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.
We had a wonderful guide at the crannog centre. She was interesting, knowledgeable, and knew how to start a fire.
Surprisingly, though the crannogs are of wood construction and the walls and floors are stuffed and spread with dried bracken, there is little evidence of crannogs catching on fire. As we sat in the crannog amid sparks and little gusts of wind, I was certain they burned on a regular basis. But apparently not.
Most often, fires were not extinguished at night, merely damped down. As our guide illustrated, fires could be difficult to start, and why add one more problem to an already busy day? There is even a hard fungus (conch fungus, I believe) that has a circular interior chamber where live embers could be stashed if you wished to take a bit of fire with you. That's ingenious!
To create fire, she first filled a small 'boat' with bits of dry grass and tender. She then set a flat piece of wood with a circular divot that was the same size as the stick she would use onto a small piece of leather. (This one was meant to be used over and over, and with different size sticks)
She then wrapped the string of her 'bow' around the upright stick and drew the bow back and forth. And back and forth. Until we saw smoke!
She carefully transferred the tiny glowing embers to the 'boat' and blew gently. Fire!
Though it took several minutes to get the fire started, this was not something anyone wanted to do every morning before breakfast, not to mention in damp or cold or stormy weather.
Thanks to our guide for letting us experience life in a crannog!!
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