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Scotland Bound – Part 3

Loch 5The mystery of Loch Ness and castle Urquhart certainly deserved a whole day of exploration, but we were headed for our last Scottish B and B, in Inverness. With our hearts full of snow-capped mountains and castle ruins, we partook of a pub dinner and a good night’s rest.

 

We headed off before breakfast and stopped at The House of Bruar, by way of more stunning mountains. This place is hard to describe but here goes. The main purpose of the House of Bruar is to showcase Scottish produce, especially that in the immediate locality. I could have spent hours there, exploring all they had to offer, including bread, cheeses, meat, sweets and fruit and veg. The most impressive sight was rooms and rooms of upmarket Scottish clothes, including kilts and jackets. We had breakfast at the restaurant and sampled our first black pudding- delicious.

Just up the road from The House of Bruar was Blair Castle, Queen Victoria’s favourite Scottish retreat. The castle dates from the 1200s, perfect for my research of medieval life. As with all castles, this one had been renovated numerous times. Sad to say, we were not allowed to take photos inside until we reached the grand hall, which people will recognise from the mini-series, Victoria with Jenna Coleman.

The grand hall was the last venue before leaving the castle and contained dozens of antlers and spears as well as swords and plenty of lords. It is now the venue for weddings and can comfortably seat 220 guests. Imagine having your reception in the same hall in which Queen Victoria hosted her parties!

The woods near castle Blair are the home of gigantic trees and a picturesque river, not to mention the family burial crypt and a chapel. My greatest regret will be not being able to take photos of all the rooms we visited.

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On the way back to England, we skirted Edinburgh via this bridge, The Queensferry Crossing, and slipped back over the border. We will return to explore more of this magnificent country!

Felton pub
Our last night of this Scottish jaunt was spent in Felton, Northumberland. We could see the pub from our B and B. This charming tiny country hamlet was the perfect spot, just off the A1. The next morning, it was back to Yorkshire and a day of cricket!
I didn’t imagine our UK experience could get any better than Scotland, but more amazing adventures were just days away!
See you next week…
Bernadette x

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Scotland Bound – Part 2

Edin 1I left you last week, having taken so long to explore Lowther castle that we arrived in Edinburgh late afternoon. This city is one we must come back to, especially to discover Edinburgh castle which is perched on a hill in the centre of the city. I’d also love to stop and see The Kelpies – they are 30-metre-high horse head sculptures, completed in 2013.

 

The next stop heading north was midmorning at a beautiful little town called Callander. There was a picturesque river winding its way past the shops and a council worker stopped to tell us a little about the area. After a quick coffee, it was up and up to the Scottish Highlands.

There was still snow on the Bens- beautiful- and walkers everywhere! In fact, walking in summer in the UK seems to be the favourite past time. Around every corner, there was a cluster of cars from those who were off trekking the hills.

Back to Scotland- I lost track of the magnificent mountains as panorama after panorama opened before us. I was so blown away by the beauty, I almost forgot to take photos with the Budgy Smuggler hat. We stopped at a Scottish Commando memorial tucked away in a huge valley- what a moving tribute to the service of those men!

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And where there are mountains, there are lochs. I was incredibly excited to see Loch Ness which has its own castle ruins- Urquhart. I walked the length of the ruins and climbed to the ramparts, snapping photo after photo and imagining what it was like before it was blown to smithereens. I didn’t see Nessie.

There were many battles fought over that piece of real estate and in the end, Castle Urquart’s owners fled, blowing it up so it could never become a refuge for their enemies – so very difficult to imagine today. I didn’t want to leave but we were due in Inverness to spend the night.

Castle BlairAnd that’s where I end this week. Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart deserve a feature of their own!
See you next week when we discover Blair Castle!
Bernadette x

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Our UK Adventure

IguanasYou will remember I left you last week as we arrived back in Brisbane after a wonderfully relaxing Island Hopper cruise with P & O. We had a week back in Brisbane to prepare for our three weeks in the United Kingdom. My husband and I had never been on a long-haul flight before and were anxious about how we would cope.

columboIt was not good news when we were told our 10.30 pm departure would be delayed a couple of hours and then we would have to stop off in Columbo and collect a new flight crew. Still, I settled back to enjoy catching up on movies such as The Greatest Showman and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As an author, it’s vital to fill the creative well and inflight entertainment is the perfect vehicle. I loved both movies. I also re-watched the first Twilight movie somewhere along the line and only wish I could have watched all three.

Our arrival in Abu Dhabi was met with the news that we had missed our flight and would be hosted free of charge in Etihad’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. A nuisance sandstorm stopped us from appreciating the beauty of the city. We enjoyed two meals and a lovely four-hour sleep then returned to the airport to resume our journey.

Finally, eighteen hours late, we landed in Manchester and were met by Tom, our oldest son. We were to base ourselves in Dore, Sheffield. The countryside we travelled through was immediately so different to home. I loved the stone walls and sheep and the lovely flowers and stone houses. There is something about natural stone that really speaks to me.

The home we were to stay in was cosy with a cute little private English garden and pear and apple trees in front. How great would it be to be able to pluck a fresh apple from a tree on your way to work? We explored the immediate surrounds and then Tom’s partner, Monique, helped us plan our Lake District and Scotland adventure.

And that’s where I leave you this week. Stay tuned for the first of our trips north from Sheffield.
Bernadette x