Culloden….Wow!, The Clava Stones, and my attempt to reach Jamie Fraser!

We stayed in a B and B owned by Neil in Dufftown, an unusual character who cooked us a great breakfast. His other guests were Ben, a new GP and his brother Caspar, a Philospher doing his PhD. We had great exchanges with these two, really nice, clever, animated guys.

The day involved going to The Culloden Visitor Centre which processes you through a great deal of well presented information, before walking out on to the Moor, including throwing you into the centre of a room with a full reenactment of the battle in film on four walls…..for over 18 year olds. Fantastic, though no heads or limbs were lost, which there would have been in 1746…..we were the only a few days short of the 270 year anniversary.

The battle only lasted an hour, with some 1500 Jacobites lost, with a small loss only on the English side. Very moving (and very cold and windy). The Jacobites were exhausted already when they went into battle, the English fresh and strong.

Post-script 01.10.16, interview with Diana Gabaldon where she describes Culloden and Gettysburg as the two of many battlefields that she has visited, as haunted…..

Anne, too, described a similar experience to John. That Scottish fey, again……


The Clava Stones were great to see, some 3-4000 years old. Tickled I got to do my Claire Beauchamp take-off, trying to fall back to 1743, to find Jamie, of Outlander fame. Meryl put me on to Outlander Series 1…. seen it three times, now! Series 2 has just started screening in Britain. I intend to read the books (1-9) by Diana Gabaldon, too.

Culloden Field

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The Clava Stones

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Scottish brogue….


Dufftown: Scots saying good morning to each other in the street:
One: Aye-Aye!
Other: Aye-Aye! Used as Hi or hello.

Port Ellen, Islay: Joy Prentice our host, discussing cups of tea, coffee: What do boulders drink in Australia?…..boulders…….boulders drink??……..Oohhh!! ……BUILDERS!!….probably water till knock-off time.

Joy, describing three house guests from another EU country who confessed at breakfast that one of their party had tripped and broken a beautiful mirror just installed in the bathroom two days earlier. After they had left she showed us the broken mirror, so hard to replace on the little Isle of Islay……..we agreed…..only if drunk could that have been achieved, “Och, I knew it, they were just Lager Louts! I’ll get over it in a couple of days.”

W has been fascinated with some of the pronunciations, and keeps spotting Heelund Cooows!

Stopped at a Tescos in Thurso (for Indian Tonic Water for my evening Gin and Tonic!), and my checkout girl was sitting, not standing at the checkout. My guess is she was around 70…. no ageism here, talking to her customer in front of me……guessing she was 80ish…..I am sure the weekly gossip was being exchanged. The customer was dressed as I recall some Halley women dressing: sensible closed flat shoes, stockings, a tartan skirt descending well below the knees, and warm layers on the top. Loved it…….I do keep feeling on and off that I am IN an episode of Dr Finlay’s Casebook, that very Scottish TV series from the sixties.

Place names ( and a whiskey): lots ending with “-aig”, as in Laphroaig Whiskey, are a mixture of gaelic and norse, withe the -aig being the norse bit. E.g. : Port Askaig, Arisiag.

Via Scone Palace to Dufftown in the Highlands

My trusty iPhone 5s has lead us from Anstruther through St Andrews again to Dundee across the Tay River over The Tay Bridge. The Scots have built some beautiful, remarkable bridges in more modern times like The Forth bridge and The Tay Bridge, as well as beautiful older stone bridges, as well as amazing railway viaducts at Glenfinnan and Culloden. Of course some of the roads and bridges in the Highlands were built by that Irishman in the English Army, General Wade. I gather he is regarded as having been brilliant opening up the wild and woolly Highlands with military roads and bridges, many of which are still in use 270 years later.

Of the hundreds of castles in Scotland, I thought it was important to see Scone Palace (pronounced Scoon), as it was the site of the coronations of Scottish royalty, and original home to The Stone of Destiny (upon which stone Scottish Kings and Queens sat).

We were not allowed to take photographs within. One of the caretakers whose surname was Lawson, said he had relatives who were Lawries, and that his mother was born on the coast near Buckhaven. He said I hope you enjoy the Palace, cousin!

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To Anne and Hal….

Some 15 years ago, my mother recounted what a lovely road trip she and my father had had in Scotland, and, in particular, they had toasted each other and the trip while staying near ? at the golf course in St Andrews…. it WAS back in the Day in 1978, when , maybe it was affordable to stay there.

She then suggested that Warwick and I might do that trip one day, and to toast ourselves and the trip similarly, and she and Hal at St Andrews, then, if we made it. Well, we made it……..

St Andrew’s was both booked out and prohibitively expensive to stay in, so we have retired back down the coast to the fishing village of Anstruther for the night.

Following a lovely stroll on the boat harbour wall, we had a seafood dinner where we were staying at The Waterfront (Restaurant and Accommodation).

Anne and Hal were toasted at dinner.

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Please, click on To Anne and Hal below, and forgive the little evidence of dinner near the speakers mouth…….the camera man and producer is not aware of such things😵

To Anne and Hal

Technologies 2, and a drive along the Fife Coast

We have hired a Ford Focus, which has 6! forward gears and reverse, making for very slow starts if the gear stick is accidentally in 4 instead of 2 at intersections, and reverse occurs if you pull the gear stick UP! (our 40 year old recall was to push it DOWN!, so driving out of Edinburgh was a bit hair-raising for a few hours, especially until I pulled out the iPhone GPS. Have found that using the gps is only very slowly eating into my data allowance, so it is enormously adding to ease of getting around! Forget maps!

Also, indicators and wipers on opposite sides to our cars, so the wipers were switched on routinely going around corners for the first day…….🙄

The car also snuffed in the middle of a large roundabout. I sat with eyes closed waiting for the car to be hit from behind. W says there were a couple of cars who pulled up behind and were very patient.😖

So exciting driving over the Forth Road Bridge and Seeing The Forth Rail Bridge.

First stop stop was pulling in to the lovely beachside village of Burntisland, for a cuppa in a cafe with some elderly locals, and a walk on the beach.

We drove through Kirkcaldy, which was a small city, so no stopping – stopping is stressful, in terms of finding a park ( especially without reverse being elucidated yet), and the more built up areas being harder to negotiate.

Next stop, Buckhaven, where Granma Halley was born, with a walk around the headland, and also photographing East Wemyss, across the bay (for Meryl). Wemyss is pronounced Weems.

On to St Andrews for a walk through town, and the ruins of the old St Andrew’s Cathedral; then an icecream, and retiring to the beautul fishing village of Anstruther for the late afternoon and evening. (It doesn’t get dark till about 8:30pm.)

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Edinburgh Castle, David another flamboyant guide…..


The spirit wants to stuff the travelling schedule VERY full, but the body is weak….. Cherries have to be picked. So, I had to choose Edinburgh Castle over Holyrood Palace. I think I would have been a Jacobite two hundred and seventy years ago…….that which is Scottish should be kept and defended against the English, or wrested back from them and held most dear. The Scots justifiably wanted, and gained, a couple of times, Edinburgh Castle, but mainly the English have held it as a fortress against the Scots. Holyrood Palace, at the other end of The Royal Mile has stayed more Scottish. Queen Mary slept at Holyrood Palace, as does QE11 when she’s in town.

Edinburgh Castle was hotly contested, especially during The Scottish Wars of Independence, 14th to 18th centuries; there have been 26 seiges in its 1100 year history.

The Castle acknowledges the Scottish heroes, William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, placing  statues of them to guard the gates. The Palace part holds The Honours: The Scottish Crown Jewels, Crown, Sceptre and Sword. We were not allowed to photograph in the room holding these. I was not ready for how breathtakingly beautiful these were………..

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A Guided walk in Edinburgh, The Old Town

Had a great walk with our flamboyant, charismatic guide, Jen, through The Old Town of Edinburgh….

The Old Town was a walled city of a square nautical mile, housing 80,000 people. Buildings were built up and down in height to accommodate this number. The wall, Flodden Wall, named after the famous battle, was a fortress against The English!

The contents of the chamberpot was thrown from upper windows calling out “Garde loo”, which was a mispronounciation of the French, Gardez l’eau. From this we have our “colloquial word “loo” for the toilet. Human waste flowed dowhill into a lake, which filled itself in eventally, now the site of the wonderfully fertile Princes Street Gardens.

Between the sandstone buildings are a network of circuitous lanes called Closes. There are courtyards behind some of the buildings in The Royal Mile road, which has Edinburgh Castle at one end (hotly contested for by Scot and English, finally English) and Holyrood Palace, the palace of Scots royalty, now where QE11 stays when in town).

Under the brooding watch of the Castle was the Grassmarket, a hurly-burly market area, also the site of hangings.

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