Posts Tagged ‘Castle’

2
Jan

A Scotland-shaped Hole in Our Hearts

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Saturday, 2 January 2015

Our Last View of Edinburgh Castle

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Seventeen.

Saddest. Day. of the Trip. Time to head south.

But, first, we planned to tour Edinburgh Castle.  Kyle and MaritaBeth haven’t done that since 2008 … and Roxy and Mandi had never been there, before … so after breakfast and packing, off we went.

We did get there later than we’d hoped and while the girls went on inside, Kyle and MB opted at the last moment to forego the castle itself and spend more time in town.  So, we walked and shopped and worked our way a couple of blocks down the High Street, had a beer in the Albanach Pub, and then walked back up the hill to rejoin the girls. They seem to have had a good time there, despite it being too short a time.

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Erlend and Helene

We were all packed before we left the house, so the departure was easy … except for the goodbyes, themselves. We have (even Roxy and Mandi) come to absolutely love Erlend and Helene. Our first stay in their home was incredible.  The second stay was ten times more!  If ever our friends and readers find themselves in Edinburgh, we HIGHLY recommend “2 Cambridge Street” as the perfect place to call home.

As we write and post photos tonight, we sit in the lovely little pub at the Swan and Talbot in Wetherby. We are about halfway back to London–we’ll do the rest of the drive tomorrow. Tears were shed as we crossed the border into England. A piece of our hearts remains in Edinburgh … in Scotland. Until the next time.

~MB

 

 

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28
Dec

The Farthest North Ever!

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Monday, 28 December 2015

The North SeaFishing Boats

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Twelve.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … A Lifetime First …the opportunity to go farther north than either of us had ever been before!  Parts of Alaska are farther south than we were, today!

We left the lovely Newburgh Inn and headed truly due north.  Kyle battled extreme winds all day as he drove and was amazing behind the wheel. Our first milestone stop was in Fraserburgh. If you look at a map of Britain and notice that there are two bulges on the northeast side … the top one is a summer time-only trip, and we hope to do that someday.  The second one is where we were today!  Aberdeenshire, the county in that corner of the world, is wilder and rougher than most parts of Scotland we’ve seen.  With the wind we dealt with today, it even seemed more exposed and untamed than the parts of the Highlands we’ve visited in the past.  No big hills or mountains … just fields and crags … and at the end of the road north: The North Sea.  The town of Fraserburgh seems to be mostly a world of boats and fishing.  I think we saw every type imaginable of businesses having to with boats. And so many boats in relatively small spaces that it must be like a game of Tetris at the end of the fishing season, to get them all safely situated like what we saw today.  But, the highlight of the adventure was the Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse.  Built in the 16th century for the Fraser family, the lighthouse was added to the castle in 1787. Unfortunately, the information we had found online was incorrect, and the place was not open for tours today, after all.  But, we enjoyed a self-tour of the outside and the grounds … which included a fairly up-close and personal look at the cold North Sea.

Without traveling far to the west, there is no farther north we could go, so we turned and headed back south, but this time along the coast, instead of up the center of Aberdeenshire.  That meant a slightly smaller road and the ability to take a detour for milestone number two: a dip in the North Sea!  Not our whole bodies, of course; I looked it up and that water was 9 degrees centigrade, today.  But, despite the temperature and the wind factor, we found ourselves a lovely little beach in a tiny town called Cruden Bay and I put my fingers in it!  Mandalyn was even braver–she was hell-bent on putting her foot in it and dunk that foot, she did!  Another bucket list item checked!

After that we attempted a visit to the ruin of Slains Castle, but realized after a long and lovely, if not windy walk, that we were not even halfway there!  And, the second half of the walk was going to be across a wide-open, wind-swept field of tall grass …did I mention it was cold and windy? There was some photo-taking from afar and the satisfaction of achieving at least some of our goals for the day. We walked back to our car and quickly found a lovely little hotel pub that was open (today was the banking holiday for Christmas and the last of a four-day weekend for many Brits) for a drink and a snack before continuing south to our overnight stop in Dundee.

Dundee proves to be a big enough city that finding a quaint little hotel like we prefer was nigh to impossible without more expertise on the area. So, we found a lovely Doubletree by Hilton that incorporates a beautiful old manor house as its bar, restaurant and administration offices. Dundee has a history of being one of the top producers of jute in the world and in the mid-nineteenth century when that industry was in its heyday, one wealthy mill owner built this place for his bride.  It became a hotel in the 1930s and though it has seen many changes over the decades, it’s beauty is respected and maintained.

We took a brief trip into the little suburb of Invergowrie and visited a couple of spots, one for dinner where I had a nearly perfect plate of haddock and chips, and the other just for a pint.

Tomorrow, we’re headed in to our favorite big city in the world:  Edinburgh. It feels like going home.

~MB

 

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27
Dec

Stirling Castle and the Dog Tap

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Queen's Chamber

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Eleven.

We began our day with a lovely breakfast at the Royal Inn and Ivy in Bridge of Allan. Then, we loaded up the car and headed back to Stirling for what is arguably the best castle visit in Scotland. Stirling Castle was new to both Kyle and I when we were here on our honeymoon in 1995; neither of us had ever been there before. But, now, we can hardly imagine a trip without a visit there.  Stirling has done such an exemplary job of presenting the property in ways that are both fun and classy.  The educational exhibits are beautifully well thought out and executed. Visitors of all ages can be equally entertained at almost every turn.  Costumed guides within the perfectly renovated Royal apartments add a touch of realism and enthusiasm that cannot come from reading signs or listening to the audio tour, however wonderful both might be.  The fabulous Great Hall, painted in “the king’s gold,” and the way it practically glows on the top of that hill.  The whole place– with all its crazy wonderful history, is just amazing. We do not know if there are further renovations in the works, but we have seen some amazing transformations in the twenty years since our first visit.

Among the more remarkable projects undertaken at Stirling Castle was the recreation of the Unicorn tapestries.  Over the course of the last decade all seven of the tapestries have been completed, and are now hanging in the Queen’s Bedchamber of the castle.  This is the first of our visits when we didn’t have talented weavers to watch and to talk with while they worked.  Instead of the onsite workspace, now one finds a lovely exhibit outlining both the tapestries and their meanings, and the processes involved with recreating them with painstaking detail. A lovely addition to the castle experience.

It was with great difficulty that we pulled ourselves away from Stirling this afternoon to make the drive we had planned.  But, daylight is short this close after solstice and we had miles to cover.  So, we piled back into the car leaving a couple of sights unseen … until the next trip.

In the meantime, we had a bucket list item to attend to!  We love to visit breweries … our readers of the KRuMB will have long since figured that out.  And, today, we made it to the brewery responsible for Kyle’s favorite beer:  Brew Dog (Punk IPA, for those keeping track of such things). We had hoped to do this on our last trip, but the brewery was in the process of moving their production site, so they were not open to visitors.  This time, we had a green light to go and the time to do it at this point in the trip.  We don’t have an advance booking anywhere until the 29th, so the Aberdeen area for tonight was as good a plan as any.  In fact, Kyle and I have never been up in this little corner of the island, so we’re quite pleased to be seeing a new part of Scotland.

The drive went smoothly, although the second half of it was after nightfall.  We stopped in Forfar (the little city where Kyle had his first kilt made) for a late lunch right around sundown.  We were looking for simple pub grub, but what we found instead was a Sunday Carvery where we had our choice of turkey, ham, or beef (or any combination thereof), veggies, potatoes and desserts!  A tasty meal and plenty to provide us a base for our next stop.

The Brew Dog Brewery is actually located a little bit north of Aberdeen in a town called Ellon.  We found it easily and popped in for a pint …or two. The tap room is actually a very nice bar in its own right … the Dog Tap. We ordered a round and Mandalyn, who had been emailing them about tours, chatted up one of the girls and the next thing we knew she was bringing us safety goggles and vests and we were headed into a staff only zone.  We literally passed through an airlock system of two doors to enter the place where the magic happens.  Normally, I would say if you’ve seen one brewery, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  But, even though all the common elements were there, this one was different.  It’s really big, for one thing.  And it’s really super clean, for another.  And, there is awesome art everywhere you look!  It was a delight for all five senses, and we were thrilled to be there.

The tap room was closing at nine, so we finished our last pint at about 8:30 and headed to the hotel Kyle had found for us online:  Newburgh Inn.  We’re sleeping in the most comfortable bed we’ve seen in over a week. The shower was great, too!  And breakfast isn’t until nine in the morning, so the fact that we stayed up until way past midnight watching the fabulous U2 concert from Paris shouldn’t affect our tomorrow too much!

~MB

 

 

 

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26
Dec

Peebles to Bridge of Allan … Perfection

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

26 December 2015

Boxing Day

allanwater-brewery_23364455724_o

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Ten.

Snow!  We awoke today to snow–as if our beautiful little town needed a facelift!

Kyle and I got dressed and packed quickly, and walked the very short couple of blocks to the High Street.  I had learned that the Peebles Old Parish Church offers a ten-minute worship service every single day of the week at ten a.m.  I was determined to go. So, Kyle went with me, and I enjoyed a short call to worship, a call and response type prayer, the singing of the quintessentially British “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” and the Lord’s Prayer in closing. It was charming and I was made to feel totally welcome by the other folks (a grand total of three). I will add a photo or two of the interior of the church when I have my camera within range of my computer.

After church, we continued our walk to the Co-op, bought zippy bags so we could pack the leftover food, and then got back to the house in time for breakfast. Before noon, we were all fed and all packed up to leave Peebles.  We had three stops to make before really getting on the road: The Cross Kirk (a beautiful ruined church from the thirteenth century located just moments from the house), Netherhorseburgh (a scenic tower house ruin on the outskirts of town), and Neidpath Castle ( a castle still being used as a residence that is connected to Kyle’s mom’s side of the family).  We  got to all three, and took copious amounts of photos … Summertime will be a better time for all of them—so much mud and wet … and cold … and Neidpath is only open during tourist season.

On out of town, then, pointed toward Stirling.  The first part of the journey was through countryside where the snow covered every hillside and the road was frequently partially covered in water.  Eventually, the snow zone was behind us and soon we were skirting the edge of Glasgow and on the motorway.  We drove straight to Stirling Castle and found it closed for Boxing Day.  We determined we were unwilling to miss it, so we would do it in the morning.  We checked into our hotel a short distance up the road in Bridge of Allan, dropped our luggage and went to the Birds and Bees for a late lunch.  After that, there remained only one goal: The Allanwater Brewhouse, formerly known as the Bridge of Allan Brewery.

There may actually not be words adequate enough to describe how much Kyle and I love this little place or how much joy an evening spent there brings us.  The Brewmaster and owner, Doug, manages to remember us each time we visit (this was visit number four) and he makes us feel at home.  We enjoyed amazing beer, good conversation and even kindled ideas for business plans that could actually help us realize our immigration dreams someday. They say “dream big”…right?

Tiredness, I’m afraid is winning over the desire to write more words … Happy Boxing Day to all!  Good night.

~MB

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24
Dec

We Made it to Scotland!

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Lochmaben Castle Ruins on Castle Loch

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Eight

Our day of driving from Nottingham to the North, was made a bit more challenging by some rain and a lot of very high wind. The winds of winter storm Eva, as they whipped across the moorlands and dales of Northern Yorkshire were so strong they buffeted the car about the highway and prevented good photography. We got pretty good shots of the sign welcoming us to Scotland, though!  And, we did the happy dance in our seats.  The wind died down and the rain and flooding took over as the main attraction as we made our way to our destination town of Peebles. Less than twenty miles from town our proposed route was closed due to flooding and we did two legs of the triangle instead of only one.  But, we finally made it, checked into our little rented house, and went to the grocery store.

Grocery store trips here are rather like safaris…you know what you want to see, but you have no idea if it will be there, or exactly what it will look like if it is. (I call my fabric shopping trips “safaris,” too, for the same reasons.) We knew we needed to find food and drink to get us through this evening (Christmas Eve) and all of Christmas Day, as well as the morning of the 26th.  On this island, they take Christmas very seriously, and we’ve learned on previous trips that we cannot count on ANYthing being open on the 25th or 26th.  This is a bigger problem in England than in Scotland, (even the trains and undergrounds and buses don’t run in London on Christmas!), but we figured better safe than sorry!    The house came with the basics, like coffee and tea and sugar and cereal.  And we have stocked up on amazing local cheeses at various places. So, we bought some meat and veggies to prepare for dinner tomorrow. We bought milk and eggs and orange juice and avocados … you know the staples one cannot live without. 😉  And, we bought wine and beer and gin and tonic … you know, the staples one cannot live without.  😉 😉 I also succumbed to a salesperson offering samples of an amazing Irish Creme-like liqueur with a “salted caramel” flavoring!  We should be able to get through the day, watch the queen address her people on TV, and never run out of yummy things.

Our one real distraction from our day’s goal, was also the highlight of the day. As we found ourselves on familiar roads passing familiar places, I voiced a wish, and my husband granted it.  We made the last minute detour to share one of our very favorite places with Roxy and Mandalyn–Lochmaben Castle. Lochmaben is a sweet little burgh near Dumfries and right down the road from Lockerbie, which many folks know of for its unhappy involvement in a 1988 plane crash. Lochmaben Castle is nothing but a ruin of a medieval castle believed to have been the childhood home of Robert the Bruce.  Kyle’s family, the Caruthers, are in Scottish terms, a sept of the Clan Bruce.  So, we have an historical connection to the place.  And, since the very first time we ever happened across it (on our honeymoon) it was so completely by accident and without proper signage, that almost anyone would have to agree that we were simply meant to find it, we also have a very deep emotional connection to it. It sits on the shores of a small lake known as Castle Loch, completely hidden, especially when the trees are in leaf.  It is sadly, greatly diminished even in the twenty years since we first found it, with areas we’ve climbed all over, now fenced off due to unsafe masonry and being allowed to be engulfed by ivy and weeds. But, it is truly beautiful, nonetheless, and will continue to be on our travel plans any time we are near. We walked around for a short bit as the daylight faded, shot some great pictures, and logged this sacred place once again into our memories.

The little detour didn’t prevent us from getting to the house in time, grocery shopping before the stores closed, or even getting to our favorite local for dinner and a pint before retiring back to the house.  And almost immediately upon settling in, we found ourselves enthralled in first a trivia show all about Tudor times (!) and then a lovely little BBC film called The Scandalous Lady W. starring Natalie Dormer.  We recommend it!

The clock tells me it’s after midnight, so I’d better get to bed or Santa will be put out with me!  Happy Christmas to All … and to all A Good Night!

~MB

 

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6
Jan

Kenilworth in Black & White

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

6 January 2009
I’m sitting in a hotel room (the Radisson again), having just repacked all of my luggage for the return trip. We had a pleasant dinner of breaded plaice washed down with a good pint of John Smith while watching the unfortunate result of the Tott*ham v Burnley Carling Cup match. All of this on the heels of an otherwise lovely day.
When we got up this morning, it was a very brisk -5 degrees Celsius outside, but sunny. So, we went on up to Kenilworth Castle. Kenilworth, from all reports, is one of the largest set of Castle ruins in all of England. I must say, it was pretty remarkable.
Kenilworth Castle
And, being there on an early January morning gave us the place nearly to ourselves. Almost all of our photos are untainted by the casual tourist. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died early in the visit even though I had charged them the night before. So much for grey-market batteries, eh? So, the first half of our visit is well-documented, the second half…considerably less so (although my wife did take a lot of photos, too).
From Kenilworth, we drove on in to London. I had to make a quick stop at the Cargo facility. After all, even on vacation, duty does call. I met with the guys there for an hour or so, then we continued on to Bath road to secure lodging for the night. We are at the same Radisson Edwardian Hotel in which we started our Hogmanay journey and in a very similar room. We started off in a different room, in a different wing, on a different floor. However, Hotel issues with plumbing (boilers went out) and our issues with smoking rooms, places us in the 3rd room of the night and here we will stay. For tomorrow we must depart and return to the home of our birth if not necessarily the home of our heart.
Thank you everyone for following along with us, for encouraging us and for allowing us to share our journey, our love, our passion for this country with you.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 7 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

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