Delightful Edinburgh and the Highlands

Wes is here now so it’s been great experiencing the city and part of the highlands with my bud!

Of course, I loved walking down the Royal Mile up to the magnificent Edinburgh Castle! The honors of Scotland, the crown jewels, were prominently and proudly displayed in the room where Sir Walter Scott rediscovered them in 1818. The view from the castle, though was even more beautiful than the jewels. And of course, hearing about Scottish royalty and battles is always fascinating to me.

At the other end of the mile is Holyrood Palace where Queen Elizabeth stays when she is in town. Since she’s not here at the moment we were able to view several of the rooms in the castle (very old and done in Victorian style)

After walking all that way (and Wes had only had 2 hours of sleep!), we ventured (or rather struggled) up Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano that is over 800 feet up and quite steep and rocky in places. After about 1 hour and 20 minutes, we finally reached the summit! I felt like an Olympic star who had just received a gold medal! It was well worth the climb. The view from the top was spectacular! After spending a few very windy minutes up top, we began our decent -so much faster and easier!

That evening we celebrated ( me…by eating haggis, tatties, and jeeps). Wes feasted on sausages, mash, and Yorkshire pudding cooked in a red wine sauce (his was better!)

The next day we took the Hairy Coo tour into the Highlands and saw Sterling Castle, Katrine Loch, The Lake of Menteith, Doune Castle (Monty Pythons Castle), William Wallaces memorial, and , of course, several hairy coo which are actually Highland cattle. Our tour guide, Donald, is in love with hairy coos and shared the story of their demise. Only 1700 remain in Scotland because The English chose to invest in sheep farming instead of raising cattle which was integral to the Highland way of life….very sad! Like Donald, I too fell in love with these adorable creatures, even fed them some bread, but I must say, Hammish, the oldest Hairy Coo slobbered like a camel!

The Highlands were so beautiful, albeit cold and rainy on and off! All of Scotland has just been like a dream come true – I know I will return one day to the land of my ancestors! Cheerio for now, Scotland!

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Paisley Buddies and Glasgow

No one in the UK understands why I would want to visit Paisley (Jaynie’s aunt says that people from Paisley are called Paisley buddies).

Well, my gr gr gr gr grandfather, William Kennedy, and his wife, Grizel, lived in Paisley. William was a weaver there ( you’ve probably figured out that the town is where the paisley design began). His son, Matthew, was christened in the Paisley Abbey so I wanted to visit it. Quite interesting really and a lot of history there. In the beginning, 1100s, it was a monastery, in the 1200s, it became an abbey. The people I talked to in the abbey were helpful and very friendly, especially a lady with my same last name (we tried to figure out if we were related but she hadn’t gone back as far as my brother has with the family tree).

I also liked the town and saw most of it since neither the taxi cab driver or I knew where we were going (i forgot the address 🙂 We just kept seeing churches that we thought might be the abbey and would take off in that direction…so glad my driver (we came from Glasgow…that’s why he didn’t know) had a great sense of humor! He didn’t even charge me extra but I gave him a really good tip!

When I got back to Glasgow, I hopped on a city tour bus – good idea, Kathy! It was so relaxing and informative. You could also hop off and on at different points to site see. I visited the People’s Palace – a tribute to the working class, and The LightHouse, an exhibit depicting Charles Renny McIntoshes life and work (he was a famous architect and designer). Then I stopped at the Willow Tea Room for my afternoon pastries and tea -yum!!!

A very pleasant day despite the cold and mist (actually I’m enjoying the weather….just a normal day in Scotland!

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Getting to know the Locals

My first evening in Glassgow was spent visiting with my friend, Jaynie’s family(I met Jaynie 3 years ago in Spain – she’s from Glassgow but moved to Spain so she introduced me to her Aunt Katy via Facebook). Jaynie’s entire family made me feel right at home. Her grandma made soup and stovies (like a meaty stew) for dinner – she’s so adorable! And her grandpa was so funny! Jaynie’s cousins, Jennifer and Conner were there (17 year olds CAN be polite and mature!) as well as her 3 aunts – Katy, Ann Marie, and Mary Lou – they were a hoot!

The aunts took me out to Loch Lomond which is at the foot of the highlands – the contrast of the light and shadows on the hills changed every few seconds as the clouds drifted overhead – what serene pictures this created! Don’t think a camera can capture moments like that! And the lake as well was just so peaceful with the late afternoon light making it glow.

Later, we visited a few pubs – one was in an old church. Th first thing I spotted when we walked in was a group playing Scottish tunes over in the corner of the pub. Loved it! Then we went to Ginty McGintys, another smaller but popular pub and listened and sang along with an 80’s singer and guitar player.

Jaynie’s aunts also gave me many tips on where to visit the next day, introduced me to a soft drink, Irvn Brew, and warned me about midgies (tiny bugs that sting and nothing can stop them!) I’m learning so much!

A really great evening – thanks to Jaynie’s delightful family!

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Culzean Castle :)

Well, I wrote a VERY LONG blog 2 days ago about the castle but it didn’t publish so here’s the shorter version – aren’t you glad 🙂

I arrived at the train platform in Maybole, not a soul in sight, so I just stood in the rain under my umbrella until finally a spry old Scottish gentlemen with a twinkle in his eye approached me (he so reminded me of my Uncle Percy!) The kind man called his friend, Roger, the taxi driver, to pick up the American girl, then went on his merry way. So my first afternoon at the castle was a bit rainy but then the clouds rolled out and gave way to a splenderous sunset that evening.

The castle, which was built by Kennedy’s (I think we might be related since we are from this area and Thomas Kennedy who came to the states in the 1700’s believes we are) – you know when I toured this magnificent building, I scrutinized every portrait to see if we bore a resemblance- I think so! But alas, although I hoped for a ghostly ancestor to vist me, none did so I can’t be sure!

All I know is that I felt right at home – I could get use to being treated like royalty, not to mention staring out my bedroom window every morning and seeing the endless sea crashing against the cliffs as well as the rich colorful farms fields and forest! What a spectacular view! And my room and bathroom were so plush – even had a towel warmer (must get me one of those!)

My time at the castle was mostly spent walking the grounds, resting by the swan pond, sitting on a boulder on a secluded beach staring out at the sea, visualizing old sailing ships (Ailsa shipping co was started by a Kennedy), meandering through the walled gardens, visiting the deer park, roaming through the decorative rooms of the castle (designed by Robert Adams), chatting to Mary from Ireland during our afternoon tea in the drawing room, feasting on tasty dishes in the dining room during breakfast and dinner, reading Scotland’s favorite bard, Robert Burns, by the fire place, or just staring out my bedroom window at the breath-taking scene before me.

You can see why I never wanted to leave the place. It was truly Paradise on earth! One day I will return to my beautiful castle – hey…maybe I’ll even have my ashes spread here! 🙂

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