Dalhousie Castle

Hi Friends,

I have missed you! I’ve been on a little blogging break and now I feel refreshed and ready to get back into the groove. I think it’s really important to do that every once in awhile. Do you feel that way too?

Reader, today I would like to take you to Dalhousie, a 13th/15th century castle that sits about eight miles to the southeast of Edinburgh, Scotland, near the town of Bonnyrigg.

Mr. C and I had the pleasure of visiting Dalhousie in the spring of 2014. While we did not spend the night in this beautiful castle hotel/spa, we did dine in The Dungeon Restaurant.  What a marvelous experience!

Our evening commenced in the Library (I feel like this should be said with a posh British accent) where we were served with an apéritif.  You just finished that sentence with an accent, didn’t you? That makes me laugh. It was all so elegant and sophisticated.  And a bit strange. It just so happened that there was a very large wedding party ‘meet & greet’ type of situation taking place and Mr. C and I appeared to be the only people in that room not affiliated with the group. Ever the introverts, we were all too grateful to discover an empty pair of leather chairs by the window where we could inconspicuously sip our drinks and wait to be called to dinner.  We laughed at ourselves and said that if we had been anyone else (you know, like normal people), we would have probably gotten a kick out of mingling with the group of strangers.  I had the feeling that some in the wedding party may have felt awkward as well, as people would occasionally glance our way as if trying to work out in their minds whether they were supposed to know us or not.  Were we their long lost relatives from the Americas?  Were we wedding crashers?  Were we members of the British Royal household?  Just kidding.  No, I suspect that perhaps they were just wondering who the ‘pretentious’, unsocial couple in the corner were!  

Eventually, a sweet woman – bolstered by lots of wine I had imagined –  made her way over to us and inquired whether we were with the bride or the groom.  She introduced herself as the groom’s mother.  We explained that we were there for dinner and after a pleasant chat, she offered to snap our photo.  Thankfully, not long after, we were called to dinner. Whew!  Further awkwardness averted.

Dinner at The Dungeon was one of those experiences that you don’t forget. Dark, candle-lit, intimate, and in the coolest setting imaginable, our meal began with an amouse-bouche, followed by appetizers, main entrees, and finally, dessert. Every course was prepared with creativity, detail, and care. It was all so unbelievably delicious! We still talk about that meal and the bottle of South African wine that we drank that night.

Dinner in the ancient barrel-vaulted dungeon.
Appetizer course: rabbit
My handsome Mr. C.

Dalhousie Castle has an impressive history that spans more than eight-hundred years. According to dalhousiecastle.co.uk, “An old account claims that Simundus de Ramesia, a freeman, followed King David 1st to Scotland from Ramsay, a Huntingdonshire village, in about 1140 and was the founder of the line and the first to have land at Dalwolsey.”

The castle was first constructed by the Ramsays in the late 13th century, however, all that remains of the original structure are the thick foundation walls and the vaults. Also gone is the drawbridge and the deep, dry moat. Much of what we see today was built around 1450 from red stone that was quarried from the close-by River Esk. Additions and extensions were added to the castle over the following years.

Year after year, century after century, Dalhousie passed through the Ramsay line. In fact, it is said that the Ramsays retained possession of Dalhousie Castle longer than any other castle owners in Scotland! From 1925 through the early 1950’s, Dalhousie was used as a private boarding school. And after a period of being uninhabited, the castle was finally converted into a hotel in 1972.

Timeline, Circa 1500: “Origin of the ‘Grey Lady’, an apparition of a Lady Catherine, a mistress of one of the Ramsay lairds. She was locked up in one of the Castle turrets, where she perished. Her ghost has been seen on the stairs and in the dungeons.” -dalhousiecastle.co.uk

As you can probably tell by the condition of the castle, it seems to have fared quite well through the many tumultuous years of conflict between Scotland and England. Though captured by the English in the fourteenth century, Sir Alexander Ramsay managed to retake it in 1342. And in 1400, Dalhousie proved its strength when it withstood a six-month siege initiated by King Henry IV of England. Even Oliver Cromwell (ask me sometime what Mr. C calls him – haha) had his hands on Dalhousie when he moved in and used it as a base for his invasion of Scotland in 1648. Other notable visitors of the castle include King Edward I of England, King James VI of Scotland, and Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.

Today as a luxury hotel, Dalhousie Castle offers its guests twenty-nine rooms from which to choose, two restaurants, and a spa that offers everything from facial yoga and flat belly contours to mani/pedis to coconut massage. I bet ol’ Ollie Cromwell never got to do THAT when he was there!

Thanks for stopping by today, my friends. I hope you enjoyed our visit to Dalhousie. I appreciate you and I’ll see you again soon!

Cheers,


“O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair”: A Poem by Robert Burns (and one of my personal favorites)

“O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair”, by Scottish poet Robert Burns

O were my love yon Lilac fair,
Wi’ purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.

O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa’;
And I myself a drap o’ dew,
Into her bonie breast to fa’!
O there, beyond expression blest,
I’d feast on beauty a’ the night;
Seal’d on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
Till fley’d awa by Phoebus’ light!

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

XOXO


Burns Night Recipe: Cock-A-Leekie Soup


Hey friends!

Every year on January 25, Scots (and those who have plaid hearts), come together to celebrate the life and literary works of Scotland’s beloved poet, Robert Burns. Burns Night as it is called, is a night for making merry. Though celebrations vary among its participants, generally it’s a night to gather with family and friends to eat traditional Scottish fare, to be entertained by all things Burns, and of course, to drink whisky! At more formal occasions, the evening commences with the joining of hands as everyone sings ‘Auld Lang Syne’. Mr. C and I celebrate our own version of Burns Night, but to celebrate this event IN Scotland is definitely one of my bucket list dreams.

*You may click on the links embedded above if you are interested in reading my previous posts about Robert Burns.*

The traditional fare on Burns Night is usually some sort of soup (such as cock-a-leekie), haggis, neeps, tatties, and something sweet (like cranachan or clootie dumpling). Today, I would like to share with you my recipe for cock-a-leekie soup. I know it’s a funny sounding name, but really it’s just chicken soup with leeks. 🙂 The addition of allspice really takes the taste up a notch. Enjoy it on Burns Night or on any other occasion. It’s utterly delicious!

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St. Margaret’s Chapel

Hello friends,

Do you ever feel like the gears in your brain get stuck? Seriously, I have been trying to put words to paper for four solid days and I haven’t been able to get past ‘hello’! Maybe it has something to do with the elephant sitting on my left sinus cavity. Anyway, if today’s post stinks, you will know why! 😀

“And all I could say was, “hello”. –An Affair to Remember, 1957

Today we’re going to take a quick look at the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. This is St. Margaret’s Chapel, located at Edinburgh Castle.

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Pilrig House

Hello, my friends. A very happy new year to you. I hope your 2019 has gotten off to a jolly good start!

Today I would like to take you to a place in Scotland that is extra special to me. I know, I know…you think that I feel that way about every place in Scotland! Haha, you know me too well, dear reader. And ’tis true, I suppose. But this place really does put a skip in my plaid heart.

Isn’t is lovely? This is Pilrig House, a historic Scottish townhouse located in Edinburgh, next to the burgh of Leith. It is theorized that the name ‘Pilrig’ may have derived from the former ‘Peilrig’ and ‘Pellryge’ (rig=ridge), where a peel tower stood in the 15thcentury. According to pilrighouse.com, “stonework in the basement walls suggests the remains of a peel tower”. For a newby history geek like me, that is fascinating.

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Merry Christmas!

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.

∼From “Marmion”, by Sir Walter Scott

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May your Christmas bring joy to your hearts and happiness to your homes.  Love,  peace, and God’s blessings to all.

XOXO,

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And this is the testimony:  that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.           

∼1 John 5:11

 

*star photo courtesy of Pexels; popcorn photo courtesy of Pixabay