Scotland

A Remarkable Life

One morning, I received a call from my Zurich lawyer, Dr. Andreas Froriep, who informed me that someone was trying to find out who was behind Arran Isle Improvement Association AG. I burst out laughing. It’s true, I suppose, that the Arran miscreants and their shyster lawyers could litigate in Switzerland for a decade or …

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Selling the Castle

If you want to be called Lord Joe, Earl of Arran, you have to own Lochranza Castle and about 1,000 acres surrounding it. The castle was built in the early 1200s and in 1262 King Alexander III granted the castle and its lands to Walter Stewart, the Earl of Menteith. Robert the Bruce supposedly hid …

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Buying Your Way Into Nobility

We’re talking about the “subtle maneuvers” we were using to try to drag the charming-but-antediluvian Isle of Arran into the modern era and prevent Lady Jean from hobbling off to the poorhouse. Putting the old ladies to work One day, I arrived on Arran after spending a few days in Edinburgh talking with Lady Jean’s …

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Scotch to the Rescue…

Before I describe the “subtle maneuvers” we orchestrated on Lady Jean’s behalf, I want to emphasize that these weren’t all my ideas. They were an amalgam of many conversations with the accountants, estate managers, attorneys, Charles Fforde and Lady Jean herself. I was merely a kind of midwife presiding over their birth. On the other …

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The Isle of No Solution

Whenever I traveled to Europe in those days it always seemed to me that I was moving not just through space, but also through time. The Europeans always seemed to be two or three decades behind America, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Traveling to the Isle of Arran, however, was a …

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The Mystery Deepens

My inauspicious arrival on the Isle of Arran seemed to have perturbed Lady Jean Fforde not at all. “It’s the smell, dearie,” she said, pounding my back like a jackhammer as I retched into the boxwood. “You’ll be used to it soon enough.” And she was right. Three whiskies later (drunk neat, the Scots never …

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Pretty in Peat

The Machrie Hotel sits on grass-covered peat fields, a low-slung array of modern buildings that sprawl across the landscape like an apparition. Just completed last year, the newest addition to the Campbell Gray luxury hotel chain is on the Isle of Islay, home to some of the best scotches in the world. But Islay is …

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Skibo Castle: Andrew Carnegie’s Extraordinary Estate

Turning into the long drive that leads to Skibo Castle, one can imagine what it was like for Andrew Carnegie to arrive at his Scottish home back in 1899.That was the year he purchased the estate, hoping his young daughter Margaret would grow to love his homeland. In this, the 100th anniversary of his death, …

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Lady Jean

As I dutifully did every morning, I listened to my overnight voicemails. My boss was saying something like this: “Stop what you’re doing and get yourself to the Isle of Arran, and don’t dilly-dally!” Huh? I’d recently returned from an ill-fated trip to the Hopi Tribe in Arizona and I was a bit touchy on …

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