Sailing Takes Me Away-A Morning Spent on the Firth of Forth

Hello again, my friends. Are you all having a nice weekend? I sure am. Just when my plaid heart thought it couldn’t physically handle another weekend of Virginia temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s, Mother Nature has finally thrown us a bone. It is GLORIOUS outside with early fall-like temps, lower humidity, and a gentle, cool breeze. It’s short-lived, though. Pity that the dreadful temperatures are set to return next week. Pity indeed.

In keeping with the aforementioned cool breeze, I’d like to invite you to come along with me today as we set sail on the brackish waters of the estuary that meets the North Sea – the Firth of Forth.

Four sailboats in the Firth of Forth.
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Lauriston Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland-Part 1

Hi, friends. How would you like to join me today for a stroll around the grounds of one of the prettiest castles in Scotland? Oh good, I’m so pleased! I promise that you are going to love it. Today we are in Edinburgh at the oh-so-lovely Lauriston Castle.

First, a quick history of the castle: Sir Archibald Napier built Lauriston’s tower house (front left) sometime around 1593, and the pretty Jacobean-style extension was added in 1827. Over the centuries, Lauriston Castle passed through many hands until it came into the possession of its final owners – William and Margaret Reid. The Reids acquired the property in 1902 and lived there until Mrs. Reid’s death in 1926.

Because the couple had no children, they left Lauriston to the city of Edinburgh under the condition that it be preserved unchanged. And so the promise was kept. The castle with the remarkable Edwardian interior, filled to the brim with their fine furniture and artwork, is now a museum maintained by the city. For a nominal fee, you can take a guided tour of this home, which remains exactly as it was in the couple’s day. The manicured grounds, with views over the Firth of Forth and a stunning Japanese garden, are a real bargain – free! Lauriston Castle is a true gem.

Front of Lauriston Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The tower house (left of door) was built sometime around 1593. The Jacobean-style extension was added in 1827.

The photos that follow were taken in the month of May. The weather that day was MAGNIFICENT. I think you will see that with scenery like this, it was impossible not to fall crazy in love with the place.

Let’s go for that stroll.

The castle…

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Holyrood Park-Edinburgh, Scotland

It was our first time in Scotland and the end of our trip. After two weeks of near-perfect May weather, our last day greeted us with a chill. The rain came down, the fog rolled in, and it was a precise reflection of our mood. We were sad. More than that, we were downright melancholy. You see, at that time, Mr. C and I had no idea if and when we would return. Did we just spend two weeks falling in love with a county we might not ever see again?

Feeling glum, Mr. C and I decided to get out for a while rather than sulk about our morning flight home. So, we did a little shopping and attended a wonderful afternoon church service at Grace Church Leith (an emotional experience for we two sad saps). Finally, as the weather cleared a little, we made our way over to Holyrood Park.

It. Was. Breathtaking.

It was magical.

It was bittersweet.

St. Margaret's Loch in Holyrood Park.
St. Margaret’s Loch and the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel
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Redhouse Castle-Longniddry, Scotland

Hey, friends. Today I would like to take you to another ‘off-the-beaten-path’ place. You probably know by now that those spots are my favorite. There is something fun about seeing things that the typical tourist doesn’t. Mr. C and I discovered this one entirely by accident. Today I’m going to take you to see Redhouse Castle.

Redhouse Castle
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St. Andrews Kirk-Gullane, Scotland

Is the calendar really turning a page today? It feels like we just celebrated the new year, and here it is already four months in. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I adore the month of April. The breeze blows softer, the grass turns greener, and the sun shines warmer. With every new leaf and every tender shoot, I am reminded how all things are being made new. Kind of an appropriate allegory for today, I think.

With today being Easter Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to journey with you to the ruins of a place that no doubt saw many an Easter Sunday celebration – St. Andrews Kirk in Gullane, Scotland.

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Prestonfield House-Edinburgh, Scotland

Hello, readers. I hope everyone is well. Today we are going to hang out in my favorite city – Edinburgh. I booked us a champagne afternoon tea at the luxurious Prestonfield House. So touch up your lips, ladies. Men, grab your wallets. A warm welcome, fine dining, and hospitality awaits!

Prestonfield House as viewed from Holyrood Park.
Prestonfield as viewed from Holyrood Park.
Front of Prestonfield House in Edinburgh, Scotland.

When Mr. C and I travel to Scotland (or anywhere for more than three nights), we prefer to rent a private residence rather than stay in a hotel. It not only gives us the experience of living like locals, but it’s so much more pleasant and economical. A rental provides all the amenities of home – a laundry facility, plenty of room to spread out, and perhaps best of all – a fully equipped kitchen.

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Dirleton Castle-A Noble Fortress-Residence

Did anyone try the recipe I posted last week for the Victoria Sponge? My goodness, that was a delicious cake. I was also quite impressed by how well it held up. I was afraid the filling would cause the cake to become soggy, but I stored it in the refrigerator, and three days later, it was still fine. I’m not a fancy baker, but that cake made me feel fancy.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I have written about a castle here, so today I thought it would be fun to hop in the car and head over to East Lothian, Scotland. About 20 miles to the east of Edinburgh, just off of the A198, lies the pretty little village of Dirleton. And in the heart of Dirleton sits the awesome, robust remains of Dirleton Castle.

Front of Dirleton Castle.
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The Gardens at Greywalls Hotel-Gullane Scotland

Those who are acquainted with me and Mr. C know that we are quite fond of gardens.  For those who aren’t, I must confess that we (or is it just him?) are also a bit…well…ambitious.  You know the phrase go big or go home?  Sometimes I think we invented that phrase.

Nearly ten years ago, Mr. C and his trusty Kubota tractor took down a large, somewhat problematic tree behind our house.  The removal of the tree and its massive root ball left us with a rather unsightly, gaping hole.  Ever the visionary and enjoyer of manly projects, Mr. C had the brilliant idea to construct a pond/rock garden where the tree had previously stood.  But in typical go big or go home fashion, the project did not end there.  One pond quickly became two.  Then three.  Then four.  What we have today, nearly a decade later, are three smaller ponds that connect via rocky streams into a larger pond.  What my husband has built is quite extraordinary. 

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Mary King’s Close-What Lies Beneath Part 2

Many thanks to The Real Mary King’s Close, who were so kind as to permit me to use their awesome photos. All photos in this post are credited to them.

In my previous┬áblog post, I gave you a bit of history of how Edinburgh, Scotland began; how it expanded eastward from Edinburgh Castle and how Mary King’s Close and other nearby alleys came to be frozen in time underneath the Royal Exchange. In light of that, today I would like to take you to see The Real Mary King’s Close, one of Edinburgh’s most compelling visitor attractions.

A cutaway of the area called Mary King's Close.
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