Part 1 – Scotland

Marylou, let’s go ahead and bite the bullet and get this started. Okay, it’s not that I don’t want to blog about this trip. I actually really, really do! I’m just far too OCD to do it half-heartedly and not have all the pictures shining and polished and ready for blogging. I only took thirty-‘leven hundred pictures and I can’t possibly put them all up, for my sake and yours!! By the time this is done you’ll probably wish I had weeded even more out!!

We had done a little research on Scotland and besides the iconic movies like Braveheart, which I haven’t actually seen, and the iconic tartans and bagpipes and Highlands, we still weren’t sure what to expect in modern-day Scotland. Or what part of Scottish history actually really grabbed us. We did watch a documentary on the real Braveheart (William Wallace) story, which I understand is quite a bit different from the movie.

We actually never went through customs going to the UK. We flew through Dublin and we were routed through the airport to a connecting flight. We flew a domestic flight from Ireland to Scotland so coming into Glasgow, we picked up our luggage and looked around for our host. After a few phone calls we finally found him waiting for us in the international terminal. Carolyn had flown in separately from the rest of us so she was there already.

We stayed with the “K” Family, Ruby being the only one from our group who had known them before. The were most gracious hosts and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and their family. They chuckled at our list of things to see in Scotland, thinking that we needed more like 2 or 3 weeks to see it all, not the 5 days we had scheduled.

On the way from the airport Adam got a chuckle out of us desperately trying to get pictures of sheep/countryside. They live on a farm with 3,000 +/- sheep and he assured us we would have plenty of chances to get pictures of them. After seeing my post about the sheep, you can see why we were funny!!

{the farm buildings near their house}

{yes, there were sheep!}

{but if I hadn’t already been shooting from the airport, I wouldn’t have gotten some shots like this ^^. happy That yellow stuff on the hillside is gorse, a scrubby bush. Maybe I mentioned that earlier??}

They did an excellent job of educating us on Scottish history and customs. They probably got tired of our questions but if they did, we sure didn’t find out! 🙂 Marta’s mother lives with them and she (through one of them interpreting) told us quite a few stories of being a young adult in Poland as the Nazis took over.

We enjoyed beautiful music ….

One day Marta and her daughters took us to Culross, a small town on the Firth of Forth. And if you’re like me, you probably don’t know what a Firth or a Forth is in Scotland. Well, a firth is a mouth of a river and Forth, in this case, is a river. Firth of Forth. So much fun to say!! I can’t remember the dates of the beginnings of this old town. The Abbey was founded in 1217. We climbed the ruins of the abbey and then spent sometime in the old church.

The streets of the town were really, really narrow.

Talk about a one-lane street, but not one-way.

 

There were many lovely details to enjoy.

 

So much of our sight-seeing was driving past the small details in order to get as many sights seen as possible.

The William Wallace monument:

Stirling Castle, another home of Mary, Queen of Scots. We didn’t get to tour it due to time but it would’ve been one of the things we would’ve done had there been more time. I believe it’s a bit more interactive than the Edinborough castle.

 

 

One evening we went along to feed the chickens at the farm where the Ks had moved from just a few weeks prior to our visit. Okay, they fed the chickens, we just went along. 🙂 We did get the see the back of the castle they had lived in.

Some of the chickens belong to the children and they sell the eggs.

One day we took the train to Edinborough. We toured the Edinborough castle. It was a gray, cold, misty day, which quite a few of the days in Scotland ended up being. In fact, the one morning we woke up and there was snow on the tips of the hills north of the farm.

We made good use of our layers of clothes we took along and were glad we had packed at least some warm clothes. It was unusually cool for May and the farmers were having to feed hay to their sheep because the grass wasn’t growing very much yet.

 

The great room where parties/meals were eaten.

 

City scenes from the castle walls.

We also visited a tartan factory. If you have any Scottish background, you could have them look up your crest and tartan pattern. I’m afraid I don’t have any Scottish blood that I know of.

The loom area was very noisy. That is an understatement.

The Royal Mile has many things to see and do if you’re a tourist. The castle is located at the one end. And there are many shops, restaurants,  & old buildings to tour along this street. We also stopped in at St. Giles Cathedral.

 

This “ante-chapel”  is a room off to the side and was only for the knights. Each knight (Order of the Thistle) had their own little booth, although I’m sure that’s an irreverent term. It wasn’t quite a throne. But it was very ornate. Each one was topped by a specific family crests and helms. Okay, their website calls them stalls. That sounds even more irreverant. happy It was fairly full of people so I just shot UP and this what you see. Look at that wood ceiling!!

 

One day we went up into the Highlands. I’ve read about the Highlands in various books but somehow it was quite different from what I was expecting. Remote. Sparsely populated. Rugged. Beautiful. And we only saw the southern part of it. I would love to go back someday and tour further north. Please note that at the end of each country I blog about I will say, “I would love to go back and see …. ” There was so much we left unseen. And yet, at the end of 4 weeks we were nearly overwhelmed with having seen so many things!!

Our navigator. Notice the absence of steering wheel. It’s on the other side. I’m not sure how often we went for the driver’s side to get in. happy

We hiked in the Glencoe area, near where a terrible massacre had taken place in the late 1600s.

The hike was far from strenuous but for some reason I felt maxed out. At one point when we turned around, we stopped to rest. My legs felt like jelly. Mrs. K pulled out refreshments, as she called them, to snack on. I have a new appreciation for the word refreshment now. After resting for a bit and snacking on fruit, nuts, and other nutritious things, I walked the whole way back without a shiver or shake.

She had taken chili along and camp stove, and after our hike was over, we ate a hot chili supper. Delicious and timely! It doesn’t look as cold here as it actually was!

We went to a visitor’s center, which interesting. Here is a view from there.

As I was walking around outside I felt something biting me. Our hosts had referred to “midges” as bugs that can make camping miserable. Well, lo and behold, they are the same little bugs we have in the marshy southeast coast, sand gnats, or “no-see-ums” as we call them.

Our last day in Scotland was on a Sunday. We went to church with the K family and were warmly welcomed! I didn’t take any pictures but wish I could’ve taken some video discreetly. We were told they love to sing and we were totally blown away with the gusto they put into singing!!! Nearly raised the roof. We were asked to sing 2 songs and since all 4 of us LOVE to sing as well, we were quite willing. Later one of the men gave Carolyn some money in appreciation and “to buy coffee sometime.”

It was lovely way to end our visit. After a quick meal at the church with the family, we caught the train to head to England. One of the church men was headed the same was us for the first leg, so we were able to chat with him a bit and he helped us to know which station to change trains at in Edinborough.

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10 thoughts on “Part 1 – Scotland

  1. WOW.
    Just WOW!!!!
     I am SO THRILLED YOU’RE SHOWING US PICTURES!!
    {and no, that wasn’t yelling. that was just me very very excited!}
    the beauty in all of this nearly makes me weep.
    it blows me away. the history. the beauty. the architecture. the culture.
    WOW.

  2. Oh. I am savoring this and it creates an ache in my gut. You know, the beauty kind of ache. I remember when we toured Westminster Abbey one of the girls commented that she just felt like crying, that kind of ache. I hope you are using these photos as screen savers and background and wallpaper and, and, and. I must confess that I had a fleeting temptation to see if I could steal one. Ha. I am done now.

  3. Ok, so after that confession I decided to see if I actually could steal one and I did it. :O Really, it’s not hard. Did you know that? Well, now you can have me arrested…

    I do promise to delete it. Really.

  4. I guess I am not done after all. I just had to come back to say that you are really, really cool. You know, an eye for art, world traveler, witty author. Feeling a bit happy that I claim a bit of your friendship. 🙂

  5. @lifeisadance – Sometimes it feels surreal that we were even there. I am glad to share them so that others can enjoy them (and dream of a future trip, maybe) with me!

    @livingwater4me – Thank you for your many generous comments! :)It makes up for the many people who come, read, and then move on without commenting. 🙂 I am grateful to have you as a friend, too! 🙂

    @ColeenSr – Thanks! I wish I get paid National Geographic wages! I’ll have to start looking for sponsors. 🙂

  6. @livingwater4me – Oh, and I forgot to mention, that yes, I know that people can right-click and save them. That’s why they have my copyright name on them. So if they do get passed along, people kind of know where they come from. 🙂 Screensaver away, if you want.

  7. Well its been  many years since I’ve done much on Xanga, but wow, those pictures are awesome! My dream is to tour Europe castles. This just makes me want to even more! Very nice pictures!

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