Archive for December, 2012

31
Dec

Celebrating Hogmanay in Style

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

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31
Dec

Miniature Dinosaurs in Concert

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

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30
Dec

Bridge of Allan Brewery

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Bridge of Allan Tasting Room

30 December 2012

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … another day of fabulous memory-making.

We started the day by driving the short distance into Stirling town centre and learning more about the paths we need to take tomorrow when we will walk to town and stay through all the midnight festivities.  We are continually surprised at how compact things are here, and, although it will be a very healthy walk for us, it’s doable.

Then, we were off to Bridge of Allan to visit our favorite little brewery here, and Douglas, the man who owns the place.  We first met Doug and enjoyed his hospitality when we honeymooned here in 1995.  The beer he makes is top notch and at that time, it was pretty unusual to be a craft brewer in Scotland.  We used to have very few choices in pubs, and microbreweries were few and far between.  But, CAMRA and other efforts have been successful and excellent beer seems to be alive and well, now, at least throughout this part of Scotland that we know and love so well.  We figured out today, that this was our fourth visit to this great little brewery.  The brewery has grown— its primary brewhouse is in Stirling, and often goes by the name AllenWater Brewery. The little tasting room in Bridge of Allan has a brewpot, too, and its label is TinPot Brewery. (That’s for those who wish to search for this yummy bear online or on Untappd.)

We reacquainted ourselves with Doug and and he with us, as we tasted all the current beers he had to offer–including some truly exceptional seasonals. We each chose a favorite and ordered a pint. And we gifted him with three bottles of Rahr beer that we brought over for that purpose.  His tasting room is largely decorated with bottles from all over the world, and we have been looking forward to adding to the collection.  It wasn’t long before we realized that there was to be a live music session later in the afternoon.  We didn’t exactly *need* an excuse to stay, but that was certainly a good one!  The little trio that performed was quite fun to listen to, and along with them, was an older gentleman who would occasionally recite some Robbie Burns poetry—it was the perfect experience, and we’ve been invited to go back tomorrow night for a ticketed event, so we’ll see where we end up after the concert in Stirling.

We came back toward our guesthouse for another very tasty dinner at the Birds and Bees and then came on in, determined to get to bed a bit earlier, since tomorrow will be a very long day.

My photo is a shot I took this afternoon before the brewery tasting room filled up with people.  It’s a truly charming place that we love.

~MB

30
Dec

Scotland the Brave

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

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30
Dec

The Remains of Beer

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

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30
Dec

MaritaBeth Enjoying Music

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

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30
Dec

Allan Water Brewery

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

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29
Dec

Linlithgow Palace and a Pub Crawl

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

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29 December 2012

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … a small plush border collie for the dashboard of my truck! Those who know me well enough to know my vehicle will understand this, and probably shake their heads in wonderment. But, it’s a thing we do … it started years ago when Kyle was traveling so much for business and I was rarely able to go along. As a gesture of love and to say he’d missed me, he would bring me a small stuffed animal, usually a teddy bear, from where ever he went. Now, even if we’re together, he’ll often disappear and come back with an appropriate plush creature to add to the collection. Today, this adorable little border collie caught our eye, and now he’s mine.

We are really missing the dogs here in this land where border collies are fairly common and people can bring their dogs to the pub. So, between the sweet photos Allyson sometimes sends, and this little guy for my truck, we will be constantly reminded of our biggest reason (other than Kyle’s job) to come home!

Our big outing for today was a visit to Linlithgow Palace. Pronounced “lin LITH go” and in the town of the same name, this is the royal palace that saw the birth of Mary, Queen of Scots. It was destroyed by fire in 1746, but the bones of the structure are largely intact even today. The palace is very impressive and it takes much less imagination to picture it the way it was in Tudor and Stuart times than many other places. I was completely enthralled and I took many photos, the best of which are now up on my Flickr feed for those who may be interested. But, my intention is to include more than one here at the KRuMB, also.

Historic Scotland has done a marvelous job with this site.  The guidebook is excellent and the site is very well cared for.  Personally, I’d have been happier with a few more signs, but those that are present are quite helpful.  And, in many places, decking and handrails have been added to the ruins so that visitors can more easily get around safely and learn more.

We had a good time, investigating (the place is quite an amazing maze) and and climbing “turnpikes” (circular stone staircases)—one in particular to the very top of the tallest remaining portion of the palace was a hundred and twenty steps!  We counted!

When we were done there at the palace, we walked down the hill to the last major pub in Linlithgow that we hadn’t visited the other day—The Four Marys.  It’s named after Mary, Queen of Scots’ own four ladies in waiting that had been her childhood friends —all named Mary.  And the pub itself is known as a very good CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) pub.  We had a very good meal of Cullen Skink and Smoked Haddock Rarebit.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you the Scottish don’t know good food!

The drive back to Stirling went much faster than the drive out from there to Linlithgow had gone this morning; it really helps when you don’t take the wrong highways.  We went in search of a place for Kyle to happily watch the Arsenal game, starting out at a place that USED to be a sports pub, and moving along to at least four other pubs before the night was through.  There was some beer we hadn’t had before, but mostly we were just in and out to enjoy the atmosphere—each one is so beautiful in its own way and so different from the last.  One place we really loved was filled with slate as both architechtural element and decor:  the bar itself was made of slate, as were the dividing walls between snugs.  You never know what you’re going to find.

Back at our room, we watched the end of a movie and began the long process of uploading photos.  In fact, I’m still not done… but I really like this photo of Kyle on the decking in the ruined palace, and it was already online, so here you go.  And, here’s a couple more I like a lot.

Kyle in the Great Hall at Linlithgow

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And, this one is rare—the sun is shining! That started at about 2 o’clock, and of course the sun was down by 4!

Sunshine on Linlithgow Palace

Cheers,
~MB

29
Dec

Linlithgow Palace Sky

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

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28
Dec

Edinburgh Bonus Day

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Fabhatrix Store

28 December 2012

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … a trip back to Edinburgh to buy a hat!

While walking around in Edinburgh on Christmas Eve, I fell in love with a hat! We were visiting this wonderful little hat shoppe I’d read about, that made me think of my hatmaking friends Sharon and Pamela and Kathel and Kelly and I wanted so badly to buy a hat. But, my wish was to match a little winter vest I hadn’t worn that day, and I was hesitant to do it from my memory of the color. Unfortunately, the shoppe was to be closed on Christmas and Boxing Days, and one day longer, and we would already have left our B&B in Edinburgh and moved on by the time they re-opened. My wonderful husband volunteered that we could come back after the shoppe re-opened after their Christmas break. We were only going as far away as Stirling, so it wasn’t really a hardship. (The distance from Edinburgh City Centre to Stirling is rather like the distance from downtown Fort Worth to Waxahachie.)  So, today, that’s exactly what we did!

We were intending to start the day with a visit to Linlithgow Palace … a reportedly lovely ruined castle that we’ve somehow always missed visiting on previous journeys.  But, we decided against that due to rather serious rain falling as we ate breakfast.  So, we went to Edinburgh a bit earlier in the day than planned and ended up spending most of the day there!  It’s as though we just can’t quite break away from the magnetic field of that amazing city.

I got a fabulous new hat; it’s the perfect hat for my little turquoise vest and scarf and mitts.  I love it, so much!  Perhaps I can get Kyle to take a photo of me wearing it, and post it on the KRuMB. And, then I figured he had more than earned a second trip to the Brew Dog Pub, since we were that close.

I also visited the renowned vintage shop in Grassmarket called Armstrongs.  What an amazing array of vintage clothes and accessories!  But, even with the new extra suitcase, I couldn’t justify buying vintage goodies.  I sure enjoyed looking, though.  And, my super smart husband found a pub called Maggie Dickson’s, that we’d not been in, right there in Grassmarket!  In 2008/9 we’d spent many hours in this little area, and how we missed a charming pub, I’ll never know.  But, we fixed that, today!   And, we paid a quick visit to The Beehive, another lovely pub that we have frequented on other visits, before heading back to the car park and beginning our journey to our next “home base.”

The drive to Stirling went well and pretty quickly, despite the wind and rain.  We got here to Ravenswood Guest House just before 6 p.m. and our host Stuart met us in the front yard to welcome us and help deal with luggage.  We settled in quickly and walked to a “nearby” pub—about a half hour walk— called The Birds and Bees.  It’s located in an old barn building on what used to be a farm.  Barns here, are generally made of stone, and are long, low buildings, sometimes in the shape of an “L” or even a “U”—like this one.  And, the conversion to restaurant pub (Foursquare called it a gastropub) has been handled with brilliance and style.  I fell in love with the look and feel of the place and the food was very good, too.  It is good that we had to walk home afterwards—it gave us a chance to work off some of the food and soak up some of that beautiful full moon!

Tomorrow, we think we might have sunshine enough to do a couple of outdoor things and maybe take some decent photos!  Or if not sun, at least a lack of rain!  We’ll see …

~MB