Highlights from Scotland

We’ve just returned from a long-awaited (for me, at least) trip to Scotland. I was born there and came out to Australia with my family when I was 8 years old. For the first four years in Australia we lived in a migrant town in South Australia and I was about 12 years old before we really tasted Aussie culture. That happened when we moved interstate to Western Australia.
Even then Scottish culture was predominant at home. My Granny lived with us and I had to act as interpreter whenever I had friends visit! She had a very thick Glaswegian accent bespattered with Gaelic and colourful colloquialisms.
We took two of our children with us on this trip – Moozle, the youngest, and Hoggy, who’s the middle of our seven children.

We flew into Edinburgh and stayed in the New Town for four nights during which we went to the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo. We’d been to this a couple of times when it was held in Sydney but it was pretty special to be at Edinburgh Castle for it.
Edinburgh Castle
Street music is alive and well in Edinburgh & Glasgow

Since I’ve lived in Sydney, I’ve rarely heard a Scottish accent, apart from family, and one of my delights was to be immersed in it again: ‘Nae bother,’ ‘How are ye the noo?’ A sign in a local bookshop, ‘Books for the Weans,’ (i.e. children, or little ones).

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was on while we were there and the place was buzzing. We mostly walked everywhere as we decided not to hire a car until we left Edinburgh – we were close to the centre so parking is expensive and limited but there’s much within easy reach. We went through Edinburgh Castle, took a bus around the city and out to Leith, the port to the north of Edinburgh where we went aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. Then it was a visit to Holyrood Palace, the official Scottish residence of the Queen and where Mary Queen of Scots resided along with Lord Darnley.
Later, a stiff walk up Arthur’s Seat where you get a lovely panoramic view of the city. Thankfully it wasn’t raining or the path would have been a bit treacherous on the way down.

The View From Arthur’s Seat
The Summit

We picked up a hire car just before we left Edinburgh, drove to Bannockburn and Stirling Castle, and from there to Glasgow. The gardens at the castle were magnificent. In fact, the whole of Scotland was in flower – hanging baskets throughout the cities & towns were beautiful.

Stirling Castle
ย Greenock on the Clyde where I was born – I have family who live here and my cousin showed us around and pointed out where we used to go swimming once a week (an indoor heated pool) and one of the houses where we lived. An earlier home had been knocked down not that long ago.
Eilean Donan Castle in the Western Highlands – this is such a fairy tale place!
Dunvegan Castle in the Hebrides – again, magnificent gardens here!
Skara Brae on the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland – the remains of a Neolithic village
A Hairy Coo

Scotland is expensive, at least if you’re coming from Australia with the exchange rate as low as it is at present. We had to pay for parking everywhere, even in little pokey towns. Generally you also have to pay to use the loos unless you’re on a tour of a castle or something similar where you’ve already paid an entry fee. This was a problem when we first arrived and didn’t have any local currency.

The food is terrible – I can say that because I hated it when I lived there! Now I know why I was such a fussy eater. Just about everything is battered and deep fried, even haggis, for goodness sake.

My uncle ordered some haggis on the side so everyone could try it and we all had a wee bit of theย  inside…but nae black pudding

We went out for breakfast one day and Moozle was shocked that her ‘toast’ was fried. I remember my Granny eating bread with dripping. My husband couldn’t get over the fried mars bars, although he’s a Kiwi & I think it was something that took off over there. I did indulge with some tablet when I was in Edinburgh but I didn’t remember it being so sweet! I remembered some sweets we had when we were kids but couldn’t remember what they were called. My cousin said they were probably fondant rolled in cinnamon in the shape of cigarettes. Kids used to pretend they were smoking them.
It wasn’t until we got to Inverness that I had some grilled (not battered & deep fried) chicken and salad and I had to go to Maccas for that. My kids thought that was hilarious because I only ever go there just for coffee if I’m desperate.
I’d never seen e-cigarettes before but they are very common in Scotland, as is smoking generally. It’s almost a crime here in Australia so it was very noticeable to us over there.

We passed by this bonnie wee hoose as we were driving up to Inverness. Isn’t it a work of art?!

I’ll post some more about our trip later but I thought I’d say hello, have a catch up and let my lovely readers see what I’ve been up to. I managed to get through a few books during the many hours we were flying or travelling by train and a couple of them were set in the places we visited. I also visited some seriously good bookshops in the UK and Paris and had to be dragged out. So sad. I really could have spend another four weeks perusing some of those.
The only downside to a trip like this is coming home after 4 weeks in a different time zone and trying to adjust and get on with normal life. If I’ve written anything that sounds garbled you’ll know why.

30 thoughts on “Highlights from Scotland

  1. Such a beautiful, beautiful trip! I had the privilege of visiting Scotland nearly 30 years ago, and it made a deep impression in my heart. I am not so closely related to Scotland as you are, but my paternal grandmother's line is pure Scottish. Her grandparents emigrated to the U.S. in the mid 1850's. I wish you well as you readjust to your regular time and place. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Amazing. Loved this post. I'm looking forward to more.Europe is expensive. There's still a lot of smoking in Spain, it also shocks me (even though I smoked a few years while I lived in Madrid).How green Scotland is. And I agree with you, it looks bad food, at least what is served to the tourists. Some friends who were tourists in Madrid complained to me of too much cold meats when I realized they were eating in downtown bars and restaurants and always going for what is most prominent, while we have a ton of healthy food, simple and delicious.Anyway, the history and castles, and how you tie it to your memories are delightful to read.


  3. Hi Carol, I have been missing your blog. We loved our very brief stay in Scotland. Love to visit again our motel looked straight up on Edinburgh Castle. I am looking forward to what you share about the rest of your trip:) Margaret


  4. So that's where you've been! It sounds like you had a marvelous time. It is always so interesting to return someplace that was very familiar to you once after one has been away for many years. I loved the pictures and traveling along with you vicariously. Looking forward to seeing and reading more about it and also finding out what you read while traveling. ๐Ÿ˜€


  5. Really wonderful photos, Carol. I visited Scotland several years ago, but I only toured around the southern part. My son got to visit more extensively with a school group.How interesting that you are originally from Scotland. Have you any vestige of a burr left? I must say that the Scottish accent is to me one of the most beautiful accents. Do you listen to Sinclair Ferguson on Ligonier ministries? I cold listen to him for hours. (He's also a very good preacher.)All things Celtic and Gaelic hold a special place in my heart since my own heritage (albeit more distantly than yours) is rooted there.As for the smoking, I noticed less smoking in Europe the last couple of times I was there. Of course, in Texas we have a lot of smokers, although mostly limited to the car, since no one wants their homes to smell like stale smoke and it's off limits to smoke anywhere else.Full disclosure: I'm an occasional smoker, but I don't like my car to stink and I can't smoke out back because the kids next door (five homeschooled kids ten and under) all pop their little heads over the fence and begin lecturing me on the evils of smoking. So I've mostly quit.


  6. Welcome back! What a dream holiday. Extremely special to be able to take your Aussie family back to your roots. I was amazed that you found the time to comment on my wee blog while you were away.


  7. Hi Silvia, it's so green because it rains most of the time! We were fortunate that we only had a bit of drizzle most of the time we were there. 'Vape' shops where they sell the electronic cigarettes were new to us.


  8. Hi Cleo, they were taken on my phone but I think I can only claim the credit for two, the wee hoose & the hairy coo. My daughter took the others so she thanks you for the compliment. ๐Ÿ™‚


  9. Hi Margaret, I thought of you & your son a few times while we were away. We used mostly Airbnb because there were 4 of us & some of the places we stayed at were less than salubrious! If it had only been my husband & me we would have winged it. There are lots of little bed & breakfasts in odd little places. We made up for the dumps when we went to Paris & stayed in a very nice spot near the Eiffel Tower.


  10. Hi Ruthiella, yes, it was interesting to compare my memories with what we saw when we were there. It really helped spending time with my relatives and looking at things from their point of view including politics – some things never change.


  11. Hi Sharon, some people pick up words or certain pronunciations especially if I'm excited but people are usually surprised to find out I'm Scottish. I can bung it on very easily & when I speak to my Mum I often revert to it. I've never heard Sinclair Ferguson so will look him up. I watched part of a movie (The Man Who Would be King) on my way home on the plane & enjoyed listening to Sean Connery who has a very gentle burr.Another highlight for me was going to see a Glasgow football (soccer) match where Celtic played. A football match in Scotland is an experience & a half.


  12. Thanks Lacey, I didn't do much online except post pics to my Instagram & FB accounts but your post popped up on my phone and when I saw the book you'd reviewed I thought I just had to comment. ๐Ÿ™‚


  13. Hi Melissa, the history in the place is incredible. The oldest building we have in Australia is just over 200 years old so walking around looking at castles & buildings that have been around for thousands of years was pretty awesome. It's a pity it's so far away from us – we had about 22 hrs of flying & it's taken me a week and a half to sleep more than 4 hrs through the night.


  14. Oh yes, that is the reason I want to go as well! The castles and buildings are just amazing. Here in America we don't have that either. We are in AO yr 3 and read about the St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh not too long ago. Did you see that?I can't imagine how tired you must be. We do family trips to another state in a time zone that is 2hr difference and it takes us days to get adjusted once we are home. You need a vacation from your vacation. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  15. I love reading about your trip – it sounds very interesting to have the two parts: Charlotte Mason, and your roots. My daughter and I spent three weeks in Britain in 2005. We loved Scotland, where we spent six days, and visited Stirling, Eilean Donan and Dunvegan Castles ๐Ÿ™‚ Two of our favorite nights in Scotland were on a sheep ranch in Skye.I'll look forward to reading your other posts on the trip as well. Thank you!


  16. Hi Gretchen Joanna, each of those castles are so striking & each of them in different ways. I was impressed with the gardens around the castles we visited in Scotland. You don't mind them charging an entry fee when you see the care they take of these places.I've been surprised at the amount of people from the US who have visited Britain but then you're much closer than we are.


  17. Pingback: A Tweaked Version of Ambleside Online Year 9 | journey & destination

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