Posts Tagged ‘Scottish’

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5
Jan

Peebles and the Borders

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

5 January 2009
We rose early, had breakfast, bade our friendly hosts goodbye and stepped outside – into a Winter paradise. The sun was shining down, but everything was covered with a glorious layer of beautiful frost. For the next 2-3 hours we were treated to this spectacular, breathtaking display of nature’s glory as we wound our way through the Scottish Borders.
We did stop for a couple of hours in Peebles, placing a well earned break in the middle of the day. It was there that I took this photo of the Church of Scotland’s Old Parish Church of Peebles.
Peebles Kirk
After doing a bit of shopping and a bit of dreaming and a whole lot of wishing, we clambered back into the motorcar and pointed it southward. We were still driving through the borders and still marveling at every twist and turn in the road. The sheer power of the scenery was breathtaking and neither photography nor the greatest eloquence can describe what Mother Nature accomplished with her canvas on this day.
Eventually we wound our way to a major motorway, drove around Manchester, skirted Birmingham and eventually found our way to Kenilworth. We had dinner in an incredible 500 year old pub called the Famous Virgins and Castle (the locals call it the V’s). Now, we are relaxing in the face of the penultimate night of our journey. Tomorrow will be faced with a mixture of dread, fear, despair and a small amount of happiness. We will end the day in a big, probably faceless, corporate hotel just off airport property where we will repack and prepare for our return home. We are sad, but right now we are still here and delighted to be so. Thanks to everyone for following along with our journeys.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 5 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/400)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3
Jan

Waiting at the Post

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

3 January 2009
In a departure from our travelling norm, we are staying at a hotel rather than a Bed & Breakfast. We made the decision when we arrived in the small village of Bridge of Allan on the outskirts of Stirling to visit the Bridge of Allan Brewery. The brewery, like most businesses in Scotland, had taken the day off. So, we went inside the adjoining hotel on a lark to inquire as to cost and availability. To our delight, the General Manager gave us a rate (that included breakfast) that was on par with, indeed a fraction less than, B&Bs in the area. So, although the building exterior is antiquated (Victorian, I believe), the interior has been gutted several times and currently is very art deco with a splash of Danish modern. What it is, is comfortable. So comfortable in fact that by the time we got up and finished breakfast (good, but not as good as what Erlend had been providing at #2 Cambridge Street) it was closing on noon. We walked to the only Post Office in town, bought the necessary postage, then spent the next half hour affixing all the stamps to the postcards and mailing them.
Waiting for the Master
(This photo was taken as I re-entered the Post Office to help affix the postage. The well-behaved, beautiful, if aging Spaniels were waiting patiently by the door)
By this time the pubs were open, and I stopped in at the bar inside the Adamo Hotel to get a pint of Lomond Gold from Bridge of Allan Brewery. Upon receiving the pint, I also received the invitation to visit the lounge in the adjoining room to watch the Hearts v Hibernian derby on Setanta Sports. This is a match to which I’d been trying to get tickets for four days. But, as the Tynecastle Stadium only holds 17,800 people and the tickets were going for upwards of 400 quid it had proven to be nearly impossible. Therefore, the invitation proved irresistible. My wife soon joined me and we made acquaintance with a charming individual, Euen, who is moving to Dubai in the next few weeks. Perhaps I’ll take his place here in Scotland. :-)
When the game was over, a disappointing nil-nil draw, we walked over to the Bridge of Allan Brewery where we engaged Craig (the keep), Douglas (the brewmaster) and Mack (a displaced Iowan) in conversation and beer drinking – The Glencoe Wild Oat Stout is exceptional. Dinner at the Allan-Water Cafe followed by a quick pint at the Crooked Arm and then it’s time for a journal entry. So, here I am.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 3 January 2009)

Watching:
Barcelona v Mallerca (1 -1 at 58 minutes)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 10 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Exposure Bias: 1/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire
Software: picnik.com

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

3
Jan

We Visit Edinburgh

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

2 January 2009
The four day Hogmanay event in Edinburgh has ended and we have, sadly, bid farewell to our fabulous hosts at #2 Cambridge Street, and driven for parts North. But, not without one last goodbye stroll down Princes Street. On that walk, we took a slight detour into the "Tourist i" (a concept that the U.S. would do well to copy) for brochures on B&Bs in the areas we wished to visit. While there, we staged this one last photo of Edinburgh. I’ve just taken the time to learn how to use the timer on my camera and took full advantage of this new-found knowledge. Not fabulously composed nor framed, but I had only a small post on which to rest the camera while the timer ticked.
Self Portrait with Wife in Edinburgh
Tonight, I write this from the room of a re-fitted Hotel room in the lovely little village, Bridge of Allan. Downstairs the three bars are hopping, as is the Pub across the street. But, with the exhaustion of the last four days, I think I’ll stay in, write this post, and put my tired, happy arse to bed.
Cheers

~KR (Written on 2 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 2/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2
Jan

Edinburgh Castle at the New Year

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

1 January 2009
The year begins with my wife and I on extended holiday. We arrived in London on Christmas Day and wound our way North so as to be in Edinburgh for the 4-day Hogmanay Celebration. Today, the first day of 2009 is the final day of the Hogmanay Celebration and incorporates a new festival into the Hogmanay fold. "Feet First" is the celebration and is an immersive, interactive two-block stretch of Performance Art and frolickry. Since it is brand new, absolutely no one knew what to expect and we were all amused and bemused by the entire thing.
We started our day by walking Castle Terrace around the castle and up to the High Street followed by a slow amble down High Street onto the Royal Mile and all the way to Holyrood Palace. Across from Holyrood Palace stands the new Scottish Parliament building which caused no small amount of controversy upon it’s erecting. An offhand, somewhat derisory, comment to our host at the B&B we’ve been staying at was met with patient explantion as to how & why it is what it is. I sit corrected & educated for which I am grateful.
We walked back up the Royal Mile looking for a place to sate our appetite for it was nearing on 1500. Eventually we did find a place that not only was willing to cook, but still had food to cook. So, we ate and drank at the Tass there on the Royal Mile. From there, we did a bit more shopping on our way back to the Castle. Once at the Castle, we strode the Esplanade and took a number of photographs as we waited for "Feet First" to start.
Edinburgh Castle by Night
Just before 1900, we started back down to the enclosed area for "Feet First" where we had a grand time for the next two hours. As I stated at the beginning of this blather, it was a series of interactive performance art and installations. It gradually swung from cool, to surreal to downright strange and then back again. The weather being benign (not rainy and above freezing), the crowd was large, energetic & friendly. But, after four days we’d had enough. We grabbed a Scottish burger and some chips at a trailer and strolled back to the B&B. We had packing to do after all. It was the end of a glorious four-day adventure the likes of which I may never experience again and the memories of which I hope never fade. Thank you for letting me share.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 2 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 1 sec (1)
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1
Jan

Hogmanay Fireworks

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Midnight Fireworks

31 December 2008

Hogmanay!

It’s been a little bit strange to think about how different this year is right now, from the last sixteen New Year’s Eves. For ten years, on the 31st of December, we hosted one of the few Hogmanay parties in the U.S.  Before that, we hosted a New Year’s Eve Party with a theme. One year it was a pajama party.  Another year it was a hat party.  One year was “black and white.”  It was the year that the theme was “plaid” that we took the turn toward the recurring Scottish theme, did the research and began what we grew into a multi-tiered, annual, tradition and helped make “Hogmanay” a little more worldwide!

This year, instead of scurrying around the house, lighting candles, hanging lights, filling ice chests, and making wassail in preparation for forty or so guests, we are in Edinburgh Scotland making our dreams come true. We are here for the “real” Hogmanay—at the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve Celebration.  From the moment we first learned about this event, we’ve wanted to be here, and now, here we are!

Kyle has already written a beautiful post to the KRuMB about our day, and I truly have nothing to add to his heartfelt and artful essay. He is right when he writes that words cannot describe the raw emotions of the day. I only know that we can check another item off our life’s “must do” list. And that the only thing that would have made today any better, is if we could have had all of our friends and loved ones here with us! How we would love to have shared this evening with all of you!

So, I give to you (one of many) a photo of tonight’s fireworks.  It was one of the most amazing fireworks displays I’ve ever seen.  Afterwards, It was a full ten minutes before the smoke cleared enough that we could once again see the castle on the hill above us. 

Happy Hogmanay!  Happy New Year!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1
Jan

Happy Hogmanay!

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

31 December 2008
Happy Hogmanay! & a Happy New Year!
My goodness what a day. I don’t know how to begin to describe the emotions, the feelings, the sights, sounds, smells & noises. Overwhelming in a word, but comfortable in a sense. There was an absolute vibration that permeated every aspect of every physical being throughout the city.

We walked the length of Princes Street nearly to Calton Hill before deciding we were famished. We had done some shopping along the way, picking up last little oddbits we’d promised people but were well and truly peckish by the time we’d settled into a beautiful little pub called the Guildford Arms just off Princes street tucked away in a little corner of Register Street. As it turns out, this was another pub on my list of “must visit” pubs that I’d simply forgotten about. But, the selection of Real Ales here was, to put it plainly, astounding. We stayed here people-watching, pint-drinking & postcard-writing for a number of hours.

By the time we were ready to leave, Princes Street had been closed off, evacuated and re-opened for the Party in the Streets: The largest New Year’s Eve Party in the world (or so it’s billed). With our wrist bands (the street party ticket) on and our Concert tickets in hand we walked into a smallish, but vibrant throng of people. The true crowd (in fact, the largest crowd ever for a Hogmanay event in Scotland) was still on its way.
Ferris Wheel
(This is one of many carnival rides set up for the event. This ferris wheel dominates Princes Street right next to the Walter Scott Memorial Tower. I had a very difficult time settling on which photo to use for the day but finally chose this one.)
We walked the length of Princes Street before deciding on some more food before taking our place in the Garden Enclosure. We ate our Scottish Beef Burger (with mustard and brown sauce) on the way into the Gardens, stopped at the beer trailer for a Red Stripe (the only beer available) and took our place against a centuries old Oak tree where we could see crowd, castle & concert. What an extraordinary event. The castle sent fireworks up once an hour to mark the hourly countdown; the bands on the stage played shortish sets in between firework displays; the crowd grew larger & larger and drunker & drunker as time went by (outside Bourbon Street in New Orleans, I’ve never seen so many stumblers in one place). Groove Armada, the headliners for our stage, began their performance at approximately 2320. They played right until 2357, when they went silent, the stage went dark and a Master of Ceremonies came forward to kick off the countdown. At exactly midnight, the Castle simply erupted in a three minute fireworks barrage the likes of which I have never seen before. Immediately following, the largest Auld Lang Syne choir (all the ticket holders) ever assembled began the singing of the traditional song belting it out in pure raw, beautiful emotions that even as I’m writing this many hours later brings a tear to my eye and bumps to my flesh. As the final refrain ended, a lone piper emerged on stage and piped “Flower of Scotland” – the crowd went rabid crazy and sung louder and more fiercely than ever before. Groove Armada joined the piper on stage in the dying skirl and renewed the concert in a furious flurry of sound and emotion. I cannot do justice to the power of the event with mere words, it simply must be experienced. Now, some hours later, I’m awake and still trembling with exhaustion from the sheer emotional toll of the event. This has truly been one of the most brilliant events of my life.
Slainte Mhath!

Cheers.

~KR (Written on 1 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.3 sec (3/10)
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 14.3 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 4/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1
Jan

Old Town and the Royal Mile

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

30 December 2008
Today is the day my wife and I decided to try and visit a number of pubs while getting much of our shopping done. I located, prior to leaving, a list of the “best” CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Pubs in Edinburgh. Armed with that list and a sense of purpose, we set out toward Old Town. We arrived in the Grass Market area of Old Town
at just past 1100 to find that the crews were busily erecting stages and setting lights for the evening’s performance. Grass Market is home to a new Hogmanay party that celebrates dance from around the world. So, while I nipped into the Black Bull #12 and had a pint of 80Shilling for my Da, Marita Beth stayed outside to watch a dance troupe blocking their routine. When the troupe was done, MB came on into the bar to share my pint and discuss the remainder of the day. With the new-found hustle-bustle in Grassmarket, we settled on making this place the end of the day, too. So, we carefully rejiggered the route, finished the Caledonian 80Shilling and headed up to the Royal Mile for shopping. I’m pretty sure we visited every kitsch shop on the High Street and any pub that was on my list (Jolly Judge, Deacon Brodie’s, Half Way House in Fleshmarket Close). We ate lunch, finally, at the Filling Station (bad choice) and continued our walk around the Royal Mile and so back to Old Town. My favourite pub in today’s wanderings was, hand’s down, the Bow Bar on West Bow Street just off Grassmarket. If you find yourself in Edinburgh, do check out this gem of a pub.
Victoria Street
(The photo is from the top of Victoria Steps looking down onto Victoria Street as it turns to West Bow street. Up on the left is the Bow Bar, while the group of people in the upper right are on a “Witch Tour” of Old Town)
Being close to the marvelous B&B in which we are staying, we went back there to rest our feet, warm up a bit and drop off our sacks of goodies. Nearing 1900, we went back out to Old Town to revel in the dancing that was soon to be happening. And, revel we did. We started at one end of Grass Market when the event kicked off and saw/heard a traditional Ceilidh band playing a Gay Gordon. The crowd in the street formed a small open circle in front of the stage where as many as will could dance. From here we walked to the centre stage where some Swing Dancing was being exhibited. Some quite exceptional dancers were this quartet. We watched them until they were done and replaced by a teacher of Salsa. He attempted, to no real success, to get the crowd to sway with him; we left. The last stage was a series of 4 rotating acts warming up the stage until the Bollywood Steps came on on the back side of 2200. We saw an Irish tap dancer who apparently holds the Guinness World Record for “Fastest Feet” – I was unimpressed. We saw a group called French Fling who did not delight on their first number, but duly impressed with their Can-Can routine. We saw and experienced The Tumbleweeds, a line-dancing group who taught the crowd to dance to the tune of Achy Breaky Heart. When confident of the crowds level of competence, he switched the song to Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. If you’ve never seen 800 mostly drunk Scots line dancing in the street to a Dolly Parton song, then you have really missed a sight – amazing! The fourth act came on, and I just wasn’t having it, so we ducked back in to the Black Bull #12 and ordered a Deuscher’s IPA. We watched the last 30 minutes of the Hull v Aston Villa game while waiting for Bollywood Steps to take to the stage (the Hull v Aston Villa game was a heartbreaker right at the death and allowed Aston Villa to leapfrog Arsenal into 4th place in the tables). The end of the match and the beginning of the dance coincided nearly perfectly so off we went into the dark cold to watch. Luckily, the stage was set just outside the pub and there was a non-occupied concrete post on which my wife could stand right there. We hoisted her up, steadied her and then watched a truly remarkable 40 minute dance routine replete with props and pyrotechnics. At 2300, it was all over and we headed to “home” to try and sleep knowing that the next day and night would be even more full and tiring.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 1 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.5 sec (1/2)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 4/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Tags: , , , , , ,

30
Dec

Torches Pass the Balmoral

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

29 December 2008
We left the Oaks Hotel in Alnwick (the castle of which, I am told, had substantial Harry Potter scenes shot here) and headed coastward on the A1. The drive from Alnwick to Edinburgh takes you through some truly superb landscape; it’s no real wonder that early man settled this area. Plenty of arid land for agricultural endeavours and easy access to both winding burns and creeks and the North Sea. It’s very definitely a windswept area and I was glad of the constant “Sidewind” warning signs along the road. We stopped once to fill up with Diesel at .99p per litre (somewhere near $7.00 per gallon if I did my numbers right), once more when we drove near enough the coast that we could see Bamburgh Castle and one last time at the First & Last pub on the Scotland/England border (on the Scottish side). We had promised our B&B hosts a 1500 arrival and after fighting horrible Edinburgh traffic (between visitors arriving for Hogmanay and the roadworks all over the place as Edinburgh puts in a city-wide tram system, how could it not be horrible?) we pulled into a slot in front of #2 Cambridge Street and gave the door a few hard knocks. Our fascinating host, Erlend, greeted us warmly calling us by name and invited us in. The road in front of his absolutely fabulous flat is private so after unloading quickly, I drove the car across the street to the carpark. We enjoyed a quick spot of tea with Erlend and Helene then walked on up to the Royal Mile (Erlend headed to the library, so accompanied us part of the way). The Hogmanay torchlight procession is held two nights before Hogmanay each year. The Council sells torches for charity and invites all torch-bearers to march from the City Chambers on High Street to Calton Hill via the Mound, Princes Street and Waterloo street. Marita Beth and I chose not to march in, but instead to marvel at the magnificent procession. We started on High Street with all the marchers, but we took a different path to Princes street. By the time we got to Princes Street (approximately midway along the processional route) the Vikings that headed the parade had already begun the assent of Calton Hill. Looking back South and West, we could see the Mound and the steady stream of torches still coming down it. It was truly a sight to behold. We stood on Princes Street and goggled at the sheer number of people bearing torches. For a full 20 minutes we watched; the Vikings crested Calton Hill and still there were people marching down the mound. This lasted long enough that Marita Beth and I wended our way back up North Bridge, up High Street to Bank Street where we roosted to watch the remainder. The last torches were just exiting Princes street onto Calton Hill as we settled in. We did miss the end on Calton Hill where they burn a Viking ship in effigy as it was on the far side of the hill; but even from our vantage point a great ways away we could see the massive bonfire and we did have a most excellent view of the fireworks display. Balmoral Hotel & Torchlight Procession (The photo is of the tochlight procession as it passes the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street – this is not where we are staying; we are staying somewhere much better) After the incredible display, we returned to the B&B where Erlend offered to escort us to a free park zone some ways away. Since we had long ago decided we wouldn’t need a car while in Edinburgh, this was eagerly agreed to (the price for parking at the Castle carpark is £18.00 per day) and off we went. It’s a ways away, but in a safe zone near a police HQ. We returned to the B&B in Erlend’s care and visited with them briefly while MB showed off some of the photos from the torchlight procession. Then, it was off to bed. Exhausted, and very, very happy. (I’m sure I’ve left stuff out, if I remember bits, I’ll update) Cheers. ~KR (Written on 30 December 2008 )

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

18
Nov

"Antique Rogues Show" at TRF

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Antique Rogues Show 10

16 November 2008

After a Saturday at TRF that finally rocked and rolled for us at Pendragon—there was even better music on Sunday!  The Rogues, formerly known as the Scottish Rogues, and more recently, disbanded, reunited on Sunday for four amazing performances during the faire day.  How wonderful to have Bryan, Randy, Jimmy and Lars all in one place, and playing together again!  (Even EJ joined in for a couple of songs.)

I was lucky enough to be able to get out of the booth with Kyle for long enough to catch the third show of the day.  It was almost like old times—except that we’re all so much older!  The original “Rogue Rat”, Erin French, was there with Bobby and Paige!  She’s sixteen, now and her little sisters were the ones dancing in Daddy’s arms and running around.  Bryan had his two pre-teen boys collecting tips!  And, sadly, there wasn’t a lot of lilting going on.  But, the music and the spirit and the fun was certainly not lacking!  What happy memories—what a great performance in the “now.”

Thanks, guys!  We miss you!

~MB

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,