"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, April 28, 2017

X - Roman Numeral 10

During my visit to Scotland, I was surprised at how much Roman influence and evidence still existed.

Scotland had been inhabited for thousands of years before the Romans arrived. However, it is only during the Greco-Roman period that Scotland began being recorded in writing. In honor of the Roman numeral X, here are Ten Top Roman-Scotland Sites worth visiting.

Here is a map to more Roman-Scottish sites.

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Walking, War, Weather, Welsh, Writers, and Writers' Museum

Walking – People say Scotland is a paradise for ramblers, and I wholeheartedly agree. Some of the best times we had during our visit were spent traveling trails, both hidden and waymarked for the public. Beautiful scenery, variety of terrain, and magnificent coastlines make it difficult to imagine a more beautiful country to explore. Local tourist information centers are always a good place to stop if you are looking for advice or suggested routes.

War – Southern Scotland is a blend of attractive landscapes and historic houses, castles, and abbeys. Sadly, many of these ancient buildings exist only in fortified or ruined form due to the frontier wars that dated from the late 13th century mostly against the invading English. You can read more datails: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/history/articles/the_wars_of_independence/

Weather – We visited Scotland in mid May which is the beginning of the peak travelling season there. Most visitors come to Scotland from May to August, when they can enjoy the best weather, and longer hours of daylight (the dark only lasted about three hours while we were there). Many people ask me about the rain, and a good joke many share is that “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”. Temperatures, sunshine, and storms all fluctuated throughout our stay, but it only added to the charm and mystery of the country. Out of season, a good winter snowfall in the Highlands can provide great winter sporting opportunities such as skiing and snowboarding.

Welsh - a Scottish novelist, playwright and short story writer. Irvine Welsh is recognized for his novel Trainspotting, which was later made into a film of the same name. http://www.irvinewelsh.net/

Writers – From medieval poets through Robert Burns to Irvine Welsh, writers in the three languages of Scotland – Scots, English, and Gaelic – have created a body of literature expressing both their place in the Europeans mainstream and the diversity within Scotland. I’ve only mentioned a handful of the greats in this months’ posts. There are so may more you can find here.

Writers’ Museum – This fine Old Town mansion was built in 1622 on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. In the 1720s it was acquired by Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Stair, and has since been called Lady Stair’s House. Its official title reflects its role as a museum of memorabilia of three of the foremost Scottish writers: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. I found this location to be a surprising and delightful hidden jewel. Many of the pavers outside building hold quotes from various authors. To learn more: http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/The-Writers--Museum

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Victoria, Vikings, Vocabulary, and Votadini

Victoria - Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. She reigned for 63 years – the second longest monarchy after Elizabeth II. Her reign has become known as the Victorian era a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. Statues and portraits of her can be seen in most places open to public tours in Scotland. http://www.biography.com/people/queen-victoria-9518355

Vikings – Politically, militarily, and culturally they had a profound effect on the unstable kingdoms becoming Scotland. Their incursions into Scottish territories began in 795 and by the end of the 9th century the Vikings regularly came to Scotland to raid and settle. These raids as well as the culture they created by intermarrying has led to the creation of many stories, including their own set of myths and legends. http://www.scottish-history.com/origins3.shtml and https://www.transceltic.com/pan-celtic/ravens-celtic-and-norse-mythology

Vocabulary – the Scottish can often use a unique set of vocabulary quite different from even other parts of the UK. There are several sources on the internet to help aid your understanding.

Votadini - were a Celtic people of the Iron Age in Great Britain. Their territory was in what is now south-east Scotland and north-east England, extending south of the Firth of Forth and extended from the Stirling area down to the English River Tyne, including at its peak what are now the Falkirk, Lothian and Borders regions of eastern Scotland, and Northumberland in north east England.


As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Unicorn, Unterberger, and Urquhart

Unicorn - A fictitious creature may seem an odd choice for a country's national animal, but perhaps not for a country famed for its love for and long history of myth and legend, and the unicorn has been a Scottish heraldic symbol since the 12th century, when it was used on an early form of the Scottish coat of arms by William I. It can now be found in several family crests, as well as symbols of royalty or parliament.


Unterberger – Betty Miller Unterberger was born 1922 in Glasgow. She became a professor of American international relations and spent the bulk of her extensive academic career at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. As a writer and historian she also became the first woman professor at Texas A&M University in 1968.  http://www.oah.org/programs/news/betty-miller-unterberger/

Urquhart - this Castle sits beside Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. The power struggles continued, as the Lords of the Isles regularly raided both castle and glen up until the 1500s. The last of the government troops garrisoned here during the Jacobite Risings blew up the castle when they left. Urquhart’s iconic ruins remain, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its noble residents. https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/urquhart-castle/


As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tartan, Tea, Tey, and Thistle

Tartans – the clan system, by which Highland society was divided into tribal groups led by autocratic chiefs, can be traced to the 12th century, when clans were already known to wear the checkered wool cloth now called tartan. Each family, or clan, had their own pattern. After the battle of Culloden (see my “C” post), the wearing of tartans was banned for approximately 100 years.

Tea – No visitor should miss the experience of a proper Scottish afternoon tea. We enjoyed this experience at several different locations where we were offered a tray of tea with milk, brown and white sugar, and trays with a variety of delicious sandwiches (usually tuna, salmon, cucumber) and cakes, butter, jams, and fruits.

Tey - Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh, a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. She also wrote as Gordon Daviot, under which name she wrote plays, many with biblical or historical themes. http://www.josephinetey.net/

Thistle – once a Stuart family badge, it has since become a national symbol.

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scott, Smith, St. Andrews, Stevenson, and Stone

Sir Walter Scott – born in Edinburgh and trained as a lawyer, he is best remembered as a major literary figure and champion of Scotland becoming a novelist, playwright, and poet. He served as Clerk of the Court in Edinburgh’s Parliament House and for 30 years was Sheriff of Selkirk. Some of his most famous writings include his Waverley series Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, and Lady of the Lake. You can learn more: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sir-Walter-Scott-1st-Baronet

Alexander McCall Smith - R. Alexander "Sandy" McCall Smith is a British writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh who is perhaps best recognized as the author of  The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/


St. Andrews – Scotland’s oldest university town and one-time ecclesiastical capital, it is now a shrine to golfers from all over the world. We traveled these beautiful streets beginning with cathedral ruins. Once the largest cathedral in Scotland, it was later pillaged for its stones, which were used to build the town. After examining the still impressive site, we enjoyed a stroll through shops, ate pizza with wild boar, and spent the afternoon at the Old Course (thought to be the first golf course EVER) which lies alongside a beach where scenes from Chariots of Fire were filmed.

Robert Louis Stevenson – a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and A Child's Garden of Verses. This is thought to be the most comprehensive web resource devoted to him:  http://robert-louis-stevenson.org/

Stone of Scone - also known as the Stone of Destiny, and often referred to as The Coronation Stone because it was used for centuries in the coronations of the monarch of Scotland, and later in England. Many legends, crimes, and ideals have surrounded its existence. I had the opportunity to view the Stone since it now resides in Edinburgh Castle alongside the crown jewels. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Stone-of-Scone

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rannoch Moor, Rob Roy, Rankin, and Rowling

Rannoch Moor - one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe. It is a beautiful outdoor space stretching out far north and west from Rannoch Station. We traveled this road to Glencoe which you can read more about by clicking the link below.


Ian Rankin - Ian James Rankin is a Scottish crime writer, best known for his Inspector Rebus novels. https://www.ianrankin.net/

Rob Roy – Robert MacGregor, known as Roby Roy (Red Robert) from the color of his hair, grew up as a herdsman near Loch Arklet. After a series of harsh winters, he took to raiding richer Lowland propertiesto feed his clan, and was declared an outlaw by the Duke of Montrose who burned his house to the ground. After this, Rob Roy’s Jacobite sympathies became  inflamed by his desire to avenge the crime. Plundering the duke’s lands and repeatedly escaping from prison earned him a reputation similar to that of England’s Robin Hood.

J. K. Rowling - Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE, FRSL, pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, screenwriter and film producer best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. If you click on her name in the links below this post, you can see some of her haunts that I visited, as well as some of her inspirations for the famous series. To learn more: https://www.jkrowling.com/

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Queens, Quiraing, and Quigley

Quiraing – a series of landslides has exposed the roots of this volcanic plateau, revealing fantastic terrain of spikes and towers. This landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish, is easily explored on the Isle of Skye.

Queens – most of the monarchs of Scotland have been men, but there have been a few queens. I wrote briefly about the most famous, Mary, in my letter “M” post. I have also mentioned Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth in several posts. While there have been others, most of the females who were to inherit the throne died at an extremely young age. To learn more, see the book on Scotland I mentioned in my “M” post.

John Quigley - a Scottish newspaper man turned author of books known for his historical novel King's Royal (1975) about the invention of blended whisky in mid-nineteenth century Glasgow. A 1983 BBC television series was based on the novel. You can learn more: http://www.helensburgh-heritage.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=690:john-quigley-whisky-novelist&catid=81:the-arts&Itemid=458

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pitlochry, Potter, and Piping Centre

Pitlochry – Surrounded by the pine-forested hills of the central Highlands, Pitlochry became a famous town after Queen Victoria described it as one of the finest resorts in Europe.  I haven’t travelled all over Europe, but I have to agree that I absolutely fell in love with this town during our several days there. We got to see the wild salmon leap up the ladder built into the Power Station Dam on their way to spawning grounds up the river. We also enjoyed a brilliant standard fare of fish and chips, savored chocolate frogs for dessert (just like any self respecting Harry Potter fan would!), perused beautiful shops including the Heathergems headquarters I mentioned with the letter “H” post, stayed at the Atholl Palace Hotel I mentioned with the letter “A” post, and visited both the Blair Castle I mentioned in my letter “B” post, and a distillery I mentioned in my “D” post.

Potter – Beatrix Potter’s family regularly rented Dalguise House in Perthshire . "Picture letters" written by Beatrix while at Dalguise are usually regarded as the first drafts of her later books "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and "The Tale of Jeremy Fisher". Another book, "The tale of Mrs Tiggy Winkle", which was published in 1905, is thought to have been based on the washer woman at Dalguise, Kitty MacDonald. While we did pass by the place, and our tour guide shared some information about her, I’m sad to say we did not have the time to stop and explore the area. I hope to return one day because the place looks like such beautiful fun: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/dunkeld/beatrixpotter/  If you’re a Potter fan, and would like to learn about other places she stayed in the UK, visit:  https://beatrixpottersociety.org.uk/places-to-visit/

Piping Centre  - another location I wish I had time to explore is the Piping Centre in Glasgow. This location opened its doors in a refurbished church in 1996, and aims to promote the study and history of piping in Scotland. It offer tuition at all levels, and houses the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF PIPING, which traces the development of the instrument.

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Oban, Orwell, and Outdoor

Oban – Known as the “Gateway to the Isles”, this bustling port on the Firth of Lorne commands fine views of the Argyll coast. Shops crowd the seafront, and regular ferries leave routinely making this one of the most visited places on the west coast.

Orwell – The author George Orwell, who stayed on the isle of Jura to write his final novel, 1984, nearly lost his life there in 1946 when he fell into the water. This country and his stay there made a huge impact on the man. This is a picture of the farmhouse where he stayed. Learn more: http://www.orwelltoday.com/juraorwell'slife.shtml

Outdoor activities – Scotland may not be able to guarantee sunshine, but its popularity as a holiday destination is due in no small part to its opportunities for outdoor activities.  That could be playing golf by the sea, fishing on the Tweed, cruising to see whales off the west coast during the summer, skiing in the Cairngorms in winter, hiking whenever weather permits, or viewing a variety of wildlife. Rock climbing, mountaineering, sailing, cycling and biking, hunting, and horseback riding are extremely popular as well.


As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ness, Nairn, North Sea, and Newton

A portion of our time in Scotland was full of the letter “N”.

Ness – one of the most popular lochs in Scotland, made memorable by legends of “The Loch Ness Monster”. First sighted by St. Columba in the 6t century, “Nessie” has attracted attention since photographs – later revealed to be faked – were taken in the 1930s. Though serious investigation is often undermined by hoaxers, sonar techniques continue to yield enigmatic results; plesiosaurs, giant eels and too much whisky are the most popular explanations. The Loch Ness Centre, at Drumnadrochit presents the photographic evidence and wide variety of scientific explanations proffered over the years. Many poets, authors, and other artists have been inspired by tales of Nessie. Even Disney made a short cartoon about the monster (most recently an extra on the Merida DVD release). A preview of it can be viewed: 


After spending some time at Ness, we continued on to a hotel in Nairn, a manor house property set in spacious grounds near the North Sea called Newton Hotel.

Nairna town and former burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is an ancient fishing port and market town around 16 miles east of Inverness. It was the county town of the wider county of Nairn also known as Nairnshire.
North Sea – it has long been the site of important European shipping lanes as well as a major fishery. The sea is a popular destination for recreation and tourism and more recently has developed into a rich source of energy resources including fossil fuels, wind, and early efforts in wave power. Historically, the North Sea has featured prominently in geopolitical and military affairs, particularly in Northern Europe but also globally through the power northern Europeans projected worldwide during much of the Middle Ages and into the modern era. 
Newton Hotel – once regularly frequented by Charlie Chaplan and his family, it stands in 21 acres of mature parkland and gardens. Originally built as a family home in the 17th century, the hotel has been updated and improved over the centuries. This is a perfect location for guests seeking peace and tranquility, and is even “pet friendly”. You can also request the Charlie Chaplan suite where he usually stayed. http://www.bespokehotels.com/newtonhotel/

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Magnus Magnusson, Mary, Money, and Music

Magnus Magnusson – born in Icelandic, he had moved to Scotland by his first birthday. This broadcaster, journalist, translator, writer and television presenter lived and died near Glasgow. He also wrote what many consider to be one of, if not THE best book about Scotland.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6239745.stm

Mary, Queen of Scots – the most famous of the Stuarts (1542-87) and who acceded to the throne as an infant. Raised in France, she was beautiful, clever, gentle and spirited. She returned to Scotland at the age of 18, already a widow and Dowager Queen of France, and spent just six turbulent years as Scotland’s queen. Due to changes in the country’s religion, poor choices in husbands, and rumors of scandal, she became extremely unpopular. She was deposed and held captive, making a daring escape to England, only to be imprisoned there for 18 years before being executed on the orders of her cousin, Elizabeth.

Money – there are currently two main types of currency being used in Scotland. The first, is Britain’s pound Sterling which is divided into 100 pence. Secondly, Scotland’s own pound sterling notes, which are printed by the Bank of Scotland. The notes represent the same value as an English note and CAN BE accepted elsewhere in Britain, although it is usually with reluctance. Usually, the Scottish note will not be accepted outside of Scotland, Bank of England and Northern Ireland notes can be used throughout Scotland, but you will usually receive change in Scottish notes. All three countries use Bank of England coins.

Music – music has always been an important and popular art form in Scotland. While it has changed over the years, today it’s a particularly vibrant industry, ranging from opera, Gaelic song and pibroch (the classical music of the bagpipes) to varied international acts, and even electronic musical styling. Traditional music has experienced a renaissance using rhythms and instruments from around the world.

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Friday, April 14, 2017

Landscape, Leault, Leonard, and Lochs

Landscape – Scotland is a land of contrasts, from the austere majesty of the mountains to the subtle undulations of the Lowland valleys, and from dramatic coastal cliffs to dense forests. Every scene offers breathtaking beauty. Scotland has a great number of diverse and beautiful gardens as well. Many gardens have a striking backdrop of lakes or mountains, while others form the grounds of a stately home. I could swear blooms grow larger and more vibrant in this country. Rhododendrons particularly flourish in Scotland’s acidic, peaty soil.


Leault – we visited the Leault farm in Kincraig near Aviemore and watched a sheepdog demonstration. Eight dogs worked as a team maneuvering sheep. Every dog has its own set of commands enabling visitors to see just how each of them responds to their individual whistles and each move by the dogs is explained by their handler, Neil Ross. This truly is an experience not to be missed, giving people of all ages the chance to enjoy and participate in the traditional working day of a Highland Shepherd and his dogs. We also got to handle a new litter of pups who were just opening their eyes, and several members of the group were given the chance to shear the sheep. His wife has written and illustrated a childrens book about life on a sheep farm. I HIGHLY recommend this location as a stop for anyone who enjoys animals.  https://www.leaultworkingsheepdogs.co.uk/

Leonard - Tom Leonard is a Scottish poet, writer and critic. He is best known for his poems written in the Glaswegian dialect of Scots, particularly his Six Glasgow Poems and The Six O'Clock News. http://www.tomleonard.co.uk/

Loch – the Scottish name for lake. There are more than 31,400 freshwater lochs in Scotland. We spent time at quite a few of them, two of the most popular being Loch Ness (which I’ll talk more about on the letter “N” day) and Loch Lomond. We enjoyed a leisurely cruise around Loch Lomond on our third day there. While many people may not recognize the name at first, they will probably recognize a very famous song about it: 



As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Kay, Kelvingrove, Kilts, and Kippers

Kay - Jackie Kay is a Scottish poet and novelist. She is the third modern Makar, the Scottish poet laureate, and often explores the experience of being a black Scottish citizen. http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poets/jackie-kay

Kelvingrove – An imposing red sandstone building, Kelvingrove is Scotland’s most popular gallery, housing a magnificent art collection. Exhibits are grouped to reflect different aspects of the main collection. Among these are 19th century British artist, French Impressionists, and Dutch Renaissance painters. Scottish art and design is well represented with rooms dedicated to the Scottish Colourists and the Glasgow Style. There is also a vast natural history collectionwith displays on Scotland’s wildlife. I enjoyed perusing the collections within including Salvador Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross, Rembrandt’s, and Picasso’s. http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/Pages/home.aspx

Kilts - garments resembling a knee-length skirt of pleated tartan cloth, traditionally worn by men as part of Scottish Highland dress and now also worn by women and girls.

Kippers – oak-smoked or cured herrings are one way to start the day in Scotland. The fish are prepared by splitting it open and salting and drying it in the open air or in smoke.

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jacobites, James, and Jeffrey

Jacobites – The first Jacobites (mainly Catholic Highlanders) were the supporters of James VII of Scotland (James II of England) who was deposed by his Parliament in the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. With the Protestants William of Orange on the throne, the Jacobite’s desire to restore the Stuart monarchy led to the uprisings of 1715 and 1745. The first, in support of James VIII, the “Old Pretender,” ended at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The failure of the second uprising, with the defeat at Culloden, saw the end of Jacobite hopes and led to the demis of the clan system and the suppression of Highland culture for more than a century. We visited several sites of Jacobite supporters. You can read about my visit to Culloden here.
Jeffrey – Lord Francis Jeffrey was a Scottish judge and literary critic. His Whig-oriented Edinburgh Review led opinion. The particular work which provided the starting-point of an article was in many cases merely the occasion for the exposition of the author's views on politics, social subjects, ethics, or literature. These general principles and the novelty of the method ensured the success of the undertaking even after the original circle of exceptionally able men who founded it had been dispersed. It had a circulation of 12,000. Jeffrey's editorship lasted about twenty-six years, ceasing with the ninety-eighth number, published in June 1829, when he resigned. Jeffrey's own contributions numbered two hundred. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Jeffrey,_Lord_Jeffrey

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Inverary, Inventions, Innes, and Iona

Inverary – This multi-turreted mock Gothic palace is the family home of the powerful Clan Campbell, who have been the Dukes of Argyll since 1707. It was built in 1745 on ruins of a 15th century castle. The conical towers were added later, after a fire in 1877. Interiors include Regency furniture, and a collections of Oriental and European porcelain and portraits. The Armoury Hall contains early weaponry collected by the Campbells to fight the Jacobite rebels. Fans of the show Downton Abbey might recognize this castle as it was the setting for a Christmas episode. Pictures of the filming of that episode can be viewed in the dining hall today. In the front room upon the piano sits an autographed portrait of Audrey Hepburn in her races costume from the movie My Fair Lady. It turns out much of the musical score for the movie was composed on that piano at a party on the estate. I loved walking the grounds surrounding this home, and spending the day shopping and eating in the town down the lane. http://www.inveraray-castle.com/

Inventions – Despite its relatively small size and population, Scotland has produced a remarkable number of inventions over the centuries. The late 1700s and 1800s were years of such intense creativity that the period became known as the Scottish Enlightenment. Many technological, medicinal, and mechanical breakthroughs were made at this time, including the invention of the steam engine, antiseptic, and the telephone. Out of the country’s factories, universities, and laboratories came a breed of men who were intrepid and forward thinking. Their revolutionary ideas and experiments produced inventions that have shaped our modern, progressive society including the continuous electric light, the pneumatic tire, the bicycle, color photography, thermos flask, radar receiver, penicillin, television, and Dolly the cloned sheep.

Innes - Alexander Taylor Innes (1833–1912) was a lawyer, writer, biographer and church historian. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Taylor_Innes

Iona - a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Gaelic monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty.

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Monday, April 10, 2017

Haggis, Highlands, Heathergems, and Heriot’s Hogwarts

Haggis - a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep's or calf's offal mixed with onion, suet, oatmeal, seasoning, and boiled in a bag of broth, traditionally one made from the animal's stomach. As long as you don’t think too much about what it is, the taste can be appealing and slightly nutty.

Highlands - the mountainous part of Scotland, north of Glasgow, often associated with Gaelic culture.

Heathergems - hand-crafted silver and pewter jewelry, made using natural Scottish heather stems. This beautiful jewelry is sold in gift shops all around Scotland, and I particularly enjoyed visiting their main location in Pitlochry where I learned how they make these gorgeous creations.  https://www.heathergems.com/

Heriot’s Hogwarts - George Heriot's School is a Scottish independent primary and secondary school in the Old Town of Edinburgh. It is also said to be the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s fictional school of Hogwarts.

 As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gaelic, Glamis, Glasgow, Glencoe, Glenfinnan, Golf

Gaelic - the Celtic language of Scotland had almost died out, but recent years have seen a revitalization of the culture associated with the language, music, and studies thanks to Gaelic societies and broadcasts.

Glamis Castle – this imposing medieval structure began as a royal hunting lodge in the 11th century, but underwent construction in the 17th century. It was the childhood home of the Queen Mother, and her former bedroom can be seen. Many of the rooms here are open to the public, including Duncan’s Hall, the oldest in the castle and Shakespeare’s setting for the king’s murder in Macbeth. We enjoyed hearing the ghost stories tied to this estate. http://www.glamis-castle.co.uk/

Glasgow – the largest city in Scotland, and the first we explored after landing at its airport.

Glencoe – Renowned for its awesome scenery and savage history, Glencoe was compared by Dickens to “a burial ground of a race of giants”. In 1692, the chief of the Glencoe MacDonalds was five days late in registering an oath of submission to William III, giving the government an excuse to root out a nest of Jacobite supporters. For ten days 130 soldiers were hospitable entertained by the unsuspecting MacDonalds. At dawn on 13 February, in a terrible breach of trust, the soldiers fell on their hosts, killing some 38 MacDonalds. Many more died in the wintry mountain hideouts. The heights and difficulties of the surrounding mountains present a formidable challenge even to the most experienced mountaineers. As with many historical events, the Scottish created a ballad to continue the tale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cPitxtk4m0 Glencoe valley is also the setting used in filming Hagrid's Hut scenes in the Harry Potter movie series.

Glenfinnan – perhaps best known for its railway viaduct and steam powered train line which was featured in a Harry Potter movie as the “Hogwarts Express Line.” I really enjoyed the view from the monument looking toward the viaduct, and then back toward Lock Shiel. I could have stayed there all day.

Golf – touted as the birthplace of golf, this ancient game has become synonymous with Scotland. Few countries can rival Scotland for the number, quality, and variety of courses (over 550). Golf is played by people of all ages and capabilities. Whether your game is suited to one of the legendary championship courses, or to a less daunting challenge, you will easily find courses nearby with members heartily ready to welcome any player.

As a thank-you to the blogging community, and to celebrate one year since its publication, I am offering FREE e-pub copies of my western short story “Broken Angel” from now through April 30. If you would like to receive a copy, simply email me at writinginwonderland(at)gmail(dot)com