Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monarch of the Pub

Posted by Kate

Twenty years ago I planned a trip to Scotland based solely on the movie Local Hero. Now I’m planning my latest trip back to Scotland because of Monarch of the Glen. Have you seen this show on BBC America? It’s a soapy drama with unlikely plots and bad chemistry between Archie MacDonald, the reluctant laird whose parents summon him back to Scotland to run Glenbogle castle, and Lexie, the cook he eventually marries in season four.

But I don’t watch the show for the plots or the characters, I watch it for the amazing scenery and the fantastic castle, both of which are stunning and dramatic and totally worth the (gulp) $60.00 price for the latest season on DVD.

Glenbogle is actually Ardverikie Castle and it overlooks Loch Laggan, about 60 miles south of Inverness. I'd love to stay in the castle gatehouse, although it’s booked up far in advance. But there are other houses on the land and—my favorite part—you can arrange for a cook to provide meals! That whole self-catering thing doesn’t really appeal to me or my husband. In fact, he’d just as soon spend the evening in the local pub.

Which brings me to part two of my planning. Pubs. That’s our deal. If I plan a tour of a local museum or castle, I'm required to find the closest pub for the husband to hang out in. As a former bartender and connoisseur of all things alcoholic, he’s perfectly content to while away half the day, drinking beer and getting to know the locals. It's his own way of soaking up the history of a place (that's his story, anyway). His favorite pub is the Ensign Ewart in Edinburgh, just steps away from the Castle.

Now if you look up the Ensign Ewart on any pub list or travel guide, you’ll find it gets extremely low marks for service. The reason is simple. They don’t cater to tourists. In fact, they hate tourists. They cater to drinkers. They love drinkers. If you’re there to enjoy the beer and the great music, you’re more than welcome. But if you’re looking for charming atmosphere and a welcoming smile, buzz off. As one reviewer noted, they even lock the loo to “halt the influx of incontinent and flabby tourists” traipsing down from the Castle.

However, if you prove yourself a regular type, the folks at the Ensign Ewart might invite you to explore the original pub, located under the present establishment. At closing time the first night we were there, the owner insisted we stay and have another drink as he ushered everyone else out the door. Then he had us step behind the bar where he lifted the floor plank and took us down the steep, narrow stairway into another world.

This original pub may have been operating as far back as 1590. The space is dark and just a bit spooky, and if you stand upright you’ll likely smack your head on the low ceiling beams. He led us toward a thick wooden door and allowed us to heave it open to reveal the original close that ran along the back of the pub.

If you make it this far on your private tour, you might see the resident ghost. I did. She wore a pale nightgown and was running away from us down the narrow passage. I couldn’t really blame her. After all, the loo was locked up for the night.

I love to hear travel stories! What are some of your favorite places in the world? Have you ever slept in a castle? Have you seen any ghosts?


At 9:26 AM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

Kate, this is so cool!! My husband and I are desperate for travel that doesn't include rides or people dressed in character costumes. Your trip sounds so yummy.

No ghosts for me, but then I avoid haunted places. They make me nervous. The dead are like old boyfriends...I really don't want to hear from them again.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

I'm having so much fun trying to post some pictures and somehow destroying the blog. Sorry for any weird disruptions you may experience. *g*

Susan, the ghosts of old boyfriends are truly scary! LOL

I'm not sure why, but I seek out the scary places. They have truly scary ghost tours in Edinburgh--probably lots of other places, too--and I always go for them. But don't try to get me on a roller coaster. That freaks me out!

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Kate, so with you on the roller coaster!!

I took a great ghost tour in Williamsburg once. Really good fun and Sarah and I keep talking about going to Salem for Halloween to take a witch tour.

I LOVE Scotland!! But I like the self catering places. I love having a house in the village (from which I walk every night to a good pub!). We stayed at Kilconquar castle in Scotland once and it was faboo, except that their 'guest' cottages looked like spanish style homes in Irvine! LOL

And in Ireland, I love Dingle Bay. First went there when I was 18 and it's grown alot since then, but there is nowhere more beautiful. With great pubs!!

and hey, let's see those pics, Kate!

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Great story, Kate. And Maureen's right. We want pictures! Not to put the pressure on or anything. LOL

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

Maureen: My younger son and I went on the ghost tour in Williamsburg a couple of years ago. That was so much fun.

My mom swore she saw Louisa May Alcott sitting at her desk when she toured the Alcott house in Concord, MA. I was so excited, certain I would also see her when I visited. No. What a disappointment.

Next trip for the Ridgway family is nothing as cool as pubbing it in Scotland. We're going to Hawaii for Christmas! Surfer Guy and Surfer Sons can't wait.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Okay, gang, we've got pictures! Only took all day and I still can't seem to format them so they look pretty on the page. Sigh.

Hawaii, Christie? How cool!!

Maureen, I know you love the self-catering thing but that's because you're a good cook! LOL. And I'd love to check out the Salem witch tour some day.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Kate, I have zero problems with the idea of staying in a CASTLE!! Or even a nice hotel. But I hate B&B's. There's just something creepy about staying in someone else's house!!

Christie, wasn't that ghost tour great? Of course, I thought our tour guide should have gotten more into her stories!!

At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pix, Kate


At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




At 7:06 AM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Hi, MCM! (Maureen's Cool Mom!) Isn't BBC America fun? I finally started ordering their DVD's because their schedule doesn't work with mine. Maybe it's time to get TIVO?

Maureen, I'm with you on the B&B's. The idea of making small talk with strangers at breakfast? Forgetaboutit!


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