Laggan Free Church

Like The White Bridge that I wrote about last week, today’s post features another amazing, serendipitous find.  Scotland certainly does seem to be full of those.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, Mr. C and I were driving through the southwest portion of the Cairngorms National Park near the village of Laggan. 

Threat of a storm rolling in.

We had just turned onto General Wade’s Military Road from the A86 when we spotted the fantastic ruins of an old church to our left.  Naturally, we pulled over to check it out.

Sadly, there was no information posted and the only clue was a sign at the road for something called ‘The Monarch’. It appeared to refer to the house sitting across the yard from the church. That evening, I did a Google search (what in the world were our lives like before the internet?) in an effort to discover more information. Though I couldn’t find a date for the church’s construction, I learned that what we had seen were the ruins of the Laggan Free Church (Free Church being an evangelical and reformed branch of the Presbyterian Church).

And as for the Monarch, it does in fact occupy the same property as the ruin. It was recently run as a country hotel but is now permanently closed. Interestingly, the home-turned-inn was at one time the church manse (parsonage).

I would so love to know more about this church. When was it built? Why was it abandoned? Did a newer, shinier version get built somewhere nearby? Why is the steeple and entry more intact than the rest of the ruin? Did it suffer a fire? Did it just weather away from disuse? All questions my curious mind would like to know the answers to! Perhaps I will never know.

Incidentally, before I wrap things up for today, I want to mention a great little cafe that we stumbled upon shortly after we had left the church. It’s called Caoldair Coffee and Craft Shop. Located on General Wade’s Military Road about a half mile or so from the ruin, it’s a lovely shop that sells (as their sign says) coffee, cakes, clothing, and other yummy things. Right they are. Another terrific find. Did we buy anything? Why yes. Yes we did. As for me, I left with a very nice plumb tart. Mr. C ended up with a very nice hat.

Until next time, friends.

Cheers,

The Falls of Dochart

Hello friends.  What’s shakin’?  Not much around here this weekend.  I attempted to write this blog outside but good grief – the humidity!  I see it’s a balmy 65 degrees in Edinburgh right now.  What I wouldn’t give.

Today I’d like to show you a beautiful area in the Scottish Highlands that I visited on my last trip.  Located on the River Dochart at the pretty village of Killin in Stirlingshire, are the spectacular Falls of Dochart.

DSC_4239

DSC_4875

Read more

What a Gem

Hi Friends!

One of my favorite discoveries from our Scottish adventures is a unique company called Heathergems.  The only manufacturer of its kind, the Heathergem company produces beautiful jewelry and other gift items from the stems of the heather plant.

heather-2673649_1920

I first saw these interesting creations at the James Pringle Shopping Outlet in Leith, Scotland (a decent place to look for a few souvenirs, if not a tad bit on the kitschy side – I did once find a very good hat!).  I have since seen Heathergems for sale at the Celtic shop near my hometown here in the States.

Aside from the Scottish thistle, perhaps no other flower epitomizes Scotland the way that the heather plant does.  It makes me think of the movie Brigadoon – Gene Kelley capturing the heart of the beautiful Cyd Charisse as he sings sweetly to her of the heather on the hill.  The song follows with a dance number that has the pair gliding over the moor and I think that maybe Cyd Charisse isn’t the only one who is falling in love.  We do too a little.

Read more

A Brief History of the Bagpipe

Happy December, Friends!  Is it really just over three weeks until Christmas?  My goodness, where does the time go?  2018 is just a blink away.

I thought today it might be fun to do a little research on the history of the bagpipe.  Santa was more than happy to model his for you today!

20171127_131940

The bagpipe is quite unlike any other instrument in its ability to stir and penetrate so deeply into the soul.  When well-played, bagpipes can evoke a gamut of emotions:  joy, sadness, excitement, determination, and for me personally, a profound longing.  Even a homesickness of sorts.  It’s complicated.  It’s love.

Read more