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.

This amazing old structure was built by King David I of Scotland nearly 900 years ago – sometime around 1130. David dedicated the chapel to his mother, Queen Margaret, who died at the castle in 1093.

The arched chancel is original construction.
St. Columba, one of five stained glass windows in the chapel

In 1251, Pope Innocent IV canonized the Queen. Queen Margaret of Scotland was now Saint Margaret of Scotland.

St. Margaret

St. Margaret was an English princess of the House of Wessex. After the Norman Conquest of England, Margaret and her family fled to Scotland where she later married King Malcolm III. Margaret was known as a pious woman who performed many charitable acts.

Following the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the chapel fell into disuse. In fact, during this time it was used as a storehouse for gunpowder! Fortunately, in 1845, the Scottish antiquary Daniel Wilson recognized the significance of the historic building and in 1851, with the support of Queen Victoria, St. Margaret’s was restored.

Additional restorations took place in the early twentieth century, with stained glass windows added in 1922. Today the beautiful little chapel is owned by Historic Scotland and cared for by the St. Margaret’s Chapel Guild – a group of Scottish ladies who are all named Margaret. I love that so much! The Margarets ensure that the chapel has a welcoming display of fresh flowers at all times.

If you visit Edinburgh Castle (which you MUST do if you’re in Edinburgh), be sure to include some time to pop in to St. Margaret’s. It’s a pretty special piece of history.

Well, that’s it for today, friends. Short and sweet. Can’t believe I made it to the end. I do hope you enjoyed!

Have a wonderful week. See you soon.

Cheers,

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 ‚ÄėPilrig‚Äô may have derived from the former ‚ÄėPeilrig‚Äô and ‘Pellryge‚Äô (rig=ridge), where a¬†peel tower stood in the 15thcentury. According to pilrighouse.com, ‚Äústonework in the basement walls suggests the remains of a peel tower‚ÄĚ. For a newby history geek like me, that is fascinating.

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Happy New Year!

Friends, as we wind down the year, I just want to say a sincere thank you for your ongoing support of my wee blog. ¬†You guys are truly awesome. ¬†This ride wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without you. ¬†

Happy New Year and may 2019 be your best year yet!

 Cheers!

 

 

“Each age has deemed the new-born year the fittest time for festal cheer.”¬†
 

ňúScottish¬†author, Walter Scott

Merry Christmas!

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

‚ąľFrom “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.           

‚ąľ1 John 5:11

 

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

Recipe: Sticky Toffee Pudding

Hello again, Friends. ¬†Guess what…it’s recipe day! ¬†Since I haven’t done any holiday baking thus far (cause my thighs are big enough already), today I’m going to do just that. ¬†I’ll be trying my hand at¬†Sticky Toffee Pudding, a recipe by my blogging friend and fellow lover of Scotland,¬†Cristine Eastin.

To we Americans, Sticky Toffee Pudding is not a pudding as we know it.  It is actually a date cake topped with a delicious toffee sauce.

Cristine is a sweet and talented author who has published two works of fiction¬†as well as a book of Scottish recipes –¬†A Wee Scottish Cookbook (all available on Amazon). ¬†It was in her cookbook that I found the recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding. ¬†As Cristine points out, this dessert is a relatively new concoction. ¬†And although its origination may have been in England, the Scots have embraced it as a holiday tradition as well.

Click on any of the links above and you’ll be redirected to Cristine’s beautiful blog. ¬†I hope you’ll check it out!

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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. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Enjoy.

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‚ÄėTwas the night before Christmas

and all through the land,

not a creature was stirring,

for Christmas was banned.

 

‚ÄúWhy?‚ÄĚ you might ask,

when in Scotland of old,

the Yule was indeed

important we’re told.

 

You see, Yule – from the ‚ÄėYuletide‚Äô-

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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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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Lovely Lauriston (the sequel)

Hi Friends!  A warm welcome to you today.

Earlier this year, I took you guys on a photo tour of the spectacularly beautiful grounds at¬†Lauriston Castle. ¬†Well I would like to revisit Lauriston with you today. ¬†Only this time, I invite you to join me as we explore the beautiful Edwardian interior, decorated and designed by the castle’s final owners, Mr. William Robert Reid, his wife Mrs. Margaret Johnstone Reid, and Mrs. Reid’s brother, Mr. William Barton.

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Mr. C and I visited Lauriston Castle for the second time in March 2017. ¬†It is one of our favorites, so no trip to Edinburgh will now ever be complete without paying a visit to this lovely place. ¬†We were thrilled to be able to take a guided tour of several of the castle’s main rooms. ¬†Our docent was excellent and was a wealth of knowledge of the castle’s history, from the first construction in the sixteenth century until the passing of Mrs. Reid in 1926. ¬†I think that if I lived in Edinburgh, I would want that job!

To recap a little of Lauriston’s history…

Lauriston‚Äôs tower house was built by Sir Archibald Napier sometime around 1593 and the pretty Jacobean-style extension was added in 1827. ¬†Over the centuries, the castle passed through numerous hands until it came into the possession of its final owners ‚Äď William and Margaret Reid. The Reids acquired the property in 1902 and lived there until Mrs. Reid‚Äôs death in 1926. ¬†Because the couple had no children, they left the castle to the city of Edinburgh under the condition that it be preserved unchanged. ¬†And so the promise was kept. ¬†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 (uh, castle) which remains exactly as it was at the time of the Reids. ¬†The manicured grounds, which boast a view of the sea and a stunning Japanese garden are a real bargain ‚Äď free! ¬†Lauriston truly is a gem in Edinburgh. -from my previous post, “Lovely Lauriston“.

Well, are you ready to step inside and see what a 425-year-old castle clothed in 100-year-old decor looks like?  Great.  Follow me, friends.

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Recipe: Scotch Eggs

Hey guys.  Welcome back.

Last week I mentioned that this week I would be making Scotch eggs. ¬†I am still going to make them today BUT…I made a discovery about them this past week. ¬†Bummer, they’re not actually Scottish! ¬†Well crap, who knew?

In fact, according to Encyclopedia Britannica,“Scotch egg[s], [are] a traditional British dish consisting of a shelled hard-boiled egg that is wrapped in sausage, covered in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried or baked until crispy. It is a popular pub and picnic dish and is commonly served cold in Britain. The Scotch egg has competing origin stories. Fortnum & Mason, a London department store known for its food products, maintains that it created Scotch eggs in 1738 for wealthy travelers on carriage rides. Another theory asserts that the dish evolved from northern India‚Äôs nargisi kofta (an egg covered in minced meat and served with curry), which returning soldiers and others introduced to England. A third story claims that it was invented by Scottish farmers as an inexpensive dish.”

If that’s not confusing enough, I then read somewhere else that they may have been a North African invention, brought to England by way of France. And still another site stated that their origin¬†is rooted in the coastal Yorkshire town of Whitby. ¬†So your guess is as good as mine, dear reader!

For this endeavor, I chose to use Jamie Oliver’s recipe as my guide. ¬†His recipe is for eight servings, however, I chose to half this since that is a little much for just me and Mr. C. ¬†I made a few modifications to the wording of the recipe, but otherwise it is essentially the same as Mr. Oliver’s. Oh, and here’s a shoutout to my sweet Mr. C who helped a great deal with these last night. And who persevered even whent the first balls nearly burned and I got mad at him. ¬†He’s a keeper.

Ready? Alright, then let’s start cooking our British-but-not-Scottish dish!

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Croft Moraig Stone Circle

Greetings to you on this fine Tuesday.  I hope your week got off to a great start.  I am currently outside on my deck, bundled up in the November chill Рa fleece to warm my body and a cup of tea to warm my soul.  The autumn trees are lovely and I am happy.

Today I would like to take you up into the beautiful Scottish Highlands to a site located about four miles southwest of Aberfeldy, right off of A827. ¬†Our destination occupies a portion of a¬†farmer’s field, actually, so you may want to grab your wellies in case it’s muddy. ¬†Ready? ¬†Great, then let’s be off!

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Don’t fret that the site sits on private property. ¬†Scotland’s laws allow individuals “freedom to roam”. ¬†Just be respectful and be sure to close the gate so the farmer’s wee sheep don’t escape!

If I were to ask you about stone circles (those mysterious, prehistoric, man-made rock formations commonly found across Northern Europe and Great Britain), I’d wager that the image that would come to your mind would be Stonehenge. ¬†It is one of Britain’s most iconic sites – and of course, the location of one of the Griswold Family’s hilarious misadventures.

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Who can forget the moment the affable Clark W. Griswold toppled one of the world’s most famous sites in the 1985 classic movie “National Lampoon’s European Vacation”.

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Autumn Fires, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Autumn Fires

by Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson

 

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

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Ardross Farm Shop – Elie, Scotland

Hi, Readers.  Thanks for popping in!

To piggy-back on my recent post about Elie, Scotland, today I want to make mention of a splendid farm shop located about a mile outside of the village, right off of A917.  It was so splendid, in fact, that we made the hour and ten minute journey from Edinburgh two additional times!

Ardross Farm Shop.

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When Mr. C and I travel, our basic routine is to eat the majority of lunches out, as we often spend our days driving and exploring. ¬†We prefer to cook breakfasts and dinners in (one of many reasons we always rent a home rather than stay in a hotel). ¬†Truthfully, it’s Mr. C who does most (okay, all) of the cooking, although I’m pretty good at drinking wine and cheering him along. ¬†We enjoy dining at home when we travel for a few reasons.

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Afternoon Tea at the O’Henry Hotel

Hi guys!  Hope everyone is well.

I had the¬†most¬†delightful experience last week. ¬†My dad and his lovely wife were in town for a visit so I took them to afternoon tea at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro, NC.

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I ¬†first fell in love with the ritual of afternoon tea in Scotland. ¬†Just to clarify, when I say ‘tea’ I’m not just talking about the beverage and a cookie. ¬†Oh no no no. ¬†A proper full/afternoon tea should include a bottomless pot of hot tea, finger sandwiches and other small savory bites, a variety of little sweet treats, and of course, savory and/or plain scones with clotted cream and jam or curd. In the U.K., afternoon tea is often enjoyed post-lunch but pre-dinner. ¬†Personally, I prefer to just make it my lunch.

Ever since that first Scottish tea, I have tried to find places here at home that offer the experience I’m looking for. ¬†To be honest, I haven’t really found it. ¬†Until the O’Henry.¬† Wow! ¬†Everything about it hit the mark, from the beautiful and sophisticated setting to the gorgeous mix-and-match china, to the delicious and thoughtfully prepared tiered tray of food. ¬†I felt as if I were at Greywalls Hotel or Prestonfield House or any other fine establishment in Scotland.

See for yourself!

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Elie, Scotland

Hi, Friends! ¬†I’m so glad you stopped by today. ¬†Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

I have been reflecting back on a few of the Scottish villages that Mr. C and I only saw a peek of but that someday deserve a second look. ¬†Elie is one of those places. ¬†I can’t help but feel that we somehow missed the boat on this one.

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Located on the Firth of Forth in the East Neuk of Fife, Elie is a popular and picturesque seaside village that was established in the 16th century.  It became a Burgh of Barony in 1589 and as such, was under the control of the Lairds of Ardross Рlandowners who held their estates directly from The Crown.  The Lairds were in control of the town council and court and therefore, the villagers were dependent upon these men in matters of trade.  (Burghs were abolished in 1975.)

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