Showing posts from 2011

Solstice and Christmas on Loch Ness

Feasgar math, good evening Outlandish Bloggers,
Scot here, hailing you from the shores of Loch Ness where Sam and I are staying in a Victorian hunting lodge over the Christmas / Solstice period.  Log fires, good food, good company, no snow, driving rain... It's Scotland.

We're cabinned-up in The Inch na Cardoch Hotel.  That's Alan Clayton, the owner in the kilt below.

We've been having a we break and also performing the role of MC for the few days here, bringing Scottish traditions to the proceedings.

We've just been making Brides Crosses with the 19 or so guests.

Bridget is a Celtic diety who was the Goddess of hearth fire, home, the plough, poetry, wisdom and blacksmithing.  She was taken into the Christian cannon of saints.  Making of her crosses for the home is a blessing. We do it in the winter dark hours.  Here, the guests have given them as gifts to the staff, Marian, Ali, Michelle and Rab the chef have been working hard to look after us in this fine old home…

May 2012 - Happy Thoughts of a Spring Tour

I'd really like to know if there's something happening out there that I'm not aware of, because there's been a run on the Jamie & Claire May 2012 Tour!  There are now only 4 spaces left.  Usually we get people signing on throughout the months, but this time it's been almost all at once..... interesting (as Mr. Spock would say).
It's a nice diversion after the two wind storms we've just had here in Scotland where winds of 100 to 150 mph were lifting trees out of the ground and roofs off the houses.  Scot and I lost power for two days just after a huge grocery shopping trip, so we scrambled to friend's for freezer space.  Then our roads flooded into our yard leaving us without clean water until we had our water tank emptied and cleaned.  But if that's all life is challenging us with, then life is pretty good and we have no complaints!
Mind you, we had quite a wind storm in May this year.  This has all been a bit unprecedented.  Climate change anyone…

Getting the Harvest in

This wee post is not a tour blog.  Tour season has ended, big sigh, sore feet, what day is it?

Now it's time to get the white board out and make the long list of winter projects to do.  One of which is to finish the harvest and get the garden put to bed.

Scot has been mowing the meadow and making hay stacks.  There's still a few wee beasites and bees around (unusually warm over 3 days) so he's been leaving some flowers up for them.

I have become "smoothie girl", blending bulk spinach for fruit-smoothies that I will freeze for eeking out over winter.  There is a lot of eeking done here in the winter - Gabaldon and other books to read and make last; currently, "A Thousand Splendid Suns".  Firewood to eek out, sanity to make last a winter of snow.  (You've seen The Shining, aye?)

I have been keeping us healthy with nutritious blends of vegetables and fruit, much from the garden, to make smoothies.  (Scot:  "canny eat that. I's got froot init.&qu…

Line em up day 8

The Last Day, sob sob.

We won't have any words from our Outlandish Spirits directly for the final day, because we didn't carry the blog machine around Edinburgh today.

Gale force winds buffeted the Western Isles and we felt just the tail of it on the Royal Mile.  Bracing!  Very authentic for Claire-returns-to-Edinburgh-1768.

We did all the wee side streets and closes that feature in the book, testing the guests along the way to see if they knew which scene was played out in the place they now stood. Julia was, and has been through the tour, the most.. erm... devoted reader (there's always one on the Jamie and Claire tour whom we suspect has a box of cross-referenced indexed cards with every character and scene cataloged -lol- that would be Julia on this tour.  Hello Danelle from last year to name but one.)  Which of you was it on the Grain Tour?

Debie has not stopped grinning throughout the trip (see yesterday's picture of her with a gnome friend).  Today was no excep…

Line em up - day 6 and 7


Monique: Last night we got to stay the night in the castle. It was my first experience in a castle and it was awesome. I don't even know how to describe it. We had a three course meal with bagpipers, and then I encountered my second favorite dessert (next to the thick hot chocolate, of course)...sticky toffee pudding. It was the most sinful thing ever. To our surprise Robert the Bruce and a Templar Knight came to visit. We had to make a decision on whether or not to help the scottish war against Edward of England. How to make such a decision was hard but ended up helping anyway. We got to try on the armor and play with the weapons. Boy, that was fun!!! Overall, the people were great, the food was wonderful, and the company was grand! Also there was the cutest gnome garden in the front of the castle. Any type of gnome you could think of probably exist in that garden. There were a few gnomes being very "cheeky" in the garden but they were too cute to be…

Line em up day 5


Scot:  What a day!  We have just come back from the Julie Fowlis concert this evening (this being the Celtic Music themed Jamie and Claire Tour).  I know Julie Fowlis's folk music but this was a commissioned piece called Heisgeir.  It was a short film, backed with her live band of Celtic instruments, documenting an abandoned island near where she comes from just off the west of Uibhist.  I was really touched by the piece.  It was the premier and possibly the only performance so Sam did well to find us tickets.  The musicians spoke in Gaelic and English and the islanders in the film told tales and their life experiences on the outer isles in Gaelic.  Our Outlandish Spirits had the full experience of what Claire would have heard a majority of the time, 200 years back from her own time.
I had a grand we natter with a man called Jamie who had traveled 10 hours to come to this gig and was camping in a midge-infested river location.

Yesterday I ran into a man for whom I had done …

Rainbow Chasers - day 4

DAY 4 
Monique: So, today was beyond anything i could of expected.  First we went to a castle that could have been castle Leoch.  it was beautiful, magestic and everything i thought it would be, but it was not what had the lasting impression; This came at Culloden and to be honest i was anxious about the whole experience.  Initially the exhibit was very informative up until the movie; the battle reenactment! how could anything top that?  Well I ventured to the battlefield with Debie and I started seeing the clans stones.  Even as I think about it, I get teary eyed; it was just too much.  Then I saw the stone for the clan Fraser and I lost it.  How could lives be lost so senselessly?  As I sit here after all i have seen i still don't know what to say, feel, or think; all i can do is cry.  It is a part of history that can't be changed but can be learned from. it was a hard experience, but it was one that i will never forget!

Nancy:  Today we started out with a guid stretch &…

The Rainbow Chasers Tour - day 3


Rainbows are showing up all over in our travels and they've inspired each of us in our own way, so I duly dub this tour "The Rainbow Chasers" tour.  As well, we're in the height of the bloom'n Heather season and the surrounding hills are patterned with purple and greens.  It's as if I forget every year how beautiful the autumn colors are here and am only reminded when I come up north; a treat every time.

At our wee Claire & Jamie marriage chapel today, we had a special treat as several in the group sang together to test the acoustics - well done.  A couple of Rainbows later on the road we enjoyed our Afternoon Tea, complete with cakes and lots of tea and coffee. Monique was... err pleased?

We took a drive up the other side of Loch Ness and enjoyed the beauty of the smaller lochs and the never ending purple hued hills.  Quite surreal.

Scot: Aye, weel the blog is by me and Herself today as we've given them nae chance to write.  Besides, bha …

September Tour - The Line-m-up Tour

Monique: " So, this tour rocks!!!  I have learned so much.  Now i can see the things in my head in reference to the books and apply them to real life.  I cant wait to go home and read the books all over again and experience all the drama, emotions, craziness that Claire and Jaime go through.  Thanks to Samantha and Scott, I have been saturated in the the Scottish culture, and i feel that this will be an experience of a lifetime. "

I enjoyed seeing, "Crainesmuir" today. The gardens were beautiful. My mom enjoyed sampling the huge assortment of herbs. Nancy was great with mimicking the chickens and sheep [where's Aven when we need her?] . I enjoyed the wee post office. I purchased stamps and post cards to send home. Lunch was great at the village pub. I had the Ploughman's platter; Stilton cheese, bread and pickled chutney, potato leek soup, salad. It has been a wonderful day.

WOW OH WOW! Such beautiful flowers [in the Crainsmuir gardens]!…

The Glorious 12th - Scottish trivia

Scot here, blog and FB followers.

Today is "The Glorious 12th" of August.  For those NOT from Scotland I can inform you it is, or at least was, an eagerly awaited date in the year of Gentlemen who fanciend themselves as the Great White Hunter.

It is the opening of the Grouse Season in Highlands.  Millions of sweet, comical, beautiful, laughing grouse are currently daubing themselves in mud and moss in an attempt to evade the keen eyes of "the guns" and the associated shot.

Most of these Gentlemen came, in Victorian times, to "their estate in the Highland" to rid the place of birds, deer, otters, and sometimes with a bit of luck, any other "guns" who stood down wind of the buckshot.

Sam and I have headed south into Sassenach land, well, Yorkshire actually ( a people very like Highlanders in many ways but with all the humour wrung out) having left behind Pop Pop and her boyfriend (our tame partridges) in the hope that they will not …

2012 is open for business

Just updated the website so that 2012 tours are listed and bookable.

(Fixed the broken Terms and Conditions check box too.  Who's clever boy then Scot?  Scot good boy! Yap! Yap!)

A September tour will follow in a few weeks when you've all decided whether we should go to the Outer Hebrides as well.

Comment away on that last one.


July Tour

A few blog followers have been asking about the lack of a July Tour blog, as just past.

There's a good reason for that.

You might have noticed that the website billed it as "tour filled" early on.  It was booked exclusively as a private tour for someone very much in the public eye. We are sworn to secrecy and have no intention of letting that secret out. 

The tour went wonderfully well.

I left the tour on the website for reference because there will be a tour with similar dates and "specials" in July 2012 tour (I've had enquiries). 

I do have a photo to post, not of the tour of course, but of our wee house and wildflower meadow, taken on our return. 

And here are some photos of the wild, red legged partridges that have become comical residents in our garden.

See y'all in September for the tour.  Oh what delights await!  Mwa! Mwa!

To The Future ~ To Ireland

An Ireland Tour in the planning...... NO, Jamie and Claire didnae go there (so far), but then we ARE Outlandish Spirits; going far and wide and exploring strange new worlds and new cilivizations ... but I digress.  Some of our recent and prior Outlandish Spirits are already interested in coming along.   We've just had a recent chat on our FB page:
Outlandish Spirit - whoa. Wait a minute. There's an Ireland tour? Sam - Yes, Ireland. Stay tuned! Vicki - What?? Do tell... Girl's trip???? Sam - Girl's trip? Well that depends if any Guys sign up :)  Guys are more than welcome! Aina - Giant's Causeway perhaps.... share some Irish hot chocolate. Sam - I'll buy you two of your own..... I want every last drop of mine...mmmm. an' me own pint! :p .
We're taking your requests for your preferred month to travel and places to go in the Emerald Isles.  Want to come along?  Help us choose the destinations now.
IRELAND ~ Land of Celtic legends: the Tuathaa De Danann, Children o…

Droch Isean, Day 8, the denoument

The Last Day.
We leave Lallybroch and head to Edinburgh.
Rebecca here and we have been giving the last adventure today through the streets of Edinburgh. Scot spent some time reading from our bible and gave me a chill as he read of the reunion of Jamie and Claire, total goosebumps. This has been an experience of a life time not only have we been mesmerized by the sights that Scotland holds but we have developed a bond with each other that will stand forever. So I guess we have created our own history in this historic Land. We separate today and a tear wells in my eye, but this will not be the last time we meet. A BIG thank you to Samantha and Scot for taking the time to create this tour and giving us the experience of a life time. Girls I will never forget you, you too Scot. This is me saying good bye for now....
Scot: And so another piece of history is written - The Droch Isean May Tour 2011. Fair ye weel a while ladies. We have enjoyed yer company just fine. We await to see the …

Day 7 - I am come home

Today is all about Lallybroch.

Scot here, blogging from a window seat in a fine tall sash and case window overlooking the lawn surrounded by trees in Lallybroch.  The lasses are all away exploring and are ecstatic.

I've just spent WAY TOO LONG creating something for you - the Blood Oath that Jamie says to Claire as they marry, translated into Gàidhlig and in a sound clip, so you can hear it.

"Ye are Blood of my Blood and Bone of my Bone.
I give ye my Body, that we two might be one.
I give ye my spirit, till our Life shall be Done." (Copyright Gabaldon)

"Blood of My Blood" in Gàidhlig

Sali, here.  We're east of Edinburgh and the Bard has a nose-bleed because he's so far from the Highlands. The rest of us are experiencing significant withdrawl.  The Highlands are behind us?  After months of anticipation, weeks of excitement and days of reveling in the rarified air, haunting ruins, and pervasive history of the Scottish Highlands - it's over?

Okay - enoug…

Day 6 of Droch Iseanan

We didn't find time the other day to keep you up to date with the Blog and our visit to Culloden.  Here's Kelly's words.

Kelly - The afternoon brought us to Culloden. Some time was spent experiencing the interactive exhibits and then touring the battlefield; very difficult in such a peaceful place to remember the horror and sacrifice that took place. I believe that we all left with a sense of compassion for both sides and their pain, suffering and losses.

Today we follow in the coach tracks of Claire a-la Inverness to Edinburgh in search of A.Malcolm.  We are doing the two day coach journey in four hours over two days.  It's a long way, you realise, when you travel in the Highlands.

Dannelle:   We survived our guideless afternoon and evening in Inverness, last night, without the assistance (or interference) of the local authorities, though we did manage to irritate the security guards at the pub that we (ahem) raised a bit of hell at far into the wee hours.  I lo…

Day 5 of really bad ass hens

We thought we'd do something different on this tour (indeed, there are many "firsts" on this one.  More of that later).  We've given the lasses a day of two halves.  In the morning we stopped in to pay our respects to the Clan Chief - Lord John MacKenzie, Earl of Cromarty.  He furnished us with the traditional mark of hospitality  -  a wee dram - before showing us around his home.  I've not spoken to the lasses this afternoon about the visit but the looks of wonder on their faces as Lord John described some "new part" of the castle from 500 years ago were priceless.  I'd say they got a real sense of the historical details found in the Outlander books. After all they touched them, sat on them and smelled them.  We'll perhaps find out tomorrow what they thought.

Which leads us to the new idea of the tour.  We've given them the afternoon off.  They are unchaperoned in the town of Inverness.  Lord John doubted they could find any "hell"…

Day 4 of Bad (Ass) hens


Sali here - (Hi, Boo!) It may be Day 4, but three of us are still giggling over last night's hunt for Isabella, the resident ghost of the baronial mansion where we passed the night. (Remind me to tell you about our utterly decadent four-posters!) The evening began with fluets of champagne toasting an utterly marvelous day - a day that saw us at the top of the world as well as beneath the earth. After dinner, our personal Bard regaled us with tales of Silkies and light-houses, his audience in rapt attention not interferring with sips of wine, coffee, tea - and the inevitable Pims & Lemonade. As midnight approached, Samantha and Scot floated off to their romantic plaid in the heather, and Dannelle and Rebecca to their sumptious suites. And that left three . . . night-caps anyone?

A Baronni and a couple of Pims & Lemonade had Kelly, Courtney and me following Simon and the keys to the mansion through one locked door after another, examining paintings and searching sha…

Droch Isean - day 3

DAY 3 - a day of surprises

Firstly, here's the tweed jacket. Fine aye?

Rebecca-  Today I experience a wilderness that called my name.  We walked around a beautiful park that exposed trees and water rushes, a place God must look down and smile at his amazing work.  We had a reading to remind us of the times Jamie and Claire spent romping throught the wilderness and slept in the heather (which was to my surprise, very comfy). Imagine a time when the sky was you roof and the wind dried your hair, amazing.  I am truly having an experience that has exceeded my expections.  This is me logging off for now.....

Scot: we laid the surprises on thick today.  We're not telling YOU, of course, but here's the faces when the lasses found out where they were staying.

That's all your getting Followers!

Droch Isean - Day 2


Hello all. This is Courtney and Kelly blogging for day 2 of the tour. After a lovely evening and delectable breakfast at a B & B we took a short drive to see an Ardsmuir-like prison Barracks. It was amazing to see how impressive it was to build a 4 story stone fortress without the aid of [modern] tools, and also how an individual could survive there once the task was completed. The view was breath-taking!

The second stop brought us to Wedding Chapel; one can just imagine the ceremony of Jamie and Claire! Did we mention BREATH TAKING VIEWS!

We certainly worked up our appetites to enjoy a spot of tea and sandwiches with some quite delightful desserts! The atmosphere was perfect and just what you would expect when having a proper afternoon tea. We are loving the tour, our tour companions, and our guides and having the time of our lives!

GREETINGS, ALL - Sali here. Is it still Day 2? We are packing so much into the days, it feels like Day 5 at least! At another B&B - bed l…