Edinburgh.

Yes, I know this post is at least two weeks late. Sorry about that but I’m retired ya know and can’t be but so bothered by deadlines. LOL

After saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts Jenny and Bryan as they started their drive back to Aberdeen and a short train ride from Glasgow, we arrived in Edinburgh. After a “short” walk (mostly uphill 😢) we arrived at our hotel. Jenny turned me onto a U.K. based travel consolidator called, Secret Escapes https://www.secretescapes.com/current-sales which we used to book the 10 Hill Place Hotel at the Surgeons Quarters. https://www.tenhillplace.com/ This hotel is adjacent to Edinburgh University and from what we could gather was originally part of the Medical School. It is now a series of buildings that have been combined into a very nice hotel. The deal was 20-30% under their going room rate and added afternoon tea. Our room was very nice and the shower was incredible! Highly recommend to anyone looking for a moderately priced hotel in Edinburgh especially if you are attending anything at the Festival Theatre as it’s literally at the end of the street.

After checking in we walked through the University (founded in 1582) towards Edinburgh Castle which is at the top of “The Royal Mile”.

The mile-ish long street (actually a series of streets as it changes names several times) ends at Holyrood Castle which is the Queen’s place in Scotland.

The views from and of the castle were beautiful.

We then headed down the Royal Mile which has become tourist central. I can’t tell you how many tartan stores, kilt stores, and whisky shops there must be.

But if you look beyond the storefront or venture down in if the wynds (alleys) and into the courts behind the buildings you can imagine how it must of been 300, 400, or 500 years ago.

About a third of the way down the Mile we reached, St. Giles cathedral of the Chur h of Scotland. This is considered the mother church of Presbyterianism. It’s steeple is based on the crown of Scotland-that’s it at the top of this blog post. Interior photos weren’t allowed but below is one I found on line.

It was getting close to our tea time so we headed back to the hotel. While the tea wasn’t as wonderful as that at the Willows in Glasgow, we enjoyed it on the chilly overcast day.

It had been a long day so we ended up being lazy that evening (hmm, this appears to become a pattern) and stayed in and enjoyed our room and the bucket of ice we requested from the bar with a Diet Pepsi and some chips for a snack. After the afternoon teas we didn’t need supper. The simple things. LOL

After the huge Scottish breakfast buffet (haggis AND black pudding along with delicious scrambled eggs- no powder here!) included with our room we headed out to finish “the Mile”.

The bottom half of the mile wasn’t as touristy as the top portion just lots of beautiful buildings!

The last building before Holyrood Palace is the new Scottish Parliament building. We had hoped to go in but alas it was closed to visitors the day we were there. The architect says that he was trying to reference Scotland’s natural geography with the unusual windows which relate to the rocky outcroppings and the sunscreens which harken to the forests.

Directly across the street is Holyrood Palace. Since we had just had tea with Her Majesty at her main trailer we elected to not go inside to see her second ( thirty-third?) home but instead just walked around outside the gates.

But wait, we didn’t completely give up on seeing the Queen while in Scotland. We next headed to her former floating palace the Royal Yacht Britannia which is now docked at Leith. Similar to the Docklands in London, this part of Edinburgh is becoming the site of new and contemporary offices, hotels and residences.

The yacht is accessed through a large shopping mall which like those in the US seems to be dying. But Britannia was very popular and given the amount of space given over ashore to hold crowds I was very glad we were here off season.

The yacht is beautiful and gives you an idea of what Royal life at sea must of been like in the 50s and 60s.

I was impressed by the specially designed storage areas aboard-they even had room for the car!

While not as fancy as the Royal rooms the officers and crew aboard had it pretty good. Their bunk rooms were tight and not private but there were several bars and dining rooms aboard for them. We took a selfie at the crew bar with the fake beer Nd fake corgi and Mike tried on several of the crew’s caps.

The exhibit also includes the Royal Barge which was used to render ashore (hmm, maybe the cruise lines could learn a lesson?) and the Royals’s racing yachts. The barge was refurbished by a few of Britannia’s now retired crew for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2011. That’s a picture found on Google of Liz and Phil leading the 1000 boat flotilla down the Thames.

After saying good bye and thanking HRM, we walked around the quays in Leith in search of a late lunch.

Our friends Peggy and Lowell had HIGHLY recommended that we have a pot of mussels at Mussell Inn but unfortunately it was 30 minutes away and was going to be closed so we ended up having our pot of mussels, bowls of Cullen Skink and a local libation at a pub on the Quay while sitting outside in the glorious sunshine. Quite the change from the dreary day before.

After our great late (very) lunch we headed back towards the hotel and called it another lazy evening. Mike went out at one point and bought us some meat pies for a little snack while I packed us up. Tomorrow (well ok we went the next day but who knows when I’ll get around to blogging about it) it’s Dublin and our first visit to Ireland. I sure hope this won’t be our last to Scotland.

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Glasgow

After the wonderful breakfast in Fort Augustus, we headed towards Glasgow via Glencoe and Loch Lomand. It was a drizzly day which added to the ruggedness of this part of the Scottish highlands. Glencoe is where the massacre of the Macdonalds took place at the end of the 1600s.

We stopped partway to Glasgow I give driver Jenny a rest from the tough drive (heavy rain, narrow roads & wide trucks) for a bowl of soup at a beautiful golf club. Of course there were golfers golfing in the rain but thy didn’t look happy about it!

After arriving and checking in at our Bed & Breakfast in Glasgow we headed off to tea at the the recently restored tea room designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This was one of four or six that the same hostess had in Glasgow. Apparently tea rooms were invented so ladies could go out in public as at the time it was acceptable for them to go to Pubs.

This tea room had been sitting unused and was slated for demolition before it was saved and restored. It was incredible to be sitting in the original interior (the picture at the top of this post is a detail from one of the panels shown in total in the 4th photo below) and the tea, champagne and cakes were pretty tasty too! And hard to believe how much china we used!

After breakfast (served in our room) the next morning, Mike and I walked to Kelvingrove Gallery. (Brian was feeling unwell so he and Jenny stayed at the B&B and enjoyed their suite.) The gallery was built as the main exhibition hall for the 1901 World Exposition held in this huge park along the River Kelvin. It is now a museum that we really enjoyed. It addition to the usual exhibits it had a number of interesting educational ones. We particularly liked the one showing how paintings are restored. They used a painting and showed it in the various stages of cleaning

The building houses a pipe organ and everyday at 1pm there is a concert so we enjoyed sitting and listening. The gallery is free and so it is well loved including by some cute kids who while not sitting were definitely enjoying the concert too.

While there are several masterpieces (Renoir, Monet, and Rembrandt) in the gallery the highlights for me were the section devoted to Mackintosh (and the other art nouveau architects, painters and designers) and Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross. It is incredible. (Photo credit to Wikipedia for the cross)

We spent almost all day exploring this wonderful museum and returned to find Brian somewhat improved, at least enough to join us for dinner at Sisters where Jenny had purchased a voucher for their pre-theatre dinner. It was a cold and rainy night so we all had the delicious leek soup as a starter. For our mains, Mike and I both had ham, mashed potatoes and cabbage and kale-Scottish comfort food! For dessert I of course continues my sticky toffee pudding tasting and was not disappointed.

Next morning after breakfast we said a sad goodbye to Jenny & Brian as they headed home to Aberdeen and their four footed family and we boarded the train to Edinburgh. We were so lucky to have met this warm couple who MADE our visit to Scotland. Whether showing us around, feeding us or simply letting us relax at their beautiful home it was all just magical. We hope we will be able to reciprocate their hospitality sometime in the future!

Loch Ness

We had a wonderful day driving (in Jenny’s new Peugeot) from Jenny and Brian’s toward Inverness and then along Loch Ness on our way to Fort Augustus.

The countryside everywhere we drove was just beautiful. We stopped along the way and ate leftover cheese, meats and pastries at a public park where we were all but attacked by ducks!

Below are several of the hundreds of pictures we took along our drive along Loch Ness. The Loch is very deep according to one of the signs holds more water than all the other bodies of water in Great Britain combined!

We arrived at Fort Augustus and the wonderful B&B Jenny had booked for us. After checking in our beautiful room we had a cup of tea (with milk) beside the coal fire in a wood paneled lounge-does it get anymore Scottish???

Mike and I wandered around the lovely village including climbing across the locks of the Caledonian Canal which joins Loch Ness to Loch Oich and then with other canals the Atlantic Ocean. And we finally saw Nessie! LOL

We followed the canal down to Loch Ness and enjoyed the view below.

Across the canal is a former Abbey which became a school and is now a private club with residences. We enjoyed a fish and chips dinner in the boathouse.

The next morning after a delicious breakfast (full Scottish for me-Black pudding, haggis, tatties, bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, tomato and toast; we set off for our drive to Glasgow via Glencoe. More on that in the next post.

And hopefully the picture uploading issue has been resolved-I’ve upgraded from the free plan and am now paying each month for this blog so maybe Mike is right we need to figure out how to monetize it so it would at least pay for itself. Anybody have any ideas how to do that?

Oops.

Found out day before yesterday that a lot of the pictures included in the Aberdeenshire post didn’t upload. Turns out that I’ve used all the available storage that comes with my free WordPress account. Ugh.

I’ve deleted some pictures from previous posts so that the latest batch will upload. Once I decide whether to pay for more storage or look at moving to a different host, I will let you know and be able to blog again. Until then I may be gone for a few days. For those of you who have access to Mike’s Facebook Account, he pretty much covers the same thing I do. Or follow us on instagram where we are claynmike as I will try to post more on there to I work out the issues here.

And be sure to go back to the Aberdeenshire post to see what you missed!

PS: no Nessie was seen but had a great time through the lochs and in Glasgow and arrived safely in Edinburgh today. It’s strange to just be us two again after our time with Lois and then with Jenny & Brian.

Aberdeenshire

Our friends, Jenny & Brian live about 15 minutes from Inverurie which is a suburb of Aberdeen. While we enjoyed our day trip to Dundee we enjoyed even more spending time in this beautiful part of Scotland.

One day we four plus the four dogs headed north to the beach along the North Sea. We stopped in Elgin and had a picnic lunch in the shadow of the ruins if their cathedral and then on to the wide sandy beach at Roseisle. The beach is surrounded any a forest which was planted to protect the dunes. The dogs loved being able to run free and splash in the ocean. I really wanted to join them but it was chilly and windy so I didn’t.

On the way from the beach we picked up Indian takeaway. So good!

One evening after a car tour of Aberdeen, our hosts took us for a delicious dinner in Aberdeen. We had Cullen Skink, a Scottish soup made of lightly smoked haddock, potatoes and milk. So good! Mike had the shellfish platter and I had roasted haddock with a giant langoustine.

On Friday, while Jenny stayed home to prepare for dinner guests, Brian took us to Fyvie Castle (which unfortunately was closed but the grounds were beautiful.

During the drive we saw beautiful country side as shown at the top of this post and immediately below.

We then visited Pitmedden Gardens which originally was a grand house with gardens but the house burned but the beautiful gardens remain. I can only imagine how they must look in the spring in full bloom.

They included an interesting sun dial. The flat grave site looking stone included squares with the months while the smaller separate blocks in the radius abovewere times from 9am until later in the afternoon. When you stand on the proper month, your shadow shows the time.

That evening we enjoyed meeting Isabel and Alec, J&B’s former neighbors over a delicious home cooked dinner finishing with meringues with strawberries and double cream. And a wee whisky to finish it all!

We had a wonderful stay in Aberdeenshire, one we won’t soon forget! So glad we happened to have a drink with those Scots onboard Viking!

Next post will be about our Loch Ness adventure…..will we find Nessie???

Dundee

We rode the train to Dundee this morning to visit the new Victoria & Albert Museum there. It is dedicated to design and just opened two weeks ago.

The ride along the coast was spectacular- cliffs, cows, sheep, golf courses and the beautiful ocean.

The museum was the result of a design completion and is the centerpiece of a 1 billion pound waterfront redevelopment.

It was very interesting as were the exhibits and VERY popular. It was packed and it was a cool chilly Tuesday.

The permanent exhibit is of Scottish designs from the beginning of time all the way through to today. Learned that “Grand Thief Auto” was designed here. In addition to fashion, furniture, ceramics, silver, glass and fabrics the exhibit also includes a restoration of one of Charles Rennie Macintosh’s tea rooms and models of architecture including Frank Gehry’s Cancer Care Center located in Dundee

The temporary exhibit (through February) is all about ocean liners so we thought it was karma that we had to go since we are here with or cruise friends.

All of us had an enjoyable day, we are currently on the train headed back towards Aberdeen. We are planning on having Indian takeaway for supper. Yum!

Update:

Made it back and are having an Indian takeaway feast!

Scotland

Had an uneventful flight from London to Aberdeen and our friends Jenny & Brian from the Viking Transatlantic picked us up and took us to their beautiful home in Meikle Wartle, a tiny village about 30 minutes out in the countryside. The views above are from our bedroom window! We were welcomed by their four Labrador retrievers who had left us a lovely welcome note.

We had a lunch of soup and scones-just the thing did a chilly (yay!) day followed by a tasting of Scotc…ahem, whiskey. Also good for a chilly day.

Today we are training it to Dundee to the new museum, more in a bit.