Just One More Castle

And not just any castle!  I love castles (as you might have guessed) and grew up thinking there was a ‘typical’ kind of castle, probably due to Disney and Cinderella, but I’ve learned they are as diverse as the characters who built and inhabited them.

Yesterday was another wonderful day in Scotland and I was pinching my cheeks that I woke up and was still here. In Aberdeen, the sky was rather cloudy but I spotted a ‘sucker hole’ in the clouds off to the north.

“Didn’t you say Fyvie Castle is north of Aberdeen, Lindsay?”

“Aye, just about an hour away.”

“Well, in that case, I see a ‘sucker hole’ in the clouds in that direction that we should go follow!”


It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous  drive and perfect for a visit to one more castle before I go home. As if to offer promise all things bright and beautiful we suddenly found ourselves driving right under and through this spectacular splendor! Note the deep blue of the sky above the bow as compared to the light blue under its graceful arc.


img_2592Lindsay commented that I was like a kid in a sweety shop when it came to rainbows.  I told him, “Pull over, pull over! I’ve got to get some photos of this!”

It was magnificent, and even doubled momentarily, although I barely got a shot of it being double by the time I got out of the car. I was, however, rewarded with a clear shot of where the pot of gold lays where it touched down through the trees.

Now if that’s not an omen of treasure ahead, I don’t know what is!

A short time later we also were enjoying this spectacular view as well!

Welcome to Fyvie castle!


This place has been added on to by four different families: Gordon, Meldrum, Seton and finally Forbes-Leith. Originally it was a square shaped fortress. About where I am standing, and taking this photograph, would have been the fourth corner of the original castle with walls, about the height of the ground floor, spanning the distance to both the right and left towers. The ground in front of us would have been the inner medieval courtyard with people living and working inside its walls in wooden structures. The original Keep is that mid-center area along the left-hand wall. We’ll take a closer look to the original front door at that time when we go around the other side to have a looksy.

The Gordon’s had to forfeit their castle after Culloden and the castle was given to the Meldrum family afterward as a reward for their allegiance to the British forces during the Jacobite Risings. They made improvements and made their mark on the place as did the succeeding families throughout time, each adding a level, a tower, etc. Usually there are heraldic devices and symbolism on a castle from just one Clan, but this one has four and it amazes me that each succeeding family did not remove the previous owners marks!

Before heading inside, let’s take a walk around the other side, walking on the sunny side of the street as it were…


This chestnut tree was absolutely amazing; with its ancient branches reaching out for sunlight along the ground.  The memories this tree must have of lords and ladies clambering about underneath and up in the limbs looking for ‘conkers’ to compete with!

You might ask, like I did, what is conkers?  Well, let me digress here from the castle momentarily and share with you what I learned from Lindsay what this favorite game is all about…

The Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) was first introduced to Britain from the Balkans in the late 16th century, but it was not until about 200 years later that the fruits of the horse chestnut trees were used to play ‘conkers.’

The game of conkers probably evolved from a game called ‘conquerors,’ which was originally played with snail (conch) shells. A variant of the game was later played with hazelnuts, on strings. By the 20th century these earlier games had almost universally been replaced by the version we now know using horse chestnuts.

The autumn is the beginning of the season for the game when all over the country children start collecting conkers. You will find them on the ground around horse chestnut trees. They come in prickly green cases. Collect a number of these and break open the cases to reveal the shiny brown conkers.

Choose one conker (a nice big round shiny one) and then bore a hole through the middle of it. Thread a piece of string through the hole and tie a knot at one end, so that it doesn’t pull through. The string should be long enough to wrap twice around your clenched hand and still have about 10 inches left.

A toss of the coin usually decides who starts first – but in the playground this is more often a matter of whoever shouts something like ‘Obli, obli oh, my first go.’

Each player has a their conker on its knotted string. Players take turns at hitting their opponent’s conker.

If you are the one whose conker is to be hit first, let it hang down from the string which is wrapped round your hand. A 10 inch drop is about right. You must hold it at the height your opponent chooses and you must hold it perfectly still.

Your opponent, the striker, wraps their conker string round his hand just like yours. He then takes the conker in the other hand and draws it back for the strike. Releasing the conker he swings it down by the string held in the other hand and tries to hit her/his opponent’s conker with it. If he misses he is allowed up to two further goes. If the strings tangle, the first player to call ‘strings’ or ‘snags’ gets an extra shot.

Players take alternate hits at their opponent’s conker. The game is won when one player destroys the other’s conker. If a player drops his conker or it is knocked from his hand, the other player can shout ‘stamps’ and immediately stamps on the conker; but should its owner first shout ‘no stamps’ then ‘stamps’ is disallowed and the conker hopefully remains intact.

In playground tournaments a winning conker can then go on to do battle with other conkers, each victory adding to the conker’s score. A conker which has won one battle is called a ‘one-er,’ two battles a ‘two-er’ and so on. So for example, you might overhear a child saying “I beat his fiver with my two-er.” In this case, and depending on which rules you play by, the winning two-er might simply become a three-er or it might become an eight-er (two previous victories plus the victory over the fiver plus the five-score of the fiver). In this way winning conkers can quickly accumulate quite large scores!

Folks are pretty serious about their game of ‘conkers’ and at the World Conker Championships they even crown their winners King & Queen!


Okay, back to the castle.  Let’s take a closer look at the details on this side.  Speaking of details, so that’s how they keep the window trim painted way up high!


Now a little closer still to admire some finer details…

Below is the original ‘front door.’ You can also see the definite levels of the castle; first the two lower round towers with the slit hole windows for archers, then the second level when they made the towers taller. They would have moved the front door up one level to the location of the first window in order to have access by a ladder which could have been hauled up into the Keep to prevent marauders from following them. And finally the top level, added by the fourth and final family – the Forbes-Leith clan.

The Forbes-Leith Laird was responsible for the various adornments and additions of turrets, extensive improvements; like electricity, plumbing and modernization of the castle. He was a rich steel magnate and collector and admirer of fine art. (The interior is extensively decorated with many famous paintings by Raeburn and numerous other famous artists.)

Above the second level doorway was the infamous ‘murder hole’ which hot lead could be poured through raining down over the heads of unwanted visitors!

Lindsay and I thoroughly enjoyed touring the interior for well over an hour or so. Sorry, but I was not allowed to take photographs inside. You’ll just have to come and enjoy for yourselves, however, it is well worth it. It is a fascinating castle to visit and it has earned a spot in the top 5 of my most favorites!

It’s loaded to the hilt with magnificent furnishings, art work and other finery. Having had four different families since the middle ages it is also ripe with history and interesting items such as a ‘weeping stone,’ a very interesting ‘Harvey Regulator’ clock which is older than the clock in the Tower of London, and still keeping perfect time, a beautiful hall with excellent acoustical ceilings for musical concerts and a ‘player’ organ with ‘playing rolls,’ Tiffany lamps, Venetian lamplight posts, Delft blue Tulip Vases, gilded china settings, a broad sweeping stone spiral staircase that they used as a final ascent to the finish line on the third floor for horse races, and if that isn’t enough, it’s even haunted with about 4 or 5 resident ghosts.

“Most Haunted” has conducted seances here and filmed the ghosts appearing. Our tour guide was recently witness to the appearance of one such spirit in the corridor and attests to its validity!  Fascinating, absolutely fascinating!

With its many levels, corridors, stairways, turrets and rooms to explore in each of the various levels and towers of the castle it offered a cornucopia of treasures to behold.

Before we left, Lindsay and I enjoyed a piece of Carrot cake, Millionaire bar, and a couple of Lattes in the castles’ Tea Room while we absorbed all the priceless beauties we had just feasted our eyes upon.

Although it was getting late in the day, and the growing season, I still wanted to venture into the Walled Gardens for a peek…

…and was not disappointed!

Below are beautiful little Chinese Lanterns changing color in the beds, and dahlia tubers which have been lifted and put to bed in the cold frame for planting next spring.  The gardeners’ work is never done!

As we meandered back along the long drive into the castle and out the gate we were also gifted some more spectacular afternoon autumnal scenery along the Loch which borders the winding route…


Although the shy (and rare) Red Squirrel scooted off in the brush before I could get a picture of him, the Mallard hens were more than happy to hurry over to have their portrait taken amidst this beautiful setting adding character and female charm for my frame.

Further along Swans and Geese added another peaceful scene…






What a bountiful day filled with surprises and delights for the senses!  Even the sunset participated by topping-off a ‘pearfect’ day!

This morning, as I prepared to start writing this blog, I grabbed my coffee, turned on the laptop and started downloading all my photos (which can take awhile!) In the meantime, I decided to check my email.

I was delighted to find a response to a message I’d sent a couple of days ago to Richard Eccles from Castle Roy. He had asked me if I would be willing to write a letter explaining any connections I might have to Castle Roy and as the winner of that fabulous bottle of Tamdhu in an effort to further support their fundraising efforts.

I told him I would be more than happy to do so. After I wrote the blog post entitled ‘And the Winner Is,’ I thought I should send him a link to the post, to see if something along those lines would be ‘suitable’ to include in the letter he had asked me to write.

In his email this morning he replied, “Hello ‘Lady’ Claudia! Many thanks for such a wonderful article with plenty of great photos. Patricia and I were thrilled as I am sure Stuart Black will be who donated the Whisky that you won. To see it’s name out on the ‘www’ is fantastic. Patricia has already put it up on Facebook which is certain to raise the Castle’s profile and get our fundraising efforts out there. Have a good trip back to the States and an enjoyable festive season. Let us know when you return and you can come over and see how far we have got with the final part of the consolidation. All the very best, Richard”

Of course I was delighted that he liked it so well, but I felt especially ‘warmed’ that they shared it on their Castle Roy Facebook Page!  That’ll be some nice coverage for my travel blog!

Then I opened up my next email; a link to my horoscope for yesterday. After that nice plug for my blog, it didn’t surprise me to read:

Oct 26, 2016

You are going to be in the public spotlight today, Sagittarius, whether you want to or not. This is the effect of the Virgo Moon in your tenth house of public image today. So you need to smile big, and smile often, and the world will smile right back at you today. Be practical about this, and tend to the details like it’s your job. Because it might be today. It will be in the little details where you will win big today, and in a very public way! What are you hoping to be admired for today, Sag?

What a ‘pearfect’ topper to already ‘pearfect’ day in Scotland! It was even ‘written in the stars!’

In addition, it also serves as an appropriate ending of my “Adventures in Scotland – 2016” blog posts. Yep, you heard me right, we’ve come to the end of this years shenanigans.

I’ve had so much fun, traveled so many roads, picked up a few new Scottish terms, spent wonderful time making memories with loved ones & family, thoroughly enjoyed the company of old friends, made a whole load of new ones, laughed til I thought I’d pee my britches, dug in the clarty dubs discovering buried headstones, discovered the whereabouts of many of my own ancient ancestors across the land, seen some absolutely stunning panoramic vistas, learned A LOT, ate a ton of fish ‘n chips and delectable seafood, tasted some divine desserts til I thought I would burst, breathed the mountain air, man, crossed the Munros high, man, crossed the moors near Beahlach & Lecht and driven part of the Route 500, won a rare and valuable bottle of whisky, have had my heart touched and warmed by so many friendly Scottish and Irish people – EVERYTHING I could have possibly wished for and then some!  Dreams really do come true!

The time has come however to let my old laptop have a rest (I’ve posted 44 posts with 307 visitors who enjoyed 2,267 views!), spend the last couple of days just hanging-out with Lindsay, enjoying a wee dram (or two, or three since we won’t be doing any more driving!), see if my suitcase can hold all the delightful treasures I’ve collected throughout my journeys (like that pound of feathers my guardian angel bestowed upon me) and the souvenirs I’ve purchased for my loved ones back home who have been holding down the fort, paying the bills and feeding my cat, Buddy, while I’ve been off gallivanting about having the time of my life!

Although I am a wee bit ‘knackered’ and ‘cream-crackered,’ I’ve really enjoyed sharing all of my travels with YOU!  I do benefit myself by capturing my travels in a ‘journal’ of sorts, but it is so much more fun and meaningful knowing that you are looking forward to my posts and enjoying them almost as much as I do.  Thanks for your wonderful comments, your devotion and your enthusiasm regarding my efforts.  It’s a lot of work, to be sure, but it, like so many other efforts, is oh-so-worth it ~ a labor of love!

Slainte Mhatch!

Lady Claudia



Slainte Mhatch (Slanj~Evaa) = Cheers, Best of Health

Knackered (nack~ird) or Cream Crackered = worn out, thoroughly tired


Cairn ‘O Mount (Success at Last!)

Yesterday morning, when I asked Lindsay, “Fit Like?” (how ya doing?)

He answered, “Nae bad – chavin awa. Infact, it’s such a bonnie day I was thinking it might be nice to get out of the house and go for a ride; see if we can make it to Cairn ‘O Mount!”





So we headed southwest out the A93 through Banchory and Bogendreip (love that name – it conjures up a very wet and dripping bog)…


I started making some videos of the road we were traveling from about where we ran into the road closure on our first attempt…. (I apologize for the sound on the 2nd one; it was quite windy up there and we weren’t talking loud enough.  It’s not your device that is faulty.  I almost didn’t include it but decided to just the same because I thought you would enjoy looking at the view even if you can’t hear what we’re saying very well.)


and then… we finally arrived as the sun began to break through!

Afterwards I took a few ‘still’ shots of this fantastic view with my own rock sitting on top of the cairn for posterity’s  sake!


I wanted to stay there enjoying the view, but it was quite chilly so I headed back to the car and we began the descent down the other side…

Near the bottom we came to this double bridge (one low-water bridge) and another slightly higher one right next to it!  Little did I realize that this was an historical bridge until we went up to the restaurant above for a cup of coffee to warm up with.


Quite a little interesting place it turned out to be and I really liked all of the old photos hanging on the walls…and I thought we were just getting a cup of coffee!


The views down in the valley were astounding as we made our way to Fettercairn…

and beyond as we made our way further on to Stonehaven…


I really liked the way the newly sprouted green seedlings gently outlined the slopes of the brown field below…





Just before arriving at our turn to head north on the A90, we passed acres and acres of berries nestled snugly under never-ending protective huge cloches.






Along the highway in a ‘lay-by’ was this interesting historical marker about Robert Burns’ father!

Soon we were entering Stonehaven where we could enjoy a bit of the seashore.




Crickey! (pronounced cry~key) It was such a delightful wee adventure today, with spectacular views, and I thoroughly enjoyed filming it all to share with you! Hope you enjoyed it too!


Learning to Speak the Lingo

People I’ve met on my trip have asked me if  I have been having a nice holiday and I have to admit it has been absolutely brilliant! I found it somewhat difficult when I first arrived to understand what locals were saying and I really had to concentrate and pay attention.

As time has passed, however, I’ve found it much easier and have even managed to incorporate a few terms into my own conversations now making it easier for others to understand me as well.

Blimey, I’ve actually picked up a few and the locals can better understand me and I don’t sound like an eejit when trying to pronounce something!  At first they would look at me, probably thinking I was glaikit or a numpty, or just haivering! One stotter would be a conversation I was having at a restaurant today with a grannie holding her grandson, Isaac, a 5 week-old wee bairn!

The whole time I’ve been here the weather has been braw and quite bonnie, and only just recently have we experienced a dreichy day or two that made us feel crabbit. Just in the last couple of days has it really turned a bit baltic with fall in full swing.

I’ve had such fun working & volunteering in the kirkyards and since I didn’t want my fellow volunteers to think I was a skiver or worse, gallus, I dug right in and gave it all I had.  A couple of times I really got mauchit working in the clarty dubs (thank heaven they weren’t sharney dubs!) and sometimes quite drookit!

It was fun just the same, and I certainly didn’t want them to think I was a besom, or a blether, so I kept wheesht, with my head down and became laldie, following instructions and learning a lot along the way. Working in the kirkyards is not for everyone,  I admit, some might think its a scunner of a job, some might think me just a wee bit crezy, or even skerry, but I quite enjoyed it even though it was difficult at best to find a cludgie at times in kirkyards and was thankful I have a strong bladder!

Well, loons and quines, I don’t want to fouter, or be accused of being a blether, I just wanted to let you know I’ve enjoyed having you along with me on my travels via this blog!

Although Lindsay has been a bit wabbit the last couple of days with a cold, all in all we’ve had so much fun! Aye, it’s been a bonnie time traveling about with friends, and Gordon Bennett, I got to see sooooo many hairy coos this trip!

Well I’m off for a wee dram now… later I’ll work on a blog post about what Lindsay and I did this afternoon!  We gave it another try and actually made it to Cairn ‘O Mount!  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.


aye = yes

baltic = very cold

besom (biz~um) = hussy, female upstart

blether (ble~ther) = gossip, incessant chatter

blimey (bly~me) = amazed

bonnie = beautiful

braw (br~aww) = beautiful

brilliant = great

clarty (clar~ty) = mucky, boggin’

cludgie (clud~gee) = toilet

coos (koos) = cows

crabbit (cra~bit) = bad tempered, out of humor

crezy (kre~zy) = crazy

dreich (dre~ech) = dull, bleak, miserable

drookit (droo~kit) = drenched, soaked through

(ee~jit) = idiot, not the full shilling

fouter (foo~tir) = dither, to not get on with it

gallus (ga~luss) = bold, cocky, cheeky

glaikit (glai~kit) = foolish, not very bright

Gordon Bennett = OMG

haiver (hay~ver) = to talk rubbish

laldie (lall~dy) = to do vigorously, get stuck in

loons (lunes) = boys

mauchit (maw~kit) = dirty, filthy

numpty (num~p~tee) = idiot, intellectually challenged

quines = girls

scunner (scun~ner) = feeling of disgust or loathing

sharney (shar~nie) = animal manure

skerry (sker~ry) = scary

skiver (sky~ver) = lazy person, shirker

stotter (stoat~er) = excellent example

wabbit (wah~bit) = under the weather, exhausted

wee bairn = baby

wee dram = shot of scottish whisky

wheesht (whee~sht) = quiet



‘And the Winner is…’


You may recall that at the beginning of October, the day before I was supposed to fly home originally, Lindsay and I took a drive through the Moors and over the Lecht.  On our way, we took a little detour off our route to visit Abernethy Kirkyard so I could take some photographs of his 3rd great grandparents’ headstones.

While we were there we noticed that Castle Roy was accessible for the first time in years and so we headed up the small hill to take a look.  They were hosting a special ‘Open Days’ event sponsored by the Highland Archaeology Festival and offering the opportunity to buy a ‘Square Yard’ of the castle as a fundraising effort to continue the preservation of one of Scotland’s oldest castles built around 1210!


We walked around the castle with Richard Eccles and he told us all about their efforts and the progress they’ve made so far. To be supportive of their efforts I bought a ‘square yard’ in the ‘Laird’s Lodge’ (the corner of the castle shown below) and was consequently dubbed ‘Lady Claudia!’


We had a lot of fun with Richard and even ‘hammed’ it up for a photo opp depicting that he was ‘twisting my arm’ and his assistant was prying the money out of my wallet.

After I purchased the square yard within a room with a view (and also quite conveniently located near the ‘loo’) I noticed raffle tickets sitting on the table.  I inquired what the prizes for the raffle were.

They told me what the various prizes were and that the grand prize was for a Rare Malt Whiskey-Tamdhu, from the 1971 special Macphails’ Collection.

“Ooooh!  I really like Scottish whisky, especially a well-aged one.  I’ll buy a couple of tickets; one for me and one for Lindsay, please.”


We went on our way and didn’t give it another thought.  About a week or so later, while I was visiting Pat & Ian in Dingwall and on my way to Applecross, I got an email from Richard Eccles, requesting that ‘Lady Claudia’ should contact him at her earliest convenience!  When I replied, he informed me that I held the winning ticket for the 1st prize – that bottle of whisky worth over $800.00!!!!  Wowsers!


Richard subsequently sent me a copy of the newspaper and a clipping from the 7th page where the winner announcement was published! (below)


I love whisky and was ever-so-tempted to open it up and try it, but I think I’ll keep it on the shelf as an investment (for a little while at least!)

There’s even more to the story however…

When I talked to Richard he asked me if I have any connections to Nethybridge or Castle Roy and I explained to him that I do have ancestors in nearby villages, but my cousin Lindsay has a lot of ancestors buried in the kirkyard at the foot of the hill where Castle Roy sits.

He thought that was pretty cool.


Just recently I visited the small village of Dunkeld with Pat and ‘her girls’ and you might recall that I came across a chest tomb with a stone knight atop that turned out to be one of my ancestors, Alexander Stewart, ‘The Wolf of Badenoch’ – my 18th great grandfather! Well….



img_2012When I got back from the trip with Pat, I was looking up information about Alexander and enjoying looking at my beautiful bottle of whisky which had arrived in the post while I was galavanting about when I discovered yet another fantastic connection!

It turned out that ‘The Wolf’ owned Castle Roy in 1381 (among several other castles)!  This is getting more interesting at every turn.  It seems really appropriate now that I chose the square yard in Castle Roy which was located within the Laird’s Lodge and was consequently dubbed ‘Lady Claudia!’

If that wasn’t enough to convince me that this whisky was indeed special for me in particular, another point of interest suddenly dawned on me as I stood there admiring the beautiful honey color of the whisky – this was bottled in 1971 – the year I graduated from Los Alamitos High School, 45 years ago!  (Eeegads, has it been that long already?!?)

I’m beginning to believe ‘it was meant to be’ that I am now the proud owner of this rare malt whisky in oh-so-many ways! And yes, I do expect you to curtsey to me from this point forward!  🙂






Jonesin’ for Mexican Food

Yesterday, October 23rd, was kind of a rainy, ‘dreechy,’ kind of day, so I decided to warm it up a bit with some heat by making Chicken Enchiladas, home made Pico de Gallo Salsa, Spanish Rice and Refried beans so my Scottish cousins could get a little taste of something ‘south of the border!’ It’s not something they generally have access to like we do in Southern Oregon with a Taqueria on every corner!

(Besides, I’ve been really Jonesin’ for it myself – especially the chips and salsa!)

First debone a roasted chicken and get it simmering in the pot with some spices, onions and sweet peppers…

Next the Pico de Gallo….with a little more ‘kick’ in the peppers!

A little later I began assembling the Enchiladas…


…topped them with a generous portion of cheese and put them in the oven to bake.


Our family guests arrived, Lisa, Robin, Ailie & James, with the Corona’s and they seemed to really enjoy the chips, salsa and guacamole as appetizers.

Soon afterward we were enjoying the main entree, and it seemed to be a real hit with one and all.


Like usual, however, we were all so stuffed all we could manage was to sit back and let our bulging tummies digest….

I got my craving satisfied and at the same time enjoyed the company of my extended family at least one more time. I sent them home with all the remaining leftovers to enjoy during the week after school and working.  Lisa especially seemed to really appreciate that.

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man

img_2377Alistair, at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, commented the other day when I returned my third rental, “Wow!  You put over 1,200 miles on this last car, and at least 1,000 or more on the other two you rented before!  You get around!  You’ve been to more places in Scotland in the last 2 months than I’ve been to since I arrived 6 years ago from Lithuania!”

Out of curiosity, I decided to highlight the roads on my atlas which I’ve traveled on to visit various locales on this trip alone.  Alistair is right, I have managed to get around to a lot of wonderfully beautiful places!

Then another thought crossed my mind which might be fun; “I’ll try writing my own version of the lyrics to a familiar song, made popular by Johnny Cash…”

I’ve Been Everywhere

I was toting my pack along the narrow, winding, country way,

When along came Lindsay, Pat and Deirdre with a plan for the day,

If you’re going to adventures, Claud, with me you can ride,

And so I climbed into the car and then I settled down inside,

They asked me if I’d seen a road with so many Coos and Lambs,

And I said, “Listen! I’ve travelled every road in this here land!”


I’ve been everywhere, man,

I’ve been everywhere,

Crossed the Munros high, man,

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man,

Travel, I’ve had my share, man,

I’ve been everywhere.


I’ve been to:

Dingwall, Ahoghill, Elgin, Drum Castle,

Kildrummy, Grandtully, Huntly, Threave Castle,

Cawdor, Fearnmore, Aviemore, Dornoch,

Loch Broom, Tomintoul, Gracehill, Gairloch,

Montrose, Fortrose, Inverness, Easter Frew,

Burghead, Peterhead, Shieldaig, Inverewe,

I’m a Frew!

I’ve been everywhere, man,

I’ve been everywhere,

Crossed the Munros high, man,

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man,

Travel, I’ve had my share, man,

I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been to:

Whithorn, Findhorn, Deskford, Mid Frew,

Torridon, Strathdon, Culloden, South Frew,

Rannoch, Avoch, Aberfeldy, Blair Castle,

Ellon, Kippen, Cullen, Crathes Castle,

Stirling, Loch of Skene, Aberdeen, Wigtown,

Banchory, Crathie, Buckie, Randallstown,

I get around!

I’ve been everywhere, man,

I’ve been everywhere,

Crossed the Munros high, man,

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man,

Travel, I’ve had my share, man,

I’ve been everywhere.

 I’ve been to:

Edinkillie, Dalbeattie, Killiecrankie, Garlieston,

Kirkcudbright, Loch Maree, Inverurie, Collieston,

Fochabers, Ballater, Strathpeffer, Girvan,

Loch Carron, Portgordon, Pitmedden, Cairnryan,

Dumfries, Portknockie, New Abbey, Auchindrean,

Forres, Crathes, Letters, Achnasheen,

See what I mean?

I’ve been everywhere, man,

I’ve been everywhere,

Crossed the Munros high, man,

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man,

Travel, I’ve had my share, man,

I’ve been everywhere.

 I’ve been to:

Antrim, Drum, Glenbuchat, Castle Roy,

Loch Garve, Braemar, Nairn, Portsoy,

Lossiemouth, Pitlochry, Alford, Cairn ‘O Mount,

Bogendreip, lots of sheep, Dunkeld, Stormont,

Ballymena, Crossmichael, Blair Atholl, Connor,

Castle Douglas, Applecross, Belfast, Leadmore,

Is there more?

I’ve been everywhere, man,

I’ve been everywhere,

Crossed the Munros high, man,

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man,

Travel, I’ve had my share, man,

I’ve been everywhere.

Well….. almost!

After I highlighted the roads I’ve travelled on this trip, I also highlighted other routes I’ve also taken on previous trips.  Below is the revised map with all roads highlighted. img_2387As you can see, there are still a few  areas I haven’t explored very much!

And yes, I’m already thinking that will be my  trip next year – the places I might manage to visit might look something like this:


I can dream after all – and enjoy my dreams come true.

I have just a five days left before I head back home on Sunday.  Lindsay and I are ‘hanging out’ together, doing a bit of genealogy, (I’m writing blogs!), and generally enjoying each other’s company while we still can.  We might even manage to get in a visit to one more castle!




Moray Burial Ground Research Group Annual Dinner



Last night, Lindsay and I drove up to Elgin to attend the annual dinner the MBGRG hosts as a final event for the season to celebrate their hard work, dedication, and teamwork in recording churchyards and cemeteries in Morayshire at the Laichmoray Hotel.

For me it was especially nice to get to see several people I had the pleasure to work alongside of during my vacation in Scotland at Keith, Edinkillie and St. Lawrence kirkyards one more time before I head home in about a weeks time.  I also had the additional pleasure of meeting many more that perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to work with when I return once again in the future.

I really want to thank these three people below in particular: Helen & Keith Mitchell, and my cousin Lindsay Robertson.  They have taught me so much about gravestones and memorials: the symbolism represented on stones, the techniques and methodologies to employ, how to cut a “pensioners” size cut of turf,  how to flour a stone and take good photographs, and in addition to all of that have opened their home to me for a place to lay my weary head at the end of a day of digging in the ‘clarty dubs,’ made me sack lunches, and have welcomed me so heartwarmingly into their lives, their homes and their passions.

Helen is the Field Work Coordinator, Keith is the Chairman and Lindsay is the Webmaster. They each put an incredible amount of time, energy and dedication into the passion they share; preserving and recording historical ancestral records for future generations worldwide.  I feel so honored and proud to be a member of this group and be counted as one of their own.  Thank you!


I made new friends last night too – wonderful ladies like Karen and Margaret.


Then there was Rosie, Morag and the happy couple – Irene (Treasurer) and her husband Gordon.img_2348




Followed by Stephen, Gail and Ali having too much fun in the corner!




Ruth (Secretary & Fundraiser)

and Michael and Mary Evans (Genealogist)


We enjoyed great conversation, lots of laughs, a raffle drawing, a wonderful meal and scrumptious desserts together.

img_2355  img_2345








img_2357These folks completed and have been recording approximately 10 churchyards this season and will soon have their results and hard work published and available online and in printed form to people who are searching for their ancestors’ gravestones worldwide.

That’s a monumental accomplishment! They all do it out of the goodness of their hearts and because they are such dedicated volunteers.

The three hours we spent together just zoomed by and before I knew it, a grand evening with such interesting people came to a close and we were headed outside to the car park to depart.

Yet, I know I will return once again in the future and have the opportunity of working alongside them.  I look forward to that and am grateful to count them as friends in my ancestral home of Scotland.