Ballindalloch Castle: Scotland’s “Pearl of the North”

It’s cold. It’s gloomy. It’s the time of year when cabin fever starts to become a very real thing; although, I just realized the official start to spring is only 31 days away! Woop! Anyway, to cheer myself up on this gray Monday (well, this, and maybe watching a few episodes of “The Great British Baking Show”), I am going to take you guys to Scotland’s “Pearl of the North”; the BEAUTIFUL, the GORGEOUS, the OH-SO-STUNNING Ballindalloch Castle.

A tree lined gravel path leading to Ballindalloch Castle.

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The Centre of Scotland-A Surprising Find

Aside from soaking up buckets of gorgeous scenery, one of the best parts of motoring around Scotland are the surprises. It was an afternoon in May, and Mr. C and I were out for a leisurely drive through the Highlands. We were about four miles east of Laggan, having randomly diverged off of General Wade’s Military Road onto an itty bitty single-track road with a sign that pointed towards Glentruim (near the village of Newtonmore).

Google Maps image of General Wade's Military Road near Laggan, Scotland.

We were casually cruising along, lost in thought when we suddenly spotted a massive boulder with a yellow plaque. Curious, we pulled over to take a look.

A large boulder with the Centre of Scotland sign tacked onto it.

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Happy Burns Night 2020

If you live in Scotland, are of proud Scottish ancestry, or just love the Scottish people and culture, chances are that tonight you will be celebrating Burns Night. Every year, on January 25, people from Scotland to the Americas to Australia and beyond come together to commemorate the life and works of Scotland’s beloved poet, Robert Burns. It is an evening of merriment, good food, and good drink.

Sadly, Mr. C and I have to postpone our celebration this year. Poor ol’ Mr. C is ill, and I’m pretty sure haggis is the last food on his mind. So, in lieu of our traditional festivities, I am instead spending part of my day enjoying The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, a wonderful publication by Waverly Books. With a glass of the good stuff, of course. Not altogether a bad way to spend an afternoon.

If you are celebrating Burns Night tonight, have fun, be safe, and eat a bite of haggis for me.

A glass of Scotch on a book of poems and songs by Robert Burns.

Slàinte mhath!

Scottish Cup of Friendship-The Quaich

Hello, and Happy New Year to you! I hope this first day of the bright, shiny new calendar year – holy shiitake, a 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, and we enjoyed a nice bottle of champagne while watching a bit of the Times Square celebration on television. Then we capped it off at midnight with a cwtch (the Welsh word for cuddle) and a whisky toast in our Scottish Cup of Friendship, or 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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Bridie Recipe-A Traditional Scottish Pastry

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.

Bridies were introduced in the 1800s, and there are two stories of how they 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 the market in Forfar. Either way, they are delicious!

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Kinloss Abbey-The Ruins of an Old Cistercian Monastery

It was late afternoon, and Mr. C and I were on our way back to our cabin in Farr, tired from a full day of exploring sites in the Moray region of Scotland. We were driving on the B9089 through the village of Kinloss when I suddenly spotted some intriguing looking ruins out my window. I shouldn’t have been surprised – it is Scotland after all. You can’t drive five miles without coming upon some treasure or another (you think I jest). I had Mr. C turn the car around, and though we were worn out from our long day of adventuring, we ended up spending another hour or so happily exploring what turned out to be the fantastic ruins of Kinloss Abbey.

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Celebrate Halloween Like a Boss-The Faces of Elgin Cathedral

A few of my friends have popped by today to wish you all a happy Halloween! They may look a little frightening, but I promise they’re harmless. They are the vault bosses who reside at Elgin Cathedral in Elgin, Scotland.

Elgin Cathedral in Scotland.
Elgin Cathedral dates back to 1224.

Never heard of a ‘vault boss’? Yeah, I hadn’t either until I met these guys.

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