Monday, 29 July 2013

Day 7 - A Woolie Visit

We like to have a bit of variety for each adventure, so we added a visit to a sheep farm today.  Remember the scene where the women were in the barn dying the wool?  We were greeted by the family and their own piper.  Our host, Colin brought out two of his Border Collies and they gave a fantastic herding demo.  One of the dogs was a 12 week old puppy who was just starting to learn the techniques from the experienced dog.....verra cunnin'.  Our hostess, Linda and her daughters were in the huge barn teaching our Outlandish Spirits how to card and spin wool.  We made another visit this day but it's a secret, but it has to do with a big hoosie.....shhhhh!  During the last couple of days, several were talking about a Dragonfly adventure and we can hear France calling us!  Tu ne parle pas Francais? Pas un probleme!
Colin training in a new Collie

Linda surrounded by her wool
Linda and the family invited our guests to try their hand at carding and spinning.  Deb R was in her element (see photos).

Sarah shows Anna how to work a drop spindle

Deb R. having a go

Nick investigating the carding machine

Deb R. shows us how it's done

And already looking at the creative possibilities of a bat (carded wool)

Sam got shrunk in the wash

The whole family

Deb R:  I'm so thankful to be introduced to "Outlander" by my friend Linda, without this I woud not have met the "Outlandish Spirits" of Samantha and Scot! Although we have a family heritage, I had never really contemplated seaching for my family heritage.  During our visit to Culloden I realized the severity of how many people died within moments, watching their family and loved ones falling all around.  Emotions I cannot explain, only that of deep grief and many tears.  Thank you, Scot for your compassion and care!  I feel so much love and connection with Scotland's history.  I am looking forward now to continuing the adventure of Diana Gabaldon's series of Outlander and losing myself in the books. The history, as well as the cherished memories of Scotland will enhance every page that I read in the future. Thank you! Scot & Samantha for your careful consideration as to our personal "Outlandish Tour".  I will treasure this FOREVER!

Sam: Aye Fond Farewell ~ We've taken our new found friends back to Edinburgh and said our farewells.  They were a grand bunch and we can add their names and faces to this season of truly lovely Outlandish Spirits.  We bade them farewell and headed up the road.  Haste ye back.  What do we do after a week of adventures?  We head to our favourite Chinese take away on the way home.  It's our homage to Mr. Willoughby!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

DAY 6 Whisky and Sand

Last night continued after with more singing.  Linda and Deborah led us in hits from the 1940s to 60s.  "Bayyybee face, you got the cutest liddle baayyby face".  Rhodda on backup.  Quite a memory for us to keep. 

Today it was off to a wee stone circle tucked up in the beautiful glens.  The hills were pink and purple with early heather; an early blooming this year.

Kimberly: The week has exceeded my expectations tenfold. While driving from Inverness listening to beautiful Celtic music as the most serene pastoral landscape surrounded us, I made the decision that I will be spending more time in Scotland at some point. Highlights include laying in the heather (imagining Jamie next to me in the book but my husband in real life which is even better), drinking whisky with Scot at a pub in Inverness listening to locals jam while drinking great ales and whisky, visiting a "secret" place that Scot knew about, and listening to the Earl of Cromarty share the history of Castle Leod and his family. The time spent at Castle Leod (Castle Leoch) has to be the most precious, however, the entire tour has been amazing!
Kimberly, enjoying the tranquillity at the stone circle.
Scot: We did a plaid demo this evening.  Nick was the volunteer.  Hardly had I started to talk to them before Kimberly looked at Nick, holding the cloth and shouted "the pants have to come off!"  The funniest thing was the did-I-really-say-that-aloud expression on here face immediately after she said it.
Linda: The BEST part about discovering the "Outlander" series is that it led me to Scot and Samantha's tour!! When I arrived in Scotland a week ago, I only had a love for Jamie & Claire and Diana Gabaldon's wonderful literature. After this amazing week, I have fallen competely in love with Scotland's history, people, the land and their heritage! I am so grateful for all the thoughtfulness and planning Scot and Samantha have put into the tour, making this an experience that I will cherish forever! The books will come alive now like never before!

Nick:  Each new day in Scotland has brought beautiful new experiences.  Yesterday we visited one of the most amazing forests I have had the fortune to visit.  After picknicking by a lovely little stream we stopped at this little domed structure that had a roman esque mural with wonderful poetry; but the best part was the back of the building which opened to a gorgeous waterfall, narrow yet powerful with perhaps a 20 foot drop.  Today I swam in the North Sea which literally took my breath away with the coolness of it.  And then before dinner Scott showed me how to wear a filamore (the great plaid) as I have been wishing to wear a Kilt all week.  This has been a truly blessed trip with a group of incredible people and two wonderful hosts.  Slange!

Tiffany also enjoyed the beach, a welcome break from the hills.

Debra-Jean: Taking a final exam (an Outlander knowledge quiz) right now, (Sam said that I cant leave the country if I get the next question wrong!). I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Scotland and leaving here once again will be bittersweet, I have spent this past week with the most outlandish crew and will carry home with me a treasure chest of images and memories. I am ready to start my 11th reading now and fully expect this to be the best reading yet. Somebody wish me a "Haste ye back!" 

Anna: Did much better on the quiz than I thought I would! Enjoyed the countryside, beautiful horses. Enjoyed the beach, the whisky distillery tour. Will enjoy last night of story telling. 

Sam:  Scot and I have been fortunate to meet these lovely Outlandish Spirits.  I sat listening to Scot's tales with the group this evening and I was struck with a sadness that tomorrow we would be parting.  I visualized each face in our group and missed each person already.  It's so amazing to how quickly each personality develops over the week.  We all start with just trying to remember names on the first day and we finish with shared experiences, humour and hugs.

Friday, 26 July 2013

DAY 5 - Heading South

Deb Jean: last adventure before dementia, If not for my dear friend Anna, I would be wandering around in a cstle somewhere or be unable to purchase a ticket to the little girls room - who else has trouble with these coins? Today I got lost in our hotel. Thank Heavans she found my passport. My wise dh suggested that I bring her along. He was incredibly wise!

Another picnic lunch today on our long journey south from the Highlands.  This time the outdoor repast was by the river, rocks and white water, amidst the tallest of trees.  All agreed it beat lunch in a cafe by a long margin.  

The talk turned to how much the guests have enjoyed the times on this trip with nature.  We discussed the possibilities of a future tour.  We've been working on SlowScotland (TM) which we will offer next year if we have the interest from prior tour guests.  The theme of the tour is to get up close and intimate with nature, by bicylce, canoe, sailboat, walking, horse back travelling and so on.  Linda gave us her wish list for such a tour.  Duly noted, Linda, we'll work on it this winter.  (As ever, if you're interested in such a tour, contribute your views.)

Linda sits beside me playing the guitar and singing with Deb harmonizing.  We are sat in the hotel - very relaxing - waiting for dinner and entertaining ourselves.

Tonight : a walk around the grounds of the country house; a walk into the hills, relax with the glass by the fire... who knows what they'll choose.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

DAY 4 Haggis Hunting

Anna: Have yet to find a live haggis. Lots of haggis holes near the chestnut tree. Laird McKenzie (Clan Chief) was gracious and showed us around his castle. Found it interesting to see the castle and hear its history. Wonderful picnic on the grounds.

A picnic on the lawn at Leod with Eve and John - Lord and Lady Cromartie

Tiffany: This trip has been more than I ever thought it could be, and it is only day four! We had a wonderful visit today with "The McKenzie" and the stories he told were so very entertaining. The castle and the grounds were beautiful.
Terry: Aye, another castle.  Another Lord.  What a wonderful afternon, touring a grand castle, large and very old trees.. My nephew Nick and I hugged a 500 year old tree.  How smooth, whoops that was the whisky the Lord served, so smooth even to a non-whisky drinker. We picknicked on the lawn of the castle and toured the castle.
We finished the day with a tour ON Loch Ness and all envisioned that we would see the water horse.  Maybe someday because I know we all believe.......

Sam:  We had perfect picnic weather as we dined with Lord Cromarty and his lovely wife, Eve.  Later, there was a beautiful mist floating through the hills surrounding Loch Ness setting the perfect scene for Nessie hunting on the loch.  Yes, the wee folk were with us this day!

Kimberly is given the key to the Secret Door!  She's so excited.


Day 3 Haggis Hunters

The Haggis Hunters' Tour.  We have a name.  In full it is "The full moon Haggis hunters' Tour".
This morning we are at a facsimlie of Castle Leoch, to give the guests the feel of what a large castle would be like, with The Hall and all.  We'll perhaps hear later what they learned.

We took a wee detour this morning en route to show some of the guests where Bonnie Prince Charlie dined a night or two before Culloden - another local castle and that fact is not well known.  A night or two later, the Butcher of Cumberland (The Hanoverian king's son and leader of the British army) dined in the same place.  The hosts were worried they'd be burnt out for giving hospitality to the Stuart prince, but Cumberland was not angry with them.  He said, "He is my couzen and I would expect you to give him hospitality".
It's nice when we can throw in a few almost secret visits or local knowledge.  Of course, we'll now have to KILL THEM ALL or do a "Hugh Monro" on them.  (What's that?  Read book one to find out.)

Terry:  Wow, what a busy and interesting tour. So far we have seen everything that I was hoping for and more. The castle experience was grand.  A real castle, who would have thought that we could see one, much less tour one.  Then as luck would have it, we actually saw the lovely woman who owned the castle.  It is hard to believe that the same family owned it since 1390 or so. I hope the mortgage is paid off by now!

July day 2

Tiffany: Amazing trip today to a wee church in the highlands! It was simply gorgeous! We took a quick (and I do mean QUICK!) hike by a river with a beautiful waterfall. Then it started to rain on us, which was refreshing and calming after the jog through the woods. We found some blaeberries and boy were they tasty! Such an amazing experience so far and it is only day two! What more do they have in store for us?! I can not wait to see!

Debra-Jean: The experience of an after dinner coffee can be, when enjoying the hospitality of the Scottish retaurant, an occasion for hilarity. Be advised that a cup of coffee with half and half can easily result in a serving of half a cup of coffee served with milk on the side. I love it!

Merikay:  I had duck last night for the first time. Not so sure this will be my favorite but it was different. After all we are on a wonderful vacation. The mountains are just amazing and nice fresh air. This is the best vacation I have ever been on bar none. I have Tiffany here with me and we are just having such a good time. I have never seen mountains and forests like this. You would have to be here to believe the sights.

Judith:  Scottish bucket #1 done - Got my Harris Tweed!  Handbag, coin purse and 2 meters of hand woven Scottish wool in a gorgeous magenta plaid.  Come this winter in Illinios with out O degrees/-20 windchills, I will have my own 'kilt' to keep me warm.

Anna: The B&B is awesome! Enjoying wonderful food with new friends!

And that was just the morning.  This afternoon we walked amongst the gymnosperms - the cone bearers - and read of the wolves in the moonlight.

Here we read of Claire and Jamie meeting the wolves

Sam: We had a special treat at the chapel, when Deb & Linda broke into a beautiful rendition of the song, "Blood of My Blood". I'll see if I can get a copy to post of the video we made.

Later in the day, we took a moment to enjoy the heather as several of us decided to try it out for a quick lie down. They all realized how cushioned it is and comfortable to lie on. I especially smiled at Kimberly's comment: "It really is comfortable and I can just imagine curling up with Jamie in it." Spot on lass!

Kimberley: "All I need is Jamie to spoon with now"
 Later in the evening, some of them went to the pub, where "we drunk everything worth drinking" and Kimberley kissed a local.  Cheap date.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Jamie and Claire in July - DAY 1

The name of the tour will be... dah dah dah!
(Actually, we don't have one yet)

What have we done this day so far?  We've been to Cranesmuir but Geillis wasn't in. She's... well, dead, I expect.  But we saw her house and had our photo taken at the Mercat in the town.

Our first stop in Cranesmuir gave me such an amazing, real-life picture of what an 18th century village would have looked like!  I could almost picture Claire up on the 3rd floor staring into the pan of water while Geillie tried to drug her and discover her identity.  Everyone is wonderful!  I'm so excited for all that's in store for the week!  :)

Deb: The old buildings are amazing!  I have only read the first book "Outlander", however seeing the country side and Cranesmuir has brought the book to life.  Geillis's possible house and the history behind it was very interesting. So far exceeding expectations!

Nic:  The highlands are more beautiful than I could imagine but I'm a little out of place without a Kilt yet!  I can't wait to explore the landscape after dinner, but that being said I am cutting this short as our tantalizing appetizers are being served as I type!

Loving the Highlands!