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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bonny Scotland is calling again...

Stalker Castle
All day I've been thinking about Scotland.  Dreaming of going back.  Well actually it's more of an intense longing for the gorgeous countryside, the smell, the people, the atmosphere.

I've said for a long time that my dream is to retire and move to Scotland.  But if I'm being honest, that's sort of an "amended" dream.  You know, your real dream is so far outside the realm of what you think is possible, that you alter it somewhat to make it seem more attainable?  Yeah, that.  The real dream would be to figure out something I love to do, and could make a living doing, and move there. Yesterday.  Specifically, Edinburgh.

Don't get me wrong, I love America.  I'm as patriotic as the next guy.  No, I'm probably MORE patriotic than a lot of people.  But the pull I feel from Scotland is just so strong.  It's my roots.  It's where I felt so at home.  It's full of people who look like me, for cryin' out loud!  They are my size, same hair, same pale skin.  They are me.

This morning, my day got started off on such a great note...with gorgeous, professional photography of a castle on the Isle of Mull, which lies off the West coast of Scotland.  I've recently discovered Phil McDermott on Twitter (follow him at @philmacphoto and check out his site, - you won't be sorry!) and because of the time difference, he tweets the most gorgeous photos when I'm contemplating my first cup of coffee.

As I browse through my photos of my trips to Scotland, two things strike me.  The most glaringly obvious is the fact that I am no photographer.  I have a Panasonic DMC-FX28 LUMIX, 18X optical zoom, 10 mega-pixels. I barely know what any of that means.  And I can tell you I know about 1/10th of what it can really do, which means I should probably get around to reading the manual - if I ever find it again. I can't imagine what a "real" camera would do!  Seeing Phil's photos makes it even more obvious to me that I should really try to learn something about using my own camera.  I was feeling pretty cocky about some of the pictures I took, given that my friend took worse pictures than I did (sorry Pam, you know I love you!) and then I saw Phil's.  So I'm going to try harder.  I'm not stupid and I have an artistic eye so there's no excuse for not trying.

The second thing that struck me as I was browsing through my photos was that I took them.  Me.  I was RIGHT THERE!  In Scotland!  I remember each and every shot and what it felt like to be there.  So, to me, they're priceless, regardless of quality.

And those quirky shots that Pam took?  I really love them.  She was with me on my second trip and it couldn't have been better.  Well, I wouldn't have minded if my man wanted to go, but there's some quote about pigs flying that comes to mind. A traveler, he ain't.

I have a fantastic sense of direction.  Really, you can't get me lost.  And I can read a map like nobody's business.  She's left-handed (remember, everything about driving there is backwards to the Yanks,) a great driver and not easily intimidated. Perfect combination.  So we rented a car at the airport in Edinburgh and drove all over Scotland.  Well as far as a week would let us go anyway. It was glorious!  The only disappointing thing was that we didn't have more time.

Cawdor Castle

One of my favorite nights was in Dornie.  We'd traveled too far to make it back to Edinburgh at a decent hour, so we soldiered on from Cawdor Castle in Nairn to Dornie to see Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland.  The day had already been fabulous, what with Cawdor castle being "my castle."  Apparently my ancestors had quite a scuffle over it once upon a time.  The guide and I became fast friends and chatted about old movie stars of the '40s and how I'd "just missed" one of them.  He was still flying high over meeting her.  Of course her name escapes me at the moment.  We ate a great dessert and had real coffee (to Scots, that means "drip" or "brewed" coffee and usually elicits a look of disgust) and a few laughs. Perfection.

In Dornie, we stayed at a little hotel, the Dornie Hotel, which was old and tattered, but full of charm and character and people who couldn't have been nicer.  We ate at the only restaurant there, which conveniently happened to be at the hotel, where the service was great.  Breakfast was served with actual drinkable coffee in a French Press and real, home-churned, fresh butter and jams.  Quaint, comfortable, welcoming, picture-perfect.

Eilean Donan

When we arrived, Eilean Donan was closing up and it had been raining most of the afternoon and evening, so the clouds provided an impressive backdrop to the castle silhouette as darkness approached.  After dinner, I walked around the town, which took all of about 5 minutes if you include the couple of minutes I stopped to greet dogs and masters out on their evening walk..  I lingered in the mist, just staring at the castle lit up in all its glory.  I tried to take a shot of it, but I hadn't yet discovered how to do that with my camera.  Night setting?  Who knew?  It's a shame, too, because that would have been some shot.

When I close my eyes, I can almost feel myself breathing in the mist of the evening and tasting that fresh butter on the piping hot homemade croissants. Heavenly.

Yes, I can see I'm going to have to start planning another trip soon.  Maybe this time, I will plan far enough ahead to actually see the military tattoo at Edinburgh Castle!  And I would be too upset if Sean Connery just happened to be there, too. *wink*

Edinburgh Castle

1 comment :

  1. That sounds like pure heaven. What an amazing experience that must have been, no wonder you want to live there. I look around where I live and look at these glorious pictures and say, "What in the hell am I doing living in a place like this?!" But I know you understand that.


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