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A Gathering on the Ridge with Novel Adventures

I had an Outlander adventure last week -- an amazing weekend packed with Outlandish activities -- that I was very privileged to share with a diverse group of Outlanders from all over the US.

We gathered together on Thursday at The Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis, historic lodging in the Western High Country of North Carolina -- the area that inspired Fraser's Ridge -- and just a few miles down the road from the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Mast Farm Inn

The weekend was organized by Novel Adventures, a unique and full-service travel company that makes your dream of immersing yourself in your favourite fiction come true. I can't say enough about the all-inclusive experience that Kim and Andrea put together.

Fortunately, I've got lots of pictures to help me tell the story.

The Fiery Cross

After a welcome reception on the ground of Mast Farm, we hopped in vehicles and headed down the twisty mountain roads to the Torchlight Ceremony of the Grandfather Games.

Kim and Andrea had contacted the organizers of the games to request that Clan Outlander be allowed to participate in the Calling of the Clans that night, and when a member of our group, Sheryl Hess, took her place on the field, I think we all got the shivers.

The next morning, I was up bright and early to get ready for my big part of the weekend. I designed two Outlander menus, and guided 4 different groups through their preparation.

Menu A Menu B

It was one of the biggest thrills of my life to have these women gather with me in a couple of rather rustic kitchens that were short on modern tools. We improvised, just as Mrs. Bug would have done, and put together what we all agreed was a very tasty lunch made from the basic, whole-food ingredients called for in most of Outlander Kitchen's recipes.

As Kim from Novel Adventures observed, there's no better way to build community than to join together to make a meal.

Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski

Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski

After a demo, everyone crimped their own bridies.

Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski

Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski[/caption]

Edie was part of the team that put together Mrs. Bug's Gingerbread & Crud...a recipe that is not here on the blog, but will be in the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook, coming in 2016.

Photo by Lindsay Henderson

Photo by Lindsay Henderson

A tasty lunch of Brianna's Bridies and Claire's "Weed" Salad.

Native Storyteller

That evening, after a delicious dinner prepared by the Mast Farm Inn Kitchen, we were treated to oral stories by Perry Ground, Turtle Clan member of the Onondaga Nation. After Perry, we were treated to a selection of songs from Gillebride MacMillan, who plays Gwyllin the Bard in the TV series.

Again, the video is dark, but you can just see Gillebride as he introduces, and then sings, the Skye Boat song in Scottish Gaelic.

The next morning, Saturday, we rose early and headed back to the Grandfather Games for a full day of Highland events, lineage tracing amongst the Clan tents, and maybe just a wee bit of shopping. As you can see, I have a thing for thistles.

My Englishman calls it a problem, but I like to remind him a thing for jewels would be a whole lot worse.


Gillebride MacMillan and me

photo by @Sheugs on Twitter

The best part of the day was another meeting with Gillebride...and you can actually see him this time. He is an ageless, gentle soul, and my picture with him is my favourite souvenir of the weekend.

Outlanders at the Bar

Back at the Mast Farm Inn, we made our way across the road to their 18th Century Barn where we had a good old pig roast, complete with 6 bottles of Outlander Kitchen Cherry Bounce...

Pig Roast

We were joined by Seven Nations, the Celtic rock band who rocked the crowd at the Games earlier that afternoon. After dinner they played a (mostly) acoustic set complete with Bodhran, Fiddle and Pipes.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this weekend -- I will remember it for the rest of my life. If you're looking for your own Outlander adventure, I recommend contacting Novel Adventures.

There is talk of doing this all again next year, and I'd love to meet more Outlanders in the High Country of North Carolina, so reminscent of the Highlands of Scotland.