Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Scotland covered in snow!

Scotland has been covered in snow for over a week - most in decades.  We've been lucky in our location.  Most of Scotland has been a disaster area.  Schools,  businesses closed, motorways closed, hundreds trapped in cars overnight, buses and trains not running, airports closed.  The military was called in to help clear the roads. 

Our area is supposed to warm up by Friday to about 9C, so the weather and roads shouldn't interfere with our trip to the airport hotel.  We fly to Michigan Sunday.   I'm very excited to meet my newest granddaughter, Allyson, and am very ready for a big hug from my angel, 5 year old Haylee. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Here and there....

Danny and I enjoyed our 2 nights in Glasgow and the ballet and concert we attended to celebrate his birthday. 

Just noticed today that Danny's favourite, Handel's Messiah, is being performed this Friday evening in Glasgow.  So I've bought two of the few remaining tickets and booked the same hotel as last week.  I'm looking forward to this as I've never heard this performed except on CD. 

In less than 3 weeks we leave for Michigan to spend christmas with my family.  I will get to meet my newest granddaughter, Allyson, who was born in August.  Hoping it's not bitter cold! 

When we return home in January, Danny's brother and his family will be visiting the UK from Australia.  We are looking forward to their visit and hoping they don't freeze! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Still around...

No major events here, just quietly retired.  We're going to Glasgow later this week to spend two nights in the city to celebrate Danny's upcoming birthday.  A wee bit of culture with a ballet and a classical concert. 

Going to Michigan in a month to see my family for the holidays and to meet my newest granddaughter who is now 3 months old. 

Last week there was a bit of snow on the top of the mountains across the loch.  Now it's melted. 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A walk in a garden

Yesterday Danny and I went to Edinburgh to visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.   There was a heavy mist for a couple of hours after we arrived and the less heavy.  No sun all day though.  This garden is much bigger than Benmore which is near us. 

Lots more of my photos in the gardens

The building in the bottom photo is part of the memorial garden to the late Queen Mother.  She loved seashells and this small building is wallpapered totally in shells.

Monday, 11 October 2010

OMG it's the sun!

a wee walk in the village.... and a stop at Gallimaufry for tea and a fresh fruit scone.  Gallimaufry displays beautiful art by local artists and also serves lovely lunches and snacks.  Gallimaufry - Blairmore Gallery

Friday, 8 October 2010

Why do I like living here?

During my visit today at the hairdressers I overheard a fellow customer chatting about how she and her husband would love to live in the US.  She detected my American accent and asked how I came to be here and wondered why I enjoyed living here.  Obviously she thought I was daft for preferring her country to mine. 

I've been asked this question a few times before.  A few years ago a colleague told me she'd love to live in the US because they have great theme parks.  Uh huh.  Good reason, hen.

To answer the question, I guess a list is best.
  • It's stunningly gorgeous here!  Lochs, mountains, green, countryside, coastlines, islands.
  • The Scottish sense of humour, although I don't always appreciate it....
  • The slang, the lowlands Scots language - very entertaining to listen to.
  • The accents.
  • The pride in being Scottish, so many people knowing their history well. 
  • The long distinguised history of Scotland - the Enlightenment, free education, free university tuition, inventors, engineers, there was a high literacy rate in Scotland even in the 17th century, etc.
  • People are easy-going and friendly and will talk to people they don't know.  Nobody is suspicious when spoken to by a stranger. 
  • The open-mindedness of Europeans in general.  The lack of prudishness.
  • My interest in ancient history and culture is easily satisfied here as it's at my fingertips.
  • I like old architecture and find it interesting and full of character. 
  • There is a charm in old villages, old churches, well-preserved and cherished.
  • The NHS.
  • The Scottish goverment takes care of its elderly. 
  • The ease of taking short trips to continental Europe, Ireland and the rest of the UK. 
  • I feel at home here.
Anything negative?  Well, the weather kinda sucks.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Benmore Botanic Gardens - Redwoods, Japanese Maple on the pond.
A waterfall in Puck's Glen near our home. 
More photos here

Thursday, 30 September 2010

York, England

My sister and I spent 4 days and 3 nights in York.  Danny opted out.  When I planned the visit I had no idea there would be a food faire going on, so we discovered the city was very crowded. 

Our B & B was very close to the old city and to York Minster.  The Hazelwood  B & B was very comfortable with fabulous breakfasts.  Our twin room was on the 3rd floor and we found the bathroom quite small, but otherwise everything was fine. 

We both recommend The Phoenix Chinese Restaurant.  Delicious meal.  We also highly recommend
Cafe No. 8  for a nice, but somewhat expensive, meal.  The steak was fabulous!  The famous Betty's
(almost) always has a queue outside the restaurant.  Luckily we went at just the right time - 11.30 am on a Monday.  Betty's is a restaurant but specializes in baked goods.  The Fat Rascals (giant fruity/nutty scones) are simply gorgeous. 

York is charming with a long, interesting history including Romans, Vikings, Normans.  Old York is surrounded by the old city walls.  The city is well-preserved with cobbled streets and old buildings.  Charming! 

We visited York Minster, the largest cathedral in Northern Europe, an amazing building with a long history.  York Castle Museum was very interesting but we were most impressed with Jorvik Viking Centre.  Jorvik is on the site of an amazingly well-preserved Viking settlement.  The umm...authentic smells are included, but I could have done without them. 

York Photos Here

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tour - Italy, Switzerland.....

Danny, my sister and I did an 11 day coach tour which included an overnight ferry trip to Amsterdam, a drive through Germany, France, Switzerland, and on to Italy.  The return trip also took us through Luxembourg and Belgium. 

I have done a travelogue which is located here:
Italian Adventure

Photos are currently being uploaded here:
Tons of photos!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Prince Charles - hypocrite

Prince Charles should practice what he preaches

Yesterday as I was travelling through Glasgow Central train station with my husband and sister, we spotted the royal train with many police and cameras scattered througout the station.  Around a display labeled Green we saw a crowd and in the centre of it the very recognizable back of the balding head of Prince Charles.  We discovered that Prince Charles was travelling around the country to promote sustainable living. 

Cost to the taxpayers:  at least £50,000.  Cost to the environment:  too much.

As the article above states, he was travelling the country in the royal train which consisted of 8 cars and carried a total of 14 people. 

Of course, you have the option to read the propoganda on the BBC site which praises the Prince.
BBC praises Prince

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Doreen, bus crash, sister, Italy

Doreen arrived back in Uganda safely on the 28th.  After a day in Kampala she caught a coach home to Mbarara to see her family.  As is a common occurrance in Uganda (bad roads + bad drivers) her coach crashed.  Doreen was slightly injured as she banged her mouth on the seat in front of her.  At least 6 people were killed in the crash. 

Doreen begins her 2nd year shortly at Makerere University. 

This Friday my sister arrives for a month.  An 11 day tour of Italy and 3 days in York are part of our plans. Many pics to follow.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Robert Owen - New Lanark, Scotland

Robert Owen –A man ahead of his time

Yesterday on our first visit to New Lanark, a World Heritage Site, Danny, Doreen and I learned about an incredible man named Robert Owen. New Lanark was a Milltown which operated for nearly 200 years. In researching Robert Owen I am amazed that neither of us knew anything about him. New Lanark is only 30 miles from Glasgow.

Robert Owen was born in Wales in 1771, the son of a saddler and ironmonger. A highly intelligent and progressive-thinking man, he was influenced by the Scottish enlightenment.

Robert Owen purchased the New Lanark Mills from his father-in-law in 1799 and managed it from 1800-25. New Lanark became a model community and gained a reputation for its social and educational reforms. Owen began the first infant school in the world, a crèche for working mothers, free medical care, free education for the children and evening classes for adults. Children under 10 were not allowed to work in the mill and this was at a time when it was common for very young children to work. Owen also realized leisure and recreation were important and there were concerts, dancing, music, and a beautiful landscaped area for use by the members of the community. Owen also opened a store for the workers with lower prices and higher quality. The profits paid for the school.

Owens was a feminist, believed in equality for all no matter what their class, race, religion, and his work inspired fair working practices, the Co-operative Movement, and trade unions.

Extract from Robert Owen’s "Address to the Inhabitants of New Lanark"
New Year’s Day, 1816
"What ideas individuals may attach to the term "Millennium" I know not; but I know that society may be formed so as to exist without crime, without poverty, with health greatly improved, with little, if any misery, and with intelligence and happiness increased a hundredfold; and no obstacle whatsoever intervenes at this moment except ignorance to prevent such a state of society from becoming universal.”

Another bio
Robert Owen - Utopian Socialist
Robert Owen Museum, Wales
Robert Owens and New Harmony, Indiana
Interesting note: All of Robert Owen’s four sons became US citizens. His eldest, Robert Dale Owen became a congressman and drafted the bill to found the Smithsonian Institution.
Doreen in the 200 year old New Lanark classroom

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A visit to Whitby in North Yorkshire

This week I took a long-desired trip to Whitby.  Whitby has the ruins of the historic Whitby Abbey where the Synod of Whitby was held in 664.  The train journey was quite long but worth it.  My accommodation was a wonderful B & B called Broomfield House.  Although my room and bathroom were small, it was clean and comfortable with nice touches.  The location was very convenient as well.  Breakfasts were wonderful as were the host and hostess.  As I left for an early train on my last day a packed breakfast was prepared for me.  The amount of food and drink was impressive - it lasted the entire days journey home! 
Broomfield House

Whitby is a popular destination and I happened to choose my visit during the England school holidays.  In spite of the town being jam-packed with tourists, many with kids, it was still enjoyable.  Photo ops were non-stop! 

Whitby Tourism

5 miles south of Whitby is a lovely and charming village on the sea - Robin Hood's Bay (so named as it was a smugglers bay).  The streets in Robin Hood's Bay are very steep and cobbled. 

Robin Hood's Bay
Enjoy England site on Robin Hood's Bay

Had fantastic haddock, chips and the best mushy peas here:
Magpie Cafe

 Pics:  Whitby Abbey, Whitby Harbor, Whitby Harbor, Robin Hood's Bay, Robin Hood's Bay
More pics here:
Whitby & Robin Hood's Bay pics

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Local trips

Danny, Doreen and I have taken a few local trips.  Last week we went to Ayrshire to visit Culzean Castle which sits near a cliff overlooking the sea. While in the area we also visited Alloway which is where Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, was born. 
Culzean Castle
Burns Heritage Park

Yesterday my newest granddaughter, Allyson was born.  Baby and mother doing very well.  Allyson is, of course, adorable!

Today we took a long bike ride around the Tighnabruaich-Kames-Kilbride Bay area. 

Monday I'm taking a 4 day trip on my own to North Yorkshire to the popular seaside and historic town of Whitby.  I hope to get many photos but the forecast has changed to rain. 

Pics:  Kilbride Bay, Roberts Burns birthplace, Culzean Castle, Kyles of Bute

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


The 'gang' spent 4 nights and 5 days in London.  Doreen was very excited to be there.  Our hotel was in Bayswater - a convenient location to buses and tube. 

  • The Science Museum and included an Imax movie on deep sea
  • The Natural History Museum
  • The V & A (Victoria & Albert) - a favourite of mine
  • Westminster Abbey
  • HMS Belfast
  • The National Gallery
  • Southbank Centre Beethoven concert (9th symphony)
  • Walks along the Thames to see Tower Bridge, street entertainers, London Eye (but no trip), Buckingham Palace, St James's Park
  • A visit to Danny's former school and a party for an old friend and colleague who is retiring.  So good to see everybody! 

More pics here:
London pics

Friday, 9 July 2010

Doreen's visit - continued.

Doreen spent a week on the Isle of Iona with the Iona Community.  The group had 30+ participants, many were American.  She had a lovely time and enjoyed meeting everyone.  Included in the week was lots of hiking, a boat trip to Staffa, a Ceilidh, church services, singing and Doreen sang for the group which they enjoyed. 

We've done shopping trips to Glasgow for new clothes and museums.  Danny has been teaching her to ride a bike and she's done well although it still makes her nervous when cars approach down the road.  We plan to borrow a bike so the 3 of us can do a day trip on my favourite bike ride - Tighnabruaich - Kilbride Bay where we can stop and lunch on the beach. 

Yesterday we took the train to Edinburgh and unfortunately only had time for the castle and a walk down the Royal Mile.  We plan to return again to see the museums. 

Next week we return to the Isle of Seil for another trip on Seafari, but this time it will be a wild trip into the whirlpool. 

Then we'll do a quick flight to London for 4 nights.  The trip includes a visit to Danny's former school in Enfield to visit colleagues and friends.  The deputy head is retiring and he worked with Danny for many years.  Trips to museums and historic sites are planned. 

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Travelling around Argyll with Doreen

Earlier this week we travelled to several places in Argyll, the county we live in.  First destination was Kilmartin....Scotland's richest prehistoric landscape.  Prior to arriving in the village we stopped at Crinan Canal as we spotted a sailboat going through the locks.  Doreen and Danny helped open and close the locks for the sailors. 
Photos of Doreen's trip

We stopped for lunch and more photos in the tiny village of Crinan.  In Kilmartin we spent the night at a B&B, visited the museum, wandered around the megalithic sites (stone circles, burial cairns, standing stones), and took a walk to Carasserie Castle. 

On to the Isle of Seil and the village of Ellenabeich.  We took a 2 hour boat trip on Seafari which was, at times, quite thrilling.  Danny and I had taken the trip twice before and Doreen just loved it.  We are going back for another trip in July. 

After spending the night on Seil, we headed to Oban and the Calmac ferry to the Isle of Mull.  After an hours trip we took a short ferry trip to the Isle of Iona, a tiny island Danny and I have visited many times.  The weather was spectacular but on our walk to one of the beaches a heavy fog rolled in.  It was still warm so we continued to walk.  While on the island we inquired about a youth retreat for Doreen as she'd expressed an interest.  Luckily we discovered there was a retreat (all ages) beginning Saturday.  So we booked her for the week and she arrived there today.  The retreat isn't strictly religious as it will include a boat trip, hiking, nature walks, workshops, etc. 

On the drive to Oban to catch the ferry we stopped at Arduaine Garden.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Doreen in Inveraray

We spent the day in the village of Inveraray.  Lunch was at Loch Fyne Oysters and we visited the castle - home of the Duke of Argyll.  

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Doreen in Scotland, aye.

Doreen is enjoying the food, the hot running water, not having to hand wash her clothes, shopping for clothes, fast internet, and being a tourist.  She does find it too cold here and wears a fleece most of the time.  Today she went to Glasgow to visit the Kelvingrove Museum and Glasgow University.  Tomorrow we are planning on visiting Inveraray Castle and possibly the old jail.  Next week we are visiting Kilmartin, Seil Island, and the Isle of Iona.  On Seil Island we will go on a boat trip to view wildlife near the Corryvreckan whirlpool. 

Doreen Photo Album