Friday, 15 April 2011

Squirrels Up A Tree

Scot is over in Brittany regaling folk at the Mythos Festival with tales of the Celts. He has taken our wee computer with him, so I'm now writing after returning home. The flowers and trees have been beautiful throughout the Highlands in April and I'm inspired to offer a tour this time next year.....

The last day of our trip brought us to a beautiful woodland; a much anticipated stop by Jamie and Claire as a special side trip - easy enough to do on a custom, private tour!

This day saw our family climbing up tall trees and swinging from zip wires in an adventure that even the squirrels must envy.

I think back to some of the books and I do believe that Brianna would have had fun designing something like this and wee Iain Murray would have had a blast gliding through the forests. Our 'Awesome Four' (as that is what I've dubbed them) enjoyed climbing, swinging, maneuvering through a very high, difficult course; definitely not a course for land lovers or wimps. In fact, I'd say that this is one of the best examples of Outlandish Spirits I've seen in person!

What is an Outlandish Spirit? It's many things to many people. But perhaps it's also someone who goes beyond what they normally do - they step outside of their own box and challenge themselves - they get up that extra bit of confidence and say "To heck with what everyone else thinks, this is something I want to do!" Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser lived her life outside of the box and stepped outside of her own comfort zone and her own world to do what she wanted to do. I see this same outlook in Vicki & Jim and admire their courage and dedication in their life together.

I bade a sad farewell in Edinburgh to our new friends........ ah but it is just farewell and not goodbye - or - as we like to say "Mar sin leibh en-drasta."
So, what is an Outlandish Spirit to you? What you've done that's been Outlandish (keep it clean :) ...ahem) and we'll share it here. What inspired you or influenced your life from the Outlander series?

Adieu, mes amis

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

From War to Peace

DAY 4 part 2
Jim - After touring through the visitor's center at Culloden and the actual battle field, I have a much better understanding of the actual event. There are many lessons to be learned about preparing for battle, taking care of your troops, and basic soldiering. Of course, these are my thoughts as a military member. It was excellent! This afternoon, we got to tour a cottars house, which I found very interesting. I have a much better understanding of what it would have been like to live in a thatched roofed house that is heated by a peat moss fire. It is not a life I would like to live, but it is a dry place to sleep. This tour is a great way to see Scotland. We would have never seen or experienced Scotland like we have this week had we tried to do this on our own. Thanks Scot and Samantha!

Claire- Hello!! Touring today was partialy exiting. I say this because we visited Culloden... I found it very interesting, but very sad. After seeing the battle field and museum thing we visited the standing stones...sorry, some standing stones. It was really cool to see what it was like with the cairn and all that stuff. Then, finally we went to Cottars house. It was realy cool to see the thatched houses with the actual things inside.

Oh... yes, I almost forgot, big... no, HUGE thanks to Scot and Samantha for the AWESOMELY AWESOME sheep stuffed animal, I love it!!!! (^@^)~

Scot - Aven suggests "Rupert" fort the sheep. Or perhaps "Serta the Mattress Sheep", which she will no doubt explain the meaning of. I'm for "rainbow socks" which you'd have tae see it's feet to understand.
We gave Jamie beag a book about the last battle on British soil - Culloden. He likes his military and is a lad of detail, so the book seems to serve.

This evening we had ale, the new Kilchomain malt, which was sgoinnel gu dearbh. There was a plaid demonstration which is best pictured through the lady of the house - her expression on seeing her menfolk clad in plaid and not a lot else. (Sorry, no photos of that. The ladies amongst you will just have to imagine or come on a tour. Beats a youtube video, I'd say.)

I told a Tale of the Silkie folk and then it was time for me to say good bye. I'm off to Breizh (Brittany) in the morning to tell some Scottish Tales at a festival. Sam meanwhile takes the crew to their doom - Go Ape. Lots of high wires, zip lines and clambering around in the tops of trees. I've been there. I can say that the longest zip line in the UK is REALLY long. You hook on and you can't even see the far end of it, almost half a km away. That's where you're supposed to land, some good time later... at speed. It's nothing to do with the J&C Tour of course, but this is a private one and Sam's put in something for the bairns. They've been looking forward to it all week.
There will be photos, if they are not too bloody.

I've enjoyed the company of our mad wee crew. I will miss them. It's been a short tour, made shorter by my departure. No doubt we'll be meeting our new friends on the net and maybe we'll meet again in Germany. There is a plan.

Sam is thinking of offering a shorter J&C tour soon. It's likely to be described as "No frills but all the thrills" and be 5 days.

Declare your preferences and interest through email.

Mar sin leibh an-drasta, luchd-leanntainn
Good by for now, followers
Scot AnSgeulaiche

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

One morning

Culloden. The day started cold, with a wind and a hint of sleet in the air. A shadow of the weather faced here in another April day, some time ago. Followers of the musings of the tour over the years will know that I duna much care to go out on to the field, so here I am again, sat in the visitor centre, committing thoughts to type.
It is interesting to overhear the conversations of the visitors to this place. Accents from America, Spain, England. Something happens to almost all the people who come here. They take on an inward look, pensive, conversations turn to "I don't understand why they... can you imagine being there and... it's strange how..." and the like. This place still has the power to move people, people who as you look at them don't appear as if they have anything in common with the history of the place - garishly dressed, tanned tourists from Florida, little old ladies with walking canes. All of them hide a secrete fact of themselves beneath some 'other' covering - the secret is that they all relate to this place. It touches them.

jamie- culloden was very depressing. the scottish were slaughtered it was very sad. we walked about the museaum and watched a movie about the battle then met a weapons expert who let us hold a shield, dagger,musket and a sword, that was cool and fun. then we walked the battle field and got in the car to see some standing stones. the stones were interesting. now were at a pub having lunch. by for now B):) :D

Vicki-So, the day to view Culloden finally arrived. I don't mean finally, as in this week, I mean finally as in...........20 years in the imagining. When you stand on the field in the rain and cold wind you can't really fathom how it must have felt that day. Standing there facing an enemy who was well rested, well fed, and well armed. The Scots on the other hand were tired, hungry, and lacking good leadership. It's always easy to stand in a beautiful visitor center and arm chair quarter back if you will, but from here in the future, you can see clearly how horrible the outcome would be. It is a very moving, somber experience. I really thought the Fraser stone would move me more than the others, but it did not. All lying under the stones were equal to me. Brave, valiant warriors.
On to some standing stones and cairns. Very interesting. They are over 4,000 years old. Too bad it's the wrong time of the year to time travel. Samantha and Scot rock!! They can answer any silly question that comes up. A super tour!!

Wee sheep gifties. Claire canny think of a name for the wee fella. Can anyone help? "Comments" welcome, Except from Aven who will come up with something daft. Only kidding love, suggest away.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Wolves and Heroes... and a cat


Claire- Today has very fun so far. We have been hiking around again. Scot told me some tips about hiking such as where to step and certain things to look out for. I got about an inch away from quite a few birds. I think they spotted my cookie crumbs. Right now I am blogging in a restaurant. I'm hoping our food comes soon... I seem to be hungrier than I thought I was. Oh well... Ciao 4 now!! :-) (^@^)~

That's fresh air and a hike through the highlands for you.

We've had such a full day that there's been little time to write. We'll give it in pictures.

If you're wanting to know, that's reading about Jamie and Claire's honeymoon and meeting the wolves; a couple of heroes; in the wilderness; and visiting Lord John at The Castle.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Ach, What a day!

I blog from Hootenanny's. There's a great wee three piece on the stage of the pub doing traditional songs; we have heather honey ale in the glass (ooh too easy on the pallet, but dangerous tae yer feet).

Anyway. To the adventures of the day. In picture format, for those who like graphic novels.
This is what she calls a "stable moment". They are in a stable, a "hay loft" if you get the inference. These are apparently, a major part of the plot of Ms Gabaldon's novels for Vicki

This morning we have been to a place that myself and Sam argue about. I say it's like Ardsmuir, she says it's more like Wentworth. Of course, my interpretation is the more accurate.

The kids have a different kind of stable moment. Kids will climb,... and fall

Tales at the Chapel. A wedding Tale of course.

Jim - Day two continued to be an exciting day. We got to see an old church just up a hill and do a reading from the book about Jamie and Claire's wedding. it was really nice and then Scott played his harp and told us a story that was really excellent. We had tea and snacks today at a castle as well, which was a real experience. To wrap up our tour for the day we went by Loch Ness. Vicki, the kids and I had to put our feet in the Loch, it was cold and refreshing. As hard as I looked, I did not see Nessy! Now we are settling into our B and B for the night and then we will head out to dinner. The weather has been sunny and wonderful again today. I feel like we are very lucky to have such wonderful weather!!! I forgot to mention our stop by the old barracks. As a military man I found the barracks interesting. Even in the 1700s, the barracks were built with what we now call a quad, it is where the formations would be held, etc. I was impressed with the kitchen, and bathrooms. As with many things from this erra, I like to imagine what it must have been like to live then. Also, in keeping with the books, what must Claire must have thought to find herself back 200 yrs!

Scot - Bathrooms are not awfly common in the rural Highlands. Mother Nature has plenty of opportunity. Vicky: "It's not a great claim to fame, but I have peed in many countries but I have to say that Scotland is my favourite."
Aye, well, Vicky's a wheen o' fun. I relate to Jim. We men have learnt to be undemanding.

Scot - Picture the scene, I've got the camera and Jim is stood ankle deep in the water. He's the only one not squeeling with the cold. The others won't stay in long enough, all together, for me to get a photo of them, so Jim's getting colder and crotchety as he's the only one freezin' his toes off.

This is the one called "Dafties"

A mother and daughter moment
Sam - April in the Highlands has been even better than we expected. We know the weather is usually quite good during this month, but we're in a heat wave; fantastic! The Daffs are up everywhere and the cherry blossoms are just coming into full bloom. The sky is so clear, that we could see the top of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Britain, beyond the chapel. I really think I'd like to start an annual tour in April....hmmmmmm. It's been great fun traveling with our Outlandish Spirits and their enthusiasm is catchy. We're teaching them Gaelic words and the local Scottish lingo and they love trying all the local fayre!

Vicki- What a wonderful day! Old barracks, high tea at castles, wee chapels, fabulous B&B,but really, if you're going to Scotland, you must sit on the side of a hill, in a very old cememtary, overlooking a wee old chapel. BUT, to add to the already overwhelming experience, while you sit there you must have a storyteller with a harp telling a good old story that relates to one of the headstones you are looking at. A bit surreal. Scott tells an enchanting tale. My cup runeth over today. Clotted cream, scones, and a Ragnald MacDonald love story. As I type I am having a beer in Hootanany's listening to great music with great company.

Scot - here's a couple of video clips of the trio we're listening to as we blog. Sent to you by bluetooth, mobile phone and carrier eagle. How cool is that? Let me know in the comments if they don't come through.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Jame and Claire on the Jamie and Claire Tour


Scot here.  We're outlandishing a private tour for an American family from Italy.
You'll like this.  Vicky and Jim's bairns are called Jamie and Claire.  Aye, really.
What's more, wee Jamie has red hair and his current stature promises great height as an adult.
Cò-dhùi, anyway, I'll hand yeez over to them as they are prolific writers.

Claire-    Today we visited to a very hilly place, not a mountain though. I am not exactly sure where we went. I found it very enjoyable. We hiked all around there, and we saw lots of sheep. Jamie ran all around trying to "catch" some sheep. [Aye, a true MacKenzie at heart : "I was just Borrowing them".] It was sort of funny. We stopped at a spot where standing stones used to be. We read a little bit of one of the Outlander books describing Claire's journey through the stones. It was very descriptive, and I liked it a lot. The men hiked all the way up to the top of the hill, but they did not bag a monroe... too bad. On the way to our hotel, we saw lots of little baby sheep, they were sooooooooooooo cute!! I am very exited to see what tomorrow brings. :-D

Jim, he "went up a mountain and came down a hill"

Jim - Well today began the tour!  I didn't know what to suspect but it has really turned out to be more than I had expected.  After getting sandwiches for the day, we were off. It was as if Scot and Samatha and our family had known each other for quite some time.  After eating our picnic lunch at the edge of a field, we took a hike into the hills. I learned that even the hills were very wet and bog like.  I just thought that it would only be like that in the lower areas.  Scot decided to take a hike to the top of the hill over looking valley and I decided to join him on this adventure.  It was quite a hike to the top, but it was incredible.  The view was worth the effort.  After a day of hiking, we drove to our B and B for the night.  It too is very nice and we are sitting down at dinner this evening at the restaurant, the food is very good and the conversations are great.  I am anxious to see what tomorrow will bring!

Vicki-After many many sleepless nights or nights filled with strange Samantha dreams.........the day finally arrived.  Sam and Scott picked us up in Edinburgh. We stopped at a busy store to pick up sandwiches etc for the day.  We headed out driving and getting to know each other.  We stopped at their beautiful house.  What a lovely place to spend your time.  We headed out to places unknown to me.  We arrived a the most Scottish looking place you can imagine.  We sat on a pile of stones for lunch.  We gathered ourselves and headed up a large hill although not a Monroe.  There will be no "bagging" a monroe as they are a minimum of 3,000 feet.  I feel the hill Jim and Scott climbed should count as a monroe.  The kids Samantha and I hiked up to a large clefted stone.  It was so perfect. As Sam read the excerpt from the book I could "feel" myself checking out of this reality and into 18th century Scotland.  You could see the grove of trees that Claire stumbled into after coming through the stones.  I could imagine the small battle between the Highlanders and the Dragoons.  If you sat on the side of this hill, and kept yourself very really could place yourself in the story.  Besides the clefted stone, I could imagine how Claire must have felt sitting next to Jamie looking out over the beinns and trying to get a sense of how her life was going to be.  Just spectacular!!!  We reluctently left the quiet peace of that place and headed to our b&b.  Cozy, beautiful, perfect.  now we are sitting at wonderful restaurant awaiting our dinner.  YES, we have already had our hagus.  It was a big hit with my Jamie the red!!

Red Jamie, guddling a trout?  Na, washing the mud off his feet
Jamie-    well today we were picked up mr.Scott and Mrs. Samantha, and they took us us on a long car ride to a "secret location" that was very hilly and rocky. it was very very pretty. shortly after arriving we sat on rocks and had a wonderful picnic, then we began the hike up the hill, there was a beautiful stream going down the hill, I tried wading in it but i decided not to get frostbite. We then got to the "jamie and claire" rock were claire is sent back in time. after reading a bit of the book i saw some sheep and decided to chase them. I had chased them quite far down the hill until I realized I couldn't get them. I started to run up the hill until I stepped in a sinking bog, my shoe came off and I got really muddy and wet. All in good fun though. shortly after we headed back down the hill to the car and drove off to our hotel and currently I'm having hagus and salmon... I cant wait until tomorrow.

Scot - it was good to loosen the winter cobwebs (and the leg muscles) with a climb today with Jim.  NOW it feels like the touring season has begun.  I'll get a bit fitter so that I can look forward to punishing, I mean meeting, a few of yerselves when ye come adventuring.  It'll be a pleasure.