Thursday, March 30, 2017

Scotland Story: What I'll Never Forget

This post is short, but sweet. The next morning we needed to eat our final breakfast, load up, and get on the road to our other destination for the remainder of our trip, Edinburgh. It also happened to be my parents' wedding anniversary, so we took a quick video to send to them. Note the dark and the rain. The sun was just coming up as we left.

It was time to leave Inveraray, the home of our Campbell ancestors, the place that CC had sought out on a simple map (not with Google maps and Wiki) and traversed unto by bus back in 1988, and the place that he would then take his family nearly 30 years later, bringing a wife and 5 kids, coming from Turkey...I wonder if he ever imagined that! As we drove off, he remarked that this would likely be the last time for this. One of our kids is soon to fly off to discover her own adventures, to walk her own path, hand-in-hand with the Savior. Our time of things being "the way they are" is nearly done. Just at that moment, a song came up (for Firstborn is our "playlist queen" always getting us a list of songs ready for road trips), "The Last Goodbye" from the Narnia soundtrack (the movie based on the set of books that CC has read to all the CampbellClanKids) and suddenly I glanced back to see Miss Middler crying. She said, "I'm going to miss her." And then every single one of us in the car teared up. Suddenly the kids were all telling Firstborn they would miss her, and we laughed a little through our tears. I will NEVER forget that as long as I live. It's not the hotels booked on websites, it's not the layovers and delays and overpriced cups of coffee at the airport, it's not the beauty of the land around us. It's experiencing it all with those you love. And it's those moments that are not in the plan that God gives to remind us what we have. My one last picture of Inveraray Castle was taken as we drove across the bridge to take us away. And while I'm sure the Earl is quite happy in his castle, I am quite happy in mine as well. Just the way I have it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Scotland Story: Christmas in Lights

We arrived in Edinburgh on December 23, just in time to see the Christmas markets. I had looked up what was going on in the city during that time and saw that they had a display of lights set to Christmas music. I thought it would be fun to surprise the kids on this one.

We wandered through the Edinburgh Christmas market with the delicious smells of traditional foods.

And then we arrived at the spot where the music and lights would begin. It was then, of course, that the kids knew to where we were wandering!

I knew it would be fun, but I had no idea how very much they would enjoy this free event. But for kids who live in a land that technically doesn't celebrate Christmas (though we see more and more decorations designated "New Year" which really look like Christmas), this was huge! They had never seen anything like it. We all sang along to the carols. And of course, the religious ones so clearly proclaim the Gospel. It was a bit of "healing" for some souls who never get to hear that at Christmas time, except in our home and one Christmas Sunday.

This one ranked the lights and carols as her favorite from the trip!

Downtown Edinburgh did it up big! We did NOT ride this giant ferris wheel, but we couldn't resist pictures.

Scotland Story: Glecoe II

Coming out of the glen, suddenly the land gets more flat and is full of strips of water, rushing as the snow falls and melts into it. It's obvious why people settled in a land that might seem harsh. It's beauty and resources would have drawn them.

Just take these pictures and magnify the beauty! It was so gorgeous! Everyone, go to Scotland. Go to Glencoe.

Do you see the tiny waterfall? When we rolled down the window, we could hear them even.

We made it back after a long and quiet drive in the dark, as we finished Glencoe at about sunset. It was time to warm up and head out to dinner. We stayed in three small hotel rooms. These home roomies chose each other. They've got their routines and didn't want them messed up, even on vacation! I love this picture. I love them.

Of our three restaurant options, there was our own hotel Inveraray Inn, an Indian place, and The George. We wanted to get out a bit and not eat at our own hotel. The Indian place delighted us during our anniversary trip, as it reminded us of the delicious Indian fare we ate in Singapore. But it was closed for winter. The George became our nightly spot for those few nights. It was so fun. It was so delicious. It was so Scottish. I really wanted to order "Neeps and Tatties," but decided the fish-n-chips called too loudly. We asked about the Christmas lights up in the ceiling of the entire restaurant. The gal told us they were so much trouble to put up, they'd be up for awhile. It made for a fun picture.

This was just outside The George, established before America was even an independent country!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Scotland Story: Glencoe I

Our next big adventure was Glencoe! I was so excited to show this to the kids, as it was one of my favorites.

The roads all wound through the lochs and mountains, so there was always beauty out the window as we drove.

We made a quick stop at Stalker Castle and to run in to the gift shop up on top of the hill above it for bathroom and warm up break. Alas, it was closed. We had to find a path for our needs!

Driving further north (it's almost the furthest north I've been in my life, except Stockholm, Sweden), we came into Glencoe. The pictures just don't do it justice, but suddenly the normally chatty car grew quiet. The kids were in awe as turn after turn took us to new views of God's beautiful creation. A deep valley between giant hulking mountains on either side, dusted with snow, with green grass at the was breathtaking.

This is when we got into the heart of Glencoe.

We stopped for a quick run through the Glen. It was cold and wet, but so fun. Here the Singapore girls stand in front of "Three Sisters Mountains."

I have more pictures of Glencoe to share tomorrow. Right after I get those research papers graded!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Scotland Story: Plaids, Kilchurn, Oban, and Dunstaffnage

We came back and had a good night's sleep and were ready to find new adventures the next day. We had to wait for the sun to come up to get started! This picture of the kids was taken in beautiful Inveraray.

The kids and I visited the shops in our little town. I was so happy to find this beautiful woollen shawl for my mom. She had reminded me after our first trip to Scotland that her grandmother was Lizzie Leigh Scot and that I am also of Scottish descent. I snapped this quick picture so I could show CC what I bought, as the clerk offered to mail the package for me to the US. I just gave her postage money. It was later when I got back to our hotel that I looked up the plaid. It was one of the plaids of the Scot Clan! Perfect! And warm, and soft.

This castle was Kilchurn. We hopped out for a quick picture. Big Ben might have been a little cold.

We were overcome by the beauty surrounding us!

As we drove, we passed multiple waterfalls, some moving and some frozen.

Our next stop was the town of Oban, a beautiful coastal town surrounded by mountains.

This castle, called Dunstaffnage, also occupied by Campbells, shows more than any we saw the use of natural formations to build a fortress. It was massive and solid!

We visited the family chapel and graveyard near the castle. As the story goes, a young man was set to be married, but was fatally wounded that very morning. He somehow managed to get to the chapel and marry the lass before he passed. Big Ben really wanted a picture in front of the skull and crossbones.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Scotland Story: Footprint of a King

We proceeded from Kilmartin to Dunadd Fort, a rocky crag that at one time was perhaps an island. Its natural defensiveness was evidence, as the area around it is named the Gaelic for "bog," indicating what it must have once been. It was the receding sea levels that put the fort under attack sometime around the 6th or 7th century. There are documents recording its name up through the 9th century.

It was, for us, a bit of a difficult climb in the mossy grass and the sprinkling rain, but it was a fun adventure nonetheless. 

When we got to the top of the hill, the view in every direction was spectacular. We found what historians point to as the most remarkable feature left at Fort Dunadd, the footprint. Though it is not striking in appearance (it simply looks like someone walked where concrete was being poured), there is significant written and oral evidence that it is some type of ancient monarchal ritual. Surrounding Clan Chiefs would bring soil from their homeland, sprinkle it into the footprint, then step on it to signify loyalty to the High King of Scots. Of course, we did it. Our little guy is loyal, after all.

It was a fun day, and we made it back to the car just before the clouds burst!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Scotland Story: Kilmartin

We continued exploring Kilmartin Glen. It was such a beautiful place was interesting to think about the ancient people who made it their home.

These are the mysterious  rock markers, placed in a perfect circle to reflect the sun at certain points in the year.

And looking back from the henges was Kilmartin Church and cemetary, which we had just visted.

We hopped back in the car and drove a short distance to Kilmartin Castle, built in the 16th century and occupied by Clan Campbell.

This castle was far more intact than the one we had seen the day before. Here's Big Ben peeking through a lookout hole, or maybe a place through which they could shoot arrows?

The inside was so well preserved and immense!

If you can see the top window in this picture....

....this is that same window close up.

The ancient gate entrance remained, so I sent the Campbells to stand under it! I wonder if the Clan knew their ancestors would be visiting their castles 500 years later. They probably thought we'd still be occupying the fortresses!

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