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Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog, I am glad you are here. For the most part, I use this to comment (and sometimes ramble...) about the many things I love or perhaps am fascinated with this week. This can include quite an assortment of topics, including my propensity for reading novels at all hours of the day, writing, art, and travel, as I do have a serious case of Wanderlust.

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." ~St. Augustine

Monday, August 22, 2011

A little Rabbie Burns for this Monday

After the past week I had, I was delighted to find this snippet from A Bottle and Friend.

"Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, Man!
Believe me, Happiness is shy,
And comes not ay when sought, Man!"


Saturday, August 13, 2011

such a fangirl...

So far, the twitter fangirl stats are as follows.

  • One @reply from Diana Gabaldon and Susanna Kearsley, two of my most favorite authors!



  • An @ reply from Anita Clenney, an author whose 1st novel, Awaken the Highland Warrior, I am absolutely in love with!



  • A re-tweet from Jeffrey Stepakoff after I read and expressed my love for his novel, Fireworks over Toccoa



  • An @ reply from Regina King, one of the stars of SouthLAnd, one of my favorite shows!



  • An @ reply from Mary McMormack, star of In Plain Sight and fellow Craig Ferguson fan



  • A few @ replies with Allan Scott-Douglas, actor who hails from Edinburgh and who portrays Jamie Fraser in Outlander the Musical.


Now, just one littlest @ reply from a certain CraigyFerg and all will be well :)
Not really, the first few on that list are more than enough! I think it is just wonderful that authors are able to use social media to connect with fans. It certainly made my day <3

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 5 in Scotland

I was very sad to leave beautiful Inverness today. One final farewell to the beautiful city...


But, this just meant we were going to have a nice drive through MORE highlands, so this is fine in my book. This is one of the many things I love about traveling. I am so sad to leave, but a little part of me is happy because I know that I will come back to Inverness one day, so it is absolutely something I can look forward to!

The first stop was to the AMAZING ruins of Elgin Cathedral.


Oh my goodness it was beautiful. We did not have a long stop here, but it was just enough to get quite a few lovely pictures and a little time of fresh Highland air off the bus.




A little while later, we find ourselves in Glenfiddich country.


Time for a wee dram or two and learn about how uisge beatha (water of life in Gaelic) is made! Very informative and interesting. Whilst touring the distillery, I thought about how this was just like Wonka's factory, only for grown ups! The story of the place is very interesting and inspiring.

In 1886, William Grant and his 9 children built the original building, that is still standing.


The first drop of whisky came through the stills on Christmas day, 1887. They only use the water from the Robbie Dhu spring in the Highlands, and I believe are one of few, if not only, distillery that had such a singular, close source such as this.

The mashing room smelled so good. The copper stills, exact replicas of what William Grant first bought over a century ago, looked like rotund coppery men chugging along, brining this delicious libation to us.



Also, learning about how the whisky is aged was amazing. First, they get casks that have been filled only once with either sherry from Spain, or American bourbon. This is what gives Glenfiddich it's unique flavor. Then, the marrying happens. Because each distillation is unique, several casks are 'married' for a wee while as to let the flavors truly come together.

There is also a thing called the Angels' Share. As the whisky ages in the casks, there is natural evaportation, and of course the longer it is aged, the less product one will have at the end (naturally making the older whisky more expensive). This is called rather romantically as 'the angels' share'. Glenfiddich also has an artist in residence program, and one of these students created a beautiful sculpture for this room called just that, where two angels no longer needed their wings, leaving heaven behind, because they tasted Glenfiddich.

Where to next? Oh yes, now I can tell you about the best lunch experience ever, probably for all the wrong reasons.

Lunch was in Dufftown, a pretty little town with many little shops along the high street. We walked around a bit, and then it started to rain so we decided to get some grub to wait out the drizzle. Enter Noah's Ark Bistro. A very cute little place in a converted lower level of a house. Very ecclectic decor and maybe four tables total. All of which were filled with our fellow tour mates. I felt very bad almost immediatly, as she was on her own and now she has 16 patrons. Yikes. She was very nice and did her best, and then her friend came to help. What made it funny though, after the fact of course, was that we were on a time crunch because the coach was leaving in about 45 mintutes, as as each minute ticked on by I got more and more nervous. The orders then had to be taken again by the friend, and then something started burning in the kitchen..... No one else seemed concerned about missing the bus.... maybe they forgot about the rule that required one minute of singing for each one you are late.... bah!

Anyway, our lunch was amazing. I had a chick pea burger and it was so delish, my mom had a veggie baguette she loved. Looking back, should I ever find myself in Dufftown again, I would love to go back, but this time not with half of my tour group...


We made it back to the coach with a minute to spare, so no singing to the group. Whew! On the road for a wee while more, passing the very pretty Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire. Completed in 1626, it is a perfect fairy tale setting with turrents, gargoyles, and a beautiful setting!




I loved all the other ruins we saw driving around. I always wonder about when it was first built, who lived there, and all the history surrounding it. Le sigh....




Our next stop was the Tea Room at the Falls of Feugh.


Oh goodness, was this beautiful! A lovely spot of tea and delicious scones for a relaxing rest before we continue on to the hotel.

When we did get to the Ardoe House, we were amazed. A beautiful 19th century mansion in Aberdeen, it too looked straight out of a fairy tale. The story, however, of it's creation was a bit more scandalous, mistress included!




Lucky for me, there was some sort of fancy shindig happening at the hotel that night, so I feasted my eyes on room fulls of very handsome kilted men. Yummy.

Our dinner here was probably one of the most entertaining. We sat with John, Shauna, Egdar and Margaret. More of my faves :) Talks of rocket salads, fig leafs, and the other tables being jealous of the great time we were having :) Our bartender/waiter was amazing too, hilarious with his banter with us, talk of crockery, and looked like a Scottish Rob Pattinson.

This was a long day, so off to bed! But stay tuned, our next day included tiny cannons :)

Wanderlust rears its wonderful head...

In no particular order....



Wales
Ireland
Boston
Seattle
Vienna, Austria
Bruges, Belgium
Morocco
Austrialia
Spain
Cananda (Nova Scotia, B.C., Manitoba, Toronto)
South Africa
Turkey

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I need to finish this book...

Because then I will read lines like this....



"When the day shall come that we do part," he said softly, and turned to look at me, "if my last words are not 'I love you'-ye'll ken it was because I didna have time."
~The Fiery Cross Diana Gabaldon

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 4, Culloden, More Beautiful Highlands, and Scottish Karaoke!

Woke up for day 2 in Inverness. Have I said how much I love this city?

We were up early again for a drive out to explore more of the Highlands. Our first stop was Leault Farm, where we saw sheepdog demonstrations, sheep shearing, and the most adorable puppies! It began to rain here for a wee while which was, well, wet, but Neil just kept on trucking, and before we knew it the sun was out again.


Then, on to the Culloden Moor, Battlefield and Visitor's Centre.
For all of you Scottish History buffs OR Outlander fans (or both :D), this was a tough day. Thinking about the Jacobite Uprising, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the doomed rebellion was both very sorrowful and somehow romantic, as it true of the Jacobite cause in general I am told. We walked around inside for a bit in the brand new Visitor's Centre.
They had all sorts of information areas, exhibits, and old artifacts there that were amazing. To back track a bit, in Inveraray Castle, there were 2 flags from the Battle of Culloden, over 26o years old! We of course were not able to get close to them, but seeing them up on the wall was so amazing, and now to come full circle and see where history took place, I am not sure if there are words to describe it.
Out on the Battlefield, the Clan Stones, cottage, and Monument were so sad.
The resting place of hundreds of Highlanders. What more can one say?

I secretly think that this cottage is the inspiration for a certain, heartbreaking scene from the end of Dragonfly in Amber.... but maybe it's just wishful thinking...


Back to the Hotel to walk around the city a bit more before dinner and a traditional Highland celebration!
Our céilidh would include dancing and music, as well as a wonderful piper who played some amazing songs for us. The singers were so wonderful too, and at one point I saw a verse from Loch Lomond in front of everyone, who were all of course quite impressed :)
We had some time before the sun went down, so we took one last walk around the city.
We found the most beautiful church and gardens, and explored more of the city that was not right on the high street.
This was probably my favorite city of the trip, and I would absolutely come back one day.

Back to the hotel, back to bed for another early morning, and on to Blairs!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The first step is admitting you have a problem....

The Winter Sea ~Susanna Kearsley
Awaken the Highland Warrior ~Anita Clenney
A Vintage Affair ~Isabel Wolf
Highlander's Sword ~Amanda Forester
Whispers on the Wind ~Donna Fletcher
Highland Fling ~Jennifer Labrecque
Claimed by the Highlander ~Julianne MacLean
Ravished by a Highlander ~Paula Quinn
A Highlander Never Surrenders ~Paula Quinn
Isle of Lies ~Donna Fletcher
Unlocked ~Courtney Milan
Fireworks over Toccoa ~Jeffrey Stepakoff
The Highlander's Bride ~Michele Sinclair
Laird of the Mist ~Paula Quinn