When I returned to the table, Henry Morton was deep in conversation. “What are you up to H V?”, I ask. “Just speaking in Greek with Elleeni”, he replies.”Do you know, I haven’t had such an opportunity since researching ‘In the Steps of St Paul’ (Rich & Cowan October 1936), in which I retraced Paul’s journey from Tarsus, via the Areopagus sermon, to the scene of his martyrdom in Rome?”. “And brushing up my rusty Greek is made better by the fact that our waitress Elleeni is so young and beautiful”, he adds with a devastating 20th century smile, causing both her, and me, to blush.
It was H V’s idea to venture out to the Courie Inn in Killin in the heart of Perthshire. “I want to taste true Scotland again”, he asserted, “and somewhere different from those drafty old hotels I encountered in 1929 Dumfries and Galloway”.
‘Courie’ - Scots for ‘snuggle or nestle’, describes this place to perfection. I could see immediately its fascination for Henry. Hotel, bar and restaurant snuggling to the east edge of Sron a’ Chlachain just a little way from the Falls of Dochart at the head of Loch Tay. To get there we have hired a 1920 bullnose Morris (that Henry insists on calling ‘Maud’ for some reason) which we park at the village hall, and walk down to the inn.
Ms Jinny, Courie’s young manageress, had reserved a window table to allow H V to observe the comings and goings, and, as he is wont to do, to make the odd jotting in his notebook.
At Henry’s insistence we share a ‘Wee Tasty’ - haggis, Stornoway black pudding and a wee tattie scone. “This is Scotland in perfect parcels”, announces H V as he pours creamy whisky and chive sauce. Our main dish is succulent, tender Lamb rump on a bed of mash, peas and roasted vegetables.
“All good inns should possess a boast”, he asserts as he scribbles in his notebook, “and Courie Inn’s boast is the most divine food served by two angels”. “When you write about it, remember to tell them I said so”, he adds wistfully. And so, faithfully, I do.
Replete, we depart Courie Inn through the public bar and its lively group of locals and visitors chatting to the sound of draft beer being pulled from the cask. Outside, low cloud has descended in the darkness, and mizzle drifts sideways across pavement flags.
“Tomorrow, if it is fine, we shall need to walk off our supper”, reflects HV, “now, which of the Munros should we scale?”, he continues, “Ben Lawers or Beinn Ghlas?”.
“Let’s find the car and leave tomorrow to take care of itself”, I reply, as we splash our way out along the Main Street in the direction of Fingal Stone and the loch.