Tuesday, 13 September 2011

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 exception.  She kept saying that she was just going to stay in Scotland and not go back.  I'm sure her family can come up with a story about Stones and Gems and being lost in time.

Line em up one more time - Jacobite Glasses
Sam gave "a few wee gifties" as she calls them to our guests (above).  A rare 18th Century style of glass, traditionally engraved with a Jacobite symbol.  Line em up!  Just sayin'.

Sam went running about some local shops and discovered some that specialize in proper Scotland items, made in Scotland and not some foreign land and came back with the locations for our Outlandish Spirits to visit later.  She also ran into and had a good chat with Mike Katz and Alasdair White of "The Battlefield Band".  Alas, they were not playing in town this day.  But she recommends that you buy one of their cd's and enjoy some good Scottish music.  She has seen them in concert in the past.

After most everyone said goodbye, I decided that we should do a pub crawl for some local ales and 'convinced' Julia, Monique and Glenda to join in.  Luckily it was on their way to their accommodation (complete with swimming pool and spa - another J&C Tour first) so the lasses didnae have far to stagger, I mean walk.  Then more goodbyes and aye fond farewells as the song goes.

We shall truly miss this group of haggis eat'n, whisky, ale and sambuka drink'n, bunny chasin', and most important Jamie chasin' (except for Ron, who kinda likes Loighaire) Outlandish Spirits ... Just sayin'.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

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 upset with.

Cindy: We arrived last night at Castle Stuart to spend the night; another first for me. The meal was fantastic as was the bagpiper and Robert the Bruce. Yes this was somewhat of a fairy tale night. This was another favorite day and night for me. I'm yet undecided if climbing up the mountain with sheep all around and the bubbling creek was my favorite day or was it the castle stay. It doesn't matter. It is all such a real wonderful dream. Who would have thought I would be waking up in a Castle in Scotland.

Nancy & Ron: We enjoyed a magical night and day in the Castle Stuart. [They had the big king size bed chamber... I'm just saying... Sam)

Debie: Oh Brothers of mine grab your walking sticks and join me in the enchanted forests of Scotland! Green moss covers the trees, mushrooms of every color cover the ground orange with polka dots, white and green, wild flowers blue, pink, yellow and orange [we took a walk along the hills around Loch Ness]. The castle was outstanding, the piper calling us to dine. It was a dream come true. Fireplaces so big you could stand in them, you could feel the history!
Tales by the walk-in fireplace

Not sure how to add to this image by words?

Debie makes a friend

A porter goes to fetch a bag
Tomorrow... we walk the Royal Mile and search out the haunts of A.Malcolm seditious printer.  It is forecast to be gale-force tomorrow and raining heavily, just like in Claire's return to Edinburgh and the run to the World's End.  Ah, the authentic Scottish experience.  Can't wait!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

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 a storytelling session last year, way up in a hunting lodge. He now works at the Black Isle Brewery, near to Inverness and he said they were having an Oktoberfest.  I told the Line-m-up crew and this afternoon we went over and joined the festivities and sampled the ales and listened to some great music from local blues and folk musicians. (A Festival being another 'First' of new experiences on the J&C Tour).   It's handy when we have a smallish group of enthusiasts (as opposed to a large coach tour) because we can take advantage of such fortuitous deviations in the planned itinerary.

The ale was grand as was the Bratwurst (it is an oktoberfest afterall).  The cook was another of my storytelling acquiantances named Ricky.  Tall, red haired, wears a kilt, AND COOKS.  Oh the lasses of the posse had a wee bit o fun at his expense.  He made the Bratwurst himself from "Gloucester Old Spot and The White Sow" pigs on Monday.  Fresh!

All this and we still managed to do the planned visit of the day.  A very special burial place that will remain secret.  The posse found it to be moving, from all accounts.

The Line-m-up posse in fluid form, Mr Reid, sings in the background.

Sista joins in the straw throwing with the under 5s.

Debie and Sistas read to us from the UK copy of Outlander - note the alternative artwork and name of 'Crosstitch'. Note also the pint pots. These lasses are all "blondes".

The final scene of Heisgeir - the band play behind the video footage and interviews. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

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 & walked through the Castle with the lovely gardens and woods and we ate lunch in the castle.  We enjoyed song while we strolled through the woods. Hieland Cows were a highlight before the battle of Culloden. We enjoyed a beautiful rain free day!!

Sam:  Another first:  A nice walk through the woodlands surrounding the castle.  I started teaching the group a wee song that we'll all sing later.  I was amazed at how the castle gardens have as many flowers in the early autumn as they do in the spring.  Absolutely beautiful.

The Tai Chi of Castle

Is that a castle in the distance?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

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 i beagan fliuch an-diugh - twas a wee bitty wet and I've noticed that the wee computery thing doesna much care for water drapped on it.

Maybe we should rename this tour the Heather on the Hills tour.  We've been marveling at it every few miles as we climbed higher into the hills today.  It's a strong show of the wee Calluna Vulgaris this year.  Them hills is Pink I tell ye! Pink!  Shtunning!

We went to the Ardsmuir / Wentwork / FortWilliam barracks lookalike this morning and recreated the bleakness of the Scottish prisoner experience of cold, gray stone and driving rain in the face.  Aye, well, they wanted the real thing.

We also made the very instructional visit to the cottars house to give the Hugh Munro experience.  We met with a cailleach who showed us her weaving and explained the loom, the drop spindle, the rake, the shuttle and all.  If none of that made any sense tae ye, then look it up on Mr and Mrs Google.  It takes her 25 hours to set the loom up for a new bolt of cloth, and that's before she's woven a single thread.
The new Yorkers build a barn

It's a family affair.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

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]!
I feel like Ive gone herb hunting with Claire and Gellis. I Tasted Haggis, not bad.  Saw a kilted band playing bagpipes, I am really in Scotland!

What a wonderful place!!! The mountains are so beautiful and the book becomes so much more vivid and clear once you are here.

Lovely, the trip has been wonderful so far Scotland has been great such a great country and 'guid crack'.

Glenda aka Julia's MOM
Great day! Wonderful hosts and such lovely people to travel with. Having dinner just now and Julia, Monique, Debie, Scot and I had haggis, very intersting food, every thing has been good but then again when you are walking and traveling with fun people, everything tastes better.

This was another tour of 'firsts' - It was the first time that while at our Lallybroch we met with the current REAL Laird and Lady of the 'big hoosie' and the estate for a wonderful tour around the interior of their home.  Upon our arrival, we were shown into a huge room with many of the family's ancestral paintings surrounding us and we were treated to refreshments including lovely home baked carrot cake.  Some of the paintings were from our Outlander time with names of ancestors who had helped shaped the history of the Jacobites.  The Laird spoke candidly about his family tree and life now, versus life on a full working estate over the past few hundred years.  The room in which we sat has been restored to how it would have looked around 1720 - so that's right in the Lallybroch style.

The estate has it's own chapel, farm fields, working farmers and of course sheep.  In the words of some of our Outlandish Spirits on this adventure, "They were such gracious and down to earth hosts and she (our Hostess) was stunning and beautiful."  We have met and shared a wee tipple with real folk from this part of the world spanning the ages.

Our other 'first' for these Jamie & Claire journeys was a discovery I made this evening; if you want to clear a restaurant of Americans and New Yorkers (in a league of their own LoL) don't yell out "Fire!"  Yell, "Bagpipes!" as a pipe band marches past the window.  I've never seen a table empty so quickly in my life.... this is already proving to be a lively group.....ahem.  We later marched up the street with the same band into the night and back to our B&B.

Though not the first time, Scot was able to finally stop at his favorite brewery on the way up and has already started sharing the different bottled brews with the others...one bottle at a time.  One of our prior travelers, 'Badlands Scot' (not to be confused with our own 'Highland Scot'), would appreciate some of the new ales.

A phrase that came up after dinner a few times as we enjoyed various sips, compliments of our New York OS's was "Line 'em up!"  Do I detect a possible name for this tour?  The 'Line 'em Up' tour group.  Me thinks the 'Grain Tour' group have new rivals....time will tell.
Hello to all our past Outlandish Spirits and a special Feasgar math to Carolyn & Marilyn!


Cindy.  What a wonderful and inspring day for me, Walking along mountain tops of Scotland and seeing the sheep running through the fields, rainbows everywhere and of course the secret. My inspiration to start the Outlander books again.

Debie  Well, I'm still here [stone reference].  That said the spot was lovely, the standing stones didn't speak to me or invite me in, maybe it was the time of year... Hard to express how I feel, a little disappointed but I do like my reality.

Monique  "I dont have any words to describe how i feel today.  after an hour hike of tracking in "muck" and getting my pants and hiking boots filthy, i was able to view the world that Claire and Jaime experienced in a new light.  It is a surreal experience. i really dont know how i feel.  i have so many emotions right now the only thing i can think to do is list them:  happy, inspired, overwhelmed, excited, exhausted, and totally in awe of this country.  Then at lunch i figured out the reason i was here...Thick Hot Chocolate!  I would hop plane at any time and go to any place to get it.  I think i just feel in love!!!!!
Scot: we made a "new" stop at a VERY rare place.  I think it is the ONLY remaining painted wooden church ceiling from the 17th Century.