Tuesday, February 19, 2013

MacGinger: The Myth, The Legend, The Cookie

Last September, about 2 weeks after our wedding (2 weeks A.W. if you will), Fin and I hosted our first Alaskan guests! Mom & Jim.  Sometimes the family refers to them as the Gemini twins (I made that up). This is because it seems like every story my mom tells starts with "Jim and I blah blah blah." It's become a running joke, so much so that they have named their wine Jim'n'I (they bottle wine in Alaska and there is NEVER a shortage, which is wonderful!).  So the Jim'n'I twins came for a visit.

Jimmy MacGinger
Setting the stage: My mom is a lot of fun to travel with. She has a go-with-the-flow attitude so she never really gets stressed out. Simultaneously, she gets excited over just about anything classified as a "must see/must do/must buy." World's largest ball of yarn? Pull over! Floating bar? Let's have a drink! Three hour hike to see the world's smallest waterfall? Why not!?!? Fortunately my mom found a wonderful husband, Jim, who also loves to travel and finds great humor in my mom's willingness to try just about anything. Those two are hilarious! So Fin'n'I knew it would be a laugh with Jim'n'I. 

So off we went on a Scottish road trip to the west Highlands. Stunning. We listened to bagpipes as we crossed lochs, climbed bens, and weaved alongside the rivers.  Then we came to that fateful tourist shop on the Isle of Skye.  As I waited in the car, Fin went to find a map and the Jim'n'I twins went to find something Scottish to purchase and perhaps something ginger to ease my motion sickness.  I was sitting in the back seat to allow Jim the best view of Scotland. Unfortunately this meant I was most certainly going to get queasy. They returned to the car with a couple decks of tartan playing cards and a three pack of MacGingers. Cha Ching!

Yes, I'm a hypocrite
So the first MacGinger...we'll call him Jimmy, he went to that great gingerbread house in the skye (pun intended) pretty soon after purchase. Not bad considering it was a cookie packaged in bubble wrap. As I contemplated another snackaroo the pilot and navigator were making a plan. Turns out we were off to see Kilt Rock. After a brief inquiry, Mom and I learned that Kilt Rock is in fact meant to look like a kilt. As I looked down at my next delicious ginger treat, Scot MacGinger looked back at me with a cheeky grin. It was as if we'd both been struck with the same thought. Scot MacGinger was wearing a kilt too! We decided to save him to use as a comparison for Kilt Rock.

Kilt Rock meet Kilt Cookie
As I captured the glamorous MacGinger alongside Kilt Rock, Mom and I realized we had found our Scottish tour guide! And Fin decided it was going to be incredibly annoying to have me photobombing every breathtaking picture of Scottish countryside with a stale cookie. His irritation sealed the deal. Scot MacGinger was officially pardoned and would be occupying the last available seat in the Volvo. We were now a group of five. Welcome MacGinger!

This is when I began artfully placing little Mac in the heather. Jim giggled as Mom and I snapped photos. It was all coming together brilliantly! Fin huffed and puffed in the background. This childish idea was distracting from the raw splendor of rugged Scotland or maybe it was distracting attention from poor Finny. I'll never really understand the motivation, but one second Scot MacGinger was gracefully floating atop the heather and the next minute he was being carried away by the villainous Fintan! Dammit! I gave good chase as I tried to save that cheeky cookie...but alas, Scot was decapitated and then his head was eaten. Jealousy can do ugly things to a person. And I was pissed!

We all climbed back in the car and I began lecturing Fin on the difference between being a loving husband and an annoying little brother. Jerkface. Well there was one MacGinger left. Angus MacGinger. Yeah, if Fin thought MacGinger was irritating before, he had no idea what was in store for him. This had just turned into Saving Private MacGinger. The last brother would make it out of the Highlands dammit, and Fin was going to be photobombed like he'd never been before. We buckled MacGinger in nice and safe and went to find dinner as I plotted my revenge.

We ended up having dinner in a sleepy little town called Plockton. Plockton is back on the mainland and is beautiful. The drive over offered amazing sunset skies. We found a bustling little restaurant and happily ate our way through three delicious courses of Scottish seafood cuisine! Yum! As a bit of a peace-offering to the old ball-and-chain, Angus MacGinger stayed in the car.

We made it back to Fort Augustus pretty late, where we were staying in a converted monastery. I could write an entire blog about this monastery. Amazing place to take guests, move aside Inverness. It's not exactly budget friendly, but Fin and I surprised the Jim'n'I twins with a few nights there to show our appreciation for all the hard work they put into our wedding. Anyways, Fort Augustus is a little town set on the southern tip of Loch Ness.
So the next day dawned and old MacGinger was feeling the loss of his brothers. As he reached for the bottle to numb the memory it gave us an idea. Whisky Tour! After a dip in the monastery pool (where they used to baptize monks...just kidding, i made that up) we headed off to hit the sauce!

Dalwhinnie was our distillery of choice. I do not know a whole lot about whisky, but I do know this is one of the only whiskies Fin's dad enjoys. Yes, he's an Irishman who does not particularly like whisky. So off we went. Turns out I love the smell of distilleries! Mmmmm! After a nice hour long tour we had a little taste test with three different whiskies and chocolate pairings. Delicious! Poor Fin was the DD, so he just got a smackerel. Jim bought him a bottle as a token of his appreciation. And old MacGinger found a little bottle just his size. After we all had a little pick-me-up we headed off to do some SHOPPING!

 Now where is the best place to get quality, authentic, Scottish merchandise? Why, it had to be House of Bruar!  There is tartan and tweed as far as the eye can see! Oh and it's also a great place to stop off for lunch. Don't let the buffet style restaurant deter you, the food is rustic and full of authentic Scottish flavour. Oh and there is also a food shopping area where you can find all sorts of treats and goodies. That's where MacGinger found his favorite food...haggis! Look they're wearing the same tartan!

Well anyways, Fin and I quickly realized the mistake we'd made in letting the Jim'n'I twins loose in such a sprawling shopping center. Oh boy. Those two are marathon shoppers! I however, really really do not enjoy shopping. Its.....just.....so......boring.

We ended up finding quite a well-suited hat for Jim, and talking Fin out of quite an alarming hat. Oh and it turns out the Macster gets quite bored shopping too, so he opted for a game of hide and seek. Can you spot him? Fin scolded MacGinger for choosing such an expensive satchel to hide in, but I assured Fin that MacGinger showed the utmost discretion. tee hee hee.

Smallest Scotsman visits smallest distillery
After the shopping trip, where the 'rents showed considerable restraint in their shopping, we opted to find another distillery. Oh and the reason they were so well regulated had more to do with their luggage allowance and less to do with their self-control. Just sayin. So the next distillery was advertised as "The smallest distillery in Scotland." We thought this would be the perfect distillery for wee MacGinger. He posed for pics with Mom and Jim and we all developed quite a thirst. Unfortunately, we missed the last tour by a hair. Dang it! We ended up just buying a couple bottles and having our own little taste session later. Stupid little distillery. Oh and another thing! We all really had to use the loo, but apparently you can only use it if you're on a tour. And since we were two minutes late for the tour we were not allowed to use the restroom. Why I never!

Angus MacGinger's great-grandfathers provided nourishment to the troops. 
In their honor, he insisted on always going 'commando.'
The day was winding down as we drove the scenic route back to Fort Augustus. The sky was turning majestic colors as the sun was beginning to set. The day had a few near misses when Fin would start to get hungry and eye up Wee Mac Man, but overall he had given up his murderous pursuits. The car fell into a satisfied silence as we took in the Scottish countryside. Then we came upon the Commando Monument. It is dedicated to the British Commando Forces of World War II. It overlooks their original training grounds, which happens to be one of the most-breathtaking views in Scotland. From this vantage point you can take in Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr. I could not think of a better view for such a memorial.  After taking a few noble shots of Angus MacGinger looking out alongside his brethren, I respectfully tucked him inside my pocket.  Fin had caught me giggling while I snuck the photos and I thought he might blow a gasket. Yeesh, mind your own beeswax Fin!

We wandered among a remembrance circle, which included the photos and stories of fallen soldiers throughout the years. Young bright faces smiled up at us and we offered our thoughts and respects to those lost in battle. It is a beautiful and touching stopover if you're ever in the Fort William area. Definitely worth a visit.

As we solemnly piled back into the car I reached into my pocket to retrieve the Macster. Oh dear...what have I done? The poor poor little biscuit had simply lost his head.  Fin let out an evil cackle and Mom began coming up with ways to reattach it. "No Mom, we have to let him go." Jim offered to eat him but I gave him one warning look and he backed off. The vultures! I slowly climbed back out and placed him at his final resting place as the rest of the family stayed in the car. I think they were giving me space to say my goodbyes. I noted the poetic symmetry of his demise at the memorial as I attempted to hum Highland Cathedral (which it turns out I'm not very good at). I left him there beneath the sign, took one last photo, postmortem, and walked away.

As we drove on, I realized with a panic, that someone might see Angus MacGinger and think we were taking the piss out of the memorial! Oh no!! I may be a bit silly at times, and some have accused me of being a liberal, but I have nothing but respect and admiration for the military. All three of my siblings served in the military, as did many of my extended family members. I frantically asked Fin if we should turn around but he assured me that it was fine, and "chances are some bird already ate MacGinger." This thought both horrified and comforted me. 

Beautiful rendition of Highland Cathedral! Give this video a little listen, in memory of Angus MacGinger. 


  1. Yep, no blogger will ever top this post. We might as well quit now!

  2. Superb blog Pamela! It was a great remembrance of the MacGinger boys; Jimmy, Scotty and Angus. We unfortunately were never able to find their brethren throughout our search of every store in Scotland after the loss of the last MacGinger Angus. So their family will never know what an awesome contribution they made to our tour of the Isle of Skye and the northern Scotland. They sure were cute little gingerbread men. The trip was awesome and we thank you and Fin for the best gift ever!! My thrill for adventure keeps me young and is making Jimmy even younger. Jimmy is most certainly stuck with me in any case. Til our next adventure, keep writing!!

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  6. Delurking to say how great this post is :) Glad you are back writing! (and my son is Finn, love your husbands name!)