Christmas in Peebles

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Lights

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Nine.  Christmas Day.

Today was just exactly what we needed.  A day to relax and enjoy life and each other.

Santa dropped off some little presents for us to open this morning and Roxy and Mandi fixed delicious eggs and such for breakfast. As the day wore on, there was plenty of food and drink, including a visit to the wonderful Bridge Inn.  There was cheese and avocado and wine and cider. There was silly comedy, fabulous music and of course Her Majesty’s annual Christmas address on the telly.  And, there was a wonderful drive around town, up and down many of the back streets of Peebles, as we attempted to gather more information about the lay of the land and the personality of this little town we love so much.

This photo today, although shot in such low light that it’s not as good as I’d have wished, was taken in the neighboring small town of Traquair. The charming display of Christmas spirit included not only a giant Christmas tree, but, Santa and his reindeer and their respective stalls, a “building” representing Santa’s workshop, and even Olaf with some penguin buddies. I was charmed and shot a few pics, never successfully figuring out the identity of the building in the background.

I don’t think it will be a late night, as tomorrow we have a full day planned with an eye on Stirling for overnight.

From Kyle and MaritaBeth (and Roxanna and Mandalyn)–a very happy Christmas to all!




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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!



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Happy Yule!

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Tuesday, 22 December 2015. Yule.

Arbor Low 10

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Six.

Our day started very early with an alarm set for 6:15 a.m. The plan was to be in the car on the way to Arbor Low by 7 o’clock. We wanted to have an hour or so so enjoy the site before the 8:19 a.m. sunrise, and there were ten or so winding miles between the Charles Cotton Hotel and the farmland containing the stone circle.

We all did great at getting up and out…and the drive was easy and traffic-free. So, we got there early enough to sit and relax for a few minutes before we started to see light in the sky and MaritaBeth got antsy.  About an hour in advance, we bundled up in our furriest, warmest hats and layered jackets and scarf and gloves and began the muddy trek up to the site itself.  We paid our 1£ near the farmhouse and turned on our pocket torches (flashlights). Today’s specific challenge also included extremely strong winds and a light rain. The next few minutes consisted of avoiding puddles and poo as we passed between cattle barn and hay storage, passing through a gate, and then trying desperately to remember which direction to walk uphill.  It’s amazing how much one forgets in three years’ time. We finally figured it out, crossed another fence line and climbed the berm that surrounds the ancient circle. The moment of cresting that hill and catching the first glimpse of the circle itself, never ceases to cause my breath to catch and my soul to fill.

There are no words to adequately describe the next hour.  We each took our own path, sometimes coming together as duos or trios, once or twice as the foursome we were.  But, most of our time there was solitary.  Just one small person and the wind, connecting with the earth, the stones, the history, the mystery.  The entire time we were there, we shared the site with no more than twelve other people.  The wind and rain must have kept many people away, but even so, there were offerings of flowers and symbols and candles left upon the most central of the stones.

Now, as might be expected from mention of wind and rain … there were clouds.  Nothing but clouds, really, and the sunrise itself … the actual fiery ball in the sky … never showed his face.  We watched the sky brighten, certainly, but, there was really no prayer of actually seeing the sun. The sun rises each morn, whether we can see it or not, though.  So, we were undaunted. I read aloud the Susan Cooper passage that I shared on Facebook last night, and my chosen family members all embraced in a group hug. And we stood there soaking up the magic.

We arrived back at the Charles Cotton just in time to get breakfast before it was too late.  Then, the Cheese Shop and post office, and on the road again! The first destination was the little town of Castleton which we’d only just learned about from some fellow travelers in the breakfast room at the Giffard House Hotel. It seems that there is a semi-precious stone, completely unique to this one area of England, called “Blue John” and it is mined in Castleton.  We were planning to tour one of the caves from which it is mined, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate.  What we did do was to purchase some beautiful little rocks (that we’re hoping Miss Allyson can make into pretty jewelry for us), have lunch in a great little pub called The Bull’s Head (which came highly recommended), and stop to take photos in a perfectly beautiful church cemetary in the neighboring town of Hope.

The rest of the day’s drive was done mostly after dark … it was the shortest day, after all … and despite some frustrating one way roads the GPS didn’t foresee, we arrived at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub in Nottingham, ready to carry on with Solstice celebrating. We then secured a place to stay (we’re at the St. James Hotel) and began the honorable job of visiting the pubs on the list we were given by our fireman friends the night before. We managed to mark three off the list of who knows how many, and came back to the St. James for a nightcap.

The last of the other three has just gone to bed, leaving me to finish my last few paragraphs.  Tomorrow, we finally face a day with no deadlines and the plan is to sleep until we wake!  Woo hoo!

Happy Solstice, my friends.  Happy Yule!


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Dieu et mon Droit

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

18 October 2007
Goodness. Is it possible for Indian food to hurt more the day after? Unequivocally I can tell you, yes! Oh, my. Never again, I say.
This was a much longer day at the office. We finally had a little bit of speed to the network. Our constant complaining had finally gotten some food into the hamsters that drive the wheels that run the network. They were running a little faster today, thank goodness. We trained some more people, and this time we were actually able to transmit data successfully and look at the results on the website. Hooray!
We worked later into the evening and never really managed a lunch break either, due to the sheer amount of work left in comparison to the amount we hadn’t been able to get done. We finally met with the trainer and trained him for an hour and a half. Not long enough, but it’ll have to do for now. We also trained a batch of other folk that seemed eager to be trained – how refreshing. Finally, closing in on 7:30 p.m., we departed. We drove only slightly out of the way and had dinner at a quaint place called The King’s Arms. Nice enough, but unremarkable, really.
Dieu Et Mon Droit
Off to the hotel for an early night. I was knackered and still in a bit of distress from that Indian food. Never again. Really.

~KR (18 October 2007)

Listening to:
Snow Falls in November by Julie Doiron
on Okkervil River

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.1 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

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