Lens-Artists Challenge: Leading Lines

Hello there, friends. Is everyone having a good day?

It’s photo challenge time again and this week it comes from Tina at Travels and Trifles. Tina has challenged us to post photos with ‘leading lines’. A compositional element of photography, “leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be helpful for creating depth as well.” – Tina

I really had a good time with this one. I don’t know if I got it right in every photo, but it definitely challenged me and allowed me to look at my photos in a different light. Hope you enjoy my offerings for this week.

Possibly my favorite photo that I took on our last trip, this shot was snapped on the grounds at Rait Castle, located near Inverness, Scotland.

Photo taken (I think) on the B851, a funky, single-track road, near Farr, Scotland.  

This photo was rather unremarkable to me until I changed it to black and white.  At the end of the road is Kildrummy Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Photo of the Forth Bridge in South Queensferry, Scotland.

Photo taken in beautiful Milton Woods near Farr, Scotland.

In Inverness, Scotland.  You can see the Greig Street Bridge in the distance.

Mr. C striking a pose in front of the doorway to Dirleton Castle in East Lothian, Scotland.

And now for something outside of Scotland…our cruise ship as it pulled into port in Puerto Rico.

On beautiful Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

And last, Mr. C’s parents, hand-in-hand, walking back to our cruise ship after a day of exploring.  Awww 🙂

If you would like to join in the weekly challenges, click here for information on what to do.

Have a fabulous week, friends. See ya again soon.

Cheers,

My Mouth Got Jammed

My mouth got jammed.

Jammed with ginger, that is!

So, yep. It’s begun. For Christmas, I gifted Mr. C with a membership to the U.S. chapter of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS). Seriously, who am I kidding. It was a gift to myself disguised as a gift for him. Even he knows that, haha.

Our first experience with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society was back in 2014. Mr. C and I had rented an apartment in Pilrig House in Edinburgh for two weeks and, as it happened, the rental came with a membership to the SMWS. It meant that while in Scotland, we could visit the members’ rooms as much as we wanted and even purchase bottles to take home. It was fab!

Mr. C enjoying a dram.

Currently, there are three SMWS Members’ Rooms. One is located in London and the other two are in Scotland; in Edinburgh and Leith. Mr. C and I visited the one called ‘The Vaults’ in Leith, the first of the Society locations. The historic building dates back to the 18th century and was originally used as a wine warehouse.

The Vaults, Leith

I recently learned that a new venue is being established in Glasgow City Center at the end of this month. I have a feeling Mr. C and I will be stopping in for a bottle or two after arriving at the airport on our upcoming trip!

Although there is not an official Scotch Malt Whisky Society venue here in the States, there are various official members’ sponsored events in some of our larger cities, such as Boston, Atlanta, Orlando, and New York. Mr. C and I don’t happen to live near any of the cities where these events are held, but maybe one day we’ll have the chance to attend one.

So what is the big deal about the Scotch Malt Whisky Society? Let me explain. Most whiskies that are sold in stores are the product of the blending of multiple barrels of differing ages from a distillery warehouse. A precise formula is applied to every bottling, resulting in consistency from year to year. So, for example, if you were to compare a Glenlivet 12 year old that was bottled this year versus one that was bottled five years ago, they would taste the same.

What makes the SMWS unique is that every expression offered comes from a single barrel, bottled unfiltered and at cask strength. The barrels are hand selected by the SMWS tasting panel and purchased for bottling to be sold to society members. Each barrel produces a limited number of bottles and, in fact, the longer a whisky has been in a barrel, the less it will yield (a phenomenon called the “angel’s share”). Whiskies offered by the SMWS are the ‘best of the best’; rare and exceptional in every way. I used to think premium whiskies bought retail were amazing. Friends, believe me, they aren’t even in the same league as a SMWS whisky. I’m not sure they are even from the same planet!

SMWS History:

“The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was founded in 1983 by a gentleman named Pip Hills, an avid whisky fan living in Edinburgh. Just a few years prior in the late 1970’s, Pip embarked on a trip to the Scottish Highlands where he visited a small, family-owned distillery. During his visit, he was given the opportunity to taste several whiskies in the back of a dark, damp warehouse. What happened next would change his life and the lives of many to come. The pure, undiluted and unfiltered whisky drawn from the cask was unlike anything Pip had ever experienced, far more thrilling and delicious than the standard whisky sold in his local shop.  

Excited by this epiphany moment, Pip decided to purchase the entire cask from the distillery. He strapped the cask to his car and hauled it back to his home in Edinburgh, where it was shared among his friends. After tasting the whisky straight from the cask, Pip’s friends were equally enthused by just how remarkable the raw, unfiltered spirit was. It was from that moment that they decided to pool their funds together to acquire another cask, and another. This experience of acquiring different casks and exploring the varying flavours that Scotch whisky has to offer served as the foundation for what would soon become The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. ” –The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Another interesting thing to note is that the whiskies purchased by the Society are not labeled with the name of the distillery from which they came. Instead, each whisky is given a creative name and a code. (I am reminded of the first bottle we purchased in 2014, humorously called, “Tired Vampire Gets a Massage”. Yes, we kept the bottle.) The codes that are assigned to the bottles indicate from which distillery it came and from which barrel. So, for example: the bottle in the photo at the top, Jammed with ginger, has code 113.21. Number 113 is telling us that it came from Braes of Glenlivet, a Speyside distillery, and number 21 tells us that it is the 21st barrel that has been purchased from this distillery. Isn’t that neat?

I am so thrilled that Mr. C and I are now part of the nearly 30,000 international members of the SMWS. It is a blast to peruse the web site to see the monthly selections and receiving that bottle in the mail is like Christmas all over again. It truly is the gift that is going to keep on giving the whole year through.

Cheers,

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Special Spot Shots

Hi everyone,

For the first photo challenge of 2020, Leya has asked us to share a special spot shot; that is, a place that we, individually, regard as special. I could actually argue that my entire blog fits that category, haha! Scotland is, after all, my heart and soul. I decided today, though, to step out of the Scottish box and share with you another place that is really meaningful to me. It’s a place that I wish I could visit much more often, but when I do have the chance, I never feel more relaxed or in awe of God’s majesty.

I am speaking of the Florida Panhandle. Specifically, the area dubbed the Emerald Coast, a one-hundred mile stretch of pristine beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Renowned for its emerald green waters and white-as-snow beaches, I think it is one of the prettiest places on earth.

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Scotland’s Cup of Friendship

Hello and Happy New Year to you! I hope this first day of the bright, shiny new calendar year – holy shiitake, new decade! – finds each of you well (and without too terrible a headache). 🙂

What sorts of celebrations did you engage in last night? Mr. C and I chose to ring in the year quietly at home, just us and our three doggies. Neither of us are big on crowds (though speaking for myself, I might be willing to put that sentiment aside if I ever have the chance to take part in one of the many Hogmanay festivals across Scotland. Stonehaven Fire Festival anyone?) Anyway, just because we stayed in doesn’t mean we didn’t have a great time. Mr. C made delicious Oysters Rockefeller to accompany our other fun, festive foods, we enjoyed a nice bottle of champagne, watched a bit of the Times Square celebration on television, then capped it off at midnight with a cwtch (Welsh word for cuddle) and a whisky toast in our Scottish Quaich. A “kutch” and a “quake“. What more do you need to usher out the old and herald in the new?

So now that you have not one but two new vocabulary words to begin your year, I thought we would take a look at the latter of the two.

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“A Prayer for Christmas Eve” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dear Friends,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of my blog this past year. Our interactions on here have meant so much. I will end this year with a Christmas Eve prayer by the wonderful Robert Louis Stevenson. Have a very merry Christmas and I’ll see you all again in January!

Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Robert Louis Stevenson

xo,

“Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

On this shortest and darkest day of the year, I share with you these lovely words by poet Robert Frost.

“Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Happy Winter solstice, friends.  Blessings to you on this first winter’s night.

xo,

P.S. For my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, happy summer solstice to you!

Lens-Artists Challenge #75: Nostalgic

Hello all! I hope you are having/have had a terrific Tuesday.

This week’s photo challenge comes from Tina. She has encouraged us to depict something that evokes nostalgia. For my offering, I have chosen to highlight a few photos taken at Lauriston Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Recipe: Bridies

Hi, friends!

Mr. C and I had some big fun in the kitchen today. We made our first bridies. I must admit, I was a bit intimidated by the endeavor, mainly because I have zero experience in pastry making. I am a capable cook, but Mr. C is the real chef in the family. Thankfully with the efforts of the two of us, they turned out great!

What is a bridie? A bridie (also referred to as a Forfar Bridie because it is said to have originated in Forfar, Angus, Scotland) is a ‘D’ shaped pastry with a savory beef and onion filling. A bridie is similar to an English pasty (short ‘a’), however, it is made sans potatoes and has a lighter, flakier crust.

Introduced in the 1800’s, there are two stories of how bridies came to be. One story claims that they were originally made for weddings (the bride’s meal) and that the ‘D’ or horseshoe shape was meant for good luck. Another story says that they were made by a lady named Margaret Bridie who would sell them at market in Forfar. Either way, they are delicious!

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