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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Windisch

Scotland Diaries: Whisky Ice Cream and a Priory Book Shop

Ptilochry, Scotland. The tour guide dropped our caravan of travelers off after a weekend in the Isle of Skye battling heavy downpours and intense winds in the highlands. With a tired smile, he told us a few details about the town, some black castle that way, ice cream this way, and a nice shop somewhere over-that-a-way.

The main drag in Ptilochry.

Truthfully, I was tired myself. My Garmin watch was logging over 20,000 steps a day; albeit, most of those were from the jolting of the van over Highland road bumps, but I still take credit for a good chunk of that mileage. The afternoon sun was waning, casting long shadows over the street as a gentle wind tousled the red and amber hues of the autumn foliage. The colorful pastel storefronts advertised candies, trinkets, and local wares. I wandered my way into a shop with so many rooms that I thought I might come across the wardrobe to Narnia tucked away in a forgotten corner. Alas, it was only tweed hats and scarves displayed on the shelves.

There was a good hustle and bustle on the streets. Local families milling about pushing grandma and grandpa in wheelchair. Toddlers toddled beside their parents with melting ice cream washing in pink and blue hues over their sticky fingers, mom or dad brushing fingers on pantlegs when those sticky fingers inevitably brushed with theirs.

A soap connoisseur, I let my nose lead me into a quaint shop with handmade soaps and perfumes for sale. I was delighted to see that the shop had a mascot - a roly poly West Highland White Terrier named Lucy. I've got three "Westies" myself, so I felt right at home. Highland Soap Company is the name of the shop. It's a family-run company that make their products - which include shampoos, body creams, soaps, and more - from natural, vegan-friendly ingredients. They ship to the States, so check them out for all your soapy needs.

Highland Soap Company and its furry mascot.

With a bar of oatmeal soap and a small blue clay vase tucked into my bag, I wandered back out onto the street. It was a turn down a quieter corner that brought me to the tiny second-hand bookshop with the words Priory Books in a blue and white sign over the door. Inside a space better fitting a single office were shelves piled high with old books. I wandered around inspecting spines and thumbing through pages until I came across something I don't usually encounter in bookshops: old maps. I was especially surprised when I saw a map of my home state of Florida. Some research in my hotel room shed some light on what I had found. Gulf Oil was a major oil company from the early 1900s until the mid-80s. It merged with Standard Oil of California before being rebranded as Chevron. While Florida's history stretches back to the days of Ponce de Leon and the various Native American tribes that inhabited the land far before colonizers arrived, the urban development of some areas only started in the early 1900s. My city in Southeast Florida was not founded until the 40s, so the map showed the bare minimum in my area.

My peculiar find. Please excuse my chipped manicure!

It was interesting to compare the relatively young history of my city to a town like Ptilochry, which was largely developed in the Victorian age.

And, of course, what inspired all of these thoughts was likely the whisky ice cream I had shortly after picking up the map. It was such a slim shop that COVID regulations allowed only one customer inside at a time. I hurried in and promptly ordered my treat. It was a great way to end my Highland adventure: cold, sweet, and with a little zing! I'll definitely be returning someday to have another.

Whisky ice cream on a warm autumn afternoon. Perfection.

Thanks for reading about my Scottish adventures! This blog has more of my after-thoughts of my adventures. To see what I'm up to in the moment, follow me on instagram @lizzkay14.

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