OK, here's question? Where in the world would you most like to live? My answer, after this afternoon's jaunt has got to be Stathepeffer. It is a very small town tucked away in the Highlands. It is a Spa town, complete with pavilions gushing with water that stinks like rotten eggs on account of a high level of sulphur. That is not much to attract anyone - but just take a right turn and walk up the road and just on the right hand side is a chocolate shop!
Joe and I were visiting friends who own a croft, or a small farm, between Dingwall and Strathpeffer. We were completing the New Year circuit of visiting friends. They are in the process of building a new house and have spent the last couple of years living in a caravan on site. They have hens and dogs and sheep and cows and a quad bike. Joe had fun driving the quad bike all over the field chased by the dogs.
It was our friends that told us about the chocolate shop. The owners are genuine Belgian chocolate makers. Nothing factory produced but handmade.
Another friend and I drove out to investigate further. Living in the Highlands, we get used to many towns just closing down for the winter. Those that rely on the tourist industry tend to be open between March and October. However, the shop was open for business. The smell was just glorious, though perhaps if I worked there I might not enjoy it every single day - Yeah right! It is a café that serves drinks, as well as chocolates, but the most requested drink is hot chocolate. Not the frothy stuff that every other café sells with the marshmallow floating on top, but thick, sweet, dark chocolate. They serve you a tray with a mug, a small bowl of sugar and a tiny plate with one handmade chocolate on it. Then the waiter comes round with a jug of the hot chocolate, stirring it with a spoon, and fills your mug. I think if you left it to go cold it would just solidify. It was off this planet - a real taste sensation not to be missed. Any other mug of hot chocolate gets relegated to the taste and consistency of hot brown coloured water.
Perhaps it is as well that I am going back to work on Monday.