Scotland

So we have been almost a week in Scotland. Well North Umberland and the Lakes Region of England as well Scotland. We have stayed in York, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and on the Isle of Mull. We have seen cathedrals, castles, abbeys, and sheep. Lots of sheep. We have seen cows and birds and flowers, and lots of beautiful scenery. And we have done research. We have been researching Ales, and when we ran out of ales, we started researching malt whiskey. (Scotch whisky is also known as the water of life in Scotland.)

We have discovered that Oban Scotch is the best. A little of the islands, and a little of the highlands. We bought some in Oban, and some more at Gretna Green. Gretna Green… Ah Gretna Green. We spent a lot of money at Gretna Green. We found kilts in a family tartan. We found jewelry. We found wool and cashmere. And whiskey — don’t forget the whiskey. Then we went to Grassmere, and spent almost as much again. We are doing Christmas shopping. At least that is the story.

Yesterday and the day before, we stayed on the Isle of Mull. It a beautiful Island. The hotel was right on the water. Our group stayed in two different hotels, so instead of the large coach, we took little mini-buses to the Island of Iona. The road was a narrow track that was only wide enough for one car. There we pullouts so vehicles could pass, either head on or over taking. Rushing down this narrow track in the woods and hills, and screeching to a stop so someone could whizz by, was a little exciting. The scenery was as awesome. We took the long way back for a different and even more incredible scenery.

The Isle of Iona is the site of a ancient monastery and nunnery. The monastery has been converted and is being used for ecumenical religious purposes. The Island has a spirituality to it. After lunch the others went on a guided tour of the Island, but I broke off, took a walk on the beach, and did some meditation. It was really nice. I finished my notes on the OSL conference in a pub by the beach.

In Edinburgh, we saw a castle and a palace. The castle of Edinburgh was the best castle we have seen so far. It was just like Lord of the Rings: reminded me of Minas Tirith. We also went to church in the cathedral of St. Giles. A Presbyterian cathedral: go figure! No pictures permitted on Sunday, however. I think I sneaked a few in anyway.

On Monday, we went to Lindisfarne, aka “the Holy Island”. It also had a castle and a ruined monastery. It also has mead. I almost bought some, but (except for samplers at the winery), it isn’t cheap. It wasn’t bad mead. It was pretty good. I, of course, make mead (with Jon and Sherman), and I think mine is better. Not possitive. I am still not sure I won’t buy some before I leave Britain.

The tide isolates the island. This isolated and may have protected the monks who lived there in the 7th century. There is no bridge and no ferry, so you can only access the island via a causeway when the tide is low. We had a nice walk to the castle, and of course took lots of pictures. We researched ale, and found some good choices.

From York, we saw York Minster cathedral. Minster means cathedral in Anglo Saxon. Very grand. I felt the power more than the sacred, but Barbara could feel the Spirit in York Minster. Then we walked through the Shambles and peered down snickelways. A snickelway is a small windy alley that is only for walking. The Shambles is a crooked street where all the houses lean over the road. There used to be butcher shops here where the shade kept the meat cool. The Shambles is home to the most haunted alley in Britain, or at least that is what the advert claims.

Well that’s my story so far. Soon there will be pictures. Soon. I have to edit down the 1600 plus I have taken to something more manageable. Tonight we have medieval diner in a castle in Ruthin. I, unfortunately did not bring my sword. Perhaps a dagger would be O.K.? :-)