Tag: <span>castle</span>

Scotland – August 2012 – Part 1

This is going to be another VERY belated post about travel we did last year.  Seriously, I need to get better about putting updates on the blog in a more timely manner.  I’m splitting this up into two parts since it’s going to be WAY too long otherwise.  Here’s Part 1, Part 2 to follow!

For photos of the trip, see the complete gallery on Flickr, here.

Thursday-Friday, 26-27 July 2012:
Left Newark airport late in the evening on the 26th and arrived at Aberdeen, Scotland (via Heathrow) on July 27th.  Got a cab to the hotel which was in downtown Aberdeen with both my big travel backpack and husband’s.  Originally, husband was supposed to meet me in Aberdeen and take the train down to Edinburgh, but his schedule was changed last minute and we decided to meet in Edinburgh since he wasn’t going to make Aberdeen on time.  At that point, it was too late to change any of the reservations, so I just went ahead with the plan as it was.  The only downside was having to tote around his luggage and mine (two enormous backpacker type backpacks).  Had dinner and some ale at Old Blackfriar’s and went back to the hotel early to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  I had decided to participate in the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games, so I picked up my yarn and needles and cast on, somewhat tickled to be casting on while watching the opening ceremonies in the local time zone.
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Saturday, 28 July 2012:
Got up and walked the short walk to the railway station with both bags, and made it there for a 11am train.  Arrived in Edinburgh around 1pm where husband was already waiting for me.  He’d even checked into the hotel already!  We had  lunch and wandered around Edinburgh for a while.  Husband had been there years ago in college, so some of it was familiar for him.  Edinburgh was all decked out for the Olympics with a big olympic rings display setup on the hill, visibile for quite some distance.  We signed up for a tasting at the Scotch Whisky Experience (the Platinum Tour), so around 6pm, we headed over there.  It was totally a touristy thing to do, but it ended up being very educational, and a fun way to start our trip.  The staff was very knowledgeable and we got to see the world’s largest whisky collection.  It was REALLY impressive to see all the bottles lined up like that on lighted shelving, dates ranging from the late 1800s up through the present.  The guide explained that most of the stuff wasn’t fit to drink anymore since the seals had come undone and it had been evaporating over time, but it’s still worth a lot.  We went on to have dinner and some ales and then it was off to bed, but not until we watched a little more of the Olympic coverage.


Sunday, 29 July 2012:
Got up and had breakfast and then it was off to tour Edinburgh Castle.  On the way up to the castle, we stopped in the gift shop where we sampled Bruadar whisky which was AMAZING.  A bottle may or may not have followed us home.  The castle was more than just a castle – it’s a whole complex of chaples, war memorials, prisons, residence for the guards, among many other things.  We were done with the castle, having seen the crown jewels and all, around noon, and headed off for lunch.  Then, it was off to The Real Mary King’s Close, a small alleyway that had been built on top of over the years and forgotten about.  The tour was FASCINATING – the way people lived, how tight and cramped the conditions were, but that they made do with what they had.  The close and the homes off the close, now underground, had largely been left as they were for hundreds of years.  Photos weren’t allowed since the Royal Exchange is above the close (security and all), but it was well worth the visit.  After that, we wandered around and had some ales, took a ghost tour of Edinburgh,  and had more ales and dinner before going back to the hotel.


Monday, 30 July 2012:
We decided to head out to Incholm Island for the day since the weather was nice, and the trip involved a boat ride (for my mariner husband).  It was a gorgeous day for it, and we spent a good while wandering around the island – through the old abbey where we encountered a man who broke into song, inspired by the acoustics of a little chapel room.  This is the kind of place I love – a partially ruined old stone building with LOTS of character, tons of fun to photograph.  The island also had remnants of battlements from WWI and WWII.  Wee baby seagulls were almost done fledging, so the adults were still on alert.  Doug happened to step just a little too close to the edge of the path where a fledgeling was hiding on the ground and he got dive bombed by an adult gull.  Hilarious.  He kept ducking down the whole walk back, thinking he’d be attacked again.  Sometimes it pays to be the short one since they didn’t bother me at all!  The boat took us back down the Firth of Forth, underneath the bridges, including the Forth Bridge which only carries rail traffic and was opened in 1890!  On the trip back, we also saw a few seals in the water and basking on buoys as it got colder and started to rain.  When we got back, we made our way to pre-dinner pints, then to dinner where we had things like Haggis nachos, including their famous, fresh caught haggis, and sat with a couple from Wales, a family from Belgium, and another group from Scotland.  Had a blast and spent a lot of time there, enjoying the random company and food.  Really lovely way to end our stay in Edinburgh, and I wish we could’ve had a few more days there.



Tuesday, 31 July 2012:
We woke up, had breakfast, and then it was off to the train station for a train to Inverness.  We arrived at Inverness and made it to our hotel by 2:30.  We had no real plans for the day, so we took a relaxed walk around Inverness, had an early dinner, and went back to the hotel for an early bedtime (and some more of the Olympics).

Today Was Absurd.

Today was ABSURDLY INCREDIBLE, that is.

Got up at 7am and was out of the house by 8:30 to make the 10am-1pm class at Loop with Franklin.   Franklin brought his Introduction to Lace class to Philadelphia and when I got the Loop newsletter about it, I signed up right away.   This was, no joke, the first real knitting class I have ever taken.   Franklin, in his calm  and witty way, took us through the history of knitted lace and lace knitting (two different things!)  which I found particularly fascinating, being somewhat of a history geek.   There was talk of technique, a demonstration of Nupps, all while we worked  through a pattern  that Franklin designed.   I got a whole repeat done and even got a decent start on the applied border at one end.   There aren’t really words in my exhausted brain right now to express how much I loved this class, but I can tell you that I liked it.   I liked it a lot.


After the class was over, I had to book out of Loop and cross all applicable appendages that one can cross while driving and hope that I got home in time to make it to my next item on the agenda.   Naturally, Philadelphia traffic failed me as there was bridge construction and then a HUGE OIL SPILL over a bridge I need to take to get home.   Naturally, by the time I realized that I should turn around, I was  stuck between two walls of Jersey dividers with no way to go anywhere but insane with the stopped-dead traffic.   It finally cleared out and managed to get home with five whole minutes to get the dogs out, watered, fed, and back out the door.

Then, it was on to the Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, PA.   It had been on the list of places-to-go ever since we moved here and a friend and I finally made the trip.   No joke, I could spend a whole day there and just not be tired of the place.   The six story concrete castle was built by Henry C. Mercer (and a dozen local farm boys) in 1916.   He used tiles from his tile works to decorate nearly every square inch of the inside.   On top of the tile, he used scavenged and recycled materials, picking up old dressers and reusing drawers inside concrete dressers.   Broken mirrors were scavenged for their frames and hung lovingly with beautiful engravings and prints.   He even used scrap metal fences and various other metal material for reinforcing his concrete pillars and walls.    He was a  true believer in the arts and crafts movement, and I’d even go so far as to call his house a ‘green’ house with all the recycling and reusing that he did.   It’s kinda interesting that people now are reclaiming glass for countertops when he was doing similar things back in the early 1900s.   It’s a completely overwhelming experience and definitely one I’d enjoy repeating.   We even managed to get on the behind-the-scenes tour later in the evening which took us all the way up to the top of the highest tower and to the crypt/basement, all of the places that are not normally seen on the regular tours.   Sadly, no photography is allowed inside the museum (it was making me all itchy, not being able to capture all that incredible beauty) but I have a few photos from outside.

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As the perfect end to the day, when I got home, there were two wiggly dogs to greet me.    They graciously let me give them belly rubs and a big long group hug.   Perfect end to a really spectacular day.   Now I believe it’s time to haul my tired self into bed and fall into a blissfull sleep  and dream of beautiful lace and concrete castles.     🙂