30 September 2011

Loving Scotland

Or should I say, Och aye the noo?
Another week, another picture postcard from me - this time all the way from bonnie Scotland.
Or at least the pictures are.

Here are a few of the things I'm loving about the Highlands...

Endless Scenery like this.
Mountain upon mountain.
Loch upon loch.
Around every corner something else to take your breath away.

Rugged Beauty.
There's something about Scotland that's very different from England.
The southern sister has been tamed, domesticated.
Scotland retains her wildness.
In the Highlands Nature dominates and refuses to give in. She shrugs off all attempts to civilise her.
Only things built of her own rock and stone will stand the test of time.
Mankind camps out on her edges, creating patches of warmth and comfort.
I love the wildness.
Something in it calls to me.
Or it could just be that I loved Braveheart.

Family Ties. And Borrowed Roots.
I love that I have claim to a part of Scotland because I'm married to a half-Scot. I love that we have family here. What a lovely time we had at Aunty Sandra and Uncle George's waterfront home. The wind and rain swept in and we watched the waves churn up whitetops on the harbour. A submarine or two sailed past. We talked and laughed until the wee small hours. Och, the stories they tell, bonnie lad!

Local Knowledge.
Thanks to Uncle George's expert knowledge of the roads, we took the shortcut to Fort William, across the harbour on the car ferry to Dunoon.
I love the Scottish names. Dunoooooone. You've got to say it with a lilt.
Meanwhile Mr G is loving Irn Bru.
Haven't heard of it? Its the most popular soft drink in Scotland. It outsells Coca Cola. {Tastes like fizzy bubblegum, made from Iron, or so the adverts say}

Authentic Scottish Weather.
While the rest of the UK basked in an unseasonal heatwave, Scotland put on her best display of native drizzle so we could see what Scottish weather is really like. The rugged hills disappeared into misty clouds, the countryside painted in muted shades of grey. Grey skies and hills, reflected in grey water. So moody. So very Scottish.

Speed Snapping AKA Drive-by Shooting
Around every corner is something worth photographing. A mountain range, a mirrored loch, a quaint cottage... a derelict castle.
Ahhh but when you are the passenger in a car being driven by a man with a mission you must get good at leaning your head out the window and snapping passing scenery on the move.
There is no stopping. No pulling over for a better view. Just imagine what a few minutes of focus could have done for these images....

{Actually he did let me pause to take this one. We had stopped to wipe vomit off Scrag. I was allowed twenty seconds to photograph this abandoned garage.}

Journey on a Steam Train.
On our second day in Scotland, we got last-minute tickets on board the Jacobite steam train, promoted as "One of the world's Greatest Train Journeys"

So much easier to snap pictures from a moving train than an automobile.
You can push the window right down and hang out to get the best shot. Making sure your camera strap is around your neck of course.
And it also helps that the Scottish weather has decided to give you a break.

Something so romantic about steam trains.
{Except when you go through a long tunnel with the windows open and the carriage fills with coal smoke.
That is not so romantic.}

Also not so romantic when you are accompanied by three wriggling chilluns who say after five minutes, "I'm booooored.... when are we there???"

Quaintness everywhere. 
Clocks and flower baskets, picket fences and trains-turned-teashops.
And the shortbread. Mmmm.

And then here come those wild colonial children with their whooping and their jumping as they stretch their train-bound legs.
Most of the other passengers were retirees or honeymooners. You can imagine their joy at being seated near us.
But I'm certain they welcomed the energy and exuberance of my offspring. Found it endearing, charming?
I think. I can't say for sure because I was too scared to meet anyone's eye...

Reminders of Home.
This picture reminds me of my beautiful homeland across the sea....
Don't you think?
This could almost be New Zealand.
Imagine that cut-off spruce is a ponga tree...

Beautiful. Even shot from a moving train.

Fishing Villages. So Picturesque.
The town at the end of the line was the wee fishing port of Mallaig.
Blokes painting boats. Gulls still as statues.
Great fish'n'chips eaten on the dock.
Sadly, no souvenirs.
Why? Because nobody in the Highlands seems to like credit cards. Shops up there are not equipped.
We had to spend all our cash on the train tickets. And the fish'n'chips.
Found a bunch of great souvenirs and went to pay by card... Sorrrrry we dinnae take credit carrrds.
And so the story went. Even the B'n'B demanded cash.
I tell you, its another world up there in those Highlands.

I loved that every turn of the track brought a new vista...

I loved that the kids sat in their seats. Sometimes.

I loved this viaduct. And this photo I got of the train crossing it, as I leaned out the window.
I loved the feel of the wind in my hair and the camera around my neck.

I loved that the kids made friends with the B'n'B kids. I mean the Scottish kids that live at the B'n'B, cos their parents run it. Our kids made instant best friends with the boy age 9 and the girl age 7. Perfect.
Until it was time for the Scottish kids to do their homework. And go to bed.
Ahhh Reality. We are on a holiday from you.

The Road South.
The next day it was time to return to Newcastle.
The Scottish weather returned with a vengeance. We loaded the car with rain dripping down our necks.
One good day. And we got it. I love that!

The road south through the hills was incredible.
Mountains shooting up almost vertical. Lochs and burns and glens and cairns.
And Gaelic road signs.
So moody. So very Scottish.

A Cairn. Diana Gabaldon's Jamie Fraser could have met Claire near here...

I kept expecting to see Jamie Fraser wandering the hills in his kilt.
William Wallace leaping over the mountains.
Scotland is that kind of place.
The land is unchanged and it has not forgotten.
Scotland makes me feel so very poetic.

Its those hills. As Mr G says, They're a painting waiting to happen.

The further south we got the warmer and sunnier the weather became. We left behind Scotland and Scottish weather, and emerged into a late English summer.
Where Grandma celebrated our safe return by opening a bottle of New Zealand Sav and serving pasta in the garden.

And that was Scotland. Loved it.
Even the Haggis.

Have you ever been to Scotland? Do you have Scottish Relatives/ancestors? Have you read Diana Gabaldon's Scottish Time-travel books? What did/do you love about Scotland?


{Linking up with my lovely friend PaisleyJade. Who has a town in Scotland named after her. Really.}

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Brigitte said...

Och aye lassie! I've got Scottish relatives toooooo. My Grandma was born in Scotland hence us now being able to live in London indefinitely (getting the passports soon hopefully (when we can afford the 2K for them...!)
And I loooooove the Jamie Fraser time travel books! Haven't read the latest one yet, though it's on my hit-list.
LOVING your photos and adventures! Yes the landscape is so very NZ, ahhhhh. I was supposed to run the Lochness marathon in October last year but that was when I found out I was preggers with Max!... That's also on my hit-list, maybe next year and then stay on and go into Highlands and look for Jamie and Claire Fraser ;)
Pleased Great Britain is turning on the late summer heat for you! X

Weza said...

'Sigh' your post has me all tingly, and longing to travel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, drooling over the pictures and imagining I was there. THANKYOU for such a well written, pictorial view of Scotland.
AND yes I have read the Voyager series. On of my favourites EVER!

Jen said...

wonderful beautiful photos :)

pleased youre having a fab time

Cat said...

looks amazing Simoney
a true feast for the eyes!!!

love and light

tartankiwi said...

When you put it like that, its easy to understand why the Scots feel so comfortable in New Zealand and New Zealanders feel so comfortable in Scotland- isn't it! I must admit you made me a wee bit homesick reading this.
Sorry to see that the weather was so dreich for you, but glad to see that you made the most of it anyway! Enjoy the rest of your trip x

Jules said...

Stunning photos!! What a gorgeous waterfront home your family have. And the train journey looked amazing.

Looking forward to your next postcard :o)

Meghan Maloney Photography said...

Wowee...loving living vicariously through your amazing trip!

So many memories of the same trip I did with my mum 10 years ago. You are so right about the scenery being like NZ and something to steal the breath away being around EVERY corner :-)

Unknown said...

I'm so thrilled to hear you're having a good time. And your pictures are GORGEOUS!!

Lyns said...

Beautiful photos. Love train trips.
Spent a week or two in Edinburgh which I thought was beautiful.

Trees said...

So beautiful. I have been to Edinburgh which was lovely but would love to hit the highlands (with a glove box full of cash).
So glad the weather is so good for you back in England and hope you are having a fantastic visit with your friends in the midlands xx

Amy said...

Love the photo's and the stories Simone! Your trip is making me all sentimental. My mum was born in Scotland and we still have family over there. I love a Scottish accent. My grandparents accents doesn't cut it for me any more. They sounds Aussie to me but apparently they are very much Scottish sounding to anyone else.!

Travel safe. Can't wait for your next postcard :-P xx

Catching the Magic said...

Jaw dropping post of the most beautiful scenery. You've captured the mood, magic and spirit of Scotland so well.

My dear Grandfather was Scottish - from Tarbert Loch Fyne. Archibald Carmichael Leitch was his name (Archie to us). My parents have recently been in Scotland, walking the land. I would dearly love to visit when we have an opportunity.

That train ride looked amazing (I laughed when you mentioned the children saying they were bored - my active ones would probably be the same & I know Dan and I would have had to come up with various games and activities - when all we would really want to do is enjoy the scenery!). Anyway, it looks very 'Harry Potter'! x

Enjoy the rest of your trip. Amazing that you're managing to squeeze in the time to do a blog post here and there. Lovely to take a trip with you from the comfort of my laptop!

PaisleyJade said...

Oh drool!! One of my biggest dreams is to travel to Scotland one day - so nice that I can visit there through your amazing photos for now. I have Scottish heritage and always cry when I hear the bagpipes!!!

Unknown said...

Awesome blog! Ah Scotland, my families country- looks incredible! Loving your journey and living the OE through you ;) haha.


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