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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
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|Sunday, November 22nd, 2015|
|Saturday, August 10th, 2013|
|Sunday, July 14th, 2013|
|Monday, July 8th, 2013|
|Thursday, July 4th, 2013|
|Sunday, November 18th, 2012|
|Saturday, November 17th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 8
The last day of the tour
It wasn't the moaning of a ghost in the "The Captain's Room" that kept us up through that night, but the gusts and howls of the wind. I think I must've slept better than the others on our tour, however--in 2-hour chunks at least. Some of the party claimed that they didn't sleep at all. I had hoped that the storm would've blown over by morning so that I could walk down to the seaside. The worst had passed, but the winds were still strong and there was some rain. So I didn't try. One of the men on the tour told me over breakfast that he did go out for a walk up that road you can see in the photo taken from my window; he said it was all right with the wind at his back, but he had to struggle walking back to the house against the wind. The woman in "The Captain's Room" reported no sign of the ghost, but said it was a very cool room, done up like a cabin on a ship. So I had to go and have a look when I gathered up my things. Unfortunately, we only stayed at the Spindrift that one night.
When we left the hotel, we drove through the town of Anstruther and down to the seafront to see the waves crashing upon--and over!
(270 KB)--the breakwater.
Tom then took us to see a church very near the sea
(290 KB) He also said that a film in production starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman had some scenes shot here, so I'll have to keep an eye out for it. The rain had let up enough by this point that we walked down the steep, wet hillside to have a look in the church. It was very nautical inside, with miniature ships hung from the ceiling of the nave.( Read more...Collapse )
|Sunday, November 11th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 7
Into the storm...
It wasn't raining when I got up that morning, but the sky to the south looked overcast and ominous.The view from the Glen Lui hotel terrace
(300 KB). You can see the lowering sky, and also the golf course just beyond the first line of trees.
I went into the hotel itself for the first time for breakfast--they had a couple of comfy-looking sitting rooms too, but I didn't have time to sit in them--then took a walk along the edge of the golf course before we loaded our luggage back onto the coach.
The fun thing about that morning was the squirrels. The hotel was surrounded by tall trees with feeders on them, and we could watch the squirrels running around from the dining area windows. This was nothing new to me; I see squirrels climbing the trees in my own yard at home everyday, though those are generally the bigger grey or black North American species and these were the smaller, red, tufted-ear Squirrel-Nutkin British type. But to the Australians, squirrels were a strange and exotic animal. They'd never seen one before. I suppose I'd be as excited to see koalas and kangaroos gamboling about outside the windows during my breakfast, while the Australians would be shrugging them off as the usual local wildlife.
When we left the hotel, we drove by the back road to Balmoral. Visitors can go in for tours when the Queen isn't in residence, but unfortunately for us, she was there that week. All we could do was drive by the front gate.( Read more...Collapse )
|Saturday, November 10th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 6
Leaving Skye and heading for Ballater
(with a few stops along the way)
We left Skye the next morning, racing along roads that have become familiar after all our driving around the island the day before. We stopped for some photo opportunities.
For example, this little piles of rocks
(235 KB). We'd seen piles like this at rest stops and along the road since the long drive up to Skye; apparantly, there are people who just go around doing this.
And, although we didn't get to stay at the hotel right near the Skye bridge, we did leave the island by way of the bridge and stopped at the little village of Kyleakin beneath it. Though it wasn't the long morning walk I'd hoped to have if we'd stayed here, I had just enough time to take this photo of the Skye bridge
(265 KB) and the split-top castle
nearby (200 KB).( Read more...Collapse )
|Sunday, October 28th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 5, continued
Day 5. Still driving around Skye
We had stopped briefly in the town of Portree that morning, but we returned around noon for our official visit and lunch. The group dispersed to have a look around and find places to eat. I bought a ready-made sandwich at one of the local grocery stores and had a walking lunch down along the very pretty waterfront
When I came back up to the town square, I bought lunch, part 2, a fruit scone from the bakery--and there on the street corner also ran into The Bee, part 2. Back while we were waiting for the coach outside the Dunvegan castle cafe and gift shop, a bee buzzed around in my face and even landed on the front of my coat. At Portree when I came out of the bakery, the same thing happened again! It couldn't be the same bee--Portree is 20 miles from Dunvegan--but the thing kept getting in my face, going away and then coming back. Impossible to eat my scone in peace. Swatting at the bee, I got some chunks of scone on the sidewalk and had to pick them up. I had some Benedryl in my bag, but I really didn't want to get stung and quickly fled the area. A third bee (or it might have been the second one still following me) made an appearance just before the group got on the coach, but I ducked into a bus shelter until it went away.( Read more...Collapse )
|Friday, October 26th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 5
Day 5. Through the Secret Door... and around Skye
When I entered my room at the new hotel the previous night, I had discovered a little door to the outside hiding behind the window curtains, but there wasn't time to explore then nor later on in the cold night before I went to bed. But there was plenty of time the next morning; because of our long drive the day before, we had a late start for this day's tour around the island. Due to union rules for tour drivers, we also got a guest driver for the day and had to wait for him to come join us.
So, before breakfast, I was up and dressed and I unlocked the little door. As I expected, it took me directly out onto the back lawn of the hotel, which was mostly set up as a golf course. It had been a cold night and the grass was white with frost. Down by the water, there was also a stone jetty with a picnic table on at the point; as if turned out, we were not on a river, precisely, but where the river flowed out into a wide, tidal inlet. The tide was very low that morning, so there was only a little bit of water (from the river) out in the middle of a broad muddy area. Stone steps went down to a little boat landing, but there didn't seem any reason to go down them when there was nothing but mud at the bottom.Our hotel, as seen from the back lawn on a frosty morning
(570 KB). My room was one of those five little segments you can see extending out of the back of the house at about the center of the photo; the third (middle) one.( Read more...Collapse )
|Sunday, October 21st, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 4
Day 4. The Long Drive to Skye
No big tourist stops on this day, but lots of little ones. We were on the road for a very long time.
We packed up and left Oban before 9:00 the next morning, taking a back road through the hills and farmland out of town. There was frost on the grass where the sunlight hadn't yet touched. Tom told us that he thought the road was an ancient one, pointing out a standing stone like a road marker along the way. The other highlight of this first part of the day's drive was more Highland cows; from the way they crowded the fence when our coach stopped to get their photos, they must have thought we were the farm-truck with their breakfast. The farmers did come along while we were there.
We then drove north through Glen Orchy, on a road that runs beside a popular trout stream
(560 KB). It really is a lovely place, and there were actually a lot of fishers, campers, and hikers out even though it was a chilly morning. ( Read more...Collapse )
|Tuesday, October 16th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 3
Day 3. Mull and Iona
I was up early the next morning, leaving my tiny room to take advantage of one of the really good features of the hotel: its location along the waterfront. From playing with Google Maps streetview before my trip, I knew that the road out of Oban would take me up to the ruins of a castle on a rocky outcropping not more than a quarter-mile away. It was my goal to walk out and get back before breakfast, which I managed very nicely. It was, however, a drizzly morning and the path through the woods up into the ruins was muddy, so I didn't get to explore as much as I would've liked.
We didn't dawdle after breakfast, but everybody got into the coach and we drove down to the Oban port to catch the 9 am ferry to Mull. This was a nice, big ship, capable of carrying semi trucks in the car-hold. We didn't have to sit in the van during the crossing, but were told we could leave it and go onto the upper decks as long as we were back before the ferry docked at Mull--and we did leave as soon as the vehicles were parked in the hold, squeezing through gaps between some of those semis to make our way to the stairs. Upstairs there was a restaurant, a gift shop, a little coffee kiosk, a place to watch TV, and open decks at the back and on the very top. The crossing takes about an hour. It was still drizzling on and off, but I wiped off a plastic chair and sat on the back deck for most of the trip; the top deck was too windy.
As soon as the ferry docked and the coach was off, we made our way across Mull as quickly as Tom could manage without speeding or getting us into an accident. We wanted to catch the 11:30 ferry to Iona, which we could ju-u-u-st
make if we didn't get stuck behind a slow-poke somewhere along the way.( Read more...Collapse )
|Sunday, October 14th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--Day 2, continued
Day 2 (continued): On our way to Oban
When we left Luss, we drove north along Loch Lomond and then began to climb into the Highlands. We followed the old military road from the 1700s, though that was farther down in the valley than the modern road we drove on; the old road couldn't withstand modern traffic. Along the way, we stopped briefly at the "Rest and be Thankful" pass
(310 KB) to enjoy the fabulous view and get some photos. (You can see the new road on the hillside and the 1700s road below it.)( Read more...Collapse )
|Saturday, October 13th, 2012|
|Scotland Travel Journal--the beginning
Day 1. Up to Glasgow.
Getting off an uneventful overnight flight first thing in the morning, I crossed London to Euston station, just missing the 9:30 and 9:45 a.m. trains to Glasgow, but having plenty of time before the 10:30 one. Fortunately, trains to Glasgow run frequently! I got there about 3:00 in the afternoon and quickly walked the two square blocks to my hotel, the Carlton George
. They give me the nicest room I stayed in during the tour, although the view from my bedroom window was disappointing (just an air shaft). The view from the restaurant/breakfast room at the top of the building
(260 KB), however, was impressive.
After the long travel and little sleep, I was too tired that first evening to do more than get a sandwich, take a hot, soaky bath, and fall asleep while watching "The Third Man."Day 2. The Tour Begins!( Read more...Collapse )
|Saturday, September 8th, 2012|
|Monday, September 3rd, 2012|
|My last day in Cornwall
Day 6. Trengwainton & St. Micheal's Mount
The first thing I did that last morning was move from my B&B down by the water up to one just across the street from the train station so I could get the earliest train out the next day. After leaving my broken-wheeled suitcase at the new B&B, I went over to the bus terminal (just on the other side of the train station, so not a very long walk) and got a day pass. Then I took the bus to Trengwainton Gardens
, on the far side of Penzance. ( Read more...Collapse )
|More of the Cornish travel journal
Day 5. Lanhydrock
The next morning, I walked up to the Penzance rail station and took a short train ride to Bodmin Parkway. The country house Lanhydrock
is about a mile's walk from the train station; I Google street-viewed this too, to be sure I knew where I was going. Although the path I took under the railway bridge and through a charming little park along a stream was about 100 yards over from the street-view road through the same woods. It was a pleasant walk, and took me right up to the gates of the house. After that, there was another long walk up an avenue lined with trees on both sides before I reached the house.
Although the Lanhydrock estate has a longer history, the old house was almost completely destroyed by fire in the 1880s and rebuilt soon afterwards; it is thoroughly "modern" example of a house of that period, with all the latest late-Victorian innovations and social theories applied. The sex-segregated servants' quarters, for example, and the cooling devices in the kitchens. The house is set at the end of a little valley and the hillside behind it has been made into a lovely and elaborate garden.
The house, as seen from the front:http://kramage.liheliso.com/UK2011/lanhydrock.jpg
The house, as seen from the top of the hill behind it (and me standing among the fading hydrangeas):http://kramage.liheliso.com/UK2011/me-lanview.jpg
Me again, on the rampart that runs around the foot of the hill behind the house:http://kramage.liheliso.com/UK2011/me-roofs.jpg
Cows on the lawn!http://kramage.liheliso.com/UK2011/cows.jpg
It was a beautiful day and I had a great time wandering first the house, then the gardens, but that afternoon was when the blister on my foot really began to act up. There is a little golf-cart-like shuttle to carry people from the house to the parking lot, which is way over on the other side of the property, but they were nice enough to take me down to the end of the avenue so I only had the walk through the park to get back to the train station to return to Penzance in time for dinner.
|Sunday, September 2nd, 2012|
|Continuing my Cornish travel journal, part 3
Day 4. Driving around (after the flat tire)
So, at the end of my last entry, I had a flat tire. There is a house on one side of the road where I pulled the car over, and a small farm with an empty caravan park on the other, but nobody in sight. Nobody at home in the house (I knocked on the door), so the first I did was try to change the tire myself. By co-incidence, just before I left for the UK, I was watching an episode of I Love Lucy on DVD where Lucy and Ethel get a flat tire on their way to Florida and try to change it. At least, I did better than they did with regard to finding the tools and spare in the trunk, and I learned something from them about making sure the jack goes under the axle. Getting the jack to lift up the tire, however, was beyond my abilities.
Fortunately, at this point, I did get help from the guy at the farm/caravan site. He handled the jack efficiently; I handed him the tools and spare as needed and in about 10 minutes, after profuse thanks and washing the grease off my hands over at the farmhouse, I was on my way!
BTW, this flat tire turns out to be the most memorable event of my trip. It's the one thing I tell everyone about. "So how was your vacation in Cornwall?" "Great! I had a flat tire."( Read more...Collapse )