There’s nothing quite like a well-earned kip.
When I awoke, very much rested, from my night’s sleep in the Lodge, the entirety of the Highlands was awaiting me when I opened the front door.
It had rained during the night, leaving a fresh dewy smell on the tarmac of the drives and the grass of the front gardens.
Although I could have quite happily stayed there for days on end, I only had the one night booked. As I dragged myself away from the idyllic miniature village of lodges and back into the van, I received a call from the farm.
A visitor from the States happened to be flying in to Edinburgh that very morning, a commercial Beef farmer from the States who wanted to get the low-down on British Farming techniques and they wondered whether I’d mind making the drive to pick him up. As far as I was concerned these people were already doing me a favour by allowing me to visit their home and nose about their farm, so I agreed, and prepared myself for a quick trip to Edinburgh.
Around 60 miles lay between myself and the Edinburgh Airport parking lot, where I was to drop the van off. The Watsons had already booked ahead, I was to leave the van in the parking space and head straight to the terminal to pick up a Mr. Jeremiah Carson.
On the way to Edinburgh, I found my mind drifting, wondering what kind of man this Mr. Carson would be like.
I’d been given no information beyond a name and occupation. Informed by Hollywood and American TV, an image was conjured in my mind of a man resembling the KFC mascot with a beige suit and twirled moustache. Could such people really exist? Rich talking Texans, with Southern drawls and bolo ties, harbouring strange opinions about the Civil War – surely these were all cliches and stereotypes, amalgamated into an unrealistic expectation of what people could actually be like?
All hopes of meeting a Colonel Sanders-esque figure were dashed when a modestly dressed gentleman in his late 50s shook my hand at the airport. The real Jeremiah Carson was a quiet, well-mannered man with a penchant for stumbling over his words especially when he was speaking about himself. Although he’d spent nigh on 24 hours in transit, from his ranch in Texas to the airport in Edinburgh, he’d somehow managed to take with him the essence of his home country. As we both stepped into the van and shut the doors, the cab was filled with the smells of the farm. An earthy scent of livestock apparently exuded from his skin with the faint undercurrent of a butchers shop – I felt a little sorry for whoever was sat next to him on the plane.
As we drifted through the winding roads of the Highlands, more and more buildings began disappearing from the horizon.
I quizzed Jeremiah about his farm back in the States, his holding was a large one covering several acres. In his own quiet way Jeremiah was a proud man. He’d built his modest herd of 50 or so sucklers to a horde of 500 and now employed 60 people to keep them fed and well kept. However, his successes had not left him arrogant, he’d travelled to Scotland in order to learn from the Watsons and try to get to grips with just why Scottish Beef was understood to be the best in the world.