A sample from the book!
The rain was pouring down on the streets of Edinburgh so hard that the gutters were filled and overflowing on to the historically worn sidewalks which were no longer visible, now transformed into a deluge-soaked torrent of flowing water.
Malcolm Walker drove his 1920. Wolseley hard top with considerable care as the visibility was almost nonexistent and his wiper blade cranked way too slow to make any difference to the relentless deluge bouncing on the windshield and bonnet in front of him like spears of liquid glass with such incredible voracity that all he could see was a swirl through his windshield and an occasional glow of headlights coming towards him from some mystical location which he had no idea from where but as fast as they appeared, they would glow brighter and brighter in the dark night, then disappear with a swoosh as the water displaced by the passing wheels splashed hard against the side of Malcolm’s car leaving him guiding his spoked wheel vehicle down Princess Elizabeth Street in the shadows of the historic buildings which now were nothing but looming borders at the edge of the deluge soaked street that he was traversing using the beams of his headlights which illuminated his path at a very brisk twenty miles per hour, way too fast for normal people!
Wow! Thought Malcolm, this is worse than any storm I have ever been in and here I am driving city streets on a freezing cold February night in Edinburgh, Scotland! “Give me the filthy hot, humid nights of Kenya, It’s Summer there and probably hot as hell!” thinking of the place of his dreams as he drove.
As Malcolm headed home to his B & B on that stormy night from his Brewing class at the famous Herriot Watt University, he wished yearningly that this could all be over soon, so he could emigrate to Nairobi the capital city of Kenya and start his brewing career. Only one more year to go and he would have his brewing degree and then he could get on a ship and start his new life in the colonial protectorate governed and controlled under his Majesty George V’s jurisdiction. What an exciting adventure he thought, not knowing what was in store or what to expect other than a plan to make and sell beer to those British troops and hardy settlers that lived there whom he determined would line up to buy his hand-crafted liquid gold!
Malcolm was a huge framed man over six foot four in height sporting a short distinctive mustache and weighing two hundred twenty-five pounds, soon to be known by the African’s as “Bwana Mukubwa” (the big boss). He had been studying at the Herriot Watt to obtain the most advanced brewing degree available anywhere in the world, and whilst the curriculum was intense there, it still allowed much time to sample the local brews and distilled malt beverages of the area on a frequent basis. He and his fellow students often enjoyed pub crawls where they would go as a group into ten or twelve pubs and consume a pint of the pub’s best bitter and carry on to the next one finishing the evening at their favorite haunt the Castle Inn over by the famous Edinburgh Castle. Malcolm was a very popular man amongst his peers, always the instigator of good times and always the first to step in when anyone needed assistance. As a student, Malcolm’s performance was average and his professor was constantly reminding him, if he would only apply himself to the matter of study a “wee bit more” rather than socializing, he would be an ‘A’ student and could even be top of his class! Alas, Malcolm was more interested in good times and if he could scrape by with a satisfactory grade, then that would have to do!
As Malcolm turned the last bend cautiously on the old historic street he could see the glow of the light over the door of his boarding house through the water swirled wiper blade on the windshield and he knew for sure that Mrs. McTavish his boarding house Ma’am would have a large bowl of Cock-a- Leekie soup and some crusty bread ready to serve him when he walked in the door along with her predictable tongue lashing for being out on such a dreadful night without a rain coat on, “you’ll catch your death of cold!” she would chastise. Mrs. McTavish had a soft spot for Malcolm and always treated him like a son she had never had due to the sad demise of her husband some twenty years ago in a freak accident, he was struck by lightning while walking home from work. A sad day which Mrs. McTavish never got over and had remained a widow ever since. She was a kind woman with a soft heart and Malcolm’s generous demeanor had been a characteristic she had likened to her husband Jim who could never turn away from a person in need. She cooked him breakfast at whatever time he needed it and always had his dinner ready when he got home. Malcolm had grown attached to this woman and she treated him like a son, and he enjoyed her kindness to him. She would be one of the most significant people he would miss when he left Scotland to pursue his dream in his beloved new East African home in Kenya!
It rained for four days straight and as each day ended, Malcolm swore to himself that he would never revisit this godforsaken place again, no wonder those Wallace and Bruce Clansmen were so tough, they had to brave the elements as well as the marauding English Sassenachs from across the border and to crown it all in woolen wraparound loin cloths called kilts with no underwear on, what a life!
Malcolm worked the last semester of his junior year and completed it with an adequate pass grade and then took off for the links to get work during the summer break. He had applied for a job that summer at the newly refurbished Glen Cove Hotel about an hour north as they had offered him a fill in role for the duration of his summer break.
Set in the magnificent pastoral Scottish countryside endowed with so many splendors, exhibiting its luxurious appearance to all who entered its magnificent grounds. Glen Cove Hotel was one of those famous buildings with a more interesting heritage than any storybook castle. It had its own falconry school a five-crown rating and organized pheasant and grouse hunting when in season and of course three of the most scenic and challenging golf courses in the world with a reputation to go with them. Private lakes and imposing trees, lush pastures and Grouse on the fairways surrounded by Heather clad rough ground and deer grazing on the tees. These are but a few of the impressive attributes this hotel had to offer, to some it was rated as one of the world’s most beautiful golf venues!
Malcolm arrived and was immediately struck with the awesome grounds leading up a cobblestone paved roadway to the imposing courtyard in front of the main entrance of the hotel with the plan to make the absolute most of his working adventure here, his first stop was at the main office to check in and find out what his work agenda would be and where his staff accommodations were located. He stepped out of the black Austin taxi that had brought him from the railway station, paid the driver two shillings and six pence and gave him a three-penny tip, took his bags, one under each arm and walked in through the front door!
A petite very attractive young woman with jet black hair tied back in a bun jauntily approached the reception window and smiled graciously at him and asked what she might be able to assist him with. Malcolm was speechless for a moment, it wasn’t just her smile that caught his interest, it was also her dazzling brown eyes gleaming mischievously at him as she greeted him so pleasantly with a gentle but infectiously warm air that spelled “beautiful” in every way! This woman was like no other woman that he had ever set eyes on, she smiled at him in a way that he just felt his whole demeanor melt, she was slight of build and of a delicate disposition and she had the face of an angel. She stared gently at him and he stared at her, they both felt a warmth enveloping them as they stood there, which was so inexplicable, was this “love at first sight” he thought? She had seen this tall magnificently built man step out of the taxi through the mullion window in her office and was instantly curious to find out who he was and now he was standing close enough to touch and the warm glow inside her told her that this was no ordinary meeting!
Looking at his soft but rugged somewhat rounded face she knew immediately that he must be a good and kind man just by the way he smiled at her and when he had approached the window, she made absolutely sure to be as friendly as possible when she greeted him, but little did she realize that this greeting would turn out to be the most influential greeting she would ever make!
They stared politely at each other for a moment and then Malcolm introduced himself and enquired about his new summer role there at the hotel and where he would be living, she responded by introducing herself and that her name was Elizabeth and her friends could call her Liz, which seemed to be an invite for him to call her by that right away and so he requested that privilege she approved with a nod and he did after that. She told him he would be bar tending and waiting tables over at the golf clubhouse and his accommodations were right up at the top of the hotel in the eaves.
After having given a brief introduction to the rules of behavior and the dress codes to be adhered to by all employees at the Hotel, Liz politely extricated herself from his company as the phone rang in the background and she moved graciously to pick it up, “Good Afternoon Glen Cove Hotel how may I assist you?” she chirped in her mild Lancashire brogue. Interesting! Malcolm thought I wonder where she came from, he being a displaced offspring of Lancashire also, “I wonder if she is from anywhere near St. Helens he mused.”
Upon waiting for Liz to finish her phone conversation, Malcolm bid her “thanks and see you later” and then asked her the best way to get to the staff quarters. She told him to use the back staircase behind the snug, a small, cozy, luxuriously furnished bar to the rear of the main reception with the smell of previously smoked cigars and pipes and dark wooden paneling furnished with plush upholstered red leather arm chairs around small diameter round hand carved wooden tables. This bar was mostly visited by the local esquires who would come up to the hotel for an evening dram or pint and a smoke, away from the chaos of a less than tranquil home life or just to relax after an arduous day on the estate! Malcolm felt somewhat excited by the prospects of getting to know Liz better and wondering what the next couple of months may hold for him at this magnificent, historic place where kings and queens and lords and ladies had stayed over the hundreds of years of its existence and what stories could be told if the walls could talk.
He ambled up the imposing Axminster carpeted wooden staircase for what seemed interminable all the while carrying the weight of his two cases full of heaven knows what and finally he got to the top. As he disembarked from the staircase he looked down a long badly lit hallway which exposed recessed, arched doorways with wrought iron hinges and over-sized brass hand engraved handles, on each door was a decorative iron strap with large studs in place to retain the integrity of the door which was housed under a stone archway leading to the room behind.
Visions of ghosts and previously deceased highlanders engulfed Malcolm’s mind as he hurried down to the second last door from the end hoping not to have any encounters with such strange, imaginary, apparitions! Finally, he got to the second last doorway and flipped the latch to enter his new place of tenure! As he entered the room he could not help but stoop a little because the ceiling with cathedral style elevations, also had some pretty low spots and he could see himself in the night banging his head on one if the light was not on, still, this was it and he was so glad to be here and to have met such a lovely person as Liz. After all, this was only where he was going to sleep anyway!
Malcolm un-packed his cases and emptied the clothing that needed hangers into his freestanding carved wooden wardrobe and the remaining contents into a small chest of drawers which served as a bedside table. These rooms had been created with lath and plaster covered walls in between the raftered gables, creating compact but adequate sleeping quarters with a cot style bed and sparse furnishings. Against the taller walls a wardrobe had been placed it had a single door which had a mirror attached to the outside which was used for dressing purposes, after all this was a five-crown hotel and all who worked there were expected to adhere to the exacting uniform dress standards expected of such a majestic facility and the dressing mirror allowed for primping to the sartorial standards that such a grandiose place demanded. The bed was a cot style single bed with a three-inch-thick straw mattress covered with crisp white linen sheets made hospital style, every corner neatly tucked, and two pillows stuffed with Eider Down feathers and covered with snow white pillowcases. Two blankets were neatly folded at the bottom of the bed to be used as needed. There was a small window that was a little high to see out of very easily even for Malcolm’s tall stance, this was situated at the end of one of the inverted ‘V’ shaped elevations in the ceiling, providing enough light to suffice but not in abundance.
After un-packing his cases, Malcolm decided to take a stroll around the premises to familiarize himself with all the different nooks and crannies, and there certainly were lots of them. His first day of work was to be the next day with check in at the golf facility clubhouse at 6.00AM sharp so he wanted to at least determine the quickest and easiest way to get over there, which was down the long entry road and over behind the driving range near the main entrance to the grounds, a good five-minute walk at a brisk pace, good or bad weather aside.
When Malcolm had explored most of the main building, he stumbled on the staff quarters in the basement to the rear of the kitchens, a pocket of rooms which included a very informal dining area with two communal style wooden tables and benches that accommodated ten at a seating these were served by a hatch leading through to the kitchen where a busy Sous-Chef would place trays of food which varied by the time of day, cooked specially for the staff which on some occasions actually bore some semblance to the culinary delights being prepared for the affluent guests in residence who dined in the Grand Dining Room, a level above with two dumb waiter elevators hoisting huge trays of food to be served by “silver-service” from a waiters’ kitchen located behind swing doors leading into the vaulted ceilinged masterpiece of opulent traditional haute-cuisine.
Next to the staff dining room was the staff lounge with lots of couches, chairs and coffee tables, book shelves, a dart board and a billiard table all provided by the management for the staff to relax in after long tedious hours attending to every whim of its guests during most of the hours of the day! For the most part these rooms were in use much of the time by staff members who all had different schedules and jobs in the hotel, so it was a constant change of characters mostly without any routine in their attendance there.
Long working hours, Malcolm would soon find out was a norm for all staff members who worked at the hotel especially those like him who were there just for the summer months, which were the peak season at the hotel. Malcolm decided that he would go over to his new job venue just to feel the lie of the land, so he climbed up the back staff-staircase and exited through a back door which led to some vast ornate gardens lushly stocked with lawns, fountains, mature bushes and flowers in ornate stone planters with massive trees dotted strategically to the rear where winding pathways led out into the un-cultivated rugged highland landscape which surrounded the fairways of the three golf courses, later he would learn that these landscapes of wild Scottish countryside could possibly be some of the most beautiful to be found anywhere in Scotland. On his way from the back door, Malcolm headed across one lawn dotted with croquet hoops in the direction of the front driveway then he headed towards the main entrance where he had seen the golf pavilion when his taxi had arrived earlier in the day. A good walk he thought as he struck a brisk pace along the paved driveway, past the driving range where three men were on the practice tees hitting golf balls as hard as they could in order to prepare for the late afternoon nine hole jaunt on the Monarch’s course with a finish just in time for sundowners in the snug where they could pass around stories of life experiences and brag about the hole where they nearly got a “hole in one” all the while sipping on their favorite single malt, such was the life at this Scottish palatial resort which had been refurbished by the famous Railway Company to provide a fabulous destination to their affluent traveling clientele, with the premise that “guests will travel on our trains, to stay in our hotel, to play golf on our courses” and so the “Monarch’s,” “Sovereign’s” and “The Wee Dram” later named the “Heir’s” course, were brought to a rejuvenated life, embedded in some of the most beautiful of Scottish scenery!
Malcolm was in awe as he sauntered up the steps to the golf pavilion and entered through stained glass double doors into the golf shop which boasted walls decorated by golf scenes from golf history archives including famous holes from Saint Andrews and Carnoustie amongst others of great repute embedded in the glorious Scottish countryside with such a rich history of clans and highland warriors of old, one could not help but to just stand and admire in awe! Malcolm wandered through there acting like a guest without saying a word looking at the highest quality tweed scarves, sweaters, slacks, shoes and a host of other fine attire attributes including golf clothing and equipment accessories such as hickory clubs’ hand stitched leather golf bags and shoes with tongues on the exterior to hide the presence of shoe laces. What a treat to see all these wares that only lots of money can buy! “One Day!” Malcolm thought “One Day!”
Malcolm sauntered through to a hallway at the end of the room which led to a modest sized dining room and looked over the well-manicured table settings with the crisp white table cloths and place mats embellished in Bruce tartan red and black and white with tulip glasses and napkins carefully folded and set inside the tops of each glass. The silverware demonstrated the emblem of the hotel on each piece and was laid with the military precision of a manor house setting, all in all a splendid show of elegance, The dining room itself was highlighted with a row of eye-level windows along the entire one side that faced the Monarch’s course and on the other side a row of windows that faced the Sovereign’s course, the combination allowed almost all diners sat at square tables diamond pattern, to view the magnificent scenery outside from almost any seat in the room.
Malcolm was in awe; sure he had worked in service at other restaurant locations during his school years, but never anywhere as grandiose as this, even the carpet that spread over the whole floor of this historic room, was heavily patterned with a tartan design with magnificent Stags sporting huge racks of antlers that highlighted its location in the highlands where they were situated, that along with the Royal Doulton chinaware, Kings pattern silver cutlery and Stewart’s crystal glassware stems, the antler embellished chandeliers and wall fixtures made this a room to be admired and esteemed for its brash Celtic elegance!
As Malcolm was standing there admiring his new work venue, he was brought back to reality by a light scuffling sound behind him, he turned and there in the shadow of the hall his eyes fell on the lovely Liz, carrying under one arm a folder with a large wad of papers inside. “Hello again” he greeted her with a big smile, “what brings you over here?” He asked inquisitively. “Oh! I am just bringing over the menus for tomorrow!” She responded with an equally broad grin of her own. “Was this meeting contrived or just per chance?” he wondered.
They smiled broadly at each other knowing that this feeling of warmth was not just two persons passing by, but a feeling that this sparkling excitement was so special for two people who had only met literally hours before and that somewhere there was a destiny for this relationship to grow into something very special.
Malcolm enquired “have you worked here very long?” “No, I arrived last week from Warrington in Lancashire!” “You must be kidding; I am from St. Helens!” they burst out laughing at the amazing coincidence that both had come from two towns almost a stone’s throw away from each other. “Actually, I am studying at the Herriot Watt for a Masters in Brewing “Malcolm added “I have one more year to go, then I am going to emigrate to Kenya in East Africa to start up a brewery” “Wow!” Liz replied in complete awe, “this man had a plan and he knows exactly where he is going in life,” she mused to herself. She went silent not really knowing what to say next, then she found inspiration and said” I cannot imagine what it would be like to give up everything and everybody to travel to a far distant land in search of one’s fortune! Aren’t you just a little scared?” she enquired.
“Not really, I have always wanted to own a brewery and the idea of owning one in an enchanting place like Africa just seems to feel right for me.” Right then Liz knew that this was someone very special and it was not just his charming looks; this was someone who had the spirit of an adventurer and a person with a dream! She felt the urge to ask more but this was not the right time or place and there would be plenty more opportunity to pursue her thoughts more at another time, after all they would be working together for the next couple of months and that was perfect!
The golf pavilion restaurant was somewhat quiet as they stood there talking and it gave them few interruptions other than an occasional golfer walking past to check in at the pro-shop for their tee time on one of the challenging courses.
As they stood there both were somewhat lost for words with emotions overtaking clear thinking, but each knowing that something special was taking place and not wanting to break the moment, they both just stood still trying to think of polite conversation. After a few moments, Liz smiled and offered a very poor excuse that she had to be getting back the office and offered an invite to another meeting with a suggestion that she might see him again in the staff quarters later, Malcolm responded excitedly asking what time, 9.00 pm was agreed and they parted company with minds exploding with excitement at another opportunity to get together again.
The significance of this meeting was yet to unfold, but it was sure to be a moment that changed both their lives!
As Malcolm continued to stroll around the elegant Dining Room he was distracted from his thoughts of meeting Liz again with the magnificent views from each window strategically located around the room, one fairway with a distant water hole perimetered by rushes and reeds on one side and another tree lined fairway on the other allowing the occasional glimpse of Grouse and Deer as they traversed them on their path to fresh pasture and water, each with their own distinct beauty to be savored whilst enjoying some culinary masterpiece created in the adjoining kitchens that revealed themselves behind large flexible swing doors with opaque plastic windows to enable one server to see the shadow of another who may be coming through the doors from the opposite direction, saving collisions and mass upset along the way with upturned trays full of crockery and food in the process of transitioning to and from the Dining Room. Such was the ambiance of this charming, historic room and just standing there gave him goose bumps wondering what famous characters must have sat in there at one time or another enjoying the same feelings of awe as they enjoyed an exquisite concoction dreamed up in the kitchen to tantalize their taste buds.
Malcolm could not get over the fact that this was not even the main Dining Room even though it served food for much of the daylight hours including breakfast from 7.00AM until 10.30AM then morning coffee and tea until 11.30AM with a swift changeover to Luncheon until whatever time the diners chose to finish, Then Dinner being moved to the main Dining Room in the Hotel serving from 5.30PM until 11.00PM. Malcolm sauntered into the kitchen using the large swing doors and viewed a large complex room with several anti-rooms all adjoining the main kitchen, Stainless steel tops and sinks and various large pieces of mixing and cutting equipment each on their own floor stands littered the room. On the opposite end of the room he saw a huge stainless highly polished ventilator hood looming overcast iron grated stove tops and griddles that obviously had seen many years of active use but still gleamed after rigorous cleaning regimens applied after each shift.
As Malcolm stood there, he could see several white aproned workers sporting tall fluted chef’s hats all scurrying around the kitchen performing various tasks some with knives in their hands and others carrying enormous trays of prepared food towards a huge larder.
The site of all this activity gave Malcolm a reason to move on, here he was standing, watching and doing nothing, he felt a little gawky, so he turned and went back through the big swing doors into the Dining Room. He sauntered through there, back through the hallway and out through the entry doors on to the beautifully manicured grounds and headed back towards the main hotel.
As he walked towards the hotel he thought to himself that this was going to be a tremendous experience one way or another and he made a little promise to himself to make the most of it as he eagerly looked forward to nine o’clock when he would set eyes upon that lovely woman again!
The story that follows is both exciting and engaging available on https://www.amazon.com/dp/167520554X .
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