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Monday, 2 May 2011

Whisky Wonka

Yesterday was International Dawn Chorus day, which unsurprisingly we didn't get up in time for, but it was my bike that was singing like a lark - a disconcerting noise that I still haven't got to the bottom of.

I was quickly distracted from my ailing vehicle by the beautiful countryside we were, and still are, cycling through. When we set off on Chasing Spring back in early March it was snowing in Scotland but now the sun is glaring, beating and bouncing down from a clear blue sky. Many of the daffodils are still in bloom and the blossom is falling like snow from the sky and twinkling like shards of glass on the road.

The first stop yesterday was to Drum Castle, just outside Aberdeen, to see the May Day celebrations and interview pretty much the only Morris Men and clog dancers in Scotland. The atmosphere was happy and relaxed, even if people weren't exactly sure what it was they were celebrating except for the good weather. It turns out they're celebrating the start of summer, which is definitely on its way.

We stayed the night at the new Highlander Bunkhouse in Huntly. which is still a shining chrome peon to Ikea but won't look like that for long.

An easy 15 miles to Dufftown this morning was followed by a visit to the Glenfiddich distillery, where we interviewed one of the guides and 'nosers' about the seasonal aspects of whisky making. Spring in Dufftown means the Sprit of Speyside whisky festival, which we caught in its last few days.

The distillery is fascinating, bathed in thick fruity smells and heady heat. I felt like Charlie visiting Willy Wonka's factory; even more so as Matt and I lagged behind our tour group while filming. I imagined us having a cheeky drink from one of the giant bubbling copper vats and floating up into the corners of the ceiling. Then I remembered that the 'fizzy lifting drink' scene wasn't in Dahl's book but added in by the makers of the first Willy Wonka film. So I dismissed it from my mind.

Anyway, we were given some (free) samples of Glenfiddich and it turns out I like whisky. Tomorrow I'll be singing in harmony with my bike.

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