A Surprise at Every Turn

Whether you’re traveling through Scotland on a dual carriageway (divided highway) or on a single track road (yes, they really are only wide enough for a single car), you will discover that there is no shortage of beautiful, interesting, and unique surprises at every turn.

I snapped this photo on the morning that Mr. C and I arrived in Scotland a few weeks ago. We were heading north on the A9 (on our way from Glasgow Airport to our rental near Inverness) when I suddenly spotted this beautiful castle looking structure on the right. Mr. C quickly rolled down his window and I somehow managed to capture the shot from my side of the car, at some 70 mph – a testament to the quality of my camera!

After doing some sleuthing, I think I finally figured out what this building is. I believe (someone please correct me if I am wrong) that this is Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry, a 19th century hotel set against the gorgeous slopes of Ben Vrackie.

See? A surprise at every turn.

Auchindoun Castle

Hi friends,

What’s new in your corner of the world? It’s hard to believe that a week ago yesterday I was sitting on a crappy, cramped Boeing 757, heading home from two amazing weeks in Scotland. Why we humans consent to getting into a metal tube that shoots us through the air at 500 miles per hour and at some 34,000 feet above the ground is beyond me. Ohhhh, I know why. It’s because our love for the people and places that await us far outweigh any of the risks. And for Scotland (in the words of Adele), I’m willing to take the risk.

Today I would like to share with you one of my favorites castles on my ever expanding list. This is Auchindoun, a 15th century treasure that lies near Dufftown, in Moray.

I have told you before that I love all castles. Never let a castle go to waste, I say! But I have an extra special affinity for the lonely, romantic ruins that time has all but forgotten. Thankfully Auchindoun isn’t entirely forsaken, as it is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland. I’d wager, though, that only a tiny number of tourists ever find their way to this treasure and I have a hunch that many Scots aren’t familiar with it either. It feels like a secret that I was lucky enough to learn. And now you know it too.

Are you ready to explore? You’ll need a good pair of comfy, weather resistant walking shoes. It is quite a hike from where you park at the end of the road and you may have the feeling you are trespassing on a farmer’s land. It’s okay, you’re not. Trust, me, friend. The view from the hill that the castle sits upon is worth every single step you’ll take.

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Tantallon Castle

Tantallon Castle in a word:

Badass.

Seriously. Mr. C and I didn’t realize just how imposing a structure Tantallon was until we had parked the car and made the walk toward the castle grounds. The closer we got, the more Tantallon grew. And grew. And grew! By the time we had reached the building, it’s safe to say we were both quite dumbfounded by the formidable fortress staring back at us.

That little black line is me standing in front of Tantallon Castle’s Mid Tower and massive curtain wall. The ruined tower on the left is the Douglas Tower. Originally seven stories high, it served as the earl’s private residence. The East Tower sits to the far right and served as lodging for household staff and guests.
Though a large, open space today, the area in front of the castle would have been a place of much activity. There would have been all manner of structures essential to life in the castle, such as bakehouses, brewhouses, workshops, and stables.
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My Plaid Heart In England: Lindisfarne Castle

Hey guys! Happy Wednesday to you. And happy first day of spring!

Today’s trip is going to take us through beautiful southeast Scotland and across the border into neighboring England. We won’t be going too far away from Scotland mind you, only about seventeen miles. We will be leaving the mainland, however. Don’t worry, you won’t need a lifejacket. A long causeway will lead us to our destination.

Intrigued? Grab your things because today we are headed to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (or simply Holy Island) to see Lindisfarne Castle.

It is very important to check the tide schedule before you visit Holy Island. Twice daily, the North Sea tide comes in, making the causeway to the island inaccessible.

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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!

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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! ūüėÄ

“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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My Plaid Heart In the West Indies: Castillo de San Felipe del Morro

Greetings!  How is everyone?  My goodness, can you all believe there are only 14 days until Christmas?  How the days do fly by.

Friends, today I would like to share something a little different with you.  The day after Thanksgiving, Mr. C and I along with his parents, took a Holland America cruise to the Eastern Caribbean.  It was a new experience for me on two counts.  First, because I had never been on a cruise.  Second, because I had never traveled farther south than Houston, Texas or the Florida Panhandle.

Our journey began in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where we embarked on our seven-day sea adventure. We sailed first to Turks & Caicos, then to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and finally, to the Bahamas where we spent a day on the cruise line’s gorgeous private island, Half Moon Cay. ¬†Then it was back to port in Florida, another great vacation in the books.

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Docked for the day at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

One of the greatest highlights from our trip was our stop in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. ¬†I had done a little research beforehand and knew that if I only had time to see one thing while I was there that it would be the 16th century fort, Castillo de San Felipe del Morro (or simply, El Morro). ¬†After all, you guys know I’d never let a good castle go to waste!

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Bass Rock

Hello, my friends. ¬†How are you guys today? ¬†I’ve missed you. ¬†I have been away on holiday with Mr. C and his parents, off the grid and making memories. ¬†But I’m back now, ready to catch up on all the things you’ve been up to and eager to share some of the best moments from our trip. ¬†For today, though, I’d like to show you a tiny island located in the outer part of Scotland’s Firth of Forth, where the river meets the North Sea. ¬†This island is called Bass Rock and it is a beast of a thing!

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Rising to a height of more than 300 feet, the rocky island is a steep-sided volcanic plug that dates to the Carboniferous Age – arising a whopping 300+ million years ago. ¬†At a distance, the surface of the rock can appear white, almost as if covered in a dusting of snow. ¬†This is because of the presence of the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets. ¬†In fact, in the peak of their nesting season, it is estimated that more than 150,000 of these sea birds call Bass Rock home!

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