was essential.
When my, very beloved, grandmother passed away in April she left me some money and after paying off my student loans I had enough left to make this particular dream come true, in a big way. (So in many ways, this one’s also for you, Bestemor).
Planning The Festivity
I did extensive research and ended up with a place above my price range, but after seeing the pictures and the rating at a wooping “Excellent” with 100 % of the reviews on TripAdvisor, I settled on Fenton Tower, 40 minutes drive east of Edinburgh. Alan, the manager, and Fiona, from Clans & Castles, helped me set everything up for the perfect getaway. I invited a gang of friends along and we set off for Edinburgh on December 30th.
When we arrived in Edinburgh, we spent the afternoon there in quite the stormy weather (welcome to Scotland). At one point I had to stop dead on the pavement until the wind subsided a bit… But they had a Christmas Carnival going on, we found a lovely, little black metal pub called The Black Bull and got to eat Haggis for dinner, so we were happily awaiting our 7 o’clock pickup.
The Tower itself is about 40 minutes drive from Edinburgh center, we opted out of the car rental business and got a driver to take us, both to the tower and then to the airport for our trip home.
Fenton Tower is a gem. There’s no other way to describe it. Well, there is, but the hyperbole would probably make you gag. Suffice it to say we were all slightly in awe when Alan showed us around. (At least I was, my friends might be Oscar-worthy actors).
We were shown the bedroooms (5), with their adjacent bathrooms and complimentary bars (spot the Norwegians, they’re the ones having a bargasm at the word “complimentary”), the Great Hall, the Library, the Dining Hall and the Kitchen. All of these rooms make up the tower and it was all at our disposal for the Hogmanay Weekend. Alan, (who seemed like an old friend when we arrived, by the way, I have rarely insta-liked someone so much), went through the housekeeping stuff (cookery, cutlery, where stuff is, fireplace, extra supplies, etc) and then he left us to ourselves with express orders to ring him if there was anything we needed.
Turns out, there wasn’t. Everything was great, (we had a small bump in the oven door not closing properly, but we found a solution to that problem in about 5 minutes, so… All was well). What ensued was 3 days of eating good food, drinking (a lot), playing various games we brought because we’re fantastically smart and just hanging out at and around the Tower. It might not sound like we did much, but that was the intention behind this trip and my initial fears that people might become restless being “locked up in a building for three days” were completely unfounded. Some of us went for walks, three of the girls went horseback riding one day and the rest of the time there was a lot of reading, watching movies/television, playing games and making breakfast/dinner/drinks and merry. When we got picked up on the 3rd we all wished we could stay longer, even the parental unit wanted to stay a bit, despite missing the kids.
A Lasting Impression
I have wished for a New Year’s retreat like this for so long, it’s kind of hard to see it’s finished, and so soon. The time really flew, even with knowing it was going to be short, it felt like one day, not four…
I want to thank my friends who joined me on this trip, allthough they’re probably not reading this blog post because they’re super-important and busy people. I picked a great castle to stay in, I’ll take credit for being the architect here, but you guys made the trip what it was. Hilarious, politically incorrect, heartwarming, lovely, one of the best memories I’ll ever have in my “trip library” and above all: incredibly “koselig”. I love you.
Here’s to you, Grandma and her balls.
(Ehm, disclaimer: That’s a joke from playing Cards Against Humanity, people, those balls have nothing to do with my beloved, late grandma) 😉