Douglass Ancestry Trail

Trip Start Jul 31, 2011
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Trip End Aug 19, 2011


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Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 13, 2011

So Cullen skink is this delicious potato, leek and fish soup that Paul's become quite enamored of. Its got a wonderful cream base and it just warms you all over especially when it’s raining the way it tends to do here.

All in all, we’ve had 2-3 rainy days with a day of dryness in between to keep us interested.  I’m sitting at the moment in southwestern Scotland in the village of Wigtown, at a beautiful little park—so no rain today.  In fact, it has been glorious.  Sitting here with my wool sweater snuggly about me.  I’ve just enjoyed a scone and hot tea while Paul and Anne walk about the little town that, according to Lonely Planet, has 26 bookstores!  It is late Saturday afternoon so it looks like many of the places have shut down (or are shutting down) for the day.

August 14, 2011

Well, we finished our tour for the day.  We even got to the point (Isle of Whithorn) where, on a clear day, you can see across the Irish Sea to Ireland and down the coast into England.  It was a nice, dry day for the most part.  Even got to do some antiques shopping (got some beautiful silver coffee spoons!).

But let me catch you up on the goings on since the 6th!!  We’ve been moving so quickly that, even in this wet weather, there is no evidence of moss growing.

The highland games in Newtonmore on Paul’s birthday were wonderful.  First of all, the weather really cooperated….so much so, in fact, that I think I may have gotten a bit too much sun.  We got up early and made our way to the field where the games were to be held.  We were one of the first to arrive and we got a wonderful parking spot.  The sounds of bagpipes warming up, the smell of all sorts of goodies being grilled and baked, the sight of folks in traditional tartan dress all gave me a sense for what these games may have been like in centuries past.  There were lots of different vendors and causes displayed at various tents.  One of those was an owl rescue group.  Some of those birds were really quite magnificent.  Got a few photos of them….and a few of Paul with birds sitting on his hand. 

At about 4:30 (pretty much the end of the day) and at the end of the haggis eating contest (no, we didn’t participate) we drove to our next hotel: a castle in a most beautiful setting.  It was about an hour’s drive from Newtonmore in Invergary (Glengary Castle Hotel).  Not only was it a beautiful castle from the outside, but the inside was quite well appointed and kept.  The room we stayed in was spacious (Anne’s a little smaller), with huge windows that looked out onto a green pasture complete with lambs grazing lazily.  Dinner there was quite grand and delicious as were the breakfasts.  We splurged a bit but thought that Paul’s birthday deserved a little something special.

The next day we had scheduled a hiking tour with WOW Scotland around Loch Ness so we bundled ourselves up and drove about 45 minutes to meet up with the tour.  The rain was something else.  It wasn’t a drizzle nor the mist we had gotten used to….it was a real downpour that didn’t let up for hours!  To be honest, we were hoping the guide would cancel as we were really wondering whether we would be able to survive.  Also, the temperature had dropped enough to chill us to the bone….and we hadn’t even started hiking.  Luckily for us, there were only two other people on the tour and they were as happy as we were to find out that there were other options we could explore.  Instead of a long hike Gordon drove us to a few beautiful spots from where we could take short walks.  We’d leave the van and spend 20 or so minutes walking up to a fall or a view then come back.  We stayed warm and dry with his rain pants (we brought rain coats but for got the pants!).  We so appreciated his flexibility and were happy to find a nice, dry, warm place for lunch.

The day after that we headed to Stirling for an unexpected visit to the city and its castle.  We were able to find a nice B&B at the last minute.  It is quite a pretty city with a magnificent (if a bit Disney-ish) castle.  By this point I was beginning to miss the Highlands something awful.  When we were there I wished for less mountainous terrain but I quickly realized that I love the Highlands.  As Robert Burns poem so rightly states, "My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart’s not here….my heart’s in the Highlands a’chasing the deer…."  Paul told me that he learned this poem in 5th grade.

Within 5 minutes of arriving in Edinburgh, however, I soon forgot the Highlands…..I love the big city!!  And with the Fringe Festival, it was even more exciting and full of life!  There was just so much activity and so many people walking about the whole night. The weather was wonderful our first night.  We even managed to catch a show by Margaret Cho!  I’ve always wanted to see her and here I found her.  We howled and laughed….my, that girl’s got quite a potty mouth on her….loved it!

The next day was the complete antithesis of the day before.  It rained the whole day.  Anne went to the library to explore her genealogy and Paul and I walked around and caught a few shows….some out on the street and others in various venues.  Some were worth it and others were not so much.  But it was all so very exciting in any case.  Next year I would love to come for a week just for the shows.

That evening we attended the Military Tattoo…..and it poured the whole night through without letting up even for a second.  At first I was unhappy that we had gotten such bad tickets (last row!), but that ended up being a blessing as we got cover from the awning above us.  You can’t use umbrellas in the arena but since we were on the last row and no one behind us, we got away with it.  We bought ponchos that we put across our laps which we had to empty every 10 or 15 minutes when they created a small swimming pool in our laps.  I figured if the marching bands could stick it out so could we…..and we did.  Not sure how we survived, but we did.  And when it was over we headed straight back to the B&B for a hot shower and bed!

It’s now Sunday the 14th and since we left Edinburgh (on Friday) we’ve driven to the most southern part of Scotland.  We’re at the Torrs Warren Hotel which is a beautiful little hotel where we’ll have spent 4 days.  We’ve done day trips from here as Anne’s ancestors came from this area.  We’ve explored the port from which they left for Ireland (before then coming to America), the old farm that may have been where they came from, the castle(s) that belonged to the Douglas clan.  We’ve also just enjoyed the beauty of the green hills and the beautiful coast lands.

We’ve got four more days before heading home…..can’t believe it’s almost time to get back to work so we can pay for this vacation!
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