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Adventures In Scotland 2

Day 2 begins very early with a beautiful morning that reminds me of the California Central Coast. A perfect sun overhead. Hares run in the field while coffee we sip. So much like home this feels. A place totally known and normal to my heart. There is no disappointment in my eyes opening here. 

Out the door by 8:00am, we arrive in Stirling well ahead of the sleepy town awaking.

   
 Through town we wandered while waiting for the tourism office to open so we could buy tickets for Stirling Castle. Up the hill to the Old Town Jail we walked over stone streets and narrow side walks.

  
Past The Holy Rude church.  

Into the Old Kirkyard where headstones dated into late last century and 400 years back we entered.. A peaceful and honoring way to start our adventures. Some stones had several generations of family names listed. Many lost so early in life. I wonder what their short lives consisted of.

   
      Down the hill to a local coffee house for much needed caffeination and scones. A wonderful young woman told me about her family, American born mother, and how wonderful she thought it was to live in a town historical as Stirling. She adored living at the foot of a castle, with cannon about, and was so proud of the choice to put a castle on the top of a hill in the middle of a valley. The perfectly defensible location.  Good coffee and conversation, nothing better than meeting a new friend.

Back up the long hill to the tourism office. Explorer’s Passes now in hand we continue up to Stirling Castle. A sight to behold. 

   

 Overwhelmed and emotional my eyes misty as the air. It finally hit me where I was and the past I have longed to know is within my grasp.

I touch the door and walls into the courtyard. The countless numbers who lived and worked here. The children who have played here. I wish I could see it all in action up near on 900 years prior.

The view expansive from the tower and walls. The entire valley north, south, east, and west in sight. I can almost see the archers in defense of this space.

Down into dark, dank spaces where items were stored. I imagine all that it took to keep this city in a fortress afloat.

The great kitchen was indeed great, ovens and hanging racks, table for the sort and preparation of foods.  

      The courtyard of the royal family, the outer, inner, and bed chambers where visitors ranked by importance were chosen to visit.

   
    The great hall where meetings, meals, and gatherings took place. A ceiling that took 3500 trees to restore. Truly grand to admire.

The garden so beautiful with useful herbs planted near, the echoes of children playing and a healer gathering for tinctures and poultices.

A few hours spent deeply in understanding how much history matters to our now and into the future.

 Grumbly tummies requiring sustenance and tired feet requiring rest led us to a pub that served delicious foods. It is really interesting seating one’s self and going to the bar to place a food order. There is no water given without a specific request.  My kids are being surprisingly adventurous in their eating.

Sated we decided to make our way to the William Wallace monument. I did not make it up the 256 steps into the tower, though the rest of my family did. No shame for me as I became very dizzy going up to the first level. A mix of mild vertigo and anxiety. I had not realized until that moment the old stone spiral steps actually scare me quite terrifically out of my wits. I vow to conquer this bew found fear this trip.

A bigger shopping trip was required next as the house we rented is self catering. Back to Tesco for a bigger shopping trip with the knowledge only we had a tiny refrigerator to fill. This trip took far longer than we expected, food labels are so different we all had to use our brains to food buy.  My boys stood in the chip (crisp) aisle dumbfounded for several minutes. As they pointed out, the overall selection per item was limited, except for the booze aisle, which had grand variety. Truth. There were many laughs and some frustrations, but in the end we had a larder for a few days time.

A meal of sandwiches and fruit ended our day. We all fell into bed or couches over the next couple of hours. Goodnight.

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Adventures in Scotland 1

The family and I successfully arrived in Glasgow after a harrowing turbulent second leg flight from Iceland.

  
I generally have very little fear of flying, but I white knuckled 90% of that flight. I was ever grateful when things calmed as we approached the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Skye. Seeing land made my heart leap. I teared up the closer we got to landing.

Slow and uneventful deplaning upon arrival. Once in the terminal, I had a laugh at the toilet situation. My what a big bowl you have! It is the little things that are most surprising.

We had the best agent possible getting our passports stamped. She waved a family with a crying baby to the front of the line. That made my mama and midwife heart happy. She was funny and kind with us. A very good entrance.

Dun dun dun, then the tide turned. The rental car company!!!!!!!! We were told the seven passenger van I had booked would not fit the boys and the luggage. I had gotten a very good deal mind you. The agent told us they had an eight passenger van that would do the trick for only 20 pounds a day more. To our shock it was 2.5 times the price of the other vehicle. Feeling excessively frustrated, I walked away, the husband said okay after she brought the price down a little. A total bait and switch.  The math does not add up and we will be going back to have the previous price and vehicle honored. Travel worn, we needed out of the airport.

  
The next horror, is the new bigger van turned out to be a manual transmission. My poor husband not only had to drive on the opposite side of the road, but had to shift using the opposite hand while doing it. He did great and is continue to do so at it. Neither of us though was prepared for the amount of roundabouts on the roadways.  After some wrong turns, car stalls , and lots of laughter we made it to Stirling town center until it was time to go to the house we rented.

The weather was absolutely stunning. Everywhere we walked, shopkeepers and Stirling citizenry were siting out in the sun, soaking every bit up, eyes closed, in communion. Inside I laughed, that is totally me. I fit right in with these folks.

The most friendly people we came across, which is great for me as I’ve met nary a stranger in my life. My kids were a bit surprised by though and kept commenting on it.

Outside the pub we ate lunch at some “spirits” filled  teens were fascinated with my son J’s very curly long hair. It was terribly cute the interaction that lead to them asking what the drinking age in Colorado is.  Clearly horrified when I said 21, I could see each thinking there was no visiting the US any time soon.

Extreme travel tiredness set in and there was general lack of appreciation for the beauty around us initially in Stirling. Three of the boys slept a fair amount on the planes, but my husband and I slept virtually none.  This was not a good combination me being the navigator with no sat nav and basic verbal directions.

We did, however,  manage to make our first visit to Tescos for some rudimentary kitchen stocking before heading to the West Drip farm cottage. We were laughing trying to figure out what to buy. We were all shocked to find out food labels lack the explanation we rely on in the US.  We made it out with what we needed after the clerk asked why in the world we chose to come here when Colorado is so beautiful. The grass is always greener it seems.

   

  

 More wrong turns and roundabouts to the cottage we went. A lovely space near Stirling on a working farm, everything we needed including a college dorm style refrigerator. Well every other day shopping trips we shall make. We settled in for a dram, a shower, starting laundry, and rest. This picturesque locale was a very good choice.  Exhausted teen boys dropped like flies into sleep on the couches, floors, and beds.  We made it to 8pm before making our way to being prone.

Will the early to sleep came early to rise this first full day in Scotland. Into Stirling we were by 830am. We wandered near the castle through a graveyard next to The Holy Rude church waiting for places to open. Down the hill into the town centre we found an amazing local coffee shop. The cuppa was strong and perfect. A young woman who worked there chatted with us about her family, her American born mother,  and how wonderful it is to live in a town where there is a castle, cannons, and so much history about.

Money exchanging we went before heading to the tourism office to buy historic Scotland explorer passes. By the way my wallet was screaming in pain at the rate of conversion.

My next post will be on Stirling Castle, Argyll Lodging, and the rest of day 2.

  

  

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