Our last day in Scotland–farewell, but not forever


We left our “castle” early, because we had a lot to see in very little time.

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Our plan was to get as close to Edinburgh Castle as we could, then drop the car in a NCP (National Car Park). Ditzo the Wonder GPS could only get us to the castle, so we had to find our own way to the parking structure. Good thing we had a paper map.

The parking charges were horrific, by the way. Some £5 per hour, or something close to that. Yikes!

We got up to the Royal Mile, which goes from the Castle down to Holyrood Palace (the latter was not on our list of places to visit), and explored the Castle first. Last time I was here, we didn’t go inside—so I was really eager to see it.


That took a good number of hours—well, we were taking pictures every two feet or so.

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Lots of history, lots of great info—of course, without book/website info, I won’t remember any of it.


Once we got all the tourist value out of the Castle, we walked about halfway down the Royal Mile,

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where we signed up for an Underground History tour. I would have preferred the Haunted Underground Tour, but no matter. We ended up in the same place. Just a different slant.

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Enjoyed the tour immensely—no sign of Mr. Boots or any of the other paranormal denizens of the area. Probably for the best. Although…I did see a shadow flit across a space lit up by candlelight—and it didn’t seem to belong to anyone. But I could be wrong…

Then a somewhat long walk to the Hard Rock Café,

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where I got another shirt. I think I have eleven now. What a great way to make a collection – world travel. Next year I hope to pick up one in Rome.

After that, we battled rush-hour traffic to Glasgow, dropped the car off at the rental place (yay!), and checked into the same hotel we started with. A quick dinner, a last shopping trip to buy stuff for the folks back home, and now we’re awaiting bedtime. We leave tomorrow afternoon.

I loved this trip, but I’ll be glad to get home again.

A few parting thoughts:

  • Roundabouts with signal lights—so that whole idea isn’t working out so great. I prefer cloverleafs and signal lights at intersections.
  • Driving on the opposite side of the road is kind of like wearing your shoes on the wrong feet. It’s something you can get used to, but it just doesn’t feel right…ever.
  • Paper towel in bathrooms—they don’t exist. It’s the dryers or your pant legs. I used the latter. My skin is dry enough as it is.
  • The Scots are some of the nicest people in the world, hands-down. And not just in the hospitality/retail/tourist trades either. Just nice everywhere. If it wasn’t for the driving thing, I would be 100% comfortable here.

Next year–Italy! Or Brazil…undecided right now.

I hope you enjoyed my travel blog–I would love to hear from you.

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Day 6: Around the Inverness Area



Interesting—the cigarette stink was gone by morning. The de-humidifiers probably helped.

Our host here was probably the most gregarious of the three we had encountered. He got a big kick out of the fact that Paul and I sat side-by-side at the breakfast table instead of across from each other. (“First couple in 4 ½ months to do that,” says he.) It was a particularly good day for him—it was the last time this season that he would be doing the breakfast-cooking thing. He was pretty happy about that.

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Yep, we were visiting probably very close to the end of the season. How to tell: much lower costs at the B&Bs, and a little bit of ice on the car that morning. The weather had definitely taken a turn for the colder.


We found a church not too far from the B&B – St. Ninnian’s. There was a small circle of flowers and plants near the church’s entry, and I recognized almost all of them as being part of Oregon’s flora too. Geraniums, lobelia, fuchsias, azaleas, and a lot more. Since we were there much earlier than the start time of Mass, we wandered around the neighborhood a bit. Very cold—it was nice to get back in when the doors finally opened.

After church, we headed toward Stirling Castle. Our new GPS friend gave us mostly flawless directions (she had us go down a road that was blocked off at the end, just the once), and we soon ended up at our destination.


And this is where I ran out of battery juice for my camera—right as we got into the castle grounds. The other battery, fully charged, was still in the car. Oh well—my phone camera works great. Gotta love modern technology!

Warning: history lesson coming up…

From www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk: Stirling Castle was the key to the kingdom of Scotland, dominating a vast volcanic rock above the river Forth at the meeting point between Lowlands and Highlands.

Its origins are ancient and over the centuries it grew into a great royal residence and a powerful stronghold.

During the Wars of Independence, which were civil wars among the Scots as well as a struggle between Scotland and England, the castle changed hands eight times in 50 years.

And it is no accident that famous battles such as Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn took place within sight of its walls.

In times of peace Scottish royalty came to Stirling to enjoy its comforts, the superb hunting and to hold court – the castle was often the centre of government.

Royal building projects like the Great Hall, the Chapel Royal and the Palace of James V, marked it out as one of the most important places in all Scotland.

Infamous deeds took place here, like the murder of the earl of Douglas by James II.

It was also a childhood home of some of the most famous people in Scottish and British history, such as Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and I.

Later it became an important military base and eventually home to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Since the last of the soldiers marched away it has seen major projects to return the main buildings to their original magnificence.

Nowadays Stirling Castle is famous internationally as one of Scotland’s must-see visitor attractions.

So now ya know.

The outside had some really good photo ops, and there weren’t a ton of people there, which also helped us to get tourist-free pictures. I was hoping that some of the rooms inside would be furnished to look like Back Then, but there was very little of that.

p1070528Stirling Monument,, which I explored last time I was here. At that time, I was standing THERE, staring over to HERE.






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There were some cool interior shots though:

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We spent most of the afternoon there, then headed for our next destinations: the Falkirk Wheel, and then The Kelpies. Paul programmed both destinations into the GPS, and off we went.


That wheel was something! We were too late to actually ride on the thing, but we did see it in action.

There’s a park of sorts around it now, and I also saw kids playing in giant hamster balls—both in the water and on the lawns. Saw a few swans too—not a common sight in Oregon, so I was almost more interested in them than I was in the Wheel. The grass in the park was mowed in circles of various sizes—very Druidic in style. It fit in well with the layout of the place.

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I’m glad Paul got to see the only thing that he had specifically wanted to see on this trip. And we did get to see it in action, which was cool.

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Back to the car, where we put on the GPS and the directions to the Kelpies…and ended up back at Stirling Castle. So now the GPS has a new name—Dashboard Ditz.

Well, we did pass Bannockburn in this direction—that was a boon. We didn’t stop though—no time. It looks as if they’ve added more buildings and such since last time I saw it.

OK—pull over, re-do the GPS…

No mistaking where the Kelpies were from the highway—they loomed over it. Very startling to see as you come around a bend in the road. Now to get to the surface roads and reach it before sunset…

Which we did—only just.

I was out of the car and moving before Paul even had the car in park—I wasn’t about to miss the last of the daylight as it hit these beasties. Moving as fast as I could (which isn’t terribly quick, since my feet hate me), I rounded a grassy hill and was able to catch almost the last fire of sunset on the Kelpies.

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Paul came charging up behind me, and clambered up a steepish berm to a path higher up, and got in some good pictures also.

What’s cool about these huge metal sculptures (they stand 30 meters, or just a shade over 98 feet tall), is that they have lights inside of them. The colors switch from blue to green to yellow to orange to red, and back again. Absolutely beautiful!

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See that tiny person at the right? That’s Paul. Shows you the size of these things.





So, many pictures later, we went back to the car and programmed the address for our overnight accommodation into Dashboard Ditz—the Melville Castle Hotel.

Here’s where Ditzy could have made our lives a little easier…

Night was falling fast, so we really hoped that it would be simple to find the address and get there. Ha! Not so…

The GPS gave us two different locations for the same address. We chose the first, figuring that it would be the correct one. When will we learn to never assume…?

It got us past Edinburgh just fine—we figured that the hotel wasn’t going to be in the middle of town anyway. Up and up we went, the area getting less and less populated. I was feeling a little creeped out—especially when the two-way road became a one-way because of road construction.

We stopped at the temporary traffic light, which was showing red. Thing is, we were the only car around. The only ANYTHING around. Just us, with a drop-off to the left and a stone wall to the right…and no street lights. I was expecting bats to show up…or wolves even.

Dashboard Ditz plopped us in the middle of nowhere—“your destination is on the left”—where we saw a closed gate, no signage, and no lights whatsoever.


We kept going, and found ourselves back in civilization at the foot of the hill we’d been on. After a session of do-si-dos with a couple of roundabouts, we made our way back up the same road, figuring we must have missed it somewhere.

Nope—looked the same.

About now you’re probably asking, “Well, what about the other location for the address?” Well, truth is, we’d forgotten about that.

By now, Paul was spitting nails. We went back to those roundabouts, and I suggested we ask for directions. So we stopped off at a place called the Melville Inn. This was also a building surrounded by dark, and a challenge to get into…

Well, it all ended well. The bartender knew exactly where it was, and was kind enough to draw me a map.

When we hit the second roundabout, a sign we hadn’t seen before practically shone at us. Go figure.

So yay, we finally found it! But what a long, dark, creepy driveway to get to it! Nothing but forest on either side until we pulled into the parking lot in front of it.

And…it seemed we had walked right into a Stephen King novel…yikes! It was lit up in its best Haunted Castle looks. Delightfully spooky-looking.


However, inside it was fantastic. Awe-inspiring. Opulent. I couldn’t goggle enough; I’m sure I dragged my jaw along the floor for some ten minutes.

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The history of the place is fascinating. Mary Queen of Scots was a frequent visitor. Check out the info here: https://melvillecastle.com/history/. (I had no idea until I started writing this blog.)

Our room was gorgeous, and dinner was fantastic. And no ghosts annoyed us during the night.

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Day 5: A day on Lewis



I’m happy to report that I slept quite well, given the circumstances. Meaning—doesn’t anyone use just blankets and bedspreads anymore? These duvets—it’s either sweat or freeze. Last night was workable though, because Paul had opened a window a little, and that let in enough cool air to keep me from overheating.

We got up fairly early—kind of surprised our hosts, who were still working on the breakfast. We’d inadvertently done that to the previous hosts too. “Early” seemed to be consistent on this trip.

Every B&B has its own distinct flavor—the first one was very informal, and the breakfast choices were either hot or cold. This place had a menu—plus, the coffee was the best I’d had since we’d arrived in Scotland.

By the way, you can’t spit without hitting a B&B in Scotland. They are everywhere, one right next to another.

Once breakfast was done, we packed up and got on the road again. Our objective: the Calanais Standing Stones.

Our route was a somewhat circuitous one, which took us in a counter-clockwise path. It wasn’t difficult finding them, and we found other cool things to look at along the way.

First serendipitous thing: sheep in the road. Fat white sheep with black faces, that stared at us as if we were about to ruin their day. Well, if they didn’t get out of the road, that could come true…

Second—a Norse mill and kiln. I believe that the foundations are original—of course, the roofs have been redone. Plus, the orange netting to keep the roof together is probably not original—ha!

There was just a small sign pointing to it, and we would have missed it if we’d been driving any faster. There was a tiny car park, and a gate with a pedestrian entrance to it. So many of these points of interest are ones a person just stumbles upon.

There were several sheep around the car park but they took off once we got out of the car.


It was a bit of a trek to get to the site—up a gravelly path and over a hill.


Well worth the walk. At one point, I could swear there was a long-dead flattened deer on the path, but I think it was more like some sort of material the builders of the site had put down to keep the weeds from growing. Who knows? Maybe they used deer hide.

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p1070417 A note about the mist at the top of the doorway: There was no such thing when I snapped the picture. Draw your own conclusions…






We journeyed on, meeting very little opposing traffic. Guess they like to sleep in of a Saturday. Except for the sheep farmers, who were gathered in places beside pens of their sheep. I don’t know what they were planning to do with them, but the word “haggis” comes to mind.

We crested a ridge—and there they were, up on the next hillside—the Standing Stones.


The visitors’ center wasn’t open yet, so we waited and took pictures of the surrounding area.


I picked up a couple of souvenirs in the gift shop, then we went up to the Stones.

Kinda cool—but I was into the scenery more. And to see just how artsy-fartsy I could get with my pictures.

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About then, I ran out of room on my memory card…

We were ready to head on again anyway. But as we were leaving, we found a reason to put on the brakes.

We spotted what we thought was a cow, but it turned out to be a huge pig! Paul got his camera and gave Wilbur his fifteen minutes of photo fame. (Actually it was a sow…Wilburine??)

Back to Stornoway—along the route we could see where peat turf had been recently cut out, and the turves left to dry. Unfortunately, we could never find a place to pull over and take pictures. Scottish roads are notorious for being narrow and without easements—even in the middle of nowhere!

Got back to Stornoway, where we stopped at a couple of shops for more souvenirs. I had a number of people to buy for, and these items may be part of their Christmas gifts.

Our next stop was the War Memorial, a behemoth of a tower on a hill overlooking the town. There were sheep all over the land there too, but at least they were behind a fence. This is probably the closest I’ve ever come to free-range sheep. I think I want one…


We prowled around the grounds and took probably too many pictures yet again, but hey…at least we don’t have to develop film like in the old days. We couldn’t get inside the tower—years of leaks have rendered it unfit for inside touring. But the views from that hill—breathtaking!

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Our next destination turned out to be our shortest visit—Lews Castle. Kind of disappointing; I was looking forward to seeing the inside rooms, but no such luck.

There was a really ugly museum attached to that grand old edifice, and while that clung to one side of the castle like a sci-fi metal slug, there was scaffolding all over the other side. Poor old dame—I felt somewhat sorry for her.

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So we really didn’t get to see much of the inside. We instead took a somewhat half-hearted walk around the outside of the place and went back to the car. I got some pretty good pictures though.

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It wouldn’t be long before we were going to be boarding the ferry, so we parked the car in line and rtook a short walk through a bit of Stornoway that we hadn’t seen yet. Many pictures were taken, of course.

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We also stopped for a cup of coffee, and entertained the locals with our lack of knowledge as to which English coin was which (I have the pound coin down, and the 5p and 20p, but the rest, not so much). I think I may have brought out some US coinage at one time too—nope, that won’t work.

Eventually we made it back to the car, after checking on the plumbing in the terminal—if you get my drift. It wasn’t long before we were back on the ferry and headed back to Ullapool.

We sat aft, and as Stornoway got smaller and smaller, I could see where we’d been. It was so odd to think that, not two hours earlier, I was standing THERE, looking THIS way. What an odd sensation.

Once off the ferry, we got on the road again, and had no trouble getting to Inverness. Pretty much just followed the truck ahead of us, and used the GPS that was part of the car. (We really hadn’t noticed it the first couple of days—too busy working out the streets and just getting a handle on driving.)

For the most part, we liked the GPS lady in the dashoard better—not only did she give us directions, but she knew the street names. Major help there.

At this writing, we are in our B&B, after a trip to a nearby, very crowded pub. We also stopped off at a grocery store so I could get something to eat as well. Too busy in the pub to get food—we could barely get their attention enough to get drinks.

In truth, I’ll be glad to leave this B&B—it reeks of cigarette smoke. Tomorrow we’ll be driving down to Edinburgh by way of Stirling Castle, the Kelpies, and the Falkirk Wheel.

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Day 4: Finally, off to the main reason for this trip


So here we are in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis.


Earlier in the day, we got up early to ensure our place in the car line for the ferry.

But first—breakfast. Traditional Scottish one—OJ, coffee (big, BIG yay!), sausage, toast, bacon, egg, and my first-ever black pudding. Interesting taste, but I’m pretty sure I won’t knowingly eat it again. Not my thing. Paul liked it though.


We spent an hour or so taking pictures around town while waiting for the ferry. I could hardly believe I was doing this! Finally, after so many years, I was getting to go to the Isle of Lewis. It was still a crapshoot as to whether we’d actually find Dun Eistean itself. But we were going to do our best to do so.

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The ferry was a little late, but not all that much. We drove on with no problems and found a seat in one of the Passenger Lounges.

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After we got out of the bay and were making the crossing, the scenery got pretty mundane. Islands that looked like someone had taken the east hills of my old home area, San Jose, and had dumped them in the water. Not all that interesting.

We had some coffee,


then went up to the (outside) top deck for a bit.


Not a lot to check out (“What? No shuffleboard?”), so we went back in fairly quickly. I read and Paul sort of dozed until Lewis came into sight.


Finally we were docked and back in the car. We tried to find Port Nis on the GPS, but it had no idea what we were talking about (what a surprise…). So Paul entered the next town, Sgiogarstaigh (no idea how to pronounce it), and it knew where that was. Go figure.

Okay, seriously, nice Scottish people…Those roads—they really need work. The skateboard thing again. At least there were no rock walls to bounce against.

The wider, 60mph roads though—I could tell Paul was enjoying that.

We had no trouble finding Sgiogarstaigh, but were at a loss after that. Fortunately we spotted a man working in his yard, and were able to ask directions. He spoke the language in a dialect close enough to our understanding to make us realize that we were too far east.

With his help, we found Port Nis with no more problems.

And we drove along until…okay…there’s a sign that says Dun Eistean on it…

Wait! We turn…there??

Up a steep, narrow, unpaved stone road, which seemed at first glance to be someone’s idea of a joke.

Came to a closed gate.

Really? All this way, all those years of wishing…

Oh—that tower over there. Looks sort of like the one on the family crest. But…


Well, there’s no lock on the gate, and the sign points this way.

I got out of the car, opened the gate (with some difficulty), and we drove through. (Yes, I closed it after us.) More rocky road, but thankfully it had leveled out by now.


Just around a turn, and – there’s the lighthouse in the distance! Offshore, some very familiar rock formations.

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And best of all—the footbridge, just peeking over a hill in the near distance.

And another gate. This time I didn’t think twice.

I’m a Morrison, and these are my roots. Outta my way, gate!

At the end of the road was a nice little car park and a couple of informational signs. We took pictures of all that…

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…then I walked across the footbridge and stepped onto the land of my ancestors.

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Incredible. That’s all.

My sister had been here quite a few years ago, and it was windy and raining then. This day it was warm, sunny, and the wind was reasonable. We were so blessed.

I got up to the top of the tower foundations and sat down. And I could have stayed there forever.

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(An overturned couch and a few empty bottles – seemed appropriate…ha!)

But—time waits for no one, and we still had to check in to our lodgings for the night.

No problem finding it—we got our stuff inside, then went to find drinks and dinner.


No beer for me tonight. I had a wee dram of Capt. Morgan’s rum at the pub we stopped at, then a Long island iced tea at dinner.

Oh, you know that Jack and Coke in a can? Found it in a store. Got it. Drank it. Pretty darn good.


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Scotland, Day 3


Up early—I might have gotten a little bit of sleep, but not much—and over to the airport for coffee. We then had breakfast in another area of the airport. This is where we discovered that Jack Daniels sells Jack & Coke in cans here. Well, we just knew that at some point we’d have to get some and try it out.


Checked out of the hotel, stashed stuff in the car, and it was off to Ullapool.


Helluva drive—both lovely and terrifying at the same time. We went past Loch Lomond, and stopped for a spell in a viewing area called Firken Point.

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Our next stop was in a village called Ballachulish.

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It was originally just a name Paul had put into the GPS to give us directions—once we’d reached that point,  we were going to input Ullapool from there. However, we saw something that made us stop here.


It turns out there used to be a slate quarry here, and what we had seen was the entry to an informational walk around the old quarry grounds. Beautiful, sere, haunting—it was well worth the half-hour or so that we spent there.

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From Wiki: Slate from the East Laroch quarries, established just two years after the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692, was used to provide the roofing slate for much of Edinburgh and Glasgow‘s skyline in the succeeding centuries. It is of good quality but one weakness is the presence of Iron Pyrite in the rock. These crystals quickly rust away when exposed to the weather, leaving clean square holes and a brown rusty streak. Over 75% of the slate cut from the quarries was unusable as roof covering for this and other reasons. The quarries closed in 1955. Optimistically, tests have recently (2008/9) been carried out to see if it is feasible to extract slate from them again.

On our way to Ullapool, we figured that we’d also go to Inverness, since we were heading in that direction (east, then north). The further north we went, the more evident the Highlands became. Such overarching, huge mountains! Desolate though—they reminded me of the area below the Oregon border, where the trees have given up and there is nothing but wind and grass. Beautiful.

Oh boy—those roads! Some of them I think you’d have a hard time getting two opposing skateboards past each other, never mind cars. Paul was terrified—by his own admission. The narrow roads were bad enough, but the rock walls and lack of easement made it even worse. Especially when a truck or RV was coming at us. We were so glad to get past those!

Some of this area was familiar, as we were on the same roads that Gayle and I and the girls had been on during our bus tour a number of years ago. It all became crystal clear when we saw the Scottish Commando Memorial along our route. We had seen that back then.

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Paul, of course, hadn’t seen it. We stopped to check it out and to take pictures—and we were certainly not alone. Quite a few tourist for this time of year. I could see why—the weather was glorious at a time when cold and damp were the norm.

Well, the cold was definitely with us—that wind went right through my coat!

We also walked over to the memorial garden. Quite a few markers have been added since the last time I’d been there.


We decided to skip Inverness after all, and head straight to Ullapool, since Inverness was an overnight stay on the way back, and it was getting late.

There was no trouble in finding our B&B.


Our hostess, Kathleen, was a real sweetie. We had a gorgeous room, and the bathroom had a claw-foot bathtub. No shower—that made Paul’s morning ablutions a bit of a challenge.


We got settled in and walked through the town. It was closing up, as it was around 6pm. We scoped out the ferry area, then had dinner in a pub recommended to us by our hostess.

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Beer and dinner. Getting to be a habit.

Back to the B&B. We sat in the common room in front of a small fire for a bit, then I went to bed.

Hard time getting to sleep, but it was adequate.

Tomorrow: Best. Day. Ever!!!

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Scotland Day Two – Glasgow, Pollok House, Glengoyne Distillery

Next day—up and at ‘em. Fortunately my headache was gone—and I was not about to allow it to return. Paul suggested that we stop somewhere on our way to the first place on our list – Pollok House.

As to be expected, we ended up on the wrong road again; this time we ended up in a grocery store parking lot. Not such a bad thing—we went in and bought breakfast items—and coffee. Yeah, it was Starbucks in a bottle, but I wasn’t about to be picky when it came to staving off another headache.

We got back on the road (Paul learned that sometimes roundabouts are no bigger than manhole covers), and for the most part made it without any more errors to our destination.

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A bit about Pollok House, from the tour book:  “Pollok House is a very special place for the National Trust for Scotland, as it is believed that the inaugural discussions about founding the conservation charity took place here in 1931. Sir John Stirling Maxwell Bt, owner of the House at the time, was a founder member of the Trust. In…1939 (he) secur(ed) the Nether Pollok estate forever ‘for the benefit of the citizens of Glasgow’.”

This area of Scotland looks almost exactly like the Pacific Northwest, and shares much of the same flora: rhododendrons, azaleas, ferns, oak trees, etc.

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Pollok Estate is also a large park and pasture for Highland cattle. Walking down those paths, I could have sworn I was home. Except, of course, for the moo-critters.

I’ve seen a lot of strange animals in the Portland/Salem/Eugene area, such as emus, llamas, and even a camel or two. These guys, not so much.


The grounds around the mansion were gorgeous, even though most of the foliage was spent for the year. I could name a lot of the plants in the garden—hostas, day lilies, the aforementioned rhodies and azaleas—but there were some I didn’t recognize.

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There were also some Clydesdale horses grazing in a field. Big guys! We took a lot of pictures of them—you’d think we’d never seen horses before.

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We finally found the true front of the mansion—Paul had overheard a couple of ladies talking about it—so we decided to tour the inside as well.

Wow—opulent, beautiful, a fantastic library full of old books. No picture-taking allowed though. I’ll see if I can find some online (no such luck). The book we bought has a lot of nice pictures, so we have that for memories.

Soon enough, it was time to travel to our next destination (yes, we made wrong turns here too—and ended up having to go through Glasgow again): Glengoyne Distillery.

By now I think Paul was relaxing into his role as driver a bit, which is good, because I never want to do the driving here. Did it once—never again. Not if I can help it. I especially would not use this GPS system which we rented at an additonal cost. We started calling her Bitchbox Babs, and she was pretty much useless. We did finally figure out that, when she said to “turn left now”, she actually meant a block further up.

Anyway, it took a bit longer to get there than what we’d originally intended, but there was still plenty of day left. At one point, Paul hit a curb on the left, but no damage was done to the tires—thankfully. He never drove in the wrong lane the whole time we were there though, which is a feat unto itself.

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We walked around the distillery grounds a little, since our tour wasn’t going to start for a while. Decided to hit the restroom before we got involved with the tour—and discovered that they had Thomas Crapper toilets! The genuine items! Of course, I had to get a picture.


The tour started out with a little taste of whisky—which wasn’t bad, although I still prefer the Irish. Lots of interesting info, with the guide (Gordon) showing us the interior workings of the place.

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I don’t remember all that much about it, and once again we weren’t allowed to take pictures. Nice tour overall.

We got back to our hotel, with NO driving errors!, and had dinner at the airport (since it was across the drop-off lanes from our hotel). So nice to just walk over, instead of having to drive somewhere.

No sleep for me that night. Beer keeps me awake nowadays. Don’t know why. Guess I’ll have to switch to something else. Whisky perhaps…


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Our Scotland Odyssey: Day 1

Here’s a bit of fun: take two otherwise reasonable people, make them stay awake for thirty hours, and deprive them of caffeine. Then stick them in a car with all the controls on the opposite side of what they’re used to, make them drive on the opposite side of the road, and give them a GPS system that insists on changing destinations on them. Oh yeah—also send them into a big city full of rush-hour traffic, endless roundabouts, and no parking to be seen


Much hilarity ensues. Either that or a double homicide.

Such were our first few hours in Scotland. But I get ahead of myself.

Daughter Meg drove us to the airport at a surprisingly realistic time of day; meaning to say that, for once, we did NOT leave at “you’re-kidding” o’clock in the morning.

We had lunch/dinner and beer at Laurelwood Pub in the airport, then flew to Seattle, where we waited a short time for the second leg of the flight—over Greenland to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Entertainment system in the back of the chair in front of me—yay! No one sitting beside us—yay! Not feeling the least bit sleepy as day rapidly turned to night while we headed east—not so great.

I occupied myself by watching three movies (“Blade”, “The Bridge to Terebithia”, and “Larry Crowne”), reading, and doing puzzles. Good thing I bought some sound-cancelling ear protectors—with those over the earbuds, it was possible for me to hear and understand what was being said in the movies.

My eyelids were just starting to get droopy when they announced that we were landing soon. Phooey.

We touched down at 6am-ish Iceland time, so we saw nothing in the dark. No walkway chutes to greet us; we had to get off the plane and walk to a shuttle bus—which wasn’t so bad, really. It wasn’t terribly cold.

There wasn’t much of a layover, so we had a small snack and got on our plane. Still wasn’t much to see outside—it was just getting light.

When the pilot said the airport crew had to de-ice the wings, well, that was a surprise! I looked out the window—yep, ice! It hadn’t felt that cold. The ice was hitting the windows too, and soon we couldn’t see outside. But it all disappeared once we cleared the ground, and soon enough we were touching down in Glasgow.

Once we picked up our rental car, it took us four circuits around the general area before we could actually get to our hotel, which was about a quarter mile from the car rental area. Honestly, we should have just left the car in the there and walked to the hotel. What a fiasco! New to the streets, we were having a heck of a time figuring out the roundabouts. I am SO glad I didn’t have to drive this time! Frustrating hardly covers how we felt.

And then we had to pay to park at the hotel!

By the time we finally got parked, signed in, and into our room, all I wanted to do was sleep.

The room we had was a good-sized one—the bathroom even bigger. This was a room for someone in a wheelchair, which was obvious from the emergency pull cords in the bathroom. We were nervous about those—what if we pulled them by accident??

A note about toilets in Scotland: most I’ve seen here have had a bowl deep enough to stand a Chihuahua in, and just its head would be poking up over the top. I kid you not. Great acoustics…

And every place we stayed—towel warmers. I’ve never seen those anywhere else. That was unexpected.


Anyway—Paul wanted to kill two birds with one stone—get to the Hard Rock Café so I could get my shirt, and have dinner. Hungry won out over tired, so I agreed.

Oh man—driving in downtown Glasgow will give you religion. Good grief, what a place! Unlike Portland, which Glasgow sort of felt like, parking areas are few and far between. And expensive when you do find them.


After finally finding parking (excuse the holes in the car’s upholstery—that’s just us losing our minds), we had little trouble finding the Café.

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The GPS kept trying to get us to turn down roads the wrong way because our goal wasn’t located on a driving road—the area had been converted to a walking mall, and no had told the GPS this little fact.


Dinner, beer, purchase shirt, get lost on return to hotel (about three times).

Once we got settled back in our room, I conked out and hoped to not open my eyes again until daylight. I had a caffeine-deprivation headache, and just wanted to sleep it off.

No such luck. The toilet, which had been making weird gurgling sounds, finally gave up the ghost for good. Paul woke me with the news; I was really hoping it was early morning—but no, it was 11pm.


We ended up having to move to another room—fortunately, it was right across the hallway. I dropped into our new bed, and hoped that I could get back to sleep.

And I did—seven hours straight. It was wonderful.

(I promise–this will get better…)

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