Life Lessons

"Figuring out our gifts in life is part of our journey to becoming enlightened human beings.” – Allison DuBois

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Scotland & Fifty Shades of Gray


Upon leaving the Isle of Skye we came upon Eilean Donan castle. They were flying flags at half mast to honor the victims of the Manchester & London terror attacks. It was a moody day weather wise as well. But the castle was delightful and well presented. A military jet flow low and loud along the waterway doing maneuvers. 


It is always kind of fun to try to interpret the Gaelic road signs unless you were in a roundabout and had to read them very fast and try to decided which version was English! Sometimes we went around the circle twice to get the right turnoff. 


There is lots of Scotch Broom blooming along the roadside and up on the mountains. In England it seemed to be mostly Rhododendrons. 


This is Urquhart castle ruins on Loch Ness.  It's such a tragedy that so many castles and abbeys were destroyed here. They have a relatively new interpretative center & cafe. 

Checked into our hotel which was really an old grand country house. Lovely to meet so many people from many different countries in the lounge there.  We met an older couple, Richard and "Jill-with-a-J" from York who were very sweet & interesting. They met the band -The Who and Freud's grandson Stephan who was "a nut case"......"well they all were really"!  In his retirement Richard tunes organs.  OK...but we find out that he tunes organs for Cambridge and sometimes repairs can take years. 


On Tuesday we woke to a downpour but we had brought clothes for all the British weather!  We both wanted to visit Culloden Moor and that whole Scottish battle & tragedy from 1746.  The red flags above are where the English troops were located and the blue were the Highlander's. In a matter of minutes the battle was over. 


There were headstones erected at a later date to honor all of the clans who fought there. 


The above photo is of Leanoch croft which was used as a military hospital on the field. 

Later we visited Clava Cairns, Fort George & Cawdor Castle.  

Upon returning to our "country home" (where there are real hedgehogs mind you!) we were greeted by a warm fire & drinks in the lounge overlooking the gardens. It was still pouring outside but a fun group of people began pouring in (no pun intended) and as we began sharing our funny-sometimes dangerous- tales about driving on the left, everyone in the room began to share their own experiences.  There were people, from Massachusetts, Berlin, Palo Alto, Switzerland (who spoke Italian), Spain & Aberdeen who had just returned from 7 years in Paris.  

Word of the Day - Haggis, Neeps & Tatties - a menu item found everywhere in the Highlands that consists of a savory pudding containing sheep heart, liver & lungs encased in the stomach lining, turnips & potatoes.  Yum.  I will truly miss this food item when I return home! Sorry mom but you will have to learn to make haggis instead of spaghetti!!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

Northern Skye.......the main roads around the island were far better than we thought they would be.  


Occasionally there were road hazards.....but cute ones!


And occasionally there were road hazards and our road became a single track with few pull outs. But at least here you could see oncoming cars as there were no stone walls nor hedgerows like in South West England!


There are also no landscaped gardens around here as it's all about survival. I love the simple beauty here.  

And you can't forget that loaf of bread at the grocery store!


But the views were spectacular everywhere we turned.  If you look closely at the above photo you can see hikers along the trail. 


Kilt Rock behind a waterfall into the sea.  The rock formation is named because it looks like the folds in a kilt. 


And it is very windy out here so they need to fasten down their roofs!  We drove out to this point to see Flora MacDonalds grave and a Living Museum nearby but the museum was closed on Sundays.  

Phrase of the Day - "I flashed them first". 

When you drive on a single track road you flash your lights at oncoming cars to let them know you are in a pullout and they can safely move forward and pass you. Except I kept letting Mr. B know that the oncoming car was flashing him so that we could go but he would respond with "I flashed them first" or "I already flashed them - twice" so then it was a contest on a very narrow road as to who would move forward first.  You don't want to get stuck in a bog around here as it might take all day to get rescued!  Oh yeah & no cell service!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Chip Buttie

More about that title later......


We were welcomed to the Highlands by a piper playing Amazing Grace as we drove through a pass near Glencoe.  I was teary eyed the rest of the day because it was so overwhelmingly beautiful, reminded me of my dad & grandfather who was a piper for the Black Watch. The countryside is rugged and dramatic and incredible!


Mr. B is always looking for trout wherever we go - this is at the base of The Cuillin Mountains. 


Sheep are grazing everywhere you look and just look at that mountain range behind them!


This big boy is one of the Highland cattle we found lazing by the side of the road. 


We found several 16th century knights graves on a small island near Skeabost.  This was an amazing find as I was told that this cemetery couldn't be found anymore but after a few wrong turns, we were able to hike right to the spot.  There is the ruins of an chapel, many other ancient graves and according to stories 28 clan chiefs of the clan Nicholson are buried there. 


When we arrived at our hotel in Portree, we enjoyed this stunning view from the hotel garden.  We sat out here listening to bagpipes in the distance until the rains arrived.  

Word of the Day - Chip Buttie = Buttie means sandwich & chip is French fries

People were ordering these near Loch Lomond and they are basically buttered white bread with French fries for filling.  Better order that with a side of ketchup & be ready with the defibrillator!

**I wrote this post several days ago but because of the poor internet connection I was unable to post. I am trying to reduce the size of my photos to see if that helps. Being "unplugged" is both a blessing and frustrating. Everyone is in the moment here. No one whips out their cell phone at the dinner table. People are engaged.  But when you are trying to let your friends & family know that you were not in London during the terrible attack Saturday, it can be frustrating. 

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