Sunday, 9 November 2014

Introducing Scotland - The Kelpies

As the winter deepens, it is time for y'all to study up on some Scotland trivia. 
What's the picture above?  Don't know?  Well most Scots do, so here's the video to 'splain it all.  It's part of our Introducing Scotland series, covering things and places that visitors might not know about this fine country.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

What is Celtic Spirituality?

What is Celtic Spirituality?

Well there's a question that opens a leather bag of spiraling worms.
This tour that we are running is for our friend Mara Freeman who is a writer about and teacher of Celtic Spirituality, so the focus is on that aspect of Scottish Culture

Christianity came from the Middle East to Ireland very early, almost before Christ, you might say.  It bypassed the other European countries and flourished in the Emerald Isle a few hundred years before the rest of Britain.  This happened because there was a pre-existing connection between the Rabbis and the Irish Druids.  They liked to swap esoteric knowledge.

The upshot of this is that one of the many Christian sects, post Jesus, was Irish Christianity.  To the modern mind, it was somewhat pagan in its ideas, more about poverty and aestheticism, more about the flock, respectful of nature.

Fast forward to 664 AD and the church in Rome was fast becoming the dominant Christian sect (there were still others).  In Britain, the light of Christ shone from Iona, on the west coast of Scotland (and from where I write this blog tonight).  Ionan Christianity was Celtic, brought there by Collum Cille (AKA Saint Columba) from Ireland the previous century.

The Synod of Whitby in 664 was a ruling on who the Saxon king of Britain would follow - Rome or Iona.  He chose Rome, thus the sect later known as Catholic became the dominant one is Britain too.

The focus of this tour of Mara's is to visit Christian and pre-Christian sites that still show evidence of this early sect and its druidical and neo-lithic antecedents.  There are many in Scotland, especially on the west coast.  Along the way we share readings and spiritual practices that draw from the sites.

Pic above: There be stone circles here.  Arran, courtesy of our youngest guest, Miley, age 13.

Pic: looking down in contemplation from the heights of Dunadd, once a capital city of a Christian Irish colony and still the finest view in Argyll.

We have 16 guests with us, many with much learning and skill in this field.  This night we have arrived at the unco chancy place of Iona, where time has a liquid quality, sometimes turning in eddies; other times running backwards while forwards; sometimes it stands still and at others it rages through you disrupting all.  That's Iona for you.  No wonder they built their abbey here.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Mara's Celtic Spirit Journeys August

Mystical Scotland tour 2014.  We are privileged to be guiding this tour for a second year.  We have a grand bunch of 16 on a pilgrimage from Edinburgh to the Outer Isles. Today, day 2, we are on the Island of Arran and have visited the great standing stones on the moor of Machrie.  Pick below not of the stones, but taken from the stones looking up to Goat Fell where the stones mark the rising of the summer solstice sun.

Some words from three of our guests.

Thoughts by Sally (grandmother) and Miley (granddaughter):
The celtic  journey of a life time today was remarkable we very much enjoyed the dances and the humor between the people in our lovely group. Our favorite part of today was feeling the energy in the celtic standing stones,through that experience we learn much more through history. We are enjoying every second of our journey through the days. We are very happy to be on this celtic journey.

Thoughts by Sheila:  to my family and friends greetings from this beautiful island of Arran, such a magical spot.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Jamie and Claire 2015 tour dates announced!

Sin sibh a luchdh leanntan!  See youze, Diana Gabaldon Fans!  I have just posted the tour dates for 2015 for the Jamie and Claire tour.

The true "Colum MacKenzie" with our May crowd.

We're still having fun with this year, and our new optional "extensions", but I am already getting requests for 2015.
So, they're up on  for your delectation and the old "can I, can't I?" decision.  Maybe this is your year...

What's NOT there just yet are:
~ the optional extensions that were such fun this year.  I'm still working on those.  I'll put them up soon.
~  The Romantic Borders tour, which we have just come back from.  Quote from a guest:  "I had no idea the Borders would be so exciting!"   There will be the tour date posted soon AND a "What's it like?" video, once we've had a chance to edit it up.
~ Also not posted yet is the Dragonfly In Amber tour.  I'll get to that when I can as well.
~  Furtherly (not a word!) not posted is the Western Isles tour, which for the third year we will be offering in conjunction with Mara Freeman, noted Celtic spirituality author and teacher.  You can find details at Celtic Spirit

Now, I must just get back to other more pressing matters, like the impending tour in August and Sept.  Busy, busy....

By the way, have you seen the first few videos in the "Introducing Scotland" series that we have made?  It's a side-interest thing where we showcase some things about Scotland that you probably didn't know about.  
You'll find them on my MacKenzie Adventures Youtube channel  and I bet you'll find them interesting

Enjoy the summer, Outlandish People, and the websites.
Muchos regardos,
(Now where did I put that stack of booking forms...?)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Piping Till The Cows Come Home

We get a visit at the Storyteller's Cottage from a Hawaiian Celt.

Hamish is a Cornishman living on Maui.  For many years he has been everything Celtic on the island - he hosted a radio show all about Celtic music, he is a journalist, a piper, a promoter of bands, an stunning artist, an importer of Celtic wares.  All the Scottish and Irish bands coming to the islands contact him.  He is also the cover-artist for the 50th anniversary album of the Irish Rovers.

In our garden in July, while on a flying visit, he treated us, and the cows (aka The Boys) to some piping.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Introducing Scotland - Anstruther Fish Tea

Part 2 of the Introducing Scotland series of short videos.  This time we show you the meaning of "A Fish Tea" and "Fish Supper" in Scotland.

The sea-front at Anstruther
 Follow the link below to the video on our Youtube Channel.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Introducing Scotland - the Sma' Glen

Part one of a "documentary" series we're making called Introducing Scotland, where we make small video pieces about unusual things in Scotland.  These videos are not tied to the tours (as in a video blog), but more to seasonal events, off-beat locations and culture interest.

Here we go with "Introducing Scotland - The Sma' Glen"

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

July Tour - Totch Not The Cat

The July tour is underway.  We have called it "Totch Not The Cat Bot A Glove".  This being the motto of Clan MacPherson, whose land we have spent some time in.  

We have a fine crew of 14 from Canada and the States all eager to discover the Scotland of Outlander for themselves.  

Here's a wee short video of some highlights of the tour by day two, captured at dinner.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

May part 2

We have renamed the tour!  We are "The Sampled Not Shared" Tour.  It sounds innocent but it's actually a bit rude involving Sean Connery and Roger Moore.  You had to be there.

Some gems from the last few days.

Scottish Wild Blue Hyacinth along the burn

Name:  Kirstin
The Lands of Loyal is such a gorgeous hotel!  We enjoyed a beautiful walk up a farm track to sheep pastures with gorse in bloom.  The views at the top were worth the hike!

Name: Debbie
The Castle Leod yesterday was wonderful, and the hike afterwards [above Loch Ness through the forest] for me was the highlight of the day.  I loved the walk through the village.

Name: Cristi
Scenes from the hike... the red frog on a rock, the ram that posed for us, the frisky horse that begged us to feed him grass!!  Ransoms!!!  [That's wild Garlic]

Name: Alice
History and Scotland coming alive have been the fulfilment of a lifetime!

Name: Dianne
Yesterday's visit with Lord John [chief of clan MacKenzie] was amazing, his history and the tales of his ancestors were fascinating. Our hike today along the stream and waterfall was ethereal [a beautiful gorge walk]. The stately trees, the wonderful ferns and the moss covered rocks and bridge were magical.
Cathedrals of Wood

Name: Wendy
Today's hike behind the shooting lodge [our  accommodation] was fun and fantastic; meeting the farmer, Graeme, who gave us permission to go over his fields to the top of the ridge to see to the other side where Mary Queen of Scots would have stayed (40 miles away).

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

May - The Birthday Tour part 1

The May tour 2014 has begun with twelve Outlandish Spirits on the trail of Jamie and Claire.  First stop, Cranesmuir and the house of Geillis Duncan.

Gem of the day in one sentence. Today we explored "Geillis Duncan's garden", so beautiful and peaceful and in back of a preserved house, with cunning stonework and hidden stairways to explore.

Your hosts:  We're going to do the blog a bit differently this year.  Each guest will give a gem of the day, some written, some in video form (more of later).  Why? To give you a sense, in poetic form, of what it might be like to be in the Scotland of Jamie and Claire, via the words of your fellow Outlander fans.

Gem of the day, how appropriate, Mr Fraser.

Kirstin, Gem: The restored Catholic church on a hill, representing Claire and Jamie's wedding site, was perfect with its peaceful and rustic beauty.

The path up to the Chapel

Name: Gil
Loved the church on the hill - the common bond of humanity.

Name: Dianne
What a thrill to be the one to hold the ancient key and unlock the lovely chapel door!  A truly spiritual place with the surrounding mountains and snow capped in the distance.

Name: Wendy
Experiencing what would have been real-life survival for "real people" in the 1700's and learning my family would have been naked at my lack of spinning skills!

Name:Chris: I like my 21st century amenities! As a 25-year airman serving in the trenches, I have fond memories of the drudgeries kind of like what we've seen today. I actually enjoy austere conditions for the challenge.

Being out in the middle of nowhere, seeing the standing stones, and being told to hush as there was a ewe giving birth.  You just don't witness that every day!

The Outlandish Spirits of May 2014, ascending to the Stones
Wendy: Hopping from hummock to hummock through the boggy field learning what heather and gorse are, not realizing that a monolith was waiting for us at the top of the rise; then seeing 3 other amazing stones in the distance.

Your hosts:  As a wee giftie, and something new to the tour, I have made up an "Outlandish Spirits" tour t-shirt.  We made the presentation, complete with birthday cake, for three of the company are having a birthday while on tour. We are honoured.

The Birthdays, note the blue "Outlandish Spirits" t-shirt

Outlandish Spirit, Wendy, in spring plumage, foraging in the wild
Cristi: Enjoying the smell of a peat fire.

Debbie: Reliving the hardship of the crofters cottages, imaging the lives they lived and their way of life.  

Alice: Seeing in person what Claire and Jamie actually lived.

Jenny: I found the crofters village and the crumbling soldiers' barracks to be equally intriguing

Saturday, 1 February 2014


After The Jamie and Claire Tours are put to bed for the winter, you may wonder what does a hungry Scotsman make to eat when left to fend for himself?  The right answer is..... anything with HAGGIS!  Here is the latest instalment of Scot and his Haggis epicurean delights.  The recipe in the film clip also includes a small bit of Marag Dubh -a.k.a- Black Pudding.  Ye'll be familiar with it from the chapter where Claire Fraser is making a batch.  Listen as Scot "Addresses the Haggis".

And for those who missed the other delights, here are the Haggis Nachos:

....and the perfect Scottish lad's sandwich:

Bon appetit!