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I climbed on the back of a giant albatross... and ended up somewhere in Scotland

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More pix from last week

Cawfields on Hadrian's Wall:

Glamis Castle:

St. Andrews Cathedral:

Karin's visit - Day 4 and 5

Linda, Karin and I spent the day (last Thursday) exploring Hadrian's Wall...  We first went to the Roman Army Museum, then to Vindolanda and then to Housesteads before continuing on towards Newcastle.  That evening, we had tickets to see Jesus Christ Superstar.  We met Andy, Jenny and Shirley there and all six of us attended the show together...  it was very enjoyable, a well-done performance...  I think it was probably about the 5th time I've seen it, or maybe the 4th.

The next day, we went up to Angus to visit Glamis Castle.  Linda and I had been there about 5 years ago and really enjoyed it, so we thought it'd be a nice place to show Karin.  Aterwards, we went to St. Andrews to take a look at the sights there before heading to Edinburgh where we dropped Karin off at her hotel ahead of her flight the next morning to Italy.


The European election vote in Scotland, as previously mentioned, had the following overall results:

Scottish National Party (SNP) - 29.1% 2 MEP's
Labour - 20.8% 2 MEP's
Conservatives - 16.8% 1 MEP
Liberal Democrats - 11.5% 1 MEP

My region, Dumfries and Galloway, is a bit out of step with the rest of the country, and had the following results:

Conservative - 32.4%
SNP - 21.8%
Labour - 15.2%
UKIP - 9.0%
Liberal Democrat - 7.7%

Turnout: 32.7%

As you can tell, the Conservatives seem to be pretty strong here in the rural south. They don't have a lot of backing in Scotland as a whole, tho, especially in the Labour stronghold of the Glasgow area. The ruling party, the SNP, are strongest in the northeast as well as in the Western Isles, but not very strong in the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland, where Lib Dems have a good share of the vote as well as in the Highland region.

Data on the strongest and weakest regions for the main political parties:


Western Isles 43.3%
Angus 41.3%
Dundee 40.9%

Orkney 20.2%
Scottish Borders 18.5%
Shetland 17.9%


North Lanarkshire 34.0%
West Dunbartonshire 32.0%
Glasgow 30.7%

Aberdeenshire 7.2%
Orkney 7.0%
Scottish Borders 6.8%


Dumfries and Galloway 32.4%
Scottish Borders 30.1%
South Ayrshire 29.8%

Glasgow 8.5%
North Lanarkshire 8.4%
Western Isles 8.4%
West Dunbartonshire 8.2%

Lib Dems

Shetland 34.0%
Orkney 31.9%
Highland 27.6%

East Ayrshire 5.3%
West Dunbartonshire 5.3%
Western Isles 4.7%
North Lanarkshire 4.6%

Highest and Lowest Turnout

East Renfrewshire 36.6%
East Dunbartonshire 36.5%
Argyll and Bute 35.7%

Falkirk 24.1%
Glasgow 23.9%
North Lanarkshire 22.5%

Cork, Ireland

Jenny and Andy have gone to Cork, Ireland with Sarah and someone else... for a wee holiday.

It's where corks come from.


This is one of the few April school holiday periods where Linda and I haven't gone away.  Usually we go to Tuscany or Prague or Hereford or Stratford-Upon-Avon or Angus or the Scottish Highlands.

Or Argyll where the socks come from.

Great Scot ! J. M. Barrie

Sir James Matthew Barrie, Bt., Scottish author

We have a special interest in J. M. Barrie because he used to live in Dumfries and studied at the school that Linda teaches at....  and we went up to Kirriemuir earlier this year to see his birthplace and his grave.   Oh, and Linda REALLY likes Johnny Depp who played him in a film.

Here's some info from Wikipedia:

Barrie was born to a family of Scottish weavers in Kirriemuir, Angus, the ninth child of ten. When he was six, his brother David, his mother's favourite, died in a skating accident on the eve of his 14th birthday. His mother never recovered from the loss, and ignored the young Barrie. One time he entered her room, and heard her say "Is that you?" "I thought it was the dead boy she was speaking to," wrote Barrie in his biographical account of his mother, Margaret Ogilvy (1896), "and I said in a little lonely voice, 'No, it's no' him, it's just me.'" Barrie's mother found comfort in the fact that her dead son would remain a boy forever, never to grow up and leave her. This had a profound impact on Barrie: he never grew much beyond five foot, and some authors have speculated that Peter Pan was inspired by the traumatic events of his own childhood. At the age of 13, Barrie was sent away to boarding school at Dumfries Academy. Here he and his friends spent time in the garden of Moat Brae house, playing pirates "in a sort of Odyssey that was long afterwards to become the play of Peter Pan".

Scotland in Lonely Planet

Some info from the Rampant Scotland newsletter:

Praise From Lonely Planet

The latest edition of the Lonely Planet Great Britain Guide travel guide has some high praise for Scotland's major towns and cities. Edinburgh is described as "one of the most sophisticated cities in the world" and the Royal Mile was "one of the world's most romantic streets". Maybe the reviewers didn't notice the large number of shops selling low quality souvenirs and blaring Scottish music. Glasgow is branded as "alive and kicking with a significant cultural contribution to make" and also rated as "one of the UK's premier shopping destinations". Dundee was "finally taking advantage of its superb location". Although it "still has a grim reputation in parts," Dundee was "ambitiously moving forward". Aberdeen elicited the view that "Its nickname 'The Granite City' may conjure up images of a dour, funless sort of town, but nothing could be further from the truth." The guide is enthusiastic about Plockton, on the northwest coast of Scotland - "Made famous as a location for a TV series Hamish Macbeth, this seaside village is so endearing it's almost unbelievable."  It was not all praise, however. Fort William was criticised, with the reviewers saying it "can feel like a mall packed with tartan tat."

Pictures of Castles and things

A few pix from our recent trip up north....   We visited Glamis Castle in Angus...

This was the home of the late Queen Mum (the Bowes-Lyons family) and birthplace of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret.

Also went to see the ruined castle at St. Andrews...

and even MORE pix of various things we saw can be seen 
here....   at    (Scottish Holiday 2007 album)

What I Did on my Holiday

I'm baaaack....

Here's a little account of what we did on our holiday up north... 
 Holiday Spectacular SpectacularCollapse )
On day two of our holiday, we started out with a great breakfast at the B & B, and decided to go to Glamis Castle first thing. Don't know why it's spelled Glamis, as it's pronounced Glams... Anyway, the visit there was really beyond expectation. It's a beautiful place (and so was the weather, again). We took the tour... Glamis Castle is the one where the Queen Mother was from... and it was really something. In fact, the current Countess of Strathmore was there puttering around... we recognised her from pictures in the castle. As I said, the weather was again nice and sunny and warm, so we had a good walk around the grounds... They have a herd of highland cattle there and an Italian Garden, a few little forested areas, rivers and bridges, etc... the estate is huge and well-maintained... and everyone there was, again, so nice and friendly. We spent a while in the gift shop and a few little cabinets we saw ended up getting in our car with us. We then went back to Kirriemuir and visited J. M. Barrie's birthplace and walked up to see his grave as well... Way up a hill, which was quite a hike as it turned out... but we made it. It was just a normal run of the mill grave stone shared with other members of his family... Pah, at least he could've had something more elaborate waiting for us up on that hill. Humph.... The rest of the day was spent driving up to Loch Cluanie. We had to take a detour at one point because there were a couple fires around in the hills... it was so dry... the firemen were having a busy day. We got to Cluanie Inn just in time to have dinner. And afterwards had a taste or three of some of the various single malts in the whisky bar.
The third day was not so Ab Fab weatherywise. A bit clouded over but not overly dreadful. From Cluanie, we drove to Balmacara and walked around this woodland walk looking for a National Trust of Scotland house, but finally decided the main attraction was the woodland walk itself instead of the house. We drove a bit north to Loch Carron and ended up buying a print and a painting at this place up there. The small painting was by a local woman who had recently died. It's of two rabbits... and the print is a nice one of another local artist... showing a forest scene... Then it was over to Plockton. The scenery over in that area is especially scenic-y. We walked a little bit and drove a bit more but ended up driving back to Cluanie in plenty of time to do a little reading and relaxing in the room before dinner. We got a DVD at night and took it easy.
Day 4 ended up being a pretty good day in the weather department despite rain at the start and at the end. We drove up into Skye and took the tour of the Talisker whisky distillery. Then it was up to Dunvegan Castle, the stronghold of the McLeod Clan. Glamis was a bit nicer, to be honest, but it was interesting nonetheless. The garden was really very nice, tho, with waterfalls and woodland trails, etc. Not many flowers this time of year however... Driving to and from and through Skye, of course revealed some really, really spectacular scenery. Nearly got killed twice, tho, with crazy people taking crazy chances passing other people at crazy times. Managed not to get killed, as luck would have it, so that was good.
Today, we drove home and stopped along the way at Glenfinnan and Oban. The weather today was really good, which made the scenery extra good. We visited the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie at Glenfinnan, which was the first time I had seen it except from the train over the viaduct a few summers ago. I climbed up to the top, and so did Linda, but getting up and out at the top was a bit awkward so Linda only really stuck her head out the top before going back down. We visited the Sea Life and Seal Sanctuary outside of Oban, which was pretty good. Saw the otters and seals getting fed and viewed their aquarium fish and crustaceans, including some pretty big lobsters. Linda's back to not wanting to eat fish again... 

Anyway, so now we're back. It was a really good holiday, I thought. Really enjoyed it.



I'm off this week on a holiday...  We're up early tomorrow to head up north.  First to Edinburgh to apply for my new US passport (went thru the washing machine)...  then to take a look around Fife...  coastal villages and St. Andrews... then we're staying in Angus, near Kirriemuir.  Gonna visit JM Barries's birthplace Wednesday and then to Killiecranckie (where there was a battle) and on up to the Highlands to Cluanie Inn for three nights.

Today, we went up into the forest with the horse...  I took a few photos for the Geograph site but my damn camera eats battery power like nothing...  so didn't get as much as I'd like as the batteries died.

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