My Thoughts · Scotland

Glasgow & Then Home! Bye Scotland

Our group at the Molly Malone Pub - last night in Glasgow!
Our group at the Molly Malone Pub – last night in Glasgow!

Our tour ended in Glasgow, but we extended a couple of days to see the sights and visit a friend. Then it was home. Sadly, I said goodbye to Scotland after such a lovely trip, and couched in my farewell, “Until next time!”

May 20—along the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, then on to Glasgow

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

Before Glasgow, we spent the morning at Loch Lomond on a relaxing boat ride around the lake. I had heard the song “Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” my whole life, yet never knew the story behind it.

Our tour guide, John, shared the song told the story of a couple captured by the English. She was the only one released as a warning to the other Scots if they rebelled.

I also found the following explanation:

“The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” is about two Scottish soldiers who were imprisoned on the Scottish border. One of them was going to be set free, but the other one was going to be executed. In Scottish legend, anyone who dies outside Scotland takes the “low road” back to their homeland, where they will finally be at peace. 

In this song, the doomed soldier is comforting the soldier who will be set free. He tells them that “you’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland before ye”. 

As well as this, he recalls a life full of love and happiness. He harkens back to his time by the “bonnie banks of Loch Lomond” where he met his wife, and he comes to peace with the fact that his “broken heart ken nae second Spring again” – meaning that he will never return to the loch to be with his true love, although he is going to return in spirit.”,with%20Prince%20Charles%20Edward%20Stuart.

The misty morning, such a stereotypical Scottish day, accentuated our time on the Loch Lomond—but not freezing!

When the boat ride ended, Charlotte, one of our newfound friends on the tour, told me she planned to dip her toes in the lake because of our Scot heritage, so I joined her! When we got off the boat, we found a small pier near, took our shoes and socks off and ventured to sit down without falling into the loch. And we sat, and dipped. The water was icy!

So, I’m hoping that legend says by doing that I will return!

As we neared Glasgow, I felt a collective sigh of sadness for this amiable group. During the morning, I had gathered email addresses to invite fellow travelers to a dedicated Facebook I created. We didn’t want the experience to end.

However, we had our farewell dinner that evening, but the setting didn’t work. We sat in individual booths that housed four, but this divided the group.

May 21—Glasgow—Transferred from hotel

This day, we transferred from the hotel booked by the tour to the Point A hotel, one I found and booked for the four of us. Yes, it was a deal for downtown Glasgow, but the Spartan accommodation surprised us. It had instructions on the wall that helped us figure it out.

Instructions for room features - Glasgow

Where was the closest? The three hooks behind the door. What to do with our luggage? Open them up and push them under the bed. A small writing desk swung down from the wall and a stool for a seat. Oh, well! You couldn’t beat the price.

The rest of the day, we explored Glasgow. We ended up in the Molly Malone Pub for a couple of hours, enjoying the atmosphere and friendly Glaswegian. Then we ended the day with a cribbage game in the Common Area at our hotel.

May 22—Glasgow—Walking Tour & Dinner with Eleanor & Jim

For our first full day in Glasgow, we had a delicious breakfast, then a ten-minute walk to the meeting place for our Medieval Walking Tour with Kevin. What a tour we had! We wove our way through downtown Glasgow, and Kevin showed us historical sights many Glaswegians regularly pass every day and don’t know about. During the tour, we learned about grave robbers. We saw the St. Mungo Cathedral with its darkened wall from years of smoke. Also, Kelvin often repeated an interesting rhyme associated with Glasgow’s coat of arms:

Here’s the bird that never flew.
Here’s the tree that never grew.
Here’s the bell that never rang.
Here’s the fish that never swam.

On the sides of many buildings, we saw massive murals.

Train station & schedule in Glasgow
Train station & schedule in Glasgow

That evening, we caught the train and rode ten minutes to Eleanor and Jim. The station and schedule was daunting, but we figured it out.

Eleanor & Larada in Glasgow
Eleanor & Larada in Glasgow

Before our trip, I visually connected with Eleanor in an International Meditation group I joined in 2022 and prior to that, in an Advent study by text in 2021. We became fast friends immediately, and I was so excited to tell her about our trip to Scotland. As plans unfolded, she invited Lin and I and Jerry and Mary Beth to dinner at her house!

Jim playing his guitar for us - Glasgow
Jim playing his guitar for us

What a delightful evening we had! Her husband, Jim, prepared a delicious dinner, starting with Cullen Skink, haddock and leek soup, better than what we had in Ullapool. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the meal, the camaraderie, and the conversation. After dinner, Jim pulled out his guitar and entertained us. We also found out that Eleanor does Scottish set dancing, which is like our square dancing—maybe its predecessor. What a memorable evening had!

May 23–Touring Glasgow

The next day, Lin and I met Jim and Eleanor and took the subway to the University of Glasgow, Jim’s alma mater.

Inside of Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow
Inside of Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow

First, Jim and Eleanor showed us the Memorial Chapel where they had been married. What a special moment! Then we had a delightful morning walking around the campus and had a serendipitous moment. As a retired teacher, I wanted to see a classroom. I stuck my head in one only to find a campus guard and he scolded me for being there. I let him know I was a retired teacher from the US and only wanted to see a classroom.

He quickly changed his tune and became our tour guide. We crossed a courtyard and entered a beautiful classroom with wood-paneled walls, curved worn bench seats, a massive desk in the of the room and so much history.

Our next stop, the Kelvingrove Museum, surprised us with an organ concert in the main area, so we stopped, listened and enjoyed the beautiful music. Then it was on to the Salvador Dalí painting, “Christ Saint John on the Cross,” our primary destination here at the museum.

“One of Dalí s most famous paintings is Christ of St John on the Cross. (1951) Considered his finest religious painting, it now hangs in Scotland’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery, in Glasgow’s West End and has been there ever since its purchase by the galleries director in 1952. Painted in 1951, Dalí’s iconic painting has become one of the best-loved in the entire collection, amongst Glaswegians and visitors.”

I marveled at being that close to a Dali painting, and this one so amazing—Christ floating!

Larada & Lin with Queen Victoria bust at the Selvingrove Museum - Glasgow
Larada & Lin with Queen Victoria Bust at the Kelvingrove Museum

From there we met back with Jerry and Mary Beth at Molly Malone’s pub for our last time all together, and a delightful dinner. We ended early so we could go back to our hotel and pack up and prepare for our early departure the next day.

May 24—Flew home

The next day our Scottish tour ended with our uneventful flight home—always a good thing! This blog gave me a nostalgic look back at a trip of a lifetime. I hope you’ve enjoyed my wandering down “the country roads of Scotland,” and maybe it ignited a desire in you to visit Scotland, my new found home!

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Man sitting on grass with Flippo's book on iPad - Glasgow
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My Thoughts · Scotland

A Scottish Isle and a Tragic Valley

Portree on the Isle of Skye
Portree on the Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye and Glencoe: an isle and valley filled our two days, heading towards Glasgow and the end of our tour. We jam-packed so much in these days, moving from a mystical isle to a lush valley with a sad battle tale.

May 19 – Over the Sea to Isle of Skye

We were so excited that we would be in the front seat on this specific day. Because of the seat rotation on the tour bus, we were in the front seats, so traditionally, we had to give the weather report. After the rainy day the day before, the sun shone brightly with no clouds in the sky, so I wanted to make the report different and light-hearted. At breakfast, I started researching to find a poem linked to the Isle of Skye. What a treasure I found:

Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone


Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, 

Say, could that lad be I? 

Merry of soul he sailed on a day 

Over the sea to Skye. 

Mull was astern, Rum on the port, 

Eigg on the starboard bow; 

Glory of youth glowed in his soul; 

Where is that glory now? 

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, 

Say, could that lad be I? 

Merry of soul he sailed on a day 

Over the sea to Skye. 

Give me again all that was there, 

Give me the sun that shone! 

Give me the eyes, give me the soul, 

Give me the lad that's gone! 

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, 

Say, could that lad be I? 

Merry of soul he sailed on a day 

Over the sea to Skye. 

Billow and breeze, islands and seas, 

Mountains of rain and sun, 

All that was good, all that was fair, 

All that was me is gone.

After I read a couple of stanzas and stopped, Jerry Gilbreath sang it because it is the lyrics to the theme of the TV show, “The Outlander.” Wow! And the day continued that magical. Off to the Isle of Skye we went. On the way, we stopped for a photo opt of “hairy coos,” really up close and personal.

Hairy Coo - isle

The Isle of Skye has an amazing history. The Norse wiped out the Pictish language and the culture in 800 A.D. and remained there for four hundred years.

“The island was considered to be under Norwegian suzerainty until the 1266 Treaty of Perth, which transferred control over to Scotland.”

I had fun with a story associated with the Isle of Skye and Bonnie Prince Charlie because of Flora MacDonald, who might be a relative of mine:

“Flora MacDonald’s adventure with ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ began in 1764 on the Outer Hebridean island of South Uist. Flora’s benefactor, Lady Clanranald, was a Jacobite sympathiser, so Flora was kept closely informed of the Prince’s whereabouts after the defeat of his troops at Culloden. Although not an ardent Jacobite supporter herself, Flora was touched by the unfortunate plight of the Prince, who now had a price of £30,000 on his head, was being hunted all over the Highlands and Islands by government soldiers. So when a plan was hatched to smuggle the Prince to the relative safety of Skye, Flora agreed to play a part in it.

In June 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie finally landed on South Uist with a couple of loyal supporters. There they met Flora, and arrangements were made to disguise the Prince as ‘Betty Burke’, an Irish maidservant, and conduct him to Skye. After a few days’ preparation, they sailed in a small boat ‘over the sea to Skye’, just as the militia landed nearby. The Prince was dressed in a calico gown, quilted petticoat and headdress to disguise his face.

After landing safely on Skye, the Prince’s perilous wanderings continued for a few more weeks, until finally he managed to escape mainland Scotland on a ship bound for France. He and Flora were destined never to meet again.”

The Story of Bonnie Prince Charlie & Flora MacDonald

Legend has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie gave a personal recipe to MacKenna who helped him escape to France. Then eventually someone in the family released it and we know it today as Drambuie whiskey liquer.

Driving to Portree, John, our tour guide, told us about the shocking movement of the Clearances in the 1840s.

“The Highland Clearances were the forced evictions of a significant number of tenants in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, mostly in two phases from 1750 to 1860.”

Because of these horrible evictions, many Scots immigrated to the USA in the 1840s. In the 1870s, they immigrated to Australia.

I enjoyed our visit to the city of Portree, where we enjoyed bakery goods to start with. Then we roamed the beautiful city and took lots of pictures.

Commando Memorial - Isle
Commando Memorial

From there, we visited the Commando Memorial honoring Winston Churchill’s elite force. What a spectacular sight!

Ballachulish Hotel

Then we spent the night at the Ballachulish Hotel in Glencoe, an old Victorian style hotel, and noticed as we drove the shoreline that all the BnBs had one similar sign up, “No Vacancy.” A very popular area!

May 20—Glenroe

Surrounded by Munros, mountains over 3,000 feet high, we drove through an amazing valley where a famous massacre happened.

“The Massacre of Glencoe took place in Glen Coe in the Highlands of Scotland on 13 February 1692. An estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by Scottish government forces, allegedly for failing to pledge allegiance to the new monarchs, William III and Mary II.”

Notice that one of my clan names has come up again—MacDonald.

From there we went to the Glencoe National Nature Reserve and enjoyed a presentation about the area, its geology and animals. I also visited a replica of a Turf House, a 17th century dwelling. The plaster used inside reminded me of adobe used here in the southwest.

Replica of Turf House at Glencoe - isle
Replica of Turf House at Glencoe

An isle and a valley—our trip nears its end. But the history and the sights captivated me as we traveled through this fascinating part of Scotland.

Have you ever heard of these places and this battle? Do you have any Scottish heritage at all? Let me know.

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My Thoughts · Scotland

Culloden Battlefield & Scottish Islands

John Groat's + Lin - Culloden

As our tour of Scotland continues, we head north to Culloden, the Orkney Islands, and the Isle of Skye. I loved the variety of these three days.

May 16—Loch Ness, Culloden, Dornoch, Wick & Thurso

Lin on Loch Ness - Culloden

We stayed in Inverness, the capitol of the Scottish Highlands, then went on a trip to Loch Ness, looking for Nessie, but had no luck.. We photographed the beautiful loch from a different spot than Lin and I saw on our British Isles cruise in 2019.

From there we drove to the Culloden visitor’s center, a unique display that shows artifacts and information from both sides: the Scots and the English. The vast scope of this battle needs explained:

“On 16 April 1746, the final Jacobite Rising came to a brutal head. Jacobite supporters, seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones, gathered to fight the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops. It was the last pitched battle on British soil and, in less than an hour, around 1,500 men were slain – more than 1,000 of them Jacobites.”

As we wound our way through the center, the tension mounted, and knowing the end result still didn’t make it easier. As the trip unfolded, I embraced my Scottish heritage. Here I bought the family crest and information sheet for my two Scottish kin: the MacDonalds and the McCoys. I felt so connected to consequences of this battle.

From this point forward, the British forbade the speaking of Gaelic Scottish language, the wearing of tartans and kilts. They tried to crush the culture, but they didn’t, as clear today.

I found out that Flora MacDonald helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Culloden over the seas to the Isle of Skye. Were we related? I became obsessed with that possibility.

From here we stopped in Dornoch for lunch and some sightseeing. Before arriving here, our tour guide, John, told us the last witch burning happened here.

“Janet Horne was the last person in Britain to be tried and executed for witchcraft. In 1727 she and her daughter were arrested and jailed in Dornoch.” Janet’s daughter suffered from a deformity in her hands and feet.,in%20her%20hands%20and%20feet.

The Witch's Stone - Durnoch - Culloden

I had fun trying to find the witch’s stone. After ordering a chicken salad sandwich on a bagel, I asked the server. She pointed in a vague direction and said, “It’s over there.” After wolfing down half of the sandwich, I stopped at the Jail and asked for further instruction. The clerk again in vague terms said, “Follow this street, turn at the bridge, go down and it’s there.” So, I followed the street and found my wandering picture-taking husband, Lin, and he helped in the search. Another two men got us closer, then a delightful woman named Charlotte, directed us there, but she said the date was wrong and it was!

From there it was on to Wick and two choices for optional excursions: a museum of Wick or Whisky Tasting. Neither Lin nor I drink, so we opted for the museum and what a delight. It was here we found out Robert Louis Stevenson’s father built lighthouses around Scotland.

On the drive, we continued to see the yellow flowering plants everywhere, gorse! So beautiful! Then it was on Thurso, the northern tip of Scotland, for two nights—whew! We didn’t have to get up early to get our bags out.

May 17 – Day in the Orkney Islands — Day 5 – our really only rainy day

John Groat's & Lin - Culloden

The next day we drove to John O’Groats, the most northerly inhabited village in mainland Britain, to catch the ferry to the Orkney Islands, which was a forty to fifty-minute ride. We rode outside on the top for the view, and it wasn’t too cold.

Italian Chapel on Orkney Islands - Culloden

We transferred to our bus, and our first stop on Orkney Island was the Italian chapel, built by Italian prisoners during World War II. They built this gorgeous chapel out of two Quonset huts.

Norway's Constitution Day celebration in Kirkwall - Culloden

On to Kirkwall and being May 17, we had a serendipitous delight: the celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day. Bagpipers piped in the group! This one thing showed how far north we were! Norway and the Orkney Islands have a strong link historically and until today! No rain yet!

Ring of Brodgar - Culloden

From there, it was on to the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, which looked like Stonehenge. But again, it was in the rain.

Clouds hovered all day, threatening to rain, and finally it came at the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae. We walked in the rain to see the ruins near to the beach, but it hampered our enjoyment because we rushed through it. I took a limited amount of pictures there, too!

Lin touching one of the Stones of Stenness - Culloden

From there it was on to the Standing Stones of Stenness. Many people on the tour anticipated this stop because of the TV show, “The Outlander.” Some took the chance and touched the stone. Others feared being transported back in time. Lin and I touched it—and we’re still here!

“The Stones of Stenness today consist of four upright stones up to 6m in height in a circle that originally held 12 stones. The focus of the interior was a large hearth. The stones were encircled by a large ditch and bank, the form of which has been lost over time by ploughing.

The Stones of Stenness are part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, a series of important domestic and ritual monuments built 5000 years ago in the Orkney Islands.”

May 18 – over the sea to the Isle of Skye, one of the lower Hebrides islands

This was a travel day heading south. We passed by the last wilderness in Scotland, blanket bog—1500 square miles of it. Here the roads were bouncier because of no foundation underneath because of the peat.

At our first stop at Lairg, we had scones and jam. I wandered next door to a store and met a fellow-author, Iain Offor. So, we talked about writing and publishing, and I helped him make a few book sales that day. Hey, we have to help our writers, right?

For lunch, we ended up at Ullapool, where I had delicious Cullen Skink, haddock and leek soup. I bought a splendid book about nature-writing in Scotland, Writing Landscape, by Linda Cracknell, a freelance journalist.

As we passed more mountains, John, our tour guide, told us about Munros in Scotland, which are any mountains over 3,000 feet. There are 282 Munros in Scotland and there’s a fun hiking activity, bag a Munro. What do you do? Climb a Munro is to bag a Munro.

We ended this day on the Isle of Skye for the night, ready to explore the island the next day.

Have you ever been to Culloden, the Orkney Islands, or the Isle of Skye?

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My Thoughts · Scotland

My Face Hit Edinburgh—Literally!

Lin and I with the bagpiper at Ghillie Dhu. Notice my face!
Lin and I with the bagpiper at Ghillie Dhu. Notice my face!

An unlikely event—my face hit the sidewalk in Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 13, 2023, and it wasn’t pretty. But it didn’t stop me from seeing the sights! Here’s the first three days of our official Insight Vacations tour, “The Country Roads of Scotland.”

May 13, 2023 – Edinburgh Continues

We thoroughly enjoyed our first three days in Edinburgh, and now the official tour began. We started our day with breakfast at a nearby café, “Scottish Indian Infusion,” and Lin had haggis with his meal. I sampled it and it wasn’t too bad.

Lin and his serving of haggis - my face
Lin and his first serving of haggis

Then we had to move from our present hotel to the Malmaison Hotel for a couple of days. Because we so enjoyed our taxi driver from the airport, we hired Paulo to move us.

Again, we had an engaging dialogue during our trip. We arrived, and he helped us with our bags. So we started our registration process in the hotel, but I wanted a picture of him, so I ran out to the taxi and caught him before he drove off. I took a selfie with Paulo and ran back inside to show my traveling companions.

The picture with Paulo that caused my fall on my face!
The picture with Paulo that caused my fall on my face!

Before I knew, I felt myself sailing through the air—no stopping or controlling it! I hit full force on my chin, skidded on my nose, hit on my left side and scratched my glasses! Blood flowed! In shock, I couldn’t imagine what happened, but a couple on bikes stopped and gasped at me! I knew it was bad.

Quickly, a nurse from our tour came running and assisted me. She told me she saw the cyclists’ response and knew something bad had happened. Just as quickly, someone from the hotel came with a first aid kit and the nurse bandaged my nose. She also wiggled it vigorously and stated, “It’s not broken! But it might be fractured!”

She also assured me it was better that I landed on my face and not my wrists because, in her words, “You could be on your way to the hospital with a broken wrist.”

As I came out of the initial fog, I assured her I would rest before doing anything, but she demanded, “Do not go to sleep. We don’t know if you have a concussion.”

So, I went upstairs, and first washed the blood off of my t-shirt and jeans. When I looked in the mirror, my heart sank. I looked like I had lost a fight for sure! Then I rested for forty-five minutes, but we had plans—we had tickets for the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus. We had an orientation meeting for the tour and then a welcome dinner back at our hotel, so we needed to get going. Three were waiting on me, and deeply I kept hearing my ole cowboy dad’s voice whisper, “You get bucked off. You get back on.”

So, I got up. We caught the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus and rode it to the Waterloo station. Then we wandered around downtown Edinburgh shopping. We found a place to grab a snack, then we were late back to the Orientation meeting because of bus connections. We met our tour guide, John Gillespie, and what a guide he was!

That night we had a delightful get acquainted dinner and met a couple we became very attached to, Ernie and Charlotte.

I felt the brunt of the fall when I got back to the room, but I slept well.

May 14, 2023–More of Edinburgh

Our group at the Edinburgh castle - my face
Our group at the Edinburgh Castle

We spent the first part of the day at the Edinburgh Castle. Our group didn’t go there during our first three days in Edinburgh, knowing we would be on this tour. Lin and I had been there for a short time in 2019, but I loved being back there. Built up on the hill above Edinburgh. What breathtaking fort! We wandered through the halls and rooms, oohing and ahhing at the tapestries on the walls and the massive size of everything.

My favorite part of the castle this time—St. Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, dating back to the 12th century, but I can’t find my pictures. This was the day after my fall, so that may be why!

During the afternoon, we took an optional excursion. At the other end of the Royal Mile, we drove to the Palace of Holyrood house, the official Scottish residence of the King. Again tapestries, statues and gigantic rooms! Lin had fun in the garden talking to the gardener.

Ghillie-Dhu - my face
Ghillie Dhu

That evening, we took off on another optional excursion, Ceilidh Dinner and evening at the Ghillie Dhu. A Scot, dressed in his colorful tartan kilt, met us at the door and piped us in with his bagpipe. Two young ladies danced for us, and Lin and I got up and danced a jig. What a wonderful end to a full day.

May 15, 2023–St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness

This day began our time of having our large luggage outside our door early to be put on the bus. This day was 6:55 am, so we had to plan accordingly.

It was north out of Edinburgh to St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness. We traveled alongside three bridges that crossing the River Forth.

 I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t looked at the itinerary closely and missed the fact our first stop was, St. Andrews. When I heard, I gasped! How exciting!

The Old Course—St. Andrew's Links - my face

Coming into the city, I noticed how manicured it looked. We immediately went to The Old Course—St. Andrew’s Links. Golfers lined up ready to play this famous course and have their dreams come true! What a scenic, beautiful course with the beach so near.

After seeing the course, we wandered the streets, peeking in the University of St. Andrews and found The Northpoint Café, the place where Kate met William for their first coffee, and we ate there. Not feeling great, I didn’t join Lin and Linda taking pictures of the ruins of the St. Andrews Cathedral.

Blair Castle
Blair Castle

From there, we continued north and stopped at Blair Castle. “It is the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, and was historically the seat of their chief, the Duke of Atholl.“

The Duke apparently liked to hunt because the place overflowed with stag’s antlers and guns and stuffed animals!

The hairy coo - my face

Here, we had our first sightings of “hairy coo,” the reddish colored long-haired cattle of Scotland. They fascinated this ranch girl. How did they see? I have many more great pictures of them later!

We continued to Inverness for the night after a full busy day! My face continued to hurt, but I kept moving. What else could I do?

I have ever been to this part of Scotland? Have you ever had an accident affect a trip? Like my face plant?

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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Our Scottish Adventure Begins

Our Scottish adventure began on May 9, 2023, with a later departure, so we didn’t have to get up at 0-dark-30! Here are our first three days of the trip.

May 9-10, 2023

Lin and I left our house around noon to drop Lin’s African Violet collection off with a friend to take of them. Then we drove to Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath’s house, dropped off our vehicle and drove to Jerry’s business and their daughter drove us to the airport!

We arrived a couple hours early and had time to start our cribbage game competition for the trip—it was Lin and Mary Beth against Jerry and me. After boarding our plane, we had a delay and wondered if this depicted how our next two connections were to go. It wasn’t!

Because we had paid a little extra, we got “Priority Economy” seating and had really nice seating for our flight to Heathrow. For the first time, I spent almost the entire way curled up in a little ball and slept.

At Heathrow, we had to go through security, so we didn’t have as much time as we thought. When we got to the airport in Edinburgh, I had pre-paid for a taxi, but I did not know how to find him. I had my phone on airplane mode, and he kept calling me. Finally, I walked out of the building and passed a tall man and, by chance, asked him if he was a taxi driver.

He said, “Yes, for Horner-Miller.” One of those God-incidences. Paulo, our newfound taxi-driver, gently rebuked me for not having my phone on because he had called twice. We got our bags and away we went, but he turned out to be more than a taxi driver.

First, we connected because he was Portuguese—Lin and I had been to Portugal in November/December, and that broke the ice. So, as we drove to our hotel, he gave us a tour of Edinburgh.

When he dropped us off at the Yotel Hotel, I told him we needed a transfer to the Malmaison Hotel on Saturday when our tour started, so he said, “Connect with me.”

The Yotel Hotel turned out to be a brilliant spot. At first glance, the room looked great, but the adjustable bed sat in a sitting up position. When it went down to a flat bed, the room suddenly lost over a foot. We loved the central location and the staff, though.

Brown's restaurant

For dinner that night, we walked to Brown’s restaurant and had a leisurely delicious European meal. I enjoyed sitting in the front window, watching people walking by. I had fish and chips!

May 11, 2023

We slept in after our long flight day. We ate breakfast at an outside restaurant. Then we caught the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus and rode the entire line, enjoying the beautiful weather. We stopped at the Grass Market for ice cream and shopping. Mary Beth and I each bought a beautiful sweater at the Bill Baber shop.

Bill Baber at knitting machine - Scottish
Bill Baber at knitting machine

From there, we jumped back on the bus and went to the Royal Mile to shop. In our souvenir shopping, we visited with a Scot shop owner. We found out that fifty-three shops on the Royal Mile have been bought up by two Indians, threatening to put the traditional Scot shop owner out of business!

Lin bought a kilt in 2019 in Edinburgh and we tried to find where he bought his but couldn’t. Jerry wanted to buy one, and several helpful shop owners sent us to a couple of kilt makers on the Royal Mile, but they were too expensive. Finally, someone headed us down an alley to the Celtic Craft Center Kiltmaker and Jerry took the plunge. He bought the whole outfit—jacket, vest and kilt, getting his family tartan.

Jerry in the vest and jacket & sample kilt - Scottish
Jerry in the vest and jacket & sample kilt

That evening we ate at Alexander Graham Bell/Wetherspoon, having a hamburger and fries. When we walked home, the fog rolled in—it felt so Scottish! When we got back to our hotel, we found a table in the back corner of the bar and played three games of cribbage.

We had another couple we were meeting up with, so I texted her to plan on how to meet the next day. They were flying in from Maine.

When we got back to our room, I connected with Paulo to move us on

May 12, 2023

Our day started with a walk to breakfast—cold and misty, not like the day before! Because I was warm the day before, I didn’t dress right. I only had on my Italian jacket with no wool sweater underneath, Capri jeans and a long sleeve thermos shirt! I suffered all day with the cold.

For breakfast, Lin and I split a Full Scottish Breakfast: sausage, ham, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, toast, orange juice and coffee! So much food!

After breakfast, we walked to Waterloo station for the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus to meet Linda and John, the other couple. We communicated with them through WhatsApp, a great app for traveling. I tried to understand one of the Hop-On, Hop-Off workers in orange vests, but I couldn’t! We were both speaking English, but I couldn’t understand his Scottish brogue. Finally, we got it settled.  

Linda and John were on the #16 City Bus, and one worker helped us tremendously. We could see where the buses were coming onto the busy street, so Lin walked in their direction and found them easily. So, we jumped on the bus to tour the city and head towards the Britannia Yacht.

Because of my poor choice in warm clothes, I sat downstairs and everyone else sat upstairs touring the city, but we had done it the day before.

The Britannia Yacht - Scottish
The Britannia Yacht - Scottish

We all enjoyed the tour of the Britannia, breaking the tour up with tea and scones in the tearoom where Queen Elizabeth II had sat drinking tea too. The living quarters had family pictures and felt “homey.” The large dining room felt regal. As we wove our way around and through the yacht, I kept saying to myself, “the Queen was here! OMG!”

The clock stopped - Scottish

Every clock onboard ship stopped at 3:01 PM when Queen Elizabeth II left the Britannia for the last time—how poignant!

When we finished there, John and Linda went to their hotel, and we rode the bus back to St. Andrew’s square. We walked along George Street and finally ate at the Hard Rock Café, after looking at menus at several other restaurants. Afterwards, we came back to our hotel and wanted to play cribbage again. We couldn’t find a table in the bar, so we slipped into the breakfast room and played.

So, the next day we had to move to the Malmaison Hotel, but that night I crashed after a busy full day!


From the very beginning of our trip, we enjoyed the Scots, their friendly manners and helpfulness. Have you ever been to Scotland? Do you have any stories about the Scots?

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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Scotland! I Want to Return!

Home from Scotland, yet my heart lingers there! Lin and I just returned from about a two-week adventure in Scotland and what an experience it was!

We saw kilts, colorful tartans, and firths! People sampled whiskey and Guinness! Lush, green hills surrounded us with many luscious lochs, too! And the brutal Scottish history shocked me! After several days, I heard the name “MacDonald” repeated in the history retelling, and I woke up! I have MacDonalds in my family tree, so I made the connection! Also, I have done my DNA testing and I am 28% Scot, so there you have it!

Our Itinerary in Scotland

We left Albuquerque on May 9, 2023 with our good friends, Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath, and flew to Edinburgh. We spent three days there touring and enjoying the sights. On May 12, another couple joined us who used to live in Albuquerque. We all are square dancers!

The Insight Vacations’ coach tour, The Country Roads of Scotland, began on May 13 and we toured Edinburgh for our first two days. Next from there, we went north to St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness for our third day. Next, we continued north to Culloden, Loch Ness and onto Thurso, the northern tip of Scotland, for the fourth day.

From Thurso, we went out for a Day in the Orkney Islands for our fifth day—our really only rainy day. For our sixth day, it was on over the sea to the Isle of Skye, one of the lower Hebrides islands, with a clear blue sky—quite unusual we’ve been told! There, we saw up close and personal “hairy coos,” the reddish long-haired cattle of Scotland. Afterwards, on our seventh day, we headed south through the Scottish Highlands to Glencoe. On day eight, we headed along the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond and had a relaxing boat ride around the lake, then we moved on to Glasgow.

In Glasgow, we had an amazing treat! Last year, I met a woman from Glasgow in an international meditation group I joined. She and her husband invited us for dinner on Monday, May 22, and we rode the train out to their house. What a delightful evening we had with delicious food, fun filled conversation and music! Their hospitality abounded! Then on Tuesday, they toured us around Glasgow—the best way to see any city! Sadly to say, then we headed back to the USA and Albuquerque!

Often during the tour, our traveling companions referenced “The Outlander,” but Lin and I weren’t familiar with this TV series. WE ARE NOW! And we are watching it!

Lin Touching One of the Stones of Stenness
Lin Touching One of the Stones of Stenness–A Trip Back??

The Scots are very proud of their famous poets and authors: Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns. I found this poem on the trip and shared it with the group.

Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone


Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that's gone!

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

For “The Outlander” fans, you hear these words every episode in the introduction! Interesting! At that time, I did not know when I shared the poem!


I have stories to tell of our wonderful trip and my newfound homeland. So, as you know, traveling with me can be an adventure, so be prepared for some fun-filled tales coming up in my next posts.

Have you ever been to Scotland? Any of the places identified above? Did you love it? Are you an “Outlander” fan?

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Costa Rica · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Spain · Travel

World Explorer—Why I do it!

World traveler

World exploring and its wonders! Souvenirs, pictures, reminisces of fun-filled travels remind me daily of my experiences in this big beautiful world. Because of the pandemic, we canceled our travel plans for later in 2020 and have nothing planned for 2021. So today, I wondered why I love to travel so much. The packing and planning put many people off, but I enjoy every part of a trip.

I grew up in a small rural ranching community fifty miles from the nearest doctor and grocery store. I lived in a small town though, but the world out there seemed so big and unattainable, beyond the prairies and canyons of southeastern Colorado. Granddad Horner subscribed to the National Geographic magazine, and I thumbed through each issue, mesmerized by that world out there and its mysteries. I blushed at the foreign women’s bare chests, yet yearned to see that world.

Granddad and Grandma Horner took annual vacations touring the United States, and I relished their slide show of pictures from places I dreamed about in the United States—the Grand Canyon, Bullhead City and so much more.

My dad, a high school graduate and world thinker, read voraciously and kept educated about world matters so much so I gave him a globe for Christmas one year so he could find that faraway country he’d read about.

Little girl pointing at a world globe
Little girl holding index finger on Earth globe

So, I inherited a large worldview, bigger than Colorado, bigger than the United States. My first husband and I discovered Mexico: Mazatlán and the Yucatan peninsula in the 70s, when tourist hadn’t discovered both areas yet. When I saw my first Mayan Indian ruin, I felt captivated by the mystery, and I was hooked.

After we divorced, I traveled with a girlfriend back to the Yucatan peninsula to see many more Mayan Indian ruins and then on to Tikal in Guatemala, the Mecca of Mayan Indian ruins to me.

Then in 1999, Mom and I took our first European trip to do an Eastern Europe tour, basically to find her lost grandfather who had immigrated into the United States, but we had no record of his entrance here. That trip opened me up to a larger world—the wonders of eastern Europe with so many historical sites and cities.

In Berlin, we looked in a phone book for Mom’s granddad’s last name, Ulbig, and found several names listed. Neither of us spoke enough German to call any of our possible relatives. So, we tore that page out of the phone book, and that became Mom’s favorite souvenir of our trip. I cried during our tour of Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp, a horrible example of man’s inhumanity against man. I will never forget that sight.

In 2001, my third husband and I drove the Can-American highway in our RV to Alaska. What an adventure that was! We saw Denali, Alaska’s tallest mountain, usually shrouded in clouds. We took a small airplane ride up to a glacier and walked around on it, surrounded by absolute white.

During our years together, we toured the United States in an RV, dancing and sightseeing all over the United States. We went up the west coast in 2003, promoting a national festival. We traveled to the Midwest and east—so many adventures.

In 2007, I joined the cruising world doing an inside passage tour to Alaska on a square dance cruise. I feel in love with cruising.

My present husband and I love to travel and see the world. We have taken several cruises—what a relaxing vacation they are. On one, we went through the Panama Canal and marveled at that amazing engineering feat.

In 2017, we traveled to England and Ireland. Lin drove in both countries and we had a delightful time. In Ireland, we saw the Cliffs of Moher, enjoyed dancing in Irish pubs and enjoyed staying in bed and breakfasts. While visiting England, we based ourselves in London, alternating between a tour one day and a free day the next. In London, we visited the British Museum, realizing we could have spend days there. We saw Stonehenge on a tour but were so rushed; I didn’t buy one souvenir there. We saw a Broadway play, Les Misérables, on the West End, and Lin vowed never to attend a play in the USA again since the production was so outstanding.

In January 2020, we went to Costa Rica with my husband, Lin’s ex-wife who is Costa Rican. The group was small, only twelve! She knew everyone in the group; we knew her, her husband and one other couple. Lin had told me repeatedly he wanted me to see Costa Rica. We had stopped at a Costa Rican port on one of our cruises, but his ex-wife shuddered when he told her where. She said it wasn’t a great example of Costa Rica. On our tour with her, we saw animals galore, ate delicious food and saw many gorgeous sites. I saw a quetzal bird in the jungle, a bird I had heard about thirty years before on the Yucatan peninsula.

At the end of February 2020, we went to Spain with twelve square dance friends and fell in love with Spain. We saw several major Spanish cities, starting in Barcelona and ending up in Madrid. We traveled through Don Quixote land, and I could see him mounted on his trusty stead, Rocinante, a long side his trusty companion, Sancho Panza.

So why do I enjoy traveling so much? I love seeing that world Granddad and Dad introduced me to so many years ago. When I stand at a site like Strafford-on-the Avon, Shakespeare’s home, I can’t believe this little country girl is there. The tour guide hugged me there as I cried. She remarked, “I wish all people responded like you.”

In my travels, the big world has shrunk, because I now know people in Scotland, Ireland and England. We sat and chatted, and I realized we have the same hopes and dreams—we’re really all the same.

In March of this year, Lin got a little cabin fever and had received several brochures promoting cruises next year. So, we signed up for two cruises in 2022 and one for 2023. The first one next year is a Transatlantic cruise going from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Barcelona, Spain. Our next one goes through the Mediterranean. And in 2023, we travel to Japan.

In conclusion, I travel to discover what’s out there—my dad used to look at a side dirt road going up over a hill and out of view. He always commented, “I wonder where that goes!” Obviously, I inherited his wanderlust, but he never traveled outside the United States, so I do it for him.

Do you like to travel? What is your favorite travel memory? Why do you travel? (Scroll down below to make a comment!)

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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 6 – Greenock & Stirling Castle–Unicorns Everywhere!

My musings about our 12-day British Isle cruise is a joyful time. As I look back at the pictures and the journal I kept, I get to relive this wonderful trip all over again. I hope you enjoy this sixth day of our adventure!

On July 26, we slept in a little and had breakfast in Windows, one of the specialty restaurants, and had Salmon Benedict, sitting by the windows enjoying the ocean side view.

The View on Deck 12

After breakfast, we went to Deck 7 and took pictures, then up to Deck 12 and took more pictures—clouds hanging over the hills! The ship moved inward to the dock with land on both sides and a wonderful morning of picture taking. We docked at about noon.

My stomach flared up in before we left and didn’t feel good all day—I just continued!

We were welcomed by a bagpiper and this big Scottish friend. Also we laughed at the welcome sign at the terminal at the door of the terminal—what fun!

Lin Shopping to Add to His Kilt Outfit!

The terminal had great shops and we left the ship early enough to have time to shop before our excursion. Lin added to his kilt outfit: a beautiful black vest, white shirt and long white socks. I joined the shopping spree and bought a beautiful jewelry set made of heatherwood: a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Lin ran our purchases back to the ship and we left.

We boarded our bus to drive to Stirling Castle, our excursion for the day. Ian, our guide, shared his Scottish knowledge for one and half hour—lots of information! We drove through Glasgow, a city’s name I knew from an Abba song, “Super Trouper!”

Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusivecrag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times.

The castle was well-worth the wait! We toured several spectacular areas inside the castle with numerous fireplaces & decorative unicorn shields and/or tapestries over the fireplaces.

We craned our necks to see amazing ceilings with wooden carvings.

We went through the Great Kitchens with life-sized figurines working at their tasks, and a beautiful green view of the surrounding area. The cloud-covered day added to the mystique.

We wandered around the walkaway at the top of the castle, seeing the cemetery near by and the grand vista of the area!

Lin and I in Queen Anne’s Garden

My favorite part was Queen Anne’s garden. We wore our 2020 New Mexico Square and Round Dance Association Festival t-shirts and took pictures in the garden. The array of flowers was beautiful!

We crammed as much as possible into the allotted time at the castle: Chapel Royal, the Great Kitchens and walking around a walkway around the top of the castle.

So when I got to the gift shop, it was closed. I opened the door and begged the clerk to let me in for just a few minutes. She reluctantly agreed, so I ran through the shop and ended up buying a small unicorn—in memory of all the unicorns displayed throughout the castle!

Bridge at Glasgow, Scotland

The ride home through Glasgow was delightful, and I took a great picture crossing a bridge there. When we returned to the terminal, we checked email. Once we boarded the ship, we ate dinner quickly, so we could see the musical production in the Stardust Theater, “Rockin Nights,” a lively tradition to Soul music!

We chalked up another delightful day in Scotland, wandering around a lovely castle, loving the mysterious unicorn interest at Stirling castle and admiring beautiful wooden carved ceilings!

Have you ever had a castle experience? Do you get a sense of history when you step into a castle? Then add unicorns to it! What an experience!

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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 5 – Kirkwall & Orkney Islands – A Serendipitous Day!

Surprised cute woman
This Serendipitous Day Surprised Me!


Day 5 turned out to be a serendipitous day, but it’s beginning was harsh! Up at 4:45 AM because of our early excursion, I had trouble sleeping. We received a text from AT&T the night before warning us of a device usage on the cruise that had already exceeded $100. The text also had a phone number to call at no charge, so I did in a panic.

I talked to Josh from AT&T, and he tried to sell us a cruise package. He assured us there would be no charge after I explained that it was a mistake. Somehow my husband, Lin’s iPad had Airplane mode turned off. Also, LIn had trouble getting on the network on the cruise ship. Apparently, he thought he was on the cruise ship network, and he was using AT&T’s data. After thinking about it, I’m pretty sure the network tech was the culprit because he took Lin’s iPad away from him and was fiddling with it trying to get it to go online. It was after that the charges started!

We’ve all heard horror stories of travelers who had gigantic phone charges. When we traveled to Ireland and England in 2017, Lin found AT&T’s International Day Pass plan, and we activated it on my phone then. It’s a great plan: $10 for a 24-hour period of unlimited calling and texting. I used it sparingly and it was great—exactly what they said.

So, for this trip, we set it up on my phone again before we left. We hadn’t used it yet on this cruise, so this whole problem with the charges seemed crazy to me. My stomach flared up in the midst of this, but I was able let it go—I didn’t want this to ruin our trip!

We got ready and took our tour stuff to breakfast, planning to leave from there, and was at the Stardust theater at 6:45 AM. The ship docked at 7:00 AM and would be leaving early in the afternoon at 1:00 PM. The Norwegian travel agent entertained us with fun-filled activities while we waited. Our cruise ship was docked away from land, so we caught the first tender available.


Cattle Graze with the Ocean in the Background
Cattle Grazed with the Ocean in the Background

Seated in the back of the bus, we traveled through checker board farm land so rich and green! As I looked at all the green pastures and abundance of water, my ranching background kicked in and I marveled at it. Our southeastern Colorado family ranch has a horrible water shortage right now with all our reservoirs empty!

Churchill Barrier

As our travels continued, we passed over the Churchill Barrier. Our guide told us that the Barrier was built because of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in 1939.

“Four barriers were built during the Second World War to protect the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow, the home of the Royal Navy during the conflict, from enemy attacks. Construction of the causeways was ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill after the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in October 1939 by a German U-boat.”

Water surrounded us as we traveled through this chain of islands—water, water, everywhere! Cattle and sheep fed in green fields.

Catholic Chapel on Lamb Holm Island

Our first stop on our tour was a picturesque Catholic chapel.

“The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war captured in North Africa, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. It was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. It is now a popular tourist attraction,”

As always, we didn’t have enough time to linger, but the inside of this chapel took my breath away. Admiring the ingenuity of these prisoners to use what they had available, they used a Quonset hut for the building, light holders made out of corn beef tins, and the baptismal font created from the inside of a car exhaust.

From there we traveled to St. Margaret’s Hope.

St Margaret’s Hope is a town in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland. It is known locally as “The Hope” or “The Hup”. With a population of about 550, it is Orkney’s third largest settlement. . .”

I had a delightful time shopping there at a Craft Workshop, buying a wool/cashmere blend yarn. I love to knit and plan on making something beautiful out of this. Lin found the local ice cream shop.

It was back to Kirkwall on the bus, and the line for the tenders to get back to our cruise ship was long, so I immediately got in line. We were leaving at 1:00 PM, and I didn’t want to be one of the casualties of not managing our time appropriately and getting left behind. Lin always pushes it to the limit, so he shopped and found a beautiful new Scottish beret. Our trip back to the cruise ship on the tender was pleasant and we were back on time!


We ate a quick lunch and napped the afternoon away, sleeping four hours! Later, we ate dinner up on Deck 12 at Raffles because I needed a small meal–the restaurants served such big meals. Then we gambled in the casino our obligatory $20 limit, but I left the slots with $15! After that, we went to the 9:30 PM Danielle Williams show, a woman singer, and it was great.

What a delightful day we had in a remote area of Scotland where peaceful rural life was the norm. The serendipities of the day surprised me: the chapel so loved by the Italian prisoners of war and a lovely small village so welcoming and warm.

Have you ever had a serendipitous day! on a trip? What was it? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life.

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Scotland · Travel

Day 4 – Inverness, Cawdor Castle & Loch Lomond: A Day of Intrigue and Mystery

            Lin and I woke up to rain on July 24, 2019, day four on our British Isle cruise and visit to Scotland. We docked at Invergordon. Lin had created a weather spreadsheet before we left and the prediction for most of our trip was RAIN, so here we were! But after our showers and breakfast, it cleared and proved to be a beautiful, cloudy day.

Farms Along the River Ness

            We caught our tour bus and met our tour guide, John, a very knowledgeable man who shared his wisdom of Scotland and the Scottish Highlands. He described Cromarty Firth, the Black Isle, as we traveled through the countryside. The patchwork green fields fascinated me with checker board farm land and beautiful rock houses, rolling hills and green for miles. Sheep grazed in the fields and there was recently mowed hay. I love the green of Scotland. We headed to our first stop, Cawdor Castle.

            Cawdor Castle is unique as a castle in Great Britain because the government doesn’t own it.

“Originally a property of the Calder family, it passed to the Campbells in the 16th century. It remains in Campbell ownership, and is now home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor, stepmother of Colin Campbell, 7th Earl Cawdor. “

John, our tour guide, called her “Angelica.” In fact, John and some people on our tour saw her. She funds Cawdor Castle herself and from revenue the castle brings in.

Famous Hawthorn Tree in the castle

            Intrigue and mystery permeated Cawdor castle with its rich story of how it was built:

The legendary tale says that the Thane of Cawdor, who had a small castle about a mile away, decided to build a new, stronger tower. Visited by an oracle in his dream who instructed him to load a chest of gold onto the back of a donkey. The spot where the animal rested would be a safe haven to build a Castle for his family. Finally resting at the foot of a Hawthorn Tree, the Thane built his tower. The tree exists to this day, standing at the heart of Cawdor Castle.

            The major claim to fame for Cawdor Castle is the reference in Shakespeare’s play, MacBeth

“The name of Cawdor still connects the castle to Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. However, the story portrayed by Shakespeare takes extensive liberties with history. In the play, Shakespeare has three witches foretell that Macbeth, then Thane of Glamis, would become Thane of Cawdor and King thereafter. Duncan almost immediately makes Macbeth Thane of Cawdor, after which Macbeth and his Lady plot the murder of Duncan in order to fulfil the prophecy. Duncan is killed in his sleep, at Macbeth’s castle in Inverness, an act that leads to Macbeth’s ultimate downfall.
The historical King Macbeth ruled Scotland from 1040 to 1057, after his forces killed King Duncan I in battle near Elgin. Macbeth was never Thane of Cawdor, this being an invention of the 15th-century writer Hector Boece. Moreover, Cawdor Castle did not exist during the lifetimes of Macbeth or Duncan, and it is never explicitly mentioned in the play. The 5th Earl Cawdor is quoted as saying, “I wish the Bard had never written his damned play!”

Motto over the Entry Way

            Any time I stand outside a castle, I feel overwhelmed with the rock work, size and history of it—Cawdor castle was no exception. The motto, Be Mindful, hung over the entryway to the castle and set the tone for the place.

Living room in the castle

Because this castle is actually a home, the inside felt comfortable and lived in. Bright green and blue Highland Tartan rugs ran throughout it. Huge tapestries hung on all the walls that didn’t have paintings on them.

            Lin and I enjoyed the famous gardens at Cawdor castle but ran out of time, not getting to spend any leisure time there–one of the downfalls of being on a tour.

            In our drive to Loc Lomond, we drove by the battleground of the Battle of Culloden where red and blue flags still wave to identify the two forces that met that day. John gave us a rousing description of this famous battle.

The Battle of Culloden (/kəˈlɒdən/;[3] Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

            I had been looking forward to seeing Loch Lomond all day–of course to the Loch Ness monster! The weather held out with beautiful sunshine overhead and rain clouds hovering at the far end of the lake. It’s a big lake! Of course, I strained my eyes for any trace of Nessie—I was sure I saw her or at least a part of her!

            Back on the bus, we traveled through the city of Inverness at the end of our tour and went by the Tomnahurich Cemetery. Inverness means “Mouth of the River Ness.”

Scottish Highland Bull

As the daughter of a Hereford cattle rancher, all day I had been looking for the shaggy red-haired Scottish Highland cattle in the fields, and as our day neared the end, we saw a bull in a pasture—not up close and personal, but I did get to see one!

From there we returned to Invergordon, and I loved John’s parting words to us, “Hasty back!” Lin and I shopped around town. We found an ice cream shop with free Wifi, so we checked our email and had ice cream. It was fascinating to watch the locals gather in this little shop and listen to them share their news–a true neighborhood gathering spot! We bought souvenirs and returned to the ship.

Bagpipes and Drums Sent Us Off

A bagpipe and drum group sent us off! What a great day we had in Scotland!

When we got onboard, we decided to go directly to the Garden Room for dinner, not thinking about the baseball cap I was wearing. This is one of the nicer complimentary restaurants onboard, so they forced me to remove my hat. It certainly was a bad hair day after wearing a hat all day, but I decided it didn’t matter.  I patted down my hair and was seated. After dinner, we saw the “World Beat” show in the Stardust theater with lots of singing and dancing. It was an exceptional show.

We showered and got to bed early because we had an early departure the next day for our excursion to Kirkwall.

Have you ever visited a castle? Strained to see the Loc Ness monster? Traveled to Scotland? Share your comments with me. I’d love to hear about your trip!

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