Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
What a day this was! After a trip back in time at Blair Castle, we continued to Braemar for an afternoon of Highland Games, bagpipes, and brawny Highlanders in kilts.
Here are a few photos to get you going:
You know, in a kilt, age doesn't really matter :-)
Ok, back to my story.
As we headed into the Highlands, we noticed a few things. First, the heather was still blooming. Second, the hills seemed rockier with fewer trees. And third, signs were printed in both English and Gaelic.
At the games, we were treated to tug-o-wars, foot races, bagpipers by the dozens, men tossing the caber and the heavy hammer, spritely dancers, and great food. I met with a lovely couple at the MacRae booth. We chatted, I bought hubby a cap and myself a scarf, and we exchanged cards.
But the excitement for the day was only beginning as Her Majesty, the Queen arrived with her party to the games. My photos are below, but here's a link to the Braemar Games fb page which has not only photos, but video clips! (Can ye hear the pipers?)
The rain soon began falling in earnest, and a few of us retreated to the clan tents, and from there to the bus where we had a wee dram of 15yr old Glen Ord whisky that had been aged in a sweet white French wine cask. To ward off a chill, ye ken.
It began in 1269 when the Earl of Atholl returned from Crusade to discover his neighbor, John Cumming (likely assuming the earl wouldn't be back), had built a large tower house on his land. The earl took his land, and the tower house, back from Cumming, and Cumming's Tower still stands as the oldest--and tallest--part of the castle.
Our drive to Blair Castle took us over the River Tay which is a major river for salmon fishing. In fact, there was something known as a 'Salmon Charter' in the middle ages to prevent the lord of the manor from feeding his people salmon more than a couple of times per week. Salmon were so numerous, it was said you could almost walk across the River Tay on the backs of the salmon. Simply by stringing a net across the river you were assured of an abundance of salmon.
Just in case you were interested.
As you can see, Blair Castle is quite large and incorporates several styles of architecture. In the 1530s, a long hall was built over a series of vaulted rooms to the south of the original tower. In 1740, a great undertaking was begun to turn the medieval castle into a Georgian mansion. Around 1870 a new entrance hall and ballroom were added, as were bathrooms, gas lines and telephones.
Blair Castle today boasts some 85 rooms, of which 30 are open to the public.
A few interesting facts whilst you peruse the beautiful gardens of Blair Castle:
The Duke of Atholl is the only duke in Scotland allowed to have his own army- though it is today purely ceremonial. Queen Victoria stayed at the castle in 1844. As a mark of loyalty, she granted the Duke the Queen's Colours, and founded the Atholl Highlanders as a private army.
The Duke's family was divided in the Jacobite Uprisings of both 1715 and 1745. In 1745, his oldest son fought on the Jacobite side and sought refuge in France after the Battle of Culloden. The younger son fought for the Crown, and thence became Duke. Years later, the older son's son and the younger son's daughter married, thus keeping the 'rightful heir' (though he was charged with treason) in direct line for the inheritance.
After talks about opening scenes, and one-on-one critique sessions, we escaped to the Dewar Distillary for a tour of Scotland's national drink.
Of interest to a historical author such as myself, it is noted that the distillation process was thought to have arrived in Scotland in the 11th century, though some records show even the ancient Celts distilled what was known as uisge beatha, or the 'water of life'.
No photos were allowed inside the distillery, but this link, Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery from Visit Aberfeldy is a great one for a peek at the beautiful copper kettles and even a virtual tour.
As you can see from the photos, the gardens around the distillery were spectacular. Even the manager's house perched on the hill just above the distillery made this gardener's heart sigh.
We were allowed a tasting at the end of the tour, and I chose the white label, a lovely, light whisky from the nose to the finish. I also brought a bottle home with me :-)
One of our hosts, Jim Malcolm, is quite the whisky connoisseur, and he graciously shared a few of his favorites with us throughout our trip. My favorite was a 21 yr old Scotch aged in a Chateau Lafite cask. It is, unfortunately, of a limited quantity, and I doubt I will ever taste it again. Thank you, Jim, for the lovely memory!
About halfway between Edinburgh and Perth lies Lochleven Castle, a tower house built in the 1300s.
It has the dubious honor of imprisoning Mary, Queen of Scots in 1567. Though she eventually escaped, she never saw Scotland again.
We left Edinburgh on Day 3 of the trip, via the Forth Road Bridge. There are three bridges spanning the Forth. The bridge to our left is a cable-stayed bridge called Queensferry Crossing, scheduled to open May 2017. The one to our right is a railway bridge which has been in use since 1890, and you can see the lovely rock at its northern end in the last photo.
The landscape began to change. We were entering the Highlands.
After a stop at Lochleven Castle for tea, we continued to Farleyer Lodge where we would spend the remainder of our trip--with jaunts from this lovely rallying point. Enjoy the photos of the lodge below. It is nestled in the woods with beautiful gardens spilling from its front doors. I spent many peaceful moments soaking in the scenery most mornings.
As we left Edinburgh for our lodge in Perthshire where we would spend the remainder of our trip, we stopped at Abbotsford Estate, home of Sir Walter Scott. Here along the River Tweed, he penned his novels.
Sir Walter Scott was born in 1771 in Edinburgh. At three years of age he contracted polio, and was sent to live with an uncle on the Borders. He was intrigued with the region and returned to live here later. In 1806 he became Sherriff of Selkirk. He decided he wished to live in a castle, and built Abbotsford in the Scottish Baronial Style which is also known as the imitation castle style of the Victorian period. But home boasted gas lighting, under-floor heating and indoor toilets.
Sir Walter Scott's descendants continued to live in the house until 2004. Today, part of it is available for rent.
The gardens of Abbotsford:
The house is breath-taking. We were allowed to take non-flash photos inside. This is the great hall. In the first photo, the breastplate on teh right is French, the one on the left is Polish.
Sir Walter Scott's study.
The library. The oil painting is of Sir Walter's son.
The drawing room with its lovely chandelier and imported green wallpaper.
Images from his armory. His collection was vast, with weapons from all over the world, and these are only a few items. You'll just have to visit Abbotsford for yourself to see the entire room.
An interesting note: The Brown Bess rifle was accurate to about 50 feet and the primary weapon in the Napoleonic Wars.
The dining room, which was originally quite dark, was later painted white. During restoration, it was decided to keep the brighter look, though there are places on the ceiling where the paint was removed to show the original wood.
The dishes are not original to Sir Walter Scott's table. They are, however, designed with Abbotsford in mind.
I will leave you with a few more images of Abbotsford. What do you think of the estate?
All 4th Of July 99 Cents Abbotsford Adam Adam-a-highlander-romance Aidi Breed American-civil-war Andrea-r-cooper Angela-scavone Anne-b-cole Anthology April-holthaus Ashley York Australia Author Interview Bambi Lynn Barbara Bettis Barnes & Noble Berengaria-brown Best-seller Betrayal Black Watch Museum Blair-castle Blog Hop Book Deal Book Dogs Book Giveaway Book Release Day Book Release Party Book Sale Book Series Books To Read After Outlander Booksweeps Border-collies Boxed-set Braemar-highland-games Brenda-stinnett Burke-and-hare Capercallie Carly-jordynn Carmen-stefanescu Carol-ann-moleti Carole-ann-moleti Caroline-warfield Castle-menzies Catherine-castle Cathy Dd Macrae Cathy-macrae Cd-hersh Ceci-giltenan Celebrations Celtic Cerian-herbert Character-interview Char-chaffin Chocolate Christmas Christmas-box-set Claire-gem Clava-cairns Collette-cameron Colley Collie Compuiter-woes Contemporary-mystery Contemporary-paranormal Contemporary-romance Contest Cover-reveal Creme-de-la-cover-contest Ct-green Culloden-battlefield Cynthia-owens Dawn-ireland Dawn-marie-hamilton Dd-macrae Debut Debut-author Dewars-distillery Direct-deposit Edinburgh Eilean-donan-castle Elisabeth-hobbes Elizabeth-preston Elizabeth-rose Elle-hill Evil-villain Excerpts Fantasy-historical Farleyer-lodge First First-kiss Flowers Food Forth-bridges France Free-book Free-books Freki Georgian-romance German-shepherd Get-lost-in-a-story-blog-interview Ghost-tour Gilda Gildas-story Giveaway Glen-ord-whisky Graveyards Guest-author Guest-blogger Halloween Hardy-heroines Highland-chocolatier Highlander-romance Highland-escape Highland-romance Historical-irish Historical-post Historical-romance Hm-queen-elizabeth-ii Holiday Holiday-read Hot-historicals Hurricane-harvey Iain-burnett Indtale Jenna-jaxon Jenni-fletcher Jessica-jefferson Jill-hughey Judith Sterling Karen-lopp Kate-hill Katherine-bone Kathryn-le-veque Kindle-world Kobo Lane Mcfarland Larynn-ford Laura-strickland Laurel Odonnell Lauren-linwood Leault-farm Legends-of-scotland Life-with-freki Limited-time-offer Linda-bennett-pennell Lochleven-castle Loch-ness Luxury-cruises Macleod Madeline-martin Madelyn-hill Maggie-mundy Mairi-norris Marilyn-baxter Mary-gillgannon Mary-morgan Meda-white Medieval-blog-hop Medieval-hop Medieval-monday-2015 Medieval-monday-2016 Medieval-monday-2017 Medievalmonday2018 Medieval-monday-2018 Medieval Monday 2019 Medieval-mondays Medieval-mystery Medieval Romance Meet-the-characters Meggan-connor Meggan-connors Mhairis-yuletide-wish Military-romance Miriam-newman Neva-brown New-book Nicole-locke Night-owl-reviews Norman-conquest Nostalgia-romance Novella Paranormal Paranormal-romance Patricia-hudson Patrick Paty-jager Pirate-romance Pirates Post-civil-war Postcivil-war-western-romance Preorder Pre-order Prizes Puppy Rachel-sharpe R-b-austin Rb-austin Recipe Recipes Red-l-jameson Regency-romance Release-date Research Review Rl-syme Romance Romance-novels Romance-on-the-high-seas Romantic-mystery Romantic-suspense Rone-award Rue-allyn Ruth-a-casie Ruth-a-casie Ruth-kaufman Sale Samantha-wyatt Samhain Sandra-harris Sandra-jones Sarah-hegger Sarah-hoss Sarah-woodbury Saranna-dewylde Scavenger-hunt Sci-fi-romance Scifi-romance Sc-mitchell Scotland Scotland-with-grace-2016 Scottish-crannog-centre Scottish-historical Scottish-regency Scottish-romance Sheep Sherrie-hansen Sherry-ewing Sherry-ewing Short-dog-press Sir-walter-scott Soul-mate-publishing Southern-romance Special-price Spermbanks Spring Steamships Stella-marie-alden St-patricks-day Sweet-romance Tam Tea-party-and-books Teaser-tuesday Thankful The-ghosts-of-culloden-moor-series The-hardy-heroines-series The-hghlanders-accidental-bride The-highlanders-accidental-bride The-highlanders-bride-series The Highlander's Crusader Bride The-highlanders-french-bride The-highlanders-norse-bride The-highlanders-outlaw-bride The-highlanders-reluctant-bride The-highlanders-tempestuous-bride The-highlanders-viking-bride The-highlanders-welsh-bride The-reading-cafe The-saint The-seventh-son The-twalve-days-o-yuletide Thursdays-teaser Thursdays-threads Time-travel Tina-susedik Top-ten-list Travel Twelve-days-of-christmas Uisge-beatha Urban-fantasy Urquart-castle Valentine Valentines-day Victorian-romance Victoria-zak Vijaya-schartz Viking-romance Vikings Villains Viola-russell Wales Wareeze-woodson Water-kelpie Weeping-window-of-poppies Western-romance Whisky Winner Winners Womens-fiction World-of-de-wolfe Ya-fantasy