“Journey to the Highlands”

by ESP on July 13, 2013

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No trip to Scotland would be complete without visiting a few castles, curried chips, haggis, scotch, bagpipes, sticky toffee pudding and stunning scenery. Lucky for me I was going to have all of these – we were on a train bound for the highlands of Scotland to attend the 2013 European Pipe Band Championships.

Forres

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The train was a great way to view the ever-changing scenery,

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as we hugged the east coast of Scotland travelling north.

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5 hours, three trains and a rather large quantity of tea and Walkers shortbread later, our train rolled into the small town of Forres on the shores of the Moray Firth, about 25 miles east of Inverness.

map

We hopped a cab and in no time we were pulling up to the Knockomie Hotel http://www.knockomie.co.uk/history-g.asp on the outskirts of the town.

Forres

The grounds of the hotel were a bonus with mature perimeter conifers and lots of foxgloves,

Gardens

Gardens

sages and laces and

Aruncus dioicus

stands of Goats Beard,

Aruncus dioicus

 

Forres

There were lots of flowering storybook pathways to run down

meadow

and lots of stinging nettles to avoid.

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Not familiar with the plant she knelt on a patch – where is a Docken leaf when you need one?

After this incident she always found, picked and carried some leaves with here in her pocket or bag.

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Dinner that evening (great food) was accompanied by this young drum major marching and spinning her mace, practicing for the competition tomorrow.

family

After resting up, it was breakfast and straight out to Grant Park.

Forres

They found what they wanted,

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and so did I.

practice-chanters

Here are the current Grade 1 World Champions (Field Marshal Montgomery) from Ireland practicing in the bus park.

They added another European title with this exceptional performance.

Grant_Park, ForresThe day culminated with the massed bands and awards ceremony and

one or two trips to the beer tent.

Grant_Park, Forres

high-st

Till the next time Forres.

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Another box of Walkers shortbread later and we were back in the borders

Carlisle

visiting castles,

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cathedrals,

Southerness

and the occasional lighthouse.

This one in Southerness is the second oldest lighthouse in Scotland. As usual the wind here was howling.

Moving Along:

To catch the bus into local towns we had a 15min walk out of Powfoot to the main road, unfortunately for us, this involved walking past a rather random yet extensive pile of excrement.

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chevy-chase

Spending many years on farms this odor does not personally bother me, but for some with more sensitive dispositions it was much more challenging.

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Walking past the offensive hillock made him continuously gag, his face contorted into a “are you serious?” grimace.

I could not bring myself to turn around for fear of laughing at him. This shot was snapped over my shoulder to the small sounds of his retching and the occasional “its hurting my eyes!”

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My

“character building stuff, these strolls to the bus stop, right kids?”

comment was met with silence.

bus

Getting to ride in the front of the bus with no seat belts was a very liberating experience for them and made the nasal onslaught worthwhile.

We visited remote beaches,

beach

with tidal rock pools,

Rockcliff

full of life,

Rockcliff

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and devoured some of the creamiest ice cream on the planet.

Rockcliff

Naturally her collection grew and grew.

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A fair amount of these artifacts ended up in zip-lock bags in our luggage winging their way back to Texas.

We had a final meal in our local and then it was time to say a really sad “Ach mun I got tae gaan” to Scotland,

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and much loved Grandparents.

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Her first in-flight duty-free shopping experience lifted her mood.

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She was totally thrown that you could actually shop up there!

32,000ft

18 hours later, and now adorning expressions akin to this,

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we finally made it back to Texas.

Tired but craving spicy food there was only one place for our fix…

TexMex

 

Stay Tuned for:

“Trouble with the old Strobilus”

 

Sago-Palm

All material © 2013 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

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