We spent yesterday with one of Grant’s aunts from Scotland. We hadn’t seen her since we stayed with her in Doune back in 1995.
I remember the house so well – I remember Max, the mad golden setter even more clearly. He used to wake me up by sticking his nose into my face and giving me a massive doggy kiss each morning. I recall she had small tables everywhere with Doulton figurines on them and Max would just go barging through everywhere. I think he thought he was the same size as the spaniel.
Anyways, the path out the back of her house took you to the river and Doune Castle. If you’re an Outlander fan, Doune Castle was one of the main locations in Series 1. It’s also been used as Winterfell in Game of Thrones. And it was up the path from her house.
We visited again when we were in Scotland in December 2015, but Margo wasn’t in town and things had changed in the village.
Anyways, where do you take a Scottish relative for the day when the temperature for that day is forecasted to be in the 40s?
To the water, of course!
I have memories of the occasional Sunday afternoon at the Newport Arms when I was young and relatively innocent. Back the. the lawn was the place to be. More recently we popped over for breakfast there with friends. I say more recently, but according to my timehop, it was 2 years ago. Time certainly does fly – and all that. You can see what it looked like then in this post.
Since then, Newport Arms has been reinvented by the Merivale Empire as The Newport. Yeah, whatever. And, like everything that Justin Hemmes touches, it’s been made better, but, in the process, some of the charm has been lost. Although, if you didn’t have any memories of the way it used to be, you’d think it was fabulous – which, of course, it is. Besides, I suspect much of the target audience wasn’t alive to remember what I remember.
The thing about Newport is that it’s not on the way to anywhere. and, as public transport north of Manly is total crap, turning Newport Arms into The Newport and a destination in its own right has been a master stroke. To do that, changes were required.
For starters, the seating has all changed too. Instead of the barbecue style tables with umbrellas of two years ago, there’s now pavilions and pergolas. Heaps more. It doesn’t feel as casual or as family friendly, but we were there on a Friday lunchtime and there could be more of a family vibe on a Sunday. In any case, it felt about 10 degrees cooler under the shade.
Of course, if you really want umbrellas, you can have them. This is, after all, a Merivale venue.
Instead of the bar serving the usual array of coastal pub food, Hemmes has arranged the food in a series of food “stalls”:
- The Pavillion serves wood-fired pizza
- The Shack serves an updated version of the old menu
- The Kiosk has sandwiches, rolls and salads
- The seafood bar does Asian noodles and seafood
This is all great except they’re all located at different parts of the establishment and, if you’re all ordering from a different part of the menu and a different outlet, the likelihood of your group eating together is pretty low. Almost the same odds of me winning powerball. And that annoys me more than I can say.
Today, for example, I really felt like the pork belly banh mi. Except that it was from the Kiosk and Margo was ordering a hamburger from The Shack…and hubby wanted the spicy seafood hokkien noodles from the Seafood Bar. So I decided on the barramundi burger instead – which was great, but nothing was coordinated. Hubby was kept busy ordering food, collecting food, getting more drinks, collecting food….yeah, not great. There was only three in our group, but I imagine for more people, you’d get the irrits damn quick.
Having said that, the live music and those stupendous views evened my temper up pretty quickly. Thankfully, the one thing that even Justin Hemmes’ team of uber designers couldn’t improve on is the view. Thankfully, he didn’t even try. And sitting under the pergola you wouldn’t know that the rest of Sydney had descended into the depths of hell – temperature wise, that is.
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