SIXTH WEEK: Good-bye Edinburgh, Hello Inverness and Isle of Skye!

EDINBURGH BID US ADIEU—WITH WIND. Lots of wind. Sandy spent Thursday on her own and had to stick with me (in the car) on Friday as we drove to Inverness. It wasn’t a long drive, but plenty of the “I’ve-seen-this-before” countryside—which doesn’t bother me (and I actually love whatever the area provides for scenery) … but puts Sandy to sleep as a passenger—also safer for her motion sickness. Friday was spent settling into the Waverley Guest House Our View at Waverley Guest House and trying to figure out how we were going to sleep. The room was higher at the far end, lowest at the door. Our beds were set parallel to the “door wall” … and the head of each bed was so low (from overuse and no mattress flipping). Sandy chose to put her backpack in the low spot (under the mattress) and I chose to put my head at the foot of the bed <grin> The only problem we had was the music that started up at ten and went on to I-don’t-know-when … and (at least for me …) the air freshener used on everything. When morning came, both of us were blurry-eyed and I had a major stuffy nose. I’ve crossed my fingers, hoping that parking in the disabled parking is not going to get my car clamped (I did ask a “Parking Police” if it was okay, but he may not have understood how long I was talking about …)—we’ll find out next Saturday, I guess …

Loch Ness ... and stairs to itOur first day (Saturday) of the tour was wet—no biggie. I’ve got a raincoat, but didn’t pull it out because the rain was too light to bother. We stopped at a Loch Ness gift shop (teehee—I bought a t-shirt with “Loch Ness—Scotland” and a celtic design on it Loch Ness—View from gift shopto use as pjs), snapped a few photos and moved on. There were a few stops for photo ops <insert grin> along the way to the ferry … but, with the weather and Another Loch with Moody Skieswind, we chose to take the bridge across to the Isle of Skye instead (I’m sure Sandy appreciated that, though she said nothing about it). Marc and Pace played their instruments for us to end the evening on a high note.

Sunday (purple—see google map link below) was spent hiking up in the hills (fairly near our cottage) called The Quiraing, wandering View from Lower Level of The Quiraingaround. It was beautiful—windy, but beautiful. Actually, both are View of Skye from The Quiraingunderstatements. We found buying groceries on a Sunday to be a challenge, but we succeeded—the Staffin Bay Store had most of what we needed.
Monday (red) was a guided tour around the area, showing us Windy, Cloudy Skies along the Coast of Skye Driving in Skye with Moody Skies (but not stopping at): Brothers Point (where the recently found dino tracks are), Man of Storr, the town of Portree (we did lots of wandering around here … lots), Kilted Rock, with Edinbane as our turn-around point. We stopped at a Session with Marcbigger grocery store on our way back to pick up the stuff we couldn’t find at the co-op store. We ended the day with a lovely session with Marc and his autoharp.
Tuesday (yellow?) was a day of climbing. Climbing up to Man The Man of Storrof Storr … (yeah, I didn’t make it anywhere near the second gate—apparently there were four gates, so no pics), a quick Kilt Rock Kilted Rock (looks like there's more than one) Waterfall Near Kilted Rocktrip through the Staffin (dino) museum, Kilted Rock, climbing up to castle ruins (oh, my gosh—windy is an understatement), walking around Portree for a shopping spree, exploring and climbing down to see dino tracks near our cottage. Off and on rain all day, wind all the time … it’s beginning to get to my sinuses <insert pout>
Boarding Boat for Three-Hour CruiseIf it’s Wednesday, it’s a three-hour boat cruise from Uig (ewe-ig) out to an island with puffins. It was on the opposite side of the island, so we had lots of time to see flora and fauna on the way. For some reason, everyone kept humming the tune from Marc Playing Autoharp on the Radiant Queen View of the Uig Bay & BoatGilligan’s Island <giggle> Image of underside of thatched roofWhilst we waited for the time to board, we wandered into the pottery store (beautiful locally made pieces). I’ll be on their website when I get home … <insert sheepish grin>Poster about found cache and homestead
The puffins were actually there in abundance—last time (Galway), the cruise was on very windy, rough waters … with not one puffin in sight <pout>. This time around, it was beautiful—with only one wee little rough spot with a touch of wind and rain.  We had a few sessions on the boat with Marc (autoharp) and one of those included Pace with his tin flute (missed that one). Sandy stayed ashore due to motion sickness—she would not have appreciated the beauty. She’d be hugging the porcelain throne the whole time. She did miss out on some lovely scenery. Hope my photography )or one of the other CIVer’s—Selena managed some lovely shots!) will suffice … Bidding the Owners of Radiant Queen AdieuOh. Did I mention that the roads we were driving on were mostly single-track (only one lane wide)? They have an amazing system of “Passing Places”—little pull-outs spaces regularly. Whoever Traffic Jam ... sheep on roadis closest either moves forward to it, or backs up to it. Everyone has been very polite about sharing the roadway (well, save one—he must have been an American … <giggle>). It’s perfect. Oh, yeah—and the sheep have the right of way <giggle> And Highland Coo!… we found Coo! They were very, very scarce on this trip <insert pout>
Thursday was a late start sheep crossing the road(thankfully) … we were on the road by 9:30, heading to the other side of the island again. Marc told us a number of times what the agenda was—but my blurry brain was more like a On The Move—Quick Grab of "Passing Place" Signsieve … <sniggle—insert eye roll> Our weather? Well, we had some liquid sunshine to start our day, clouds, sun, blustery wind—think that covers it <giggle> Image of Midge-Proof Nettingbut it did turn into an amazing day. We were on our own from 11:30-3pm at Dunvegan Castle—it belongs to the Chieftain of the MacLeod clan and includes lovely gardens … where I was attacked by midges whilst trying to get some lovely photos (most of my photos are in my good camera still I’ll upload those to either Flickr or SmugMug when I get home—and have a better Dunvegan Castle Store of Lanterns in Dunvegan Castle Blue Irises at Dunvegan Castle Marc Playing Autoharp Isle of Skye Coastal Vista Near Lighthouse Lighthouse Nearing "Sunset"internet connection). Last stop was Neist Lighthouse—involving plenty of walking … Dinner in town after touring the castle and town was the plan, but Marc couldn’t get reservations at a decent time, so we headed Sundog Near "Sunset" at Keepers Cottageback to the cottage and made a quick, but delightful (and late—9pm!) meal.
Friday. Our last day to play … but all of the wind and walking has taken a toll on me. I’m taking today to recover whilst everyone else has fun checking out dino tracks (at Three Brothers) and a fairy glen. I’ll be spending the time trying to recover, finishing up my blog entry, adding photos and maybe doing a bit of tidying up around the cottage. The CIVers will be back by 3-ish pm to help with clean up and packing up in preparation for our early departure tomorrow. (I must admit … I am enjoying the quiet—and quick access to the internet <teehee> in their absence …)
Saturday morning, at an obscenely early hour, we must begin our trip back to Inverness for everyone to catch their trains and planes. Sandy and I will spend the night at Waverley Guest House, then move on into the next leg of our adventure.
If you have a Google account (maybe even if you don’t), you can get into the map showing where we traveled—courtesy of Pace. Each days travel is colour coded. Even our day on the Uig Bay should be posted (at some point—he’s a bit behind in getting all of the days posted). I’d love to get the app from him so I can do the same with the rest of our trip, but maps each so much of my data plan <insert pout>.
So, my friends … another leg of our journey is coming to an end. I hope you are having fun following the CIVers adventure. May your day, your weekend and upcoming week be blessed with little serendipitous gems. Until next Friday—slainté!

 

Celtic Invasion Vacation: Wales-Part Two

AS MY TRIP CONTINUES TO unfold on these pages, I am having fun reminiscing and looking through all of the photos I managed to accumulate. Rather daunting, actually. You are only seeing a small fraction of the shots I took. At some point, I will be putting most of them (at least the ones I deem ‘sharable’) onto my Flickr page for you to peruse. Until then, you must be satisfied with the smattering I include in the blogs (fewer, this time—I’m afraid the last one was way too photo-heavy).

Snowdonia—and Wales in general pull at my heart-strings, for sure. There’s something quieting about the natural beauty of this area. I’m sure my blood pressure was down quite a bit. It’s the ‘woody-ness’ of the region, I think. Have you ever heard of Forest Bathing (also known as Shinrin-yoku)? Sounds a bit weird—I know, but really, there are scientific facts behind it. Here’s a link if you want to check it out.

So, now—onward with my adventure…

Day Five (honestly, the days were starting to blur, so

Confusion

Confused? Which way did we go?

chronological order may not be precise) was mostly spent wandering around the town of Caernarfon, to see the beautiful castle and town, but we also managed to get out into the country to wander around the rolling hills and bluffs of Ysgol Poithy Felin.

Beautiful Vista

Hills and dales, where the sea meets land…

Three brave (or perhaps fool- hardy?) souls managed to somehow negotiate the cliffs to poke around in the rocky beach below. I was content to stay above, drinking in the beauty of the area. It was amazing. Our evening was the highpoint of the day—first, a BBQ’d dinner, then a concert by Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan. They’d planned on

Jonny and Vicki

The melodic duo, Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan sang and played for us

leaving around 8pm, but stayed well beyond that, playing the most magnificent music (I purchased a few of their CDs—insert huge grin) until around ten or so. After bidding them safe travels, we all went to bed very happy, indeed.

Day Six involved lots of driving. We met up with Jonny and Vicki in Llanberis for a boat ride out to an island to try to spy some puffin…I didn’t see any. But it was

Boat Ride to Puffin Refuge

A puffin refuge, but not a puffin to be found

a nice ride. Back at the docks, we said goodbye to our musical friends and continued our adventure, after wandering the town for a bit. From there, we went back into Holyhead, to Winefried’s Well (loved the architecture), and…well, like I said, it’s all a bit of a blur. We did get back to the cottage relatively early, figuring we’d walk to the local pub for dinner. Plans changed and we ended up going into Holyhead for dinner at a lovely pubby-restaurant, The Old Boathouse at Red Wharf Bay (I think). Delicious food.

Day Seven was pretty much spent driving to our final destination (with a tiny bit of sightseeing on the way)

River In Town

This river flows through town, with businesses on both sides. Don’t remember the town name —sorry.

—a beautiful, old hotel in Mold (in Flintshire Wales), where we spent our last night as a group. We took in the sights as we drove, but it was mostly pre-departure day preparation day for the majority of the Invaders. We had one final ‘house concert’ in one of the Invaders rooms, then we retired for the night.  Then next morning—very early, we all drove into Manchester. Marc dropped a few at the airport so they could catch their flights and the remainder of us were deposited at the

Manchester

Last look around Manchester before heading back on the train to Bewely Hotel

Bewley Airport Hotel. I would continue on my trip the next morning, Nicholas took the train down to Cardiff (spent the night and back the next day) so he could go to the Dr. Who Experience, and Jan and Jim would head out for home the next day. We had breakfast together and said our goodbyes. It was lovely, but I was exhausted and looking forward to getting on to my next stop so I could recover from all the fun I had in the last seven days. I needed a vacation from my vacation…so I could continue my vacation.

If there is one thing I’ve learned—especially on this trip, going into any vacation, you must know your limits. Thankfully, I do know mine, but still, I have a tendency to stretch those limits on occasion—sometimes finding that little extra I need, but other times, finding myself completely spent at the end of the day. I have decided, no matter which way things go, I choose to see every experience I have as a rich one, filled with lessons for me to learn. I have found that I never regret the things I’ve done, though, perhaps I shake my head at some of my choices. And laugh.

Next year, Marc’s plan is to go back to Ireland to explore the northwest corner and the Giant Causeway, and possibly a trip to Isle of Man. If it’s at all financially feasible, I’m going to attempt to make the trip (I usually travel every other year, but there have been exceptions made in the past). Marc has already opened up the reservation doors and space is limited. If you are interested, make sure you check it out. Remember, this is not your typical “tour”. It’s a vacation for like-minded people who want to enjoy a bit of history, beautiful scenery and Celtic music.

Until next week (sorry for the delay in getting this posted—internet problems), may visions of vacations-to-come dance in your head, beckoning you to break out of your every-day life, to explore the world around you, whether just outside of your back yard or across the border somewhere.