(cobbled together from emails I sent home and vague recollections a few weeks later).
I flew from Toronto to Aberdeen with a stop-over in Amsterdam, though I have no memory of that now (despite, not because of, never leaving the airport). The airline, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, was one of the best I've ever flown with. Instead of the usual dreck romantic comedies (Serendipity, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, etc.) I was able to select from three dozen movies and as many television shows, including decent fare like The Simpons, 30 Rock, The Office. I watched some recent Woody Allen films, which were not particularly good, but I've always wanted to watch Annie Hall or Manhattan on a plane, probably because they're mostly dialogue-driven and one could could half-fall asleep watching them. I've also always wanted an airline to provide popcorn during the inflight movies. It's cheap and comforting. Why has this never happened?
I was picked up at the airport by Andy Fairgrieve, who runs the residency program for William Grant & Sons. He's also a drummer for a local punk/metal band. I ask for a more specific frame of reference and the name Gwar comes up. He uses the phrase "scrap metal" to describe their sound and I wonder why the term was never popularized as a sub-genre. He has a vast knowledge of the country's history, the history of whiskey, music and art, and our hour-long drive flies quickly by. I was warned I wouldnt be able to understand his accent at all, but this is rarely the case.
My cottage (pictured to the right) is a two-bedroom home with a television, washing machine, broadband internet, even bicycle. The kitchen cupboards and refrigerator are fully stocked with food, much of which I suspect was chosen specifically for me, such as Canadian cheese. The one exception is the many bags of chips, all of which are meat flavoured (beef, steak & onions, prawn, etc.).
On the kitchen table sits three bottles of whiskey: 12, 15 and 18 year old scotch. I consider this a good indication of the hospitality to come. I pour myself a glass and fall asleep happy.