If it’s not Scotch, it’s crap!

In the second half of September, Seth and I will be taking a week to hike the Speyside Way Whisky Trail through the highlands of Scotland, where most Scotch is produced. Find out if a Yorkshireman and an Irish/English/Czech American, both raised on strict diets of robust beer, can continue to walk straight after 93 miles of world-class distilleries.

But first, after arriving in London next week, I’ll have a few days to kill on the continent. Stay tuned for a whistle-stop tour of BeNeLux!


Before starting the hike in Scotland, I had a few extra days to fill after spending last weekend with Felicity at school in Durham. So why not fill in some gaps in my country collection?!

My BFF, Jen, years ago gave me a special keychain-like keeper for country rings. They’re stainless steel with a unique 3-letter abbreviation for each country. On a good year I’ll add one or two new rings to the collection if I’m lucky.

A few dozen countries represented as stainless steel rings on a keychain
All Your Country Are Belong To Us

Last year was a banner year introducing GRC, CHE, ITA, and LIE. The former was a January trip with Harry when a beautiful snowstorm shut down Athens for days. The latter three were courtesy of my Swiss spring break trip with Felicity, along with two gratuitous ring-grabbing side-trips by train.

This winter I finally visited BMU, closest ring to home! And now in a single three-day ring heist I’ve just bagged NLD, LUX, and BEL! It’s all a blur, but I’ll give you some highlights. I dropped my suitcase full of Scotland-bound hiking gear at the Left Luggage service at King’s Cross next to platform 9 3/4 (for real), took in a showing of Macbeth at the Globe (research?), a few hours sleep, then all aboard the Eurostar!

Amsterdam (➡️ Be ➡️ Ne)

The last time I went through the Channel Tunnel, aka Chunnel, I had an engagement ring burning a hole in my jacket pocket. (In my Jocket, if you will.) More than half a lifetime ago! The stakes were a lot lower this time. And I avoided France… just in case. Direct on to the Netherlands, waving to Belgium along the way. “I’ll be back!”

This Parkside ad was everywhere in the Belgian train stations.

First things first. I had pre-booked a cookie pickup at Van Stapele. Priorities!

Dark chocolate dough, white chocolate filling, and also some chocolate chips for the basic bitches.

Anne Frank’s house is closed one day each year: Yom Kippur. Aaaand for 3 days of maintenance coinciding perfectly with my BeNeLux trip. So best I could manage was an Anne Frank virtual geocache.

(also More Cowbell)

My kids insisted I go all the places AFC Richmond went on their Season 3 away trip. I settled on the Van Gogh museum, the Homomonument, and the red light district. (I put my camera away out of respect for the hard working people of Amsterdam, after a quick selfie.)

Looking forward to rewatching S3E6 with Harry soon. Leslie Higgins was here!

I also walked over to Boom Chicago, the comedy club where the Ted Lasso character was allegedly born. Then after over 24,000 steps, 12+ miles, I called it a night. There’ll be another early morning train tomorrow…

Luxembourg (➡️ Be ➡️ Lux)

On a Thalys train, back through Belgium again 👋 and on to the Grand Duchy you’ve all been waiting for!

I went on a wine tasting walking tour. No better place for day-drinking as far as I’m concerned. It’s just beautiful! But it’s shocking how quickly you become numb to views like this.

Okay, we get it Luxembourg. You’re cute. But… do you have canals like these other BeNeLux places? Oh, of course you do. ✅
I’ve never been to Euro-Disney, but I have to assume it’s totally redundant.
Lux and I were vibing, then I went and ruined it with this photo of a giant lamp post.
Even the graffiti is adorbs.
This place is ugly. Let’s get out of here. How shall we escape? Another early morning train!

Bruges (➡️ Be)

Instead of going through Belgium, we’re going to Belgium. It’s finally your turn! My BeNeBeLuxBe train circuit is now complete.

To be efficient, I found a way to combine beer, waffles, and chocolate: a beer tasting, waffle making workshop! I was teamed up with Anand from Birmingham as my lab partner. We had compatible shirt preferences.

Look at that shirt cuff. Anand is my doppelgänger.
Belgian beer batter Belgian waffles with Belgian dark chocolate sauce on a Belgian plate.
This is some Biscoff porn for Jessica to watch if she misses me while I’m gone on this trip.
Okay, I just died from canal over-stimulation. If you want more of this filth, rent the Martin McDonagh film In Bruges. I’m Audi.

Tomorrow: Scotland!

Stay tuned for the Speyside Way whisky trail walking tour to actually begin SOON… So soon that I should be sleeping already. 😬

Fochabers and Find Out

Benj: ”How do you suppose that town’s pronounced?”

Seth: ”Well I don’t know, Benj.”

Benj: ”Let’s go with Fuck-a-Bears.”

Seth: ”… Alright.”

If you’re wondering why after 3 days of hiking, I’m only just now making a brief post, I could tell you it’s because of exhaustion. Hike 13+ miles a day. Eat, sleep, repeat. That would be true. It’s all-consuming.

It’s like that one section of road they use in every episode of The Walking Dead: non-stop déjà vu that I’ve been here before.

Or I could tell you it’s the alcohol. Yesterday we shared two flights of whisky before lunch. And there’s endless pints of beer. Stringing together a train of thought in the rare moment of downtime when I can reach for a device is truly aspirational. So there’s that. [I started this post while fully sober first thing this morning, but… it’s mid-afternoon now, and circumstances have shifted!]

It’s 11:30am somewhere. (Here.)

But the truth is, I downloaded the Apple Arcade title Wylde Flowers before my flight to London last week. I’ve been preoccupied with collecting eggs, milk, and honey, fishing, getting rich cooking and selling fish sticks, and flirting with the village’s hot doctor. IYKYK. Time spent undertaking these critical tasks means time not spent blogging.

I’ll be in Fairhaven if you need me. Oh, yeah, also the Scottish Highlands I guess?

Anyway, rewind a few days, and we were having breakfast in Buckie on the coast of the Firth of Moray before our first day of hiking.

Innkeeper: “Where are you walking to today?”

Seth: “Uh….”

Innkeeper: ”Fuck-a-Bears?”

Seth: ”Thank you, yes!”

192 miles coast to coast on the Wainwright Walk, providing safe passage for pebbles across Northern England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea