Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V is for View

Okay, we're up to the fifth last letter in the A to Z blogging challenge and I've totally gone with the easy option. There are not a lot of Scottish Highland related things starting with the letter V - my friends at work thought I should do Valhalla, the ultimate aim for vikings, as a lot of the highlands was settled by vikings, but instead I'm going with View.

As an Australian it is my responsibility to point out that the best views in the world are in Australia, but the Scottish Highlands run a close second. The one thing that I can't take a photo of with my phone that is fabulous is the stars - in London, due to light pollution, it was sometimes easy to forget that there were stars in the sky, but here we can see them.

Here's a selection of views that I think are beautiful.

Nairn beach on new years eve.

Cairngorm mountains taken from the train.

The ruins of Urquhart castle on the banks of Loch Ness.

Glen Coe.

Glen Coe (it's just so stunning, that's why there's two pictures).

A loch on the way to Ullapool - so still, so perfect.

Sunset from Nairn beach.

There's my contribution for the letter V but before you go, why don't you pop over to the A to Z blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the letter V - Click Here to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and think about what your favourite view in the world is.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: This is my very most favourite view in the entire world. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U is for Ullapool

The A to Z challenge is nearing the end with only five letters to go after today - I think I'll sleep for two days straight when we finish the month of April. Today we have U and we visited the village of Ullapool on the northwest coast of the highlands.

Ullapool is 70 miles from us and is in the region of Scotland known as Wester Ross.

Ullapool is not a very big village but it does have a ferry port with sailings to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It also has fishing boats and a thriving tourist industry. In the middles of the village is this beautiful old clock that was giving to the village by Sir John Fowler in 1899. The beautiful mosaic of the fish is on a local pottery shop.

Looking along the village front from the wharf.

We visited this lovely antique shop called the White Rabbit - it had lots of really interesting things in it and we'll definitely have to visit again in the future. The yard next to that was one we passed during a walk around the town - it was the sort of yard that Ken would have love to have a rummage through.

 Ullapool sits on Lochbroom and as with so many Scottish Lochs it is simply stunning scenery.

Here's my beloved with a much younger Bramble Jelly in the Ceilidh Place which is a lovely pub/restaurant/bookshop/hotel. Dogs are allowed which is always wonderful, as we like to be able to take the little monster with us.

Ullapool has a lot of cultural events for such a small town. In early May there is a very popular book festival which is held over three days. At the end of September, over two days, is the music festival of Loopallu (that's Ullapool backwards), and in October they have a guitar festival.

There's a couple of places to buy ice cream and if it's a nice day it's a perfect place to sit and enjoy the peace of this village on the loch.

Christmas 2016 saw us returning to Ullapool to see their beautiful Christmas tree which was made out of lobster creels and had a crab on top rather than a star or an angel. It really was a fantastic site and we made sure we stayed until it got dark just so we could see it lit up.

So there you have it, the lovely village of Ullapool. Before you go, why don't you pop over to the A to Z blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with - Click Here to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and take time to do something for yourself this week.

Pamela & Ken

Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for Tomintoul, highest village in the highlands

We're up to T in the A to Z blogging challenge (still haven't found a V but have had some helpful suggestions from my friends at work) and we've visited the village of Tomintoul which is 39 miles from us.

Tomintoul is the highest village in the Scottish Highlands and was founded in 1776 by the Duke of Gordon.

Tomintoul is in the Cairngorms national park and was a planned village so is focused around a central square with some of the original Georgian and Victorian buildings still there.

We stopped for a snack in the Old Fire Station Tea Room which has got lots of old fire fighting memorabilia including lots of hose nozzles, fire station related toys, helmets all around the walls, and hanging from the ceiling are fire shirts from several different countries.

As we wandered along the one street of shops, which includes several galleries and gift shops, we found this very ornate ring for tying your dog to - it reminded me a little of the door knockers in the film Labyrinth and of course I've included a video of that scene as I love that movie.

At the end of the main street there is a park with walking tracks through the forest. Along the way we found these three interesting characters in amongst the trees and the bog. Bramble decided to make friends with one of them.

As we walked through the forest we came across an adventure playground which is always a bit too tempting to the two big kids that we are. Now I semi restrained myself due to a little bit of an incident last year where I had a spectacular fall off the children's assault course in Nairn, but Ken couldn't resist the zip wire and decided that Bramble would want to do it with him.

Tomintoul has a whiskey distillery that is quite a distance out of the town, but unfortunately it wasn't open for visiting when we got there. I did like all the barrels lined up with their different coloured tops.

There was a lovely old church and graveyard on the road between the distillery and the town so of course we had to stop and look around.

Just two headstones for you today - these two crosses are so different and yet both so interesting. The one on the left is white marble and has stayed so pristine looking, whilst the one on the right looks like something out of medieval times.

Our next stop on the road was the Bridge of Avon, which was built in 1754 and originally called the Bridge of Campdalmore. It's no longer used for vehicles but is part of one of the many walking tracks.

Last two photos are of the entrance to the Urlarmore farm bed and breakfast - I love how they've used an old knife sharpening wheel for their sign, and decorated the area with a beautiful bathtub garden.

There you have it, a brief look around the village of Tomintoul - because it's so high up it's one of the first areas that has the snow gates shut on the roads during winter. Before you go, why don't you pop over to the A to Z blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the letter T - Click Here to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and have a wonderful week.

Pamela & Ken

Saturday, April 22, 2017

S is for Skye

End of the third week and we're nearly there - the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing for several letters next week is NOT bothering me at all. As we've just had a week on the Isle of Skye it was the obvious choice for the letter S. Skye lies off the West coast of Scotland and is attached by a bridge.

We love Skye and I could write pages about it, but instead I'm just going to pick a couple of things that you might find interesting. This is the cottage we stayed in, Colquhouns Byre, a converted cowshed which we stayed in nearly 15 years ago. The one big difference is that they've put in a tv since we were last here, but we resisted as it was a week for recharging our batteries, and we didn't watch it at all.

In my B post I wrote about the Battle of Culloden which feature Bonnie Prince Charlie leading the Jacobites. After they were defeated Prince Charlie fled and in part of his escape he was assisted by Flora Macdonald who got him in a boat to Skye. She sounds like an amazing woman and had quite an eventful life which you can read about HERE if interested. In 1884 the Skye Boat song was written to commemorate Flora's part in helping Prince Charles flee the country - some of you may recognise the tune as the theme to Outlander.

Flora is buried at Kilmuir graveyard on Skye - I love the epitaph and her name definitely is mentioned in history on a regular occasion.

Here's a few other interesting graves that are in Kilmuir - it's well worth a visit if you're in the area. This knight has survived the harsh weather of Scotlands west coast rather well, though Ken did scoff at the thought of Angus carrying it up from the shore on his back - the graveyard is quite a long way from the shore up a large hill.

I had to include this gravestone as Donald was killed by a boulder whilst climbing in 1945 and his headstone is shaped like a boulder - we thought it was slightly ironic and hoped it wasn't the boulder that did the deed.

This stone marks the burial place of Charles MacArthur who was a famous piper to the clan MacDonald. Unfortunately the piper's son was drowned before the inscription was finished so the stone carver gave up his work as he realised he wasn't going to get paid. The inscription finishes half way through a sentence - "and the melody of his fingers will....".

In the more modern graveyard next to the one Flora is in, you'll find the grave of Alexander McQueen, the famous fashion designer. His grave marker is really beautiful and I love the quote about love across the top.

The other thing I have to share with you about Skye is the Fairy sites. Yes, you heard me correctly, fairies. There is a famous tale about one of the Chiefs of the Macleod clan wanting to marry a fairy princess. Eventually it was allowed but after a year and a day she had to return to her own people. The Fairy Bridge (below) is where the Chief and the princess said goodby when they parted. Can you spot any fairies hiding under the arch?

There are lots of places on Skye that are associated with fairies and there is the preserved remains of a Fairy flag in Dunvegan Castle which we saw years ago when we visited the castle - imagine my excitement at seeing a bit of fairy history. Just for those doubters, here's an interesting take on the fairy flag from the Dunvegan Castle website.

The other place on this theme that we visited was the Fairy Pools. These are a series of natural waterfalls and rockpools with slightly otherworldly clear blue water, hence the name. It's a bit of a trek to see them but it's well worth it.

Of course I had to take my shoe off and put my foot in a fairy pool - it was a little bit cold, as the mountains the water comes down from have still got some snow on them.

So there you have a little taste of Skye - a beautiful island and a wonderful place to visit. Before you go, why don't you pop over to the A to Z blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the letter S - Click Here to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and do something nice for yourself today.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: I had to include this picture of a Highland Cow that I had a chat with whilst we were on Skye.