Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
The skies wept the day we left. Our little group was already breaking up as people boarded trains for Inverness, London and places beyond.
A few were continuing on vacation, meeting other family members, taking a bit more time to explore the world.
Departing Scotland was a bit surreal. We had one more meal with what remained of our group, but no lingering in the parlor of Farleyer Lodge, discussing writing, our lives, our dreams. But our hosts ensured we had a night worth remembering, and our last hours as part of Scotland with Grace 2016 finally came to an end.
I've heard the rumor that Scotland with Grace 2017 is already in the planning stages. I would love to be part of it!
If you'd like to visit Scotland with a tour group, please consider Jim and Susie Malcolm as your guides. Here is a link to their site: http://www.jimmalcolm.com/scotland/ You won't be disappointed!
I'll just close with a gallery of photos. It's hard to believe Scotland with Grace 2016 is over, so I'll just put my Bard Hair Day DVD in and listen to the songs and maybe bring back a few more memories.
Looks like a great place for a ghost tour, doesn't it?
Castle Menzies was literally next door to our lodge. In fact, Farleyer Lodge is the dower house for Castle Menzies.
Castle Menzies was built on this site in the late 1400s, though it was originally a tower fortress and added on to over the years.
It boasts the recognition as being a place where Bonnie Prince Charlie slept on his way to Culloden. Four days later, the Duke of Cumberland, commander of the Government forces, also stayed here. Imagine the fluster!
I know this is a terrible photo, but I'd like to point out two things.
First, this is the hearth in the kitchen. How would you like to have worked here? The hearth is quite large, so the fires would have produced quite a lot of heat. It was difficult to think of the kitchen as the bustling place it must have been once. The night we visited was very quiet.
Second, I have no idea what the blue light is. It was not there when I was posing for the photo. A trick of digital photography? Or something else? It was a ghost tour, after all.
Our guides for the night were paranormal investigators who had some interesting stories of things they had witnessed at the castle. In looking up Castle Menzies on the internet, I found that it is considered one of the most haunted castles in Scotland. Though we didn't encounter any ghostly activity the night we were there, it was an interesting evening.
With the turbulent times the castle and clan lived through, I can imagine plenty of reasons for ghosts to haunt this beautiful castle.
Our trip took us to Dunkeld for a short shopping spree, and I stumbled across St. Ninian's garden just a block off the main thoroughfare.
Dunkeld is a lovely town, very much today as it was in the 17th century - minus the automobile traffic, that is, and home to the Beatrice Potter museum as well as St. Ninian's Garden.
The next day, we were up bright and early. This is no mean feat for 18 women, but the lure this time was Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier. And the Chocolate Lounge.
This was one of Grace's must-haves for the tour, and I believe we each purchased enough chocolate to prove we agreed with her. Did all of my chocolate make it home? LOL! You crack me up!
But don't tell my husband - *shush*
"The Black Watch boasts a history of honour, gallantry and devoted service to King, Queen and country. The battles which have contributed most to The Black Watch history have been those in which the odds have been most formidable.
From Fontenoy to Fallujah with Ticonderoga Waterloo, Alamein and two World Wars in between, the Black Watch has been there when the world's history has been shaped."
In the wake of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion, companies of Highlanders loyal to the English crown formed companies to prevent fighting between the clans, deter raiding and assist in enforcing the laws.
The name is derived from the now well-known dark tartan that was part of the original uniform of the regiment, and their original role, which was to 'watch' the Highlands.Through the centuries, The Black Watch has continued to serve King, Queen and country. In the early 1960, the Regimental Headquarters and the museum moved to its present location at Balhousie Castle. The castle, which has a varied and rich history, dates back to the 12th century.
We were fortunate to be able to view the Weeping Window, a cascading memorial of ceramic poppies by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper.
The sculpture began at the Tower of London where ceramic poppies were planted around two original sculptures, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. Each poppy represents the life of a British or Colonial soldier lost during the first World War.
At the Black Watch Museum, the Weeping Window flows from a second floor turret window to the castle grounds below.
Medieval Monday is back!!
After a few weeks' hiatus for the summer, your favorite Medieval Monday authors are back!
Our current theme is travel, so be sure to check weekly to see how each author uses travel to bring you an excerpt from her novel.
Let's start with my latest novella, The Saint.
“You will ride with us,” Geoffrey informed her, changing his mind once again. Simon and Walter gave him startled looks and his neck warmed. “The Church teaches us to care for women and children,” he reminded them. He returned Marsaili’s furious stare. “And those unable to fend for themselves. ’Tis not safe for you to travel alone, and you will be under our protection until your journey ends or you are passed on to another for safe-keeping.”
“Here’s a miracle for yer impending sainthood, Lord de Wylde!" Marsaili shouted. "’Tis a miracle no one has kilt ye out of a fit of total aggravation for yer interfering ways. I told ye I dinnae need yer care, and I meant it!”
“I heard you, and you do,” Geoffrey intoned evenly, reining in his building annoyance with supreme effort. Never had anyone—much less a woman—gainsaid him as this woman did. “I am used to having my orders followed to the letter, so let me speak plainly. You will ride with us until we reach my estate at Galewood, which is not far from the Scottish border. At that time, escort will be arranged for you that will take you to your destination. No other options, opinions or attempts to sway a change in my order will be entertained.”
He paused, waiting for the woman to explode. Her cheeks flamed, her neck arched, and sparks flew from her clear blue eyes. Impressive! The only drawback was the thinning of her full lips, marring their lush perfection. And, of course, ’twas now likely she had a full arsenal of vindictive words ready to hurl at him.
“Do I make myself clear?” he asked, forestalling her tirade.
“Ye amadan!” she hissed. “Ye dinnae care what damage ye cause. I have reason to not ride with ye, or any man. I willnae have my journey impeded by such as ye.”
“Such as me?” he returned, curious as to what specific fault she found with him.
She waved an arm in the air, encompassing everyone in the room. “Ye have two horses where four would give better service pulling that wagon. Yer driver is elderly and likely not capable of demanding the best of what nags he has. And two men are an impressively small guard for a landed English lord.” She cast a look at their booted feet. “And, ’twere it not for the gold spurs ye wear, I’d find myself wondering at their abilities.”
Stung, Walter rose to his full height. “The three of us are completely formidable, milady,” he informed her, his voice rising with each word.
“Everyone knows the might of The Wolfe rides at our back,” Simon added with a nonchalant shrug. “It has been quite some time since anyone was foolish enough to challenge us.”
Marsaili drew back, a chill coursing up her spine at the thought of these men aligned with the formidable baron, Lord William de Wolfe, the king’s champion.
She suppressed a shudder. “Nevertheless, there are but two of ye now, unless milord fights from his chair. Though he has a commanding presence, I have yet to see him without his cane.”
“Despite our grievous faults, the fact remains you are safer with us than without us,” Geoffrey clipped. “Make yourself presentable and begin your sojourn with our lackluster party by helping with a few of the chores. We will bide the night here and leave at first light.”
* * *
Following in the footsteps of his uncle, the famous Lord William de Wolfe, Geoffrey de Wylde was counted among the greatest knights England had ever known. Revered for his justness and strict adherence to the chivalric code, he was known as The Saint.
Fleeing the unwanted attentions of her late husband's brother, Marsaili de Ville runs headlong into the path of The Saint. She wants nothing more than to reach the safety of her family's home in Scotland before Edmund de Ville’s henchmen capture her, but Geoffrey de Wylde insists on becoming her protector, slowing her flight and putting her unknowingly at risk.
As her past catches up with her, Marsaili will find more than a safe haven in The Saint’s arms. And Geoffrey de Wylde will discover his code does not tell him what to do with a woman who has been accused of murder, yet has captured his heart.
Amazon Kindle Worlds: https://www.amzn.com/dp/B01LMHIC4K
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