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Got in Saturday night, after a subjective 24 hours of nonstop travel (5 hour layover in Chicago…UGH!). Both checked bags were MIA but have since arrived at our front door. With all souvenirs and such intact.

-It would be soooooo very easy to re-assume my Scottish citizenship and move there full time…I was even informed that the Army would take me in …even at 47 years old. Not really considering it seriously but hey who knew? Edinburgh was great…the castle is illuminated by night and the Royal mile is amazing. We had lunch in pubs and did some shopping. Discovered Lush products- best shaving crème EVAR!!! I was astonished how much the land and the woods/forests looked, and even smelled, like upstate NY. If I were going to live there I would choose Edinburgh or Inverness.
We stayed at the Marriot Edinburgh (3stars)-great hotel. We had dinner at “Elliots” on Princes’ street the first night-4 star restaurant. Hotel accommodations included a gym, wine bar and a very nice in house restaurant that we only dined in for breakfasts…which were delightful. We visited Rosslyn Chapel-one of the oldest active churches in Scotland and despite all the BS from The DaVinci Code, a beautiful and serene place, full of interesting historical tidbits. While there I had a mass said for the repose of the Green Dukes’ soul…I figured he’d be at home with the spirits of all those Templars. It was sung on October 5th at evensong.
Had my picture taken on the 18th green at St. Andrews. Then walked down to the North Sea shore to see the ruins of St. Andrew’s Castle. The pics will do it more justice than my words. But it was stark and beautiful. We toured Edinburgh Castle with Keith Lang( a former Highland Regt.’s RSM)- he was funny and gruff and genuinely proud of his city. We saw the chapel of St Margaret, the Scottish Crown jewels, The Stone of Destiny and Mons Meg…great stuff. The view down into Edinburgh from the rock is awe inspiring. Saw RAF Leukars and some of the new Euro- fighter Typhoons on maneuvers. One blasted over us on Loch Ness later on in the tour too. We went over the Skye bridge to Broadford on the Isle of Skye… saw the ruins of King Haakon’s( a Danish petty king who bought the farm at the battle of Largs) tower house and heard about his daughter “Saucy Mary” who ran a ferry there(and also sank any boat that tried to cross without paying the toll). Castles viewed to varying degrees included but were not limited to Edinburgh, St. Andrews( destroyed by Cromwell in the 1600’s), Eilean Donan(most filmed and photographed castle in Scotland), Blair(home of the Dukes of Atholl and the Atholl Highlanders- the only “private army in the UK), Dunvegan(seat of the Clan MacLeod), MacFarlane( a tower house in the middle of Loch Lomond-now in ruins), Urqhart(on the shores of Loch Ness- in ruins), and Culzean (home of the Kennedys of Scotland…not the American bunch. They’re Irish.).
Walked and partially ran the battlefield at Culloden Moor. The battlefield is a grim reminder of how single battles can lose wars…more on this and other things later. Got to visit a sheep farm in the highlands and see a veteran shepherd work his dogs…up to ten of them at a time, including an 8week old puppy learning the trade. Made the VA shepherds at the Montpelier sheep& wool fest look like pikers and lackwits. I tried my hand at shearing and got a “that’ll do” from the shepherd…which, knowing Scots, I will cherish forever. It is appalling to think that a shorn fleece is worth 22p and the cost of shearing a sheep is 1 pound. The price is set by the British Wool Board and is non-negotiable. Wool is a government monopoly in the UK. If you try to sell your wool anywhere else…they put you out of business.
Had a tour of Ben Nevis Distillery with a tourguide( John is one of the five men who work the distillery-which produces 14k liters of whiskey every week- believe it or not , this is small production for a whiskey distillery) who was both smart and dryly funny. I got educated on the plight of both whiskey distillers (91% tax rate). He said when he started in the business at 18, there were 1600 distilleries…now there are less than 600 and if things go on the way they are, soon there will be less than 20. We took a leisurely drive and walk-tour around Loch Ness, and a boat tour on Loch Lomond. Got to take photos of the Commando Memorial at Ben Nevis and had lunch in Fort William. We saw both Rannoch Moor and Glencoe…and we were stunned to silence by the fierceness and beauty of nature in those places. We toured Glasgow Cathedral, Robert Burns Birthplace and the Brig-o-doon( yes, it a real bridge in Ayrshire) more on all of these later. Tom Lang our guide ( and distant relation to Keith) and Martyn Kirkeby our driver were wonderful travel companions. As were our tour group who came from Australia, Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong, Egypt and the US. One of the women on the tour was from Syyacuse NY- of all things. Small world no? Will post pics as they get downloaded- der Baroness and I are already scheming to go back.

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dwolfhunter

September 2017

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