Dr. Hoffer's Travel WebSite This site was last updated 08/02/18
IRELAND15 #9 PERTHSHIRE FLY FISHING + WHISKEY
Flag of Perthshire
July 24-25, 2015
Friday, July 24, 2015
The Gleneagles golf course (panorama above) was created by Jack Nicklaus and the PGA Centenary Course was the venue for the 2014 famous Ryder Cup, where the cream of European and American golf battled it out on Scottish soil for the first time in more than 40 years. So for golfers, this is an important place.
Since this trip by the IIIC was for golf and there are only a few of us who never play it, Dr. Barrett was kind enough to offer an alternative by scheduling a fly fishing excursion today. Growing up in Upstate NY, with all it's many lakes, I grew up enjoying fishing but pretty much gave it up when I moved to California in 1972 especially when all I could catch in Lake Arrowhead was an inch long. I even fished on Lake George in mid-Michigan during my residency in Detroit. My fellow resident, John Darin, and I bought a cabin on the lake just to get out of that city on the summer weekends. It was while fishing there in 1970 that I read an article in the British Journal by Dr. John Pierce about lens implants that so impressed me, I became bound and determined to do them some day. It changed my life!
I tried fishing in the Pacific Ocean but it wasn't as enjoyable to me as doing it on a lake. I did catch a big salmon in Ketchikan, Alaska in 1988 and the chef on our ship cooked it up for my family. That was fun.
Obviously I had to sign up in advance for this chance to try fly fishing (which I really never have done) and catch one of those Scottish salmon like I had heard Sir Harold Ridley enjoyed doing. This meant I had to get up very early and get to the hotel for takeoff. I went down to the breakfast room and took a look at their breakfast menu. It looks like Marcia will have a lot of choices later if she gets up in time.
I especially would have liked to try the Scottish kippers with a poached egg. I had no time to do my run so I drove to the Gleneagles and then we were all placed in this van (Dr. Barrett starting us off) and were driven northeast to the city of Perth (map below) in Pertshire which is the name of the "county" or shire we are in now (flag left, coat-of-arms right). It is one of the largest in Scotland. We went outside the city and they took us to a lake out in the countryside.
It took less than 30 minutes to make the 17 mile drive to get there. Perth is on the River Tay which gets pretty wide as it heads east towards Dundee. When we arrived we were taken to this lodge and introduced to our guides and then we posed for group pictures before getting into our fishing gear.
Here are the photos of the six of us. Below left (L-R) is me, Matteo, Dr. Simon Holland from Vancouver, Dr. McDonald and Dr. Barrett. Below right is (L-R) is me, Matteo, Dr. Holland, Dr. David Lin of Vancouver and Dr. Barrett, who by the way is from Perth, Austrailia not Scotland.
I took a look out on the docking area with all the fishing boats ready for us (PhotoStitch).
They broke us up into three groups of two. Naturally, I was paired with Matteo and we joined our guide (below right).
We got in boat #24 (below left) and Dr. Barrett and Dr. Holland got into #21 (below right).
Dr. Lin (below) joined Dr. McDonald in the third boat. A special thanks to David Lin for sending me many of his excellent photographs he took that day which I have acknowledged (above and below) with a black border on each one. As you will see above and below, without his photos, I would not have been able to truly document this rare experience.
We headed out of the dock and slowly powered into the lake. It was slightly cloudy but nice.
We passed through the little narrow with a sign quoting King George VI on conservation.
This is the Barret/Holland boat. Dr. Barrett had done this last year when searching out the venue for the meeting so at least he has some experience. He never caught anything on that trip.
We make quite a pair of fishermen.
Once we were on the other side of the lake, our guide began teaching us how to cast the line. We both listened intently since we had never really done it before.
He told me to hold the line against the rod, gently throw the line/lure behind me, slowly throw it forward and then back again behind me. Then the second throw is strong while letting the line go by releasing your finger. You can see this one "plopped" (below right) but didn't go too far.
Matteo was also really getting the hang of it.
Boy, when you do it right, that lure flies a long way into the distance. Then you gently reel it in.
Matteo and I took it seriously and we both actually got pretty good at doing it. Here is a lure we used (below right). I never wear sunglasses because they give me a headache but they required us to wear them for protection against flying hooks.
We later found out that Dr. Holland (below left) had caught and landed this huge Northern Pike (below right, being netted).
It was putting up quite a fight but finally calmed down to pose for photos.
Now that's a smile. Dr. Barrett also caught a smaller Northern Pike which he looks happy about.
Just look at the size of this beautiful creature Simon caught.
Above photo I PhotoStitched. The two of them look pretty pleased with themselves, as was their guide. How is it two boats caught nothing and one boat caught TWO? Maybe it was the guide.
We had heard them yelling and being excited and figured somebody caught something and when we get back we hear all about the giant fish they caught. Matteo didn't want to get out of the boat but after he did, he said "OK, where is it, I want to see it."
Then they quietly tell us that they threw them back in (below). WHAT? Not only didn't we get to catch anything but we never even get to see what was caught? If Matteo or I had caught it, we would have taken them back to the hotel and asked them to cook them for us. Oh, well, at least we got to look at the pictures. The big one certainly was a whopper. I never found out whether this was the policy of this fishing company or whether they both decided on their own to throw them back. Below is Graham throwing his smaller one back in,
On the other hand, I can be thankful that at least one boat caught some fish making the trip a success. Many times people go out for days without ever catching anything.
To my surprise, when we arrived back at the camp, the guides had these whiskey glasses set up for us all to have a shot of Haig Club single grain Scotch whisky and toast our hero (above). He sure looks happy, doesn't he?
I don't drink hard liquor as a rule and it was way before sundown, so I just sipped a taste of it and I was done. I had a cup of coffee instead (below right). It has never been in my nature to be jealous of others for their success or money BUT, in this special case I have to admit, I was really jealous of Simon for having caught that huge fish instead of me. Maybe next time.
Then there were final group shots with our gear on (below right, I had already gotten mine off).
They drove us back to the hotel with the van. Most of the other attendees had finished their rounds of golf and the IIIC meeting was about to start in the Barony Room. I was put on the program as the first speaker of the meeting, so I had to make sure my computer was all set to go. As I was about to speak, I attempted to adjust the position of my Dell laptop and as I did that I inadvertently punched the "Go to Sleep" button, the screen went blank so I couldn't continue.
When I got the computer to wake up again it was no longer connecting to the screen. I basically had to sit down so someone else could speak - just a little frustrating. Why Dell puts the sleep button right where you would grab the computer to move it makes no sense at all. I finally gave my talk as the third speaker after I got it fixed.
This one last shot of the audience (below left) is because I had to get a shot of my two Italian colleagues; Matteo from Monza (right) and Lucio Buratto from Milano (left). Only Lucio could pull off those unique pants.
During a bathroom break I happened to spot this jacket I really liked in the hotel's men's shop. I was thinking of buying it until I looked at the price tag where it showed they dropped the price from over ₤600 to ₤410 ($630). I assume there are people who come here who think nothing of buying it at that price, but I passed.
I am not about to show any of the slides I photographed at the lectures except this special one presented by Dr. Richard Lindstrom (in last photo, Diario #8) who has financial connections and consultancies with several companies that make and sell these new Femtosecond lasers for cataract surgery which cost a minimum of $250,000. He made a nice presentation reviewing all the latest studies on the effect of this procedure and, if you carefully read his results in the slide below, you will know why I think this is the most honest lecture I have heard in 45 years in this profession - basically there is no proven benefit. [A "rhexis" is the opening in the anterior lens capsule.]
The meeting ended at 5:00 PM and I raced to my car and drove back to the hotel to do my run and get Marcia. I did the same run I did yesterday and when I was finished, I bought some Diet-cokes at the Delivino pizza Deli place [22 High St., +44-176-466-0033] for ₤10.50 ($16.15). I raced back to our room and quickly changed and Marcia drove us to the Gleneagles Hotel where there were two comfortable Midlands Coaches we all piled into for the drive to the Grouse Whiskey tour and dinner.
The ride took us a little over twenty minutes to cover the 11 miles. As we pull into the property, the first thing you see is this large bronze-clad grouse. Below left is the view from the front with the entry sign and below right is from the back side.
Dr. Lin got this nice frontal shot showing the steel frame as well as the lamplight with hanging flower pots. Below right is my blow-up of the welcome sign to the 5-star "The Famous Grouse Experience" at the Glenturret Distillery [The Hosh, Crieff, +44-176-465-6565].
Marcia took a shot of me in front of the grouse. Just under the entry bridge is a pristine clear brook.
As we get off the bus, we are directed to that white building and the entrance for the Distillery Tour.
We all gathered in this large room with displays telling the story of the distillery.
The room filled slowly as people meandered off the bus. We found Matteo.
I got impatient, so I went outside and wandered around and saw the backside of the distillery with all the barrels lined up on the ground (left) and then came across this steel statue and memorial to a cat.
As you can see from the plaque below, the cat was Towser (1963-87) who lived in the still house of this distillery for 24 years and became listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having caught 28,899 mice during that time, a record not since broken. I wondered, if she caught and ate them, how were they able count them?
Here the sign leads to the Glenturret Cafe, where we will be having dinner (PhotoStitch).
Our tour guide (below left) was very sweet and showed us the entire distillery process and plant. Someone used Dr. Lin's camera to get a better shot of him next to the big bottle (below right).
Here are stock photos of the tour from their website; left is the greeting room, right is stirring the mash.
Below left is the distilling vessel and on the right are the barrels in storage for aging.
[Photos Courtesy of - Rob McDougal www.RobMcDougall.com +44-785-622-2103 email@example.com and Fraser Band +44-798-416-3256 fraserband.co.uk.]
After the tour was over they brought us into this tasting room and were pouring shots of The Black Grouse blended Scotch whiskey (Alpha Edition) into all these glasses and handing them out.
Not a drinker of whiskey or Scotch, I had never heard of it but some of you may be familiar with the name. Below you can see (L-R) Drs. Arshinoff, Buratto and Fine partaking. I think we got to take the glass home as a souvenir. The sun wasn't down yet, so a few sips was way enough for me.
I got a few shots of others: (L-R) Drs. Emmanuel Rosen, Barrett and Kohnen.
As I said, a couple of sips of that and I was done. I needed a beer, so I found these great members of the staff here and they led me to their bar in the back and I had a cold glass of Ossian Scottish beer. They also had Tennents and Caladonia Best on tap.
Thanks to them I am feeling much better. We all sat down in their dining hall and then they began to pour the wine: the white was Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc and the red was a 2012 Sierra Cantabria Rioja. We were then served a summer tomato and red pepper soup with basil oil. It was pretty good.
Below is the menu for the evening. Someone used my camera to get a good shot of Dr. Jack Holladay (of Houston) and I. We met in the early 1980s and both of us were interested in lens power calculation. He developed his Holladay formula (now called Holladay I) and stimulated me to improve my Hoffer formula (from 1974) which became the Hoffer Q. It wound up being the best in the 10-15% of eyes that are very short so in 1996 he came out with the Holladay II. We've continued to have friendly arguments on this subject for 35 years.
For our entree, they served us this beautiful roasted Loch Duart salmon served on a summer pea, new potato and fine bean salad with house lemon mustard dressing. That salmon was incredible and as I like it - cooked. Dr. Lin got a shot of one of the tables with Drs. Knorz, Zaldivar, Philipson and Alio.
And, of course, Marcia and Sharon (Dr. Holladay's wife) have been friends for as many years. I got a shot of my two good friends (L-R) Dr. Bo Philipson of Stockholm and Dr. Jorge Alio of Alicante, Spain, each probably the most well respected eye surgeons in their respective countries.
Then my final shot of Drs. (L-R) Zaldivar and Knorz. They served our desert of summer berries with elderflower ice cream which went down nicely.
At 11:00 PM, we all piled back into the bus and got back to the Gleneagles Hotel bar area for an after-dinner Guinness and wine with Matteo. It was an long event-filled day for Matteo and I and we were tired.
I got this PhotoStitch shot of one of the hotel's dining rooms which was winding down.
At 11:30 PM, we finally wrapped it up and drove back to Auchterarder to our room for bed.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
I got up around noon and had time to go for my run because the others were all playing golf. They had a second fishing excursion today but I wasn't in the mood for getting up that early again to go through all that and not catch anything. I did the same run down High Street and then stopped and had a cappuccino at 1:16 PM at that Delivino I stopped at yesterday evening.
I then changed and drove back over to the Gleneagles and before the session started I had the chance to meet, for the first time, and chat with one of the more famous British ophthalmologists, Michael Roper-Hall. Everyone was pleased to see him arrive.
He edited one of the more famous textbooks in our field and was a founding member of the IIIC. I then spent the afternoon listening to many interesting lectures.
My favorites were, of course, on Lens power calculation (left) and one on the origin's of the ophthalmology profession in 1800 BC (right). I won't bore you with any more.
During the break I got some photos of the main hall outside the meeting room (left). The other view is toward registration. That Indian eye surgeon (below right) later wanted to get a photo with me; not sure why.
After the meeting ended, I drove back to the B&B to change and get Marcia. Tonight is the big black-tie optional final Gala Dinner. Since I have no room to pack a tux for a one night event while traveling in the EU for three months, I got into my usual dark blue sports jacket which is the only one I have ever worn in the EU for the past twenty years (even for my son's wedding at the Vatican in Rome in 2007). Dr. Barrett begged me to wear this special Scottish bow tie which I did even though I can't remember the last time I wore one. When we arrived the staff was handing out your beverage of choice as you enter the grand hall.
As you can see the lighting in the room caused a purplish haze to all the photos and nothing in Photoshop could fix them. The room was large and everyone was beginning to have a good time at the cocktail party (PhotoStitch ).
They had fiddlers in Scottish kilts playing away very nicely. Someone got a shot of Marcia and I with Jorge Alio and his wife. You can see my bow tie [which has been sitting on my bedroom lamp ever since]. I wish the lighting had been better.
Of course they had some bagpipers come in and play.
Then they announced that we should head through those doors to the right to be seated for dinner. The party started to wind down and Marcia found Matteo (below left) (PhotoStitch).
When we were seated, we had a chance to look over the menu.
There were some introductory remarks and then the golf trophy was awarded.
The trophy was very nice and I don't even remember who won it. After the speeches were finished, they were pouring us wines: the white was a 2014 Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the red was a 2012 Glenelly Cabernet Sauvignon.
But before dinner started, they had everyone get up for group photos. I would rather get some good shots then being in the shot. Below is one I got from the left side.
Here is a better one from the center that I PhotoStitched. Mr. Roper-Hall is in the center.
After everyone got seated, we were first served sautéed wood pigeon breast with wild mushroom tortiel, celeriac puree and red current gel. This was followed by Findony haggis with creamy mash and crushed neeps in whisky sauce. I've had haggis before (1999) and this one was very good.
After eating all that, I needed to walk around a little and found this photo on the wall of Sean Connery (a Scotsman) taking a swing.
In between courses, people had a chance to visit. Marcia is chatting with Anne Karcher (below right) with Dr. Steve Obstbaum from New York City to her left.
Then our main course was a slow roast Scottish beef fillet with shredded beef horseradish and crust butter fondant potato-carrot puree with shallot and red wine jus followed by the dessert of bitter orange tart with Drambuie ice cream and kumquat marmalade lemon chiboust.
After we finished our coffee with petit fours and tablet fudge biscuits the Scottish girls came out accompanied by bagpipers to perform a dance for us.
After they finished performing, they started inviting the others to join them in Scottish dancing. Marcia wasn't interested but they finally convinced her to get up there (below center) while I tried acting inconspicuous as possible. But then they even dragged me up there (below right, thanks to Dr. Lin).
As the evening wound down, everyone had a good time and it was really a Gala Dinner. I have to congratulate Drs. Knorz and Barrett for the time and effort they put in to make this whole event really special. We finally drove back to our room and I get to put that jacket away until the meeting in Barcelona in September. We got to bed a little earlier since I have Mass in the morning and then we have to drive to Edinburgh.
KJH GO TO -> NEXT DIARIO #10
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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