Let’s Get This Weekend Started

Happy Friday, friends!

I have waited for three months for this book to arrive and today it finally did. Victoria Magazine recently published their first book and boy is she a beauty! So in case you are wondering what I’ll be doing this weekend besides writing (and hunkering down inside to avoid the insane heat outside), there you go. Two hundred thirty-two pages of pure bliss.

What are your weekend plans?

I have a couple of fun posts in the works. First, I’ll be sharing an interview I did with a talented author. And then I’ll be taking you on a little trip to a fascinating stone circle set in the stunning countryside of Aberdeenshire. So stay tuned!

Hope each of you has a fabulous weekend. If you are here in the U.S. amidst this brutal heat wave, please be safe and stay cool!

Cheers,

Please Shut Gate

Photo taken in Milton Woods near Farr, Scotland.

One of the things I love about Scotland is their “freedom to roam” code, though I would be lying to you if I said that I am totally comfortable with it. The very idea that it is acceptable to trespass on someone’s private property uninvited is just so foreign and so contrary to our laws here in the United States. I can never quite get over the feeling that I may be an interloper, an unwanted guest who might get asked to leave whenever I wander off a public path. Of course, that’s simply not true!

In 2003, Scotland’s Land Reform Act was initiated, allowing everyone “rights of access over land and inland water throughout Scotland, subject to specific exclusions set out in the Act and as long as they behave responsibly” (http://scotways.com). Per Scotways, this basically boils down to three things: respecting the interests of other people, caring for the environment, and taking responsibility for one’s own actions. Of course, there are a some restrictions that hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts must abide by. For example, the land next to and used by a school, fields where crops are growing, or a person’s most immediate personal space (like their backyard or garden) are off limits. But restrictions aside, the beauty of this act is that is allows individuals the freedom to explore Scotland’s vast, wild, and remarkable landscape and unmaintained historical sites completely undeterred. And in a country with over 30,000 square miles of land and a population of only about 5.5 million (most living in the cities), that means you might never see another person while you roam!

A perfect example of a time when Mr. C and I benefited from this access right was when we visited Croft Moraig Stone Circle near Aberfeldy.  The prehistoric site happens to occupy a farmer’s field, but because of Scotland’s code, we were permitted to park our car in an unmarked area on the side of the road and walk onto the property without fear of reproach.  We were simply reminded by the farmer’s sign to shut the gate, which we were all too happy to do.

Scotland is not the only country with such a code.  In fact, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Austria are just a few examples of other nations that also allow for the freedom to roam.  Though I love and thoroughly appreciate having this unfettered access when I travel, I grapple with what my reaction would be if we enacted such a practice here in the U.S.  Let’s face it. We Americans are overall quite a kind and generous lot, but many of us also strongly believe in a person’s right to privacy and in the right of consent.  I know…it’s a conundrum – I want it both ways.

Regardless, as a visitor to Scotland, being granted permission to venture beyond roads and other public access points to off-the-beaten-path places and to be allowed to fully experience the wild, natural, and untamed beauty of the land is both a joy and an enormous privilege.  I hope one day you can experience this freedom too.

Just don’t forget to shut the gate.

Italy Will Have to Wait

A couple of my friends are ardent travelers and as such, are a bit perplexed as to why Mr. C and I choose to keep returning to Scotland. “Don’t you want to go somewhere else? See someplace new?” I do understand their question. It’s a very big world after all, full of amazing and wonderful things. But my answer is generally always the same.

No.

Well yes. But not if it means that it takes Scotland off the table.

I really do want to visit other countries. In fact, it’s a dream of mine to see the other four Celtic nations and also Italy. But the truth is, I’m simply not done with Scotland yet. As much as Mr. C and I have seen and experienced, I feel like it’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket of all that the country has left for us.

When I fell for Scotland, I fell hard. So my philosophy is that as long as there are discoveries to be made, as long as it continues to make my heart sing, then I’ll just stick with what I know and truly love, please and thank you. Italy will just have to wait.

Scottish Highlands

Hello From Bonny Scotland!

Hello Friends!

I am writing to you this morning from our cabin in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Mr. C and I have had a tremendous first week, racking up both miles and memories. The weather thus far has been outstanding with plenty of sunshine and blue skies. And with nearly seventeen hours of daylight, we have actually had to remind ourselves to go to bed at night! As always, Scotland feels like home. Well, my second home anyway.

Here is a wee peek at some of the things Mr. C and I have been up to this past week. I hope you enjoy and I look forward to sharing more with you when I return. 🙂

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When Christmas Was Banned In Scotland

Hello my friends!  I hope you are having an extraordinary day.

For today’s post, I would like to share with you about a time in Scotland’s history when Christmas was banned.  Yes, it really was!  And to mix things up a bit, I thought I’d have a little fun and try my hand at writing it as a poem.  Perhaps it will sound a bit familiar to you.  🙂  Enjoy.

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‘Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the land,

not a creature was stirring,

for Christmas was banned.

 

“Why?” you might ask,

when in Scotland of old,

the Yule was indeed

important we’re told.

 

You see, Yule – from the ‘Yuletide’-

was a festival of fun,

a time to laud the solstice

and the return of the sun.

 

Greenery was hung

as a symbol of life,

and the yule log burned warm,

merry, and bright.

 

In the year 1560, though,

something new happened.

The Reformation began –

spirits were dampened.

 

What used to be fun

was now frowned upon.

No more celebrations.

Beloved Yuletide was done.

 

From there it got worse,

more sadness and gloom.

And in 1640,

the Church lowered the boom.

 

Too pagan! Too Catholic!

Not biblical they said.

Go to work, eat your supper,

just be quiet instead.

 

Yuletide was banned,

the festivities finished.

If caught in celebration,

one would certainly be punished!

 

With no games, no gifts,

no more feasts to be had,

the people of Scotland

must have felt sad.

 

Thankfully, though,

cooler heads would prevail.

Nearly fifty years later

the act was repealed.

 

Three centuries more

was the notion suppressed,

though little by little

Christians welcomed the fest.

 

Old traditions and customs

that once had been barred,

were now part of Christmas,

reclaimed and restored.

 

Today Yuletide carols

are sung by a choir,

and Christmas trees sparkle

by the light of a star.

 

This Christmas as you

and your family delight,

I wish a happy Christmas to all

and to all a good night.

 

*Christmas became a public holiday in Scotland in 1958.

 

Enjoy your week, everyone and I’ll see you again soon!

Cheers,

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Halloween Turnip Carving Fun

Boo!  

Hey Friends!  Happy Halloween!

In the spirit of the old Irish/Scottish tradition of carving turnip lanterns to ward off evil spirits, today I thought it would be fun to tackle this twist on the pumpkin Jack O’ Lanterns that I grew up with as a child.  And since my sweet sister is here on holiday, what better way for two sisters to have a little Halloween giggle!

Here’s what you do.

Step 1:  Decide how you want your turnip to be oriented.  Which end would make the best top and bottom? Which sides do you want to make the front and back?  Are there any scars, warty, or hairy spots that could give character to your Jack O’ Lantern’s face?

Step 2:  With a sharp knife, cut a small amount off of the bottom of the turnip so that it creates a flat base.

Step 3:  Slice off the top of the turnip, leaving plenty of room to carve the face.  Save the lid.

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Don’t forget the festive snacks!

Step 4:  Use your knife to score around the inside edge to loosen up the meat of the turnip.

Step 5:  Use a spoon, melon baller, ice cream scooper, or any other implement to scoop out the inside of the turnip. You will find that this step requires a bit of effort, but the end result will be so worth it.

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Step 6:  Draw a face on your turnip with a pencil.

Step 7:  Use a small kitchen or crafter’s knife to carve out the face.

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Step 8:  Light a tea light and enjoy your special Halloween creation!

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Cheers!

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Cheers to One Year!

Hi everyone and welcome back!

I’ve had a short break and today I am back and celebrating my one year blogging anniversary!!

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To mark the occasion, I have given my site a makeover.  I hope you like it!

Boy, do I remember well taking those scary first steps into the world of WordPress a year ago when I published my first blog called, ‘Why Scotland?’  I experienced all sorts of fears and doubts that day! Can you relate?  I worried about whether or not I would get any views. I wondered if anyone would be remotely interested in what I had to say.  I questioned myself, “Do I have the sticktoitiveness to see this thing through?” I feared that people (especially those who know me personally) would think I was…well… weird. In the end, though, I decided none of that mattered.  It was enough for me that I was interested in my subject matter and I knew my sense of pride and accomplishment would mean more than what others may or may not think.  So, I took the leap.

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Prayer For the Faithful, by Saint Patrick

May the Strength of God guide us.fullsizeoutput_98

May the Power of God preserve us.

May the Wisdom of God instruct us.

May the Hand of God protect us.

May the Way of God direct us.

May the Shield of God defend us.

May the Angels of God guard us.

-Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!

May Christ be before us!

May Christ be in us,

Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord, 

Always be ours,

This day, O Lord, and forevermore.  Amen.

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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*Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.

Why Scotland?

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Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

There are 196 countries in this great big world.  So, ‘why Scotland?’ you might ask.  Well, it all began with a thumbnail.  Not mine.  I’m talking about an itty bitty image that appeared on my computer screen the night I was searching for vacation rentals.  My husband and I had been exploring various destinations for a milestone wedding anniversary and for months we had tossed around all the usual suspects…Hawaii, Alaska, a cruise of some sort, the islands, etc.  Having never traveled anywhere more exciting than the white sandy beaches of the Florida Panhandle (ok, we DID go to Winnipeg a couple times but I’m not sure that counts), we weren’t sure where we should go.  But then one dark winter evening as I sat absent-mindedly perusing VRBO (my favorite place to go when we need a rental-seriously, if you haven’t used it, do), a tiny image of a lovely stone manor house-a tower house actually- caught my attention.  I clicked on that picture and was presented with an image of the Pilrig House in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Huh, I wasn’t even looking at listings for Scotland.  Strange.  My interest was certainly piqued so I took a closer look at it, wandered over to their beautiful web site, and as the woman said in When Harry Met Sally, “At that moment I knew.  I knew the way you know about a good melon.”  I sent my husband a text, told him where I knew we were going, and that was all she wrote!

Except that wasn’t all she wrote.  For I had no idea at the time what kind of impression Scotland was to make on me.  It was my first trip to Europe and maybe that had something to do with it. Or maybe my soul just finally found its way home.  Either way, I fell head-over-heels for this beautiful country.  It’s fair to say that I am mildly-well maybe moderately obsessed.  And so that is where this blog comes in.  And you, my new readers!  You get to be a part of something that is very personal to me.  I look forward to growing this blog and sharing with you some of my best experiences, photos, travel tips, and favorite places and sites.  We’ll talk food and whisky (oh yeah!) and literature and music and history and anything else Scottish related that comes to mind.  I’m glad you’re here and if you love Scotland as much as I do, then Fàilte!

Cheers!

∼Wendy