Tag Archive | Castles

TimeSlips makes travel plans, real ones!

TimeSlips travels

I just want to re-post this with a quick update. Yes, after many months of planning and a few glitches along the way, everything has now finally come together and I can breathe easier now and begin my official countdown to this much anticipated vacation! Tickets are bought, lodging is paid for, rental car is pre-paid, vacation is approved and my passport is finally on it’s way to my impatient nervous little hands! Five more weeks until our adventure begins. There have been a few minor changes but overall the general plan is still the same. The one major change will come at the end of the trip. We have managed to add a few days and adjust our schedule a bit so we will be making a stop in Dublin as well! It ended up being cheaper for us to fly home from Dublin than from London, even with adding in the cost of flights from London to Dublin. 

  It has always been a dream or wishful thought of mine to make one more trip across the pond to see places I never got to see the first time I visited the other side of that wide ocean. I never really thought it might happen and thus set the wish aside into that realm of not in this life time. Many years ago I had the opportunity to fulfill most of my travel dreams with a two year stay in Germany. I did as much as I could to enjoy and appreciate that chance of a lifetime. I visited much of Germany, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, I went to Austria and even to Spain during that time. I also managed a trip to England but that trip was limited by the fact that I was pregnant at the time. And, one other pesky event interfered with my short trip then… I happened to choose the most difficult time to attempt anything in England. I made the mistake of visiting England at the time Princess Diana and Prince Charles were about to celebrate their wedding with an untold throng of everyone and anyone who could find their way to London and any point within the country just to perhaps say they were at least in the country for the Wedding, if not the city or the church! Needless to say, that event put something of a damper on any of my plans even if they didn’t include wanting to visit London!  I did enjoy my brief visit and saw a wee bit of the country but I always regretted that I didn’t see more. I also always had a thought of regret at never getting to Scotland. Over the years, I can honestly say that it is one of the few regrets I have over my travel experiences. I have been blessed to see and experience as much as I have in this life and have accepted that one can not have everything they wish for!

Just because I have accepted the reality does not mean that there aren’t times late at night when I softly speak of those regrets and heart wishes to the universe… to the spirits that guide us and perhaps listen to our dreams even when we think they may not be paying attention to us. Recently, my daughter announced a plan she has been thinking of for some time. I knew that she had been thinking for quite a while of taking her own trip back across that ocean. She went to Germany when she was in high school and has always wanted to go to England and Scotland. It’s one of her personal bucket list things to do so when she mentioned that she was thinking of doing it this spring, that did not really surprise me… I would be thrilled for her to take such a trip and  happy with her sharing the whole experience with me on her return home. What did surprise and completely overwhelm me was her announcement that she was planning to include me in this trip of a life time. I am still overwhelmed that she would make such a choice and give me such an incredible heartfelt gift as this. Just the thought that she wants to do this for me and with me touches my heart and soul in a most indescribable way.  I do not have words to adequately explain how much this means to me!

My one thought right now is that those ancient ones, those wise ones, those spirits that guide me through life and destiny have indeed been listening to my whispered wishes and thoughts and have decided to possibly grant my wish. My other thought is that of my Father’s admonishments to be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it? When I was young, of course this never made much sense to me. As I grew older however, I began to understand his warning quite well! Sometimes those things we so fervently wish for and desire turn out to be difficult life lessons with our receiving of that gift. I  understand  how those spirits and guides choose to teach us hard lessons by giving us what we think we want and then showing us the high cost or  consequences . Hopefully they are not preparing one of these lessons for us!

So, because the universe appears to be listening, it seems that my daughter and I will be embarking on the journey of a life time next spring… if the prankster spirits do not create havoc and decide to foil our plans in some way.  I only mention this because we all know how the fates love to interfere with the best of plans just because they can! With all that being thought of and mentioned, we shall move on to how we hope to accomplish this trip of a life time.

We have chosen a daunting journey that may seem impossible. Who knows, it may well prove to be that- but we are determined to attempt the voyage anyway and hopefully we will survive the trip in one piece, still sane enough to recall or remember it and still on speaking terms with each other. When I get to the details of our plan you will understand the daunting nature of our plan.  We have a few things in our favor, the most important being our sense of humor and our ability to find said humor in even the worst  and most difficult situations. When I was left without words to express myself at this gift from her, my daughter’s reason was, “I am doing this for you so you will have something to talk about when I stick you in a home and this way you won’t feel bad when I commit you!”  My response to that is “If that is how I have to repay this trip, I’ll be quite happy in what ever home she chooses for me!”  Humor will get us through just about anything we might have to encounter on this trip or in life.

Another thing in our favor… we have what I think is some sort of unique genetic trait imprinted on us. I would describe this as a benefit of growing up in Northern Minnesota… the term road trip is essentially an every day life skill challenge and just some quirky fun idea that pops into our head! We are born with some sort of “Road Trip” trait imprinted in our genetic makeup! It allows us to think nothing of traveling long distances over nasty and barely driveable roads for many hours just to indulge something as mundane as an ice cream cone and think nothing of it! I believe this inherent trait will enable us to survive our future trip… Others who do not have this gene should probably not attempt the type of trip we are planning! Along with this unique Road Trip gene, we have also been blessed or cursed (depending how you look at it) with a wanderlust spirit that craves that adventure for adventure’s sake. This means we are flexible, adaptable and not so concerned with the final destination or outcome as much as the experience of getting to said destination. Of course, when destination involves set times for necessary transportation, then we must keep that end point in mind. As much as we would love to wander aimlessly throughout the world without a care, we are realistic and practical. We must return home to real life and jobs to pay for further excursions!

Now we can talk about this trip, how we came about our plan and what that plan entails so far.  My daughter and I are unabashedly proud history geeks- if you’re visiting this blog, you’re obviously aware of this fact! My interests run more towards the  medieval and earlier time frames while my daughter is more interested in the later time periods. We both are avid Outlander fans, but not the truly obsessive sorts so this will not be turning into an Outlander themed tour. We will be including a few Outlander type stops during our stay in Scotland but we will not be focused on the Outlander connection.  This trip is more about absorbing as much varied history and culture of the entire UK as possible within a very limited amount of time. When we started making decisions, we first took into account our time constraint of 10 days. We have 10 days to accomplish what some might perceive to be a rather impossible challenge- to tour Scotland and England in a road trip type driving tour. We knew from the start that we would prefer to do this on our own and not have to be at mercy of set transportation or tour schedules. Our road trip gene, wanderlust spirit, varied interests and curiosity do not mix all that well with rigid set schedules. We already know this and took that as our first consideration in planning this trip. We are willing to suffer the pitfalls and setbacks of traveling in this way in order to experience the journey in a way that suits us best. This may indeed be a crazed idea that we will at times regret but overall, we think it will be the far better option for us. Due to our road trip gene, we are well used to spending vast amounts of time in a car on unpredictable and sometimes treacherous roads in order to reach some unknown or undecided destination. For us, it is ultimately all about the journey, the surprises and the discoveries along the way. We enjoy the driving, the scenery and the ability to stop when ever we see something that inspires or interest us… not to mention being able to stop on our own schedule for such needs as eating and peeing.

For us, the driving experience was the first and most important decision to be made before anything else. Once that decision was made, we had to figure out the rest of the details in relation to the idea of a driving tour, set time limit and budget. While we are flexible, adaptable and willing to compromise, we do have a few non-negotiable goals or criteria for the trip that had to be worked into the plan from the beginning. Fortunately for us, we share many  of the same interests so the compromises have not really been that difficult. Our first criteria was that we see both Scotland and England. This was a priority for both of us and would shape the rest of our plans. My daughter’s non-negotiable items were and are that we visit Cardiff Wales and that we have some time for London.  My original non-negotiable was a visit to Isle of Skye. During the initial planning stage, I began to realize that visit might be stretching us a bit and would involve  a great deal of additional time that would thereby take away from time spent at other important places. Although I would still dearly love to see it, I just could not realistically fit into the plan without giving up some other equally important places.  My daughter did say that if it was important to me, we should find a way to fit it into the plan- she has been open and flexible, leaving much of the itinerary up to me other than her requirements of Cardiff and London. For my part, I just can not justify the added trip to Skye that she may not be as interested in. It would add to our time crunch and as I mentioned, it would potentially limit us as far as visiting other places that we both want to see. After mapping it all out and looking at the time required, I eliminated it from our plan.

Using our criteria of  driving tour and of seeing both Scotland in the allotted time limit of 10 days, we set about coming up with a travel plan that we think, hope will work out for us. Keep in mind, this plan is definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone daunted by the idea of  an epic road trip experience that involves learning to drive on the other side of unpredictable, unknown roads in a foreign country! We are now referring to this trip as our own personal version of Amazing Race. Our intent is to absorb as much as possible and arrive at our final destination on time in one piece with sanity intact. Our reward will be the accomplishment of completing this trip together, memories to last a life time and a fulfillment of life long dreams.  We have six months to plan and prepare for this very real trip through time and I will attempt to share the planning process as well as the actual trip when we finally get to that point.

For now, I will share the initial planning stage with you so you can see how and why we’ve come up with our travel plan. As I’ve already mentioned, we began with some basic specific requirements that have set the parameters and guideline for our planning. We have set the time frame for six months from now because it allows us to set up vacation time well in advance and it also provides us with enough time to make necessary reservations for air travel and hotel bookings. I should advise here that this advance planning is crucial when trying to find the best and most affordable options for lodging. Many of the places we looked at were already booked full even this far ahead of time. The airfare seems to be an opposite issue- by  booking so far in advance, you lock yourself into a price and miss out on any possible last minute deals that may show up at a later time. My daughter’s intent with this trip is to pay for as much as possible in advance and arrange it so she make purchases in chunks over the next six months. She has done this successfully in the past with other major trips so she is planning for this trip in the same way. We have set up an initial travel plan, set our time frame and booked lodging according to this plan in order to have the lodging accommodations available and not have to search last minute for places to sleep! So, our basic plan is set to include our most important requirements but everything else in between is subject to our own modifications once we arrive.

A major chunk of our budget will of course be the airfare costs. Because of that cost and my daughter’s budget planning, she has chosen the option of  doing the airfare in two separate arrangements of planning for one way tickets to and from rather than round trip tickets. This may cost more in the long run but it does enable her to pay for the two portions separately at different intervals. This is a compromise that she is willing to make- others with enough ready cash on hand will probably choose the round trip option. In our search for most affordable fares that will work with our plans, we found that Icelandair offers us the best price and the best overall travel option for both the trips.

When we took our desire to see both Scotland and England into consideration, we decided to start in Scotland and work our way down through England with a stop at Cardiff Wales and end up in London as our final destination and departure point for home.  Originally, we had planned to fly into Glasgow and start our tour with Isle of  Skye but as I previously mentioned, this would involve a great deal of additional time. If you look at the driving map from Glasgow to Isle of Skye, it is at least a 4 hour drive probably more like 5 hours at least for us in the beginning stages of adjusting to the travel. Then you would have to add the time to actually visit the Isle… this would end up being at least one entire day or more of our trip being spent on this excursion. If we were not working on such a tight schedule, I would certainly include Isle of Skye on our list. Due to our time constraints, I chose to change our arrival point in Scotland to one that will fit better with our time plus  offer us more benefit in sights and interest.

glasgow to isle of skye

Instead of Glasgow, we will be flying into Aberdeen. Our flight plan is as follows:

flight schedule to Aberdeen

On Saturday, April 2 our plan is embark on this ultimate adventure by boarding a flight from San Francisco that will eventually land us in Aberdeen, Scotland. Along the way we will stop for layovers at Seattle and then at Reykjavik Iceland. We will leave San Francisco at 1pm Saturday and arrive in Aberdeen at noon on Sunday.  I chose Aberdeen for a couple of reasons. First is it’s close proximity to Inverness, which was on our list of places to see. It is about a 3 hour drive from Aberdeen to Inverness and I am thinking that the drive will probably include points of interest along the way.

map and directions from aberdeen to Inverness

The second reason for Aberdeen as our starting point is that it is an area full of history and Castles…We all know I have a love of Castles! Aberdeenshire is known as ‘Scotland’s Castle Country.’  There are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK. Scotland’s only dedicated Castle Trail lets you discover 18 of Aberdeenshire’s most famous and dramatic castles with our suggested 4-day itinerary and downloadable map. Simply follow the distinctive brown and white road signs through the heart of Aberdeenshire.

http://www.visitscotland.com/en-us/see-do/itineraries/castles/scotlands-castle-trail

There is so much to see that one could probably devote the entire 10 days just to this area. It includes everything from ancient ruins to more recent manor houses and it’s history stretches from the Picts , Robert the Bruce, wars of 1600s through the Victorian era when Queen Victoria made one of it’s area Castles, Balmoral her royal residence. Balmoral has been one of the residences for members of the British Royal Family since 1852, when the estate and its original castle were purchased privately by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria. They remain as the private property of the royal family and are not the property of the Crown.

800px-Balmoral_Castle

Balmoral Castle

_tolquhon18.JPG

_tolquhon18.JPG

haddo-house

Haddo House

National Trust for Scotland

National Trust for Scotland Castle Fraser

We will spend two nights in Aberdeen with lodging booked at the Caledonian hotel. We will attempt to see as much as possible before heading towards Inverness sometime on Tuesday.

Caledonian hotel in Aberdeen

In Inverness, we will stay at a Bed and Breakfast, Ardmeanach House for two nights- Tuesday and Wednesday. This will give us a few days to tour the Inverness area.

http://www.ardmeanach.co.uk/

Ardmeanach house inverness2 Ardmeanach house inverness

The Ardmeanach website is excellent and provides a great list of the numerous points of interest in the Inverness area. One of our priorities for this area is Culloden Battlefield. Culloden Battlefield is situated about 5 miles from the City centre and is a must for anyone visiting Inverness. The site of the last Battle to be fought on British soil. There is a large Exhibition Centre and a walk around the battlefield is a must to soak up the history and atmosphere.

Culloden%20Grabstein

http://www.visitscotland.com/en-us/info/see-do/culloden-battlefield-and-visitor-centre-p247471

In honor of Outlander, we will also search out some standing stones. There a number of sites in the Inverness area so we should be able to accomplish our search for Standing Stones!  Situated in Glen Urquhart (8 miles west of Drumnadrochit) is the Corrimony chambered cairn surrounded by a circle of 11 standing stones. Robert Pollock has a guide to this site.

Six miles east of Inverness are the Clava Cairns (also known as Balnuaran of Clava). These Bronze Age chambered cairns are each surrounded by a stone circle in a wooded field. A most unusual place. Robert Pollock has a guide to this site. Photos online by Phil Wright and Undiscovered Scotland.

In the grounds of Brodie Castle there is a Pictish stone which was found in 1781 during excavations for a local church. It was moved here around 1840 and is sculptured with Ogham inscriptions including fish monsters and an elephant. This cross-slab of grey sandstone is known as Rodney’s Stone with varying stories as to the origin of the name. Photo reproduced by kind permission of Paul Warrener.

After Inverness, we will head toward Edinburgh where we have lodging booked at the Parliament House Hotel for Thursday and Friday.

Untitled_Panorama1-copy

Right in the heart of a city renowned for its heritage, the Parliament House Hotel has its own extensive history. Jacobean and Georgian buildings have been carefully brought together to form an elegant fifty-three bedroom hotel. We’ve retained many period features and introduced a little local character to all our rooms. However, we have also moved with the times and have incorporated all the latest in-room features today’s travellers expect.

Sitting in quiet seclusion at the foot of Calton Hill down a short cobbled lane, the hotel enjoys a tranquillity that belies its city centre location. Edinburgh’s main attractions like the Castle and Scottish Parliament, as well as its top shopping streets, are all tantalisingly close. Our central position makes us a popular choice for more than stylish accommodation and a good night’s sleep. We also appeal to business travellers with important meetings; family and friends attending a city wedding; theatre goers catching a quick bite in our bistro before the show; or couples making the most of all that Edinburgh and Scotland has to offer on a weekend break.

http://parliamenthouse-hotel.co.uk/about/

On our trip from Inverness to Edinburgh, we’re hoping to include a detour trip to Antonine’s wall, which was one of the attempts by the Romans at building a defensive wall border.

The Antonine Wall was a turf fortification on stone foundations, built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. Representing the northernmost frontier barrier of the Roman Empire, it spanned approximately 63 kilometres (39 miles) and was about 3 metres (10 feet) high and 5 metres (16 feet) wide. Security was bolstered by a deep ditch on the northern side. It is thought that there was a wooden palisade on top of the turf. The barrier was the second of two “great walls” created by the Romans in Northern Britain. Its ruins are less evident than the better-known Hadrian’s Wall to the south, primarily because the turf and wood wall has largely weathered away, unlike its stone-built southern predecessor. Construction began in CE 142 at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, and took about 12 years to complete. It may be noted in passing that Antoninus Pius never visited the British Isles, whereas his predecessor Hadrian did, and may well have visited the site of his Wall, though this has not yet been proved. You can find more information about wall on the official website:  http://www.antoninewall.org/

Antonine's wall

Although the Antonine Wall was not built of stone, its impact on the landscape was immense.

This is the route from Inverness to Edinburgh, which is approximately a three hour drive.  Seeing Antonine’s wall would require a detour from this route, or a trip to it from Edinburgh. To me it makes more sense to do the detour on our way from Inverness rather than plan for an added trip from Edinburgh.

map and directions from inverness to edinburgh

This detour would entail a three hour drive to the wall area from Inverness, then about an hour drive from Antonine’s wall to Edinburgh.

from inverness to antonine's wall

from antonine's wall to edinburgh

Our plan is to spend two days in Edinburgh… yes, we know that is barely enough time and we could also spend an entire two weeks soaking up Edinburgh! Never the less we will try to accomplish at least a few highlights of the city- the two priorities being Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace!

1024px-Edinburgh_Castle_from_the_south_east

Edinburgh Castle

1280px-Palace_of_Holyroodhouse,_Edinburgh

Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holyrood_Palace

Are you dazed and exhausted yet just thinking about this plan? Yes, you probably are… I admit that it seems like a daunting challenge even to me!  I do have some doubts about it but, as I’ve said, we are determined to try and we are willing to make modifications mid trip if we realize that we are fighting a losing battle! Much of the trip will be spent in Scotland because we simply could not make a choice on what to leave out!

On Saturday we will head south towards England with a planned destination of Leeds. The route from Edinburgh to Leeds affords us a bit of much needed leeway depending on when we leave Edinburgh.  This map of the trip from Edinburgh to York and Leeds area shows about a 4-5 hour drive. The only reason I say it affords us some leeway is that there is only one current detour or sight along the way.

from edinburgh to York

We’re hoping to include a stop at Hadrian’s wall, which is along the route. This would break up the trip yet still put us on a continued path towards our Saturday destination of Leeds. It would be about a 3 hour trip from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s wall.

from edinburgh to hadrian's wall

http://www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/

800px-Hadrian's_wall_at_Greenhead_Lough 800px-Leahill_Turret_51B,_looking_East__Hadrian's_Wall

From Hadrian’s wall area to Leeds is about a 2-3 hour drive so this would put us at arriving in Leeds late afternoon on Saturday depending on how much time we would spend at the wall area. If we limit our time there, we could get into Leeds earlier and have more time for Leeds and Yorkshire area. There is a great deal to see in this area and we may end up finding a way to do a quick stop at a portion of the wall so we can get to Leeds sooner.

hadrian's wall to leeds

Another possible option besides the wall visit is a stop at Durham, which is on the route to Leeds. Durham is another city filled with history. Archeological evidence suggests a history of settlement in the area since roughly 2000 BC.  The present city can clearly be traced back to AD 995, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic high peninsula as a place to settle with the body of Saint Cuthbert, that had previously lain in Chester-le-Street, founding a church there. Durham’s geographical position has always given it an important place in the defence of England against the Scots.  The city played an important part in the defence of the north, and Durham Castle is the only Norman castle keep never to have suffered a breach.  The Battle of Neville’s Cross, which took place near the city on 17 October 1346 between the English and Scots, is the most famous battle of the age.

800px-Durham_Millburngate_Bridge durham castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham,_England

durham england

Durham England on the map

durham to leeds

route from Durham to Leeds

 

 

In Leeds, we will be staying at the Bridge Farm Hotel, a  family-run, 18th-century coaching house, Bridge Farm Hotel offers a small bar, a separate TV lounge, free parking and free Wi-Fi in public areas. In the morning, a full English breakfast is served in the dining room.Each bedroom is individually decorated and comes with an en suite bathroom and tea/coffee making facilities. A 15-minute drive from Leeds city centre and Wakefield city centre, Bridge Farm is only 10 minutes away by car from Temple Newsam Golf Club.

bridge farm2 bridge farm hotel in leeds

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g186411-d3396409-Reviews-Bridge_Farm_Hotel-Leeds_West_Yorkshire_England.html

We will be staying only one night in Leeds and if you think the previous portion of this whirlwind trip is a crunch, the remainder of it will be even more so! On Sunday, we will need to make our way from Leeds area down to Bristol and Cardiff Wales where we have planned to stay on Sunday night. It is about a 4-6 hour trip from Leeds/York area to our destination of Cardiff, Wales. This will that anything we want to see in the Leeds/York area will have to be done in the morning so we can head out at a reasonable time to make Cardiff by late afternoon. We may end up not seeing much of the York area in order to have some time for Cardiff, which is a priority on our list. In order to accomplish this, we may be better off heading from Leeds straight off in the morning. We really do want some time in Cardiff and this would be the compromise needed to get that time.

york area to bristol and cardiff

Once in Cardiff, we have reservations at Innkeeper’s Lodge.

inkeeper's lodge cardiff

A Cardiff hotel with the whole package

If you’re looking for hotels in Cardiff, our lodge offers budget accommodation close to the heart of the city. So whether you’re here for business or pleasure, you’ll be near enough to all the action, yet happily away from the hustle and bustle. The Millennium Stadium is just a 15-minute walk away, as is Cardiff Arms Park, and attractions such as Cardiff Castle and Cardiff Bay are also within easy reach. While you’re sightseeing, how about stepping into the future – or the past – by visiting the Dr Who Experience?

Of course, you won’t need a Tardis to get to us because the M4 is on the doorstep, and excellent rail and plane connections are just a taxi-ride away.  As for the lodge itself, our classic Victorian building was once a rich man’s townhouse. Today it’s anything but expensive to stay here. With a comfy bed and a cool pint or plate of hearty pub-food available in the pub downstairs, you’ll find it offers a great-value base for exploring the Welsh capital.

http://www.innkeeperslodge.com/cardiff/#about

Now, I must remind everyone that my daughter is in charge of the hotel reservations. I am quite certain that it was the specific mention of Dr. Who and the Tardis that swayed her decision to book at this hotel. She happens to be a devoted Dr. Who fan and I have a feeling that played a part in her insistence on visiting Cardiff. This is also the reason I am trying to give us some additional time in Cardiff on Sunday and Monday morning. I am trying too to make time in Cardiff to hopefully meet up with some friends who live in the area!

From Cardiff, we will need to make our way to London, our final pit stop of this race! It will probably be about a 6 or possibly 7 hour drive from Cardiff to London. I know the map says about 3 but I am adding time in as a buffer to include any stop we might decide to make along the way…such as a quick stop at any rest area that might give a view of Stonehenge. We’re not planning a stop there because you can’t actually visit the site anyway so why include it on our priority list at all. If it happens that we can get a view of it along our way, that’s fine- if not, we’re not concerned about it! I have a feeling that by this point we will not be concerned about much of anything other than getting to London.

cardiff to london

We have reservations made for two nights- Monday and Tuesday in London at Airways Hotel Victoria.  It is nothing fancy or interesting, just reasonably priced and in a convenient location- that was all we were concerned about for this final part of the trip.

Airways-Hotel-4

Looking for cheap budget hotels in London? The Airways Hotel, a cheap hotel in Central London, may be the answer to your search. We are a family run budget hotels in Central London offering affordable accommodation with quality service. En suite rooms in this budget hotel are clean and comfortably furnished, and our staff are well trained to ensure they can help you with whatever you may need and are eager to help. Although we are a low priced B&B Hotel still we have not compromised our quality of service. 

We are one of the most conveniently located Central London hotels.
The bed and breakfast hotel in Central London is 7-10 minutes’ walk from Victoria Station, which has links by Underground, Bus, Train and Coach to all parts of London, including tourist sites, and places as far as mainland Europe. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Eye and Harrods are all within 20-30 minutes walk of the Hotel and if you use public transport you are within 40 minutes of all of London’s tourist attractions, including Tower of London, and airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton).

Our budget hotel is housed in a mid Victorian building in a well conserved residential part of London. The Airways Hotel is the answer for tourist and business travellers looking for a cheap hotel in central London in a quiet and safe residential setting. We are one of the leading bed and breakfast hotels in London.

http://www.airways-hotel.com/

Our flight from London to home will depart on Wednesday afternoon, 1pm so we will really not have time to see much of London. As it looks right now, we will basically have one day- Tuesday to see anything we want to see in London. I know my daughter is still trying to figure out some way of making more time for London sights, but realistically I think by this point we will be so toured out that it may not be such a pressing desire. Add to that fact, it is at the end of our trip, extremely expensive and we will at the end limit of our tight budget besides our patience and our endurance!

This is our initial plan… we may come to our senses at some point during the process and make modifications to it, but modifications will most likely be in what we are willing to compromise on as far as sights or stops along the way. Our plan is to stick with the driving tour and the pre-planned hotel stays if at possible. If it becomes a seriously rocky trip, we may adjust some of the time spent in Scotland and compromise on that portion to give us added time in England. I will continue to keep everyone updated on our plans and the progress. Consider this as our real life trip through history!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dunvegan Castle recieves an odd correspondance and invitation!

Warning, disclaimer and apology for a wayward tangent that I was unable to resist!  Normally, I keep my story segments and creations separate from my other fascinations and addictions… such as Outlander? For this one instance however, I was unable to resist the notion of them running across each other a bit! This is the one and only time that I will cross these paths!

 

First of all, in order to see or understand how any of this outlandish and far fetched fantasy might in any way shape or form have cause, reason or the remotest plausibility of intersecting, it may help to have a bit of background information on some relevant facts concerning Clan MaCleod and Dunvegan Castle during the period of the 1740’s. I will only supply the basic pertinent facts as they relate here to this story. My characters are fictional members of the Clan MacCleod much as Diana Gabaldon’s characters are fictional members of the Clan MacKenzie!  While they are fictional characters, I do try to tie them to historical events when ever possible!

 

Before anything else, let us look at where Dunvegan Castle and Clan Macleod lands sit on the Clan map of the highlands. This is important as it will give you some idea of where the MacCleod Clans resided in relation to MacKenzie and Fraser Clans. As you can see it would not have been odd for the MacCleods to know of or have dealings with either MackKenzies or Frasers.

Scottish Clan map with Dunvegan Castle's location starred.

Scottish Clan map with Dunvegan Castle’s location starred.

 

As far as factual information goes, during the 1740’s Clan MacCeod was headed by Norman MacCloid, who did not support the Jacobite rebellion and led troops in support of the Government forces.  The chief led 500 men of the MacLeod Independent Highland Companies in support of the Government at the Battle of Inverurie on 23 December 1745, where they were defeated.

The Macleods of Raasay, a branch of the MacLeods of Lewis, fought at the Battle of Culloden as part of the Glengarry Regiment, in retribution, the MacLeods of Dunvegan, under their chief, Norman MacLeod, burned and pillaged the Island of Raasay, harassing its inhabitants for many weeks in the late summer of 1746. As a result Norman MacLeod became known as “The Wicked Man”. In 1745, MacLeod of Dunvegan was said to have been able to “bring out” 700 men.   

Clan MacCleod history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_MacLeod#18th_century_and_Jacobite_risings

Norman MacLeod (The Wicked Man) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_MacLeod_(The_Wicked_Man)

Dunvegan Castle:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunvegan_Castle

So far, I have not addressed any of this as yet in my story, but eventually will get to these details! Suffice it to say, Norman MacCleod would probably not been a friend of Dougal MacKenzie. But, then again, it might have been possible as the Jacobite Rebellion created a civil war, a divide between families and one time friends.  In our current story, we know little of the MacCleod Clan’s political or religious dealings at this time. As far as we know at this point, our fictional Clan members consisting of Eric North, Svein North, and young Brennie along with a housekeeper, Minn are the current residents of  Dunvegan Castle. Svein and Eric have been there since it’s beginnings and Brennie has been there for a few centuries now.  A clue as to the reason for them residing there and not Norman can be found in his factual history.  He supported the Government cause in the Jacobite Rising, and was an absentee chief as he seldom lived at his ancestors’ traditional seat of  Dunvegan Castle.  If you’re thinking Clan MacKenzie was the only Clan with not so likeable or trustable Family members, you might want to read more about Norman MacCleod? He was one of those Clan leaders that members probably rued the day they put him in power?  Ok, enough on him, he will show up in our story later!

Eric has appeared throughout this long sage but his personal story and his connection to Dunvegan Castle unfolds starting here: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/eleanors-journal69-eric-at-dunvegan/

 

It might also be of interesting note here that Dunvegan Castle has a long history and connection- which they are proud of by the way- with the Fairie realm and other such folk lore. Maybe they heard stories of that strange woman residing with the MacKenzies?!

 

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Now that you have a bit of background history on the MacCleods and Dunvegan Castle, we can go on with our strange intersection?

 

During our construction of Dunvegan Castle we’ve been following Eric’s and Brennie’s memories of the past in the Castle. Brennie is reliving many of her own memories of  past events with thoughts of that time when her close friend and mentor, Minn was there as housekeeper and so much more. It was during the during the 1700’s when much of the Castle was renovated from a medieval fortress to a more habitable home, thanks much to Minn’s efforts and knowledge!   Brennie did not know much of what the outside world was doing, or what Eric and Svein were involved with during those times. She was just coming into her own as a new person thanks also to Minn’s sometimes overbearing but caring guidance. It was during this time that Brennie began to take part in what was happening around her, and what was happening in Scotland. 

Eric and Svein were often gone on Clan business, most of which Brennie questioned little of before this time. With Minn’s arrival though, the Castle began to change and become more of a home to many Clan members. Eric and Svein were not Clan Chiefs… they left that duty to the more human members of the Clan, a fact that in this time, they were beginning to regret. The current Clan Cheiftan, Norman MacCleod, did not reside at the Castle and rarely if ever bothered to even visit there. He did send two orphaned Clan members there though.  Two of his illegitimate offspring were sent to Dunvegan when their Mother died and Norman wanted them well out of his way.  So, Dunvegan along with Minn and Brennie took them in, welcomed them, and raised them.  The boy, Alexander was taken into training by Eric and Svein.  Where ever Svein or Eric went, so went Alex! Ellen, followed Minn and Brennie around with the same adoration.

Alexander

Alexander

 

 

Ellen MacCleod

Ellen MacCleod

 

Late one evening, the men were in the stables when young Alexander arrived exhausted from traveling hurriedly across the country with a message he said was of dire importance. He did not know what it was, had been given by one of the MacKenzies and told only that it was urgent that he get it to Svein and Eric.

An exhausted Rory

The first debate before even opening the message was one of what the MacKenzies wanted with them?  Eric was puzzled and doubtful, then suspicious… his words to Svein, “What have ye done? We’re at peace ye ken, and I would it to stay that way. I want no wars or battles now with other Clans. We have us enough trouble with Norman!”

At the mention of  his Father’s name, Alex hung his head. He knew of how much trouble the man was causing, and he was tired of the battles in his head and his heart over being the man’s son.

Debate on what to do

Svein assured Eric, “Need ye not worry, I have not done a thing, cept befriend the man!”

Eric’s response was resigned. “Achhh and, I am supposing that ye think that’s a much better thing? Dinna think that I want to be in that Man’s debt more than I want to be his enemy! What have ye promised him that we canna provide?”

Eric and Svein in the stable

Svein paused before answering. “Nothing, I promised nothing that we canna provide. I merely pledged our assistance against a more personal matter that he be involved in.  I promised our neutrality in that matter of his Fraser kin. We willna take any sides in what ever matters they dispute about was all I promised him.”

Eric nodded, “Well we can provide that, we have no quarrel with either of them and we need it to stay that way.”

He told Alex to take the parcel upstairs and noticed the frustration on the boy’s face. “Ye hold yer temper lad, and do as I ask. Ye’re not too old for a whipping yet even though ye think ye are!”

Discussion of news

Some time later, the family stood around the table staring at the parcel and missive that had been delivered, not quite sure what this meant to them?

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The message was indeed a rather odd and curious one?

Wedding Invitation

Eric was not sure what it meant and thought for a few moments before asking Alex, “Are ye sure ye got the right parcel? And, are ye sure they said to deliver it here? Maybe ye heard them wrong or grabbed the wrong message. How much ale did ye drink and how tired were ye when ye were talkin to them?”

Alex bowed his head, mainly because he was so tired he was bout to drop off right there… and he did not want to share either just how much of the Ale he had shared at the Inn with the MacKenzie travelers! “Nay, Eric, I dinna grab the wrong message! Twas that Mutagh Fitzgibbons that shoved it in my shirt front, told me to ride like Hell to Svein and then get our arses back there soon as we could!”

 

Svein sighed and gave the only plausible explanation he could think of. “Well, like as not, we’re being called as to be impartial witnesses. I pledged to Dougal that I would not take sides in any of his family matters and this looks to be an important family matter? I know not much about the whole story of the lad but there is that land dispute in question between the clans, which the lad stands to inherit when he marries. Maybe it all has something to do with that?”

Rory bows his head

They discussed it for some time and could not come to any further conclusion than what Svein had suggested. There was agreement that what could it hurt to attend as requested… to not show up would cause some rift between them and Dougal that Eric did not want to encur so he went along with it though with some hesitation. He did not want to walk into some sort of trap either or become embroiled in some larger dispute of the MacKenzies. He agreed that they would go as requested, then return home immediately afterwards. The women would stay home, there was no need to endanger them and this was a man’s business anyway, Svein insisted.

 

Minn had her own thoughts as to Svein’s comment but wisely for once, kept them to herself.  After the men left the room, she filled Brennie and young Ellen in on her latest gossip about the MacKenzies and their strange guest who was visiting and now about to become their newest family member. “I heard tell that some folks think she’s a witch? They do say she is might odd, but a fine healer even if she does drink a might much? Probably should not be asking for her aid if it gets a bit late in the day… if ye know what I ken?” She went on with her tales and then after a moment reminded the women, “Achhh, Ye know of that lad, he’s passed through here before. Ye remember that fine young lad who all the lasses swayed over, the one who wouldna go in the boats?”

Brennie and Ellen nodded, they both remembered him now! Ellen blushed and said sadly, “Well I could only wish such a lad like him could find his way here for me! Not that it would matter though, as no one would be fool enough to have me.”

Minn just hushed and tsked at her youthful but true comments. “Hush ye Ellen, ye’re far too young to be thinking such thoughts anyway, and when the time does come we’ll be sure to find you a right fine lad!”

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Previous Outlander post: Marriage of Convenience https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/outlander-marriage-of-convenience-and-other-things/

Previous Dunvegan Castle post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/dunvegan-castle-great-hall-and-still-room/

 

Most recent progress on Dunvegan Castle:

 

Left side Watch tower room with access to a work room.

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Off the Work room is a small space which Minn uses for her book work space

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This general work room is part of the original old Castle rooms. It  was used as work room space by Castle residents for many years, as it was better lit with windows and sunlight than some of the other rooms of the time.

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Overview of work room with stairs down to stables and still room storage on the other side of it.

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Dunvegan Castle: Great Hall comes to life with music

Previous Dunvegan Castle post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/dunvegan-castle-progress-medicinal-room-and-gardens/
Brennie and her music1

Work on the Castle continues and Brennie brings it back to it’s former life with her memories of it.  After living here for so many centuries, everywhere Brennie looks holds a vivid thought or memory of the past! Walking into the Great Hall/Dining room, she can see it as it once was and she can still hear Minn encouraging her to come back to life… to really live again and do what she was meant to. For such a long time, Brennie hid herself away in the Castle, avoided the Clan and it’s people as much as possible. The Castle stood empty and silent most of the time save for when Eric and his men would return from their battles and their journies.  One day, Minn dragged her into the empty Great Hall and as usual, sternly lectured her.  She swept her hands out around the room and demanded that Brennie look around at the emptiness.  Then she pointed her finger at Brennie, gave one her disgusted looks and sounds… “This, this is your fault. This emptiness and quiet is because of you. You need to fill this room, fill this place and fill our people’s hearts. That is what your duty is!”

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Brennie was puzzled by her remarks. “My fault? My duty? What ever are you going on about now. I have no real duty here. This place, these people and their hearts are Eric’s and his Clan’s. I have no true place here, or anywhere else for that matter. My place and my people are long gone… as I should have been as well.” Brennie shrugged her shoulders and lowered her head. These people do not care about me, they care about Eric and the men who fight for them. They do not know what do with me any more than I know what to do with them.”

 

Minn shook her finger and her head with frustration, “Achhhh Yea, your people are long away, but they be not gone… it’s because you choose them to be gone that they are. The Ladies of the Lake are always out there waiting for you to return to them but you willna go because you’re skairt. You’re skairt of life! The people here, they dinna care because you willna let them. You willna let them know you or be a part of your life any more than you will let yourself be a part of their life. You hide away here because you dinna want to feel the pains of life and death around you. And, as to the fighting, every day is a fight for every one of us whether we be mortal or Fairie, Witch or Vampyre. They care not if you be Vampyre… My Stars Girl, have ye not eyes to see that half the people around here are descended from Vampyres, Witches and Fairies?  They all know the secrets of this Clan and they stand proud to defend those secrets during these times. They care about Eric because they know he goes out there and fights for them and their freedom to be what they are.”

 

With that speech, Minn walked over to a case lying on the floor near the fire. She pointed down to it and motioned to Brennie to open it. Inside was a beautiful, intricately carved violin. Brennie picked it up carefully, holding her breath as she felt the warmth and the satin smoothness of the wood. She felt something else as well, she felt the vibrations of the music within it reaching out to her, wrapping around her soul. It had been long since she had allowed herself to feel the music. Tears came to her eyes as she remembered the music that had filled her mind and her soul.

 

Minn smiled softly and motioned her to play, “This is your calling, your destiny, your way to fight for yourself and for all of us.”

 

Brennie gave her a bewildered look. “What do you mean? I am not sure I understand what you want me to do.”

 

Minn answered her calmly, “What do I want you do? I want you to use your gifts to fill this place, and these people with your music, your stories and your spirit. I want you to remind them of the old ways, of the legends and the prophecies. I want you to give them hope, give them courage and give them their pride in their heritage. Every Clan, every Castle has it’s Bard and you are Dunvegan’s now and forever more. You are a Bard, and that is what you shall do to inspire these people. Now, Play and fill this hall with music once again!”

 

Screenshot-5 brennie and music2

 

Bard

In medieval Gaelic and British  culture, a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron’s ancestors and to praise the patron’s own activities.

Originally a specific class of poet, contrasting with another class known as fili in Ireland and Highland Scotland, the term “bard”, with the decline of living bardic tradition in the modern period, acquired generic meanings of an epic author/singer/narrator, comparable with the terms in other cultures (minstrel, skald, scop, rhapsode, udgatar, griot, ashik) or any poets, especially famous ones. For example, William Shakespeare is known as the Bard or the Bard of Avon.

Bards (who are not the same as the Irish ‘filidh’ or ‘fili’) were those who sang the songs recalling the tribal warriors’ deeds of bravery as well as the genealogies and family histories of the ruling strata among Celtic societies. The pre-Christian Celtic peoples recorded no written histories; however, Celtic peoples did maintain an intricate oral history committed to memory and transmitted by bards and filid. Bards facilitated the memorisation of such materials by the use of metre, rhyme and other formulaic poetic devices.

 

A description of life at a training school for bards survives in the Memoirs of the Marquis of Clanricarde, written in 1641-1643, but published in 1722.[7] Clanricarde was a territory in Ireland, located in what is now County Galway. This description, found in the introduction to the memoirs, appears to be by the lawyer Thomas O’Sullivane.[8]

Concerning the poetical Seminary or School, from which I was carried away to clear other things that fell in my way, it was open only to such as were descended of Poets and reputed within their Tribes. And so was it with all the Schools of that kind in the Nation, being equal to the Number of Families that followed the said calling. But some more or less frequented for the difference of Professors, Conveniency, with other Reasons, and seldom any come but from remote parts, to be at a distance from Relations and other Acquaintances that might interrupt his Study. The Qualifications first requir’d were reading well, writing the Mother-tongue, and a strong Memory. It was likewise necessary the Place should be in the solitary Recess of a Garden or within a Sept or Enclosure far out of the reach of any Noise, which an Intercourse of People might otherwise occasion. The Structure was a snug, low Hut, and beds in it at convenient Distances, each within a small Apartment without much Furniture of any kind, save only a Table, some Seats, and a Conveniency for Cloaths to hang upon. No Windows to let in the Day, nor any Light at all us’d but that of Candles, and these brought in at a proper Season only. The Students upon thorough Examination being first divided into Classes, wherein a regard was had to every one’s Age, Genius, and teh Schooling ha before, if any at all, or otherwise. The Professors (one or more as there was occasion) gave a Subject suitable to the Capacity of each Class, determining the number of Rhimes, and clearing what was to be chiefly observed therein as to Syllables, Quartans, Concord, Correspondence, Termination and Union, each of which were restrain’d by peculiar Rules. The said Subject (either one or more as aforesaid) having been given over Night, they work’d it apart each by himself upon his own Bed, the whole next Day in the Dark, till at a certain Hour in the Night, Lights being brought in, they committed it to writing. Being afterwards dress’d and come together into a large Room, where the Masters waited, each Scholar gave in his Performance, which being corrected or approv’d of (according as it requir’d) either the same or fresh subjects were given for the next Day. This Part being over, the Students went to their Meal, which was then serv’d up; and so, after some time spent in Conversation and other Diversions, each retir’d to his Rest, to be ready for the Business of the next Morning. Every Saturday and on the Eves of Festival Days they broke up and dispers’d themselves among the Gentlemen and rich Farmers of the Country, by whom they were very well entertain’d and much made of, till they thought fit to take their leaves, in order to re-assume their Study. Nor was the People satisfied with affording this Hospitality alone; they sent in by turns every Week from far and near Liquors and all manner of Provision towards the Subsistence of the Academy, so that the chief Poet was at little or no Charges, but, on the contrary, got very well by it, besides the Presents made him by the Students upon their first coming, which was always at Michaelmas [29 September], and from thence till the 25th of March, during the cold season of the Year only, did that close Study last. At that time the Scholars broke up, and repair’d each to his own Country, with an Attestation of his Behaviour and Capacity from the chief Professor to those that had sent him.

The reason of laying the Study aforesaid in the Dark was doubtless to avoid the Distraction which Light and the variety of Objects represented thereby commonly occasions. This being prevented, the Faculties of the Soul occupied themselves solely upon the Subject in hand, and the Theme given; so that it was soon brought to some Perfection according to the Notions or Capacities of the Students. Yet the course was long and tedious, as we find, and it was six or seven Years before a Mastery or the last Degree was conferred, which you’ll the less admire upon considering the great Difficulty of the Art, the many kinds of their Poems, the Exactness and Nicety to be observ’d in each, which was necessary to render their Numbers soft, and the Harmony agreeable and pleasing to the Ear.

As every Professor, or chief Poet, depended on some Prince or great Lord, that had endowed his Tribe, he was under strict ties to him and Family, as to record in good Metre his Marriages, Births, Deaths, Acquisitions made in war and Peace, Exploits, and other remarkable things relating to the Same. He was likewise bound to offer an Elegy on the Decease of the said Lord, his consort, or any of their children, and a Marriage Song when there should be Occasion. But as to any Epick, or Heroick Verse to be made for any other Lord or Stranger, it was requir’d that at least a Paroemion, or Metre therein, should be upon the Patron, or the Name in general.

The last Part to be done, which was the Action and Pronunciation of the Poem in Presence of the Maecenas, or the principal Person it related to, was perform’d with agreat deal of Ceremony in a Consort of Vocal and Instrumental Musick. The Poet himself said nothing, but directed and took are that everybody else did his Part right. The Bards having first had the Composition from him, got it well by Heart, and now pronounc’d it orderly, keeping even Pace with a Harp, touch’d upon that Occasion; no other musical Instrument being allowed for the said Purpose than this alone, as being Masculin, much sweeter and fuller than any other.[9]

Martin Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland (London, 1703), paints a picture of the bardic culture as he encountered it a few decades later, providing in the process a description of bardic training rites. This is one of the last eyewitness accounts of the bardic culture.

The Orators, in their Language called Is-Dane, were in high esteem in these Islands and the Continent, until within these forty years they sat always among the Nobles and Chiefs of Families in the Streah or Circle. Their Houses and little Villages were Sanctuaries, as well as Churches, and they took place before Doctors of Physic. The Orators, after the Druids were extinct, were brought in to preserve the Genealogy of Families and to repeat the same at every Succession of a Chief; and upon the occasion of marriages and Births they made Epithalamiums and Panegyricks, which the Poet or Bard pronounc’d. The Orators by the force of their Eloquence had a powerful ascendant over the greatest men in their time; for if any Orator did but ask the Habit, Arms, Horse, or any other thing belonging to the greatest Man in these Islands, it was readily granted them, sometimes out of respect, and sometimes for fear of being exclaimed against by a Satire, which in those days was roeckon’d a great dishonour; but these Gentlemen becoming insolent, lost ever since both the Profit and Esteem which was formerly due to their Character; for neither their Panegyricks nor Satires are regarded to what they have been ,and they are now allowed but a small salary. I must not omit to relate their way of Study, which is very singular. They shut their Doors and Windows for a Days time, and lie on their backs with a STone upon their Belly, and Plads [sic, plaid?] about their Heads, and their Eyes being cover’d they pump their Brains for Rhetorical Encomium or Panegyrick; and indeed they furnish such a Stile from this Dark Cell as is understood by very few; and if they purchase a couple of Horses as the reward of their Meditation, they think they have done a great Matter. The Poet or Bard had a Title to the Bridegroom’s upper Garb – that is the Plad and Bonnet – but now he is satisfy’d with what the Bridegroom pleases to give him on such occasions.

 

Brennie’s childhood with the hidden Ladies of the Lake had been spent training for life as a well respected Bard/legend keeper.  Her life had changed however with Eric’s turning her and the world had begun to change as well during those times.  She did not know how to change with the world, but realistically she admitted to herself, she had not tried very hard either. Minn was right, she was skairt as Minn so bluntly put it! But, with Minn’s help… she began to find herself again and understand that she could find a way to make a difference in their world.

 

Minn made her realize that it was not Eric’s place to teach her everything, it was up to herself to learn how to adapt and fit in to an ever changing world.  Eric could not teach her how to be herself and be happy with it and it was not Eric’s fault that she was so unhappy with this gift of life he had given her. She learned from Minn how to be strong again, how to be mistress of this Castle and leader of these people.  They worked together to make the Castle liveable, comfortable and filled with life again.

 

Minn explained to her how important it was for the Clan members to feel they were a part of this Castle, and for them to know that they were just as vital and important to the well being and survival of the Clan as the highest members. It was a give and take between all of them, a matter of team work on every level.  After all, what good did it do to be a Clan Chieftan if one had no Clan members left? A clan could lose it’s Chieftan and replace him with someone else but a Chieftan would have a harder time replacing his clan if they all died, or deserted him because he was not a good leader… So, it was important to take care of each other.  One part of that, Minn insisted, was to be able to provide the best care possible to all of their members. She and Brennie worked to ensure that their Castle had a well equipped and well stocked medicinal room and along with that, Minn added to the room with another well stocked storage room for some of the most valuable and in some cases highly dangerous detoctions. This area was a locked portion of the Medicinal or Still room.

 

Still room

The still room is a distillery room found in most great houses, castles or large establishments throughout Europe dating back at least to medieval times. Medicines were prepared, cosmetics  and many home cleaning products created, and home-brewed beer or wine was often made. Herbs and flowers from the kitchen garden and surrounding countryside were preserved for flavoring food[1] and processed into what today we call essential oils, and infused or distilled, or brewed  as required to make rose water, lavender water, tinctures, peppermint-based ointments, soaps, furniture polishes  and a wide variety of medicines.[2] The still room was a working room: part science lab, part infirmary and part kitchen.

Originally, the still room was a very important part of the household. The lady of the house was in charge of the room, and she taught her daughters and wards  some of the skills needed to run their own homes in order to make them more marriageable. As practical skills fell out fashion for high-born women, the still room became the province of poor dependent relations.

 

In the case of the remote Highland Clans and their Clan seat Castles, such as Dunvegan was, it would have been crucial to their survival and that of the Clan to have such a well equipped Still room and a highly trained, skilled healer in their residence.  Minn would have made sure that the Clan members were welcome to use the services of the Castle’s healer and she would have ensured that everyone shared in the growing, harvesting and stocking of the much needed herbs and plants. 

Over view of Medicinal Still room with locked storage area.

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Minn spent a great length of time teaching Brennie her responsibilities as Mistress of the Castle, even though they both knew that as long as Minn was there, she would really be the one in charge. But, as she matter of factly pointed out to Brennie one day, “Well, Lass, someday I won’t be around to keep things running so smoothly and when that time comes you must know what to do.”  They stood in the now finished Still room addition one day discussing this rather depressing subject while Minn took it in stride and continued taking inventory all the while.

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Minn stressed to Brennie how important it was to keep accurate accounting of the items in this locked room. Some of it, such as the wine and some of the food stuffs were highly costly and worth as much or more than their other finer items around the Castle! “It’s not that I be callin the workers or guests here thieves or such but, one never can tell, Can they? Why leave it out and about for them to be tempted with.” She continued on, “Now some of the potions and detoctions be locked away in here for safe keeping, as they could be quite poisonous or even deadly if used in the wrong way. Tis just better and wiser to keep such locked up and make sure you know how much of it we have and how much gets used.”  Minn told her that there were only a very few with keys to this room and she must always be sure she knew of who had those keys, and who was let into the room.  The only ones with keys were Minn, Brennie, and Eric. Even the resident healer would have to ask permission to enter this room.

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As they worked in the storage room, they chatted about other things going on around the area.  Minn was always full of local gossip and stories, and loved to share them.  Brennie usually wasn’t one for gossip but often she found the stories amusing so she listened patiently to Minn.  She did find the stories more interesting now that she was coming to know the area, the Clan members and the history of this place better.  Minn was going on about the Fairie pools and the ancient circle stones near by and how some folks were swearing that the mists were heavier lately. She added that a few of the women insisted that they saw strange people and things near the pools… Minn just laughed and added her own observation on that, “Achhh well, I know that one, Lila… I suspect that she had a few too many nips of that rot gut Whisky she keeps in her pocket!”

 

Minn did grow serious though and warned Brennie, “Those places and stone circles be verra powerful dangerous. They’re ancient and most folks have no knowledge of them or their use any more. A few of the Ladies of the Lake are left who might know but they hide in deep secrecy now and have not been seen in many ages. You best be careful if you go there.”

 

Brennie eyed Minn warily. “Why would I go there? I have no need or reason to venture near the Fairie pools or the Ladies that are left.” Minn nodded her head, gave Brennie a somewhat knowing and suspicious look that said she knew well what Brennie was thinking.  And, Brennie was thinking then in a small hidden space of her heart, of the Ladies who had raised her, trained her… and of whom she felt like she had let down by leaving them so long ago. Even though it had been necessary, her and their lives had depended on her not returning to them then. But, now… Now, perhaps some of them would be left? She was quite sure that these Ladies of the Lake here would know of  the ones who had raised her, would know if they survived yet?

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As quickly as the thought entered her mind, she stamped it down, set it aside and tried to follow the rest of Minn’s chatter. Minn was going on now about the Fairies, and the legends of the stones… how people could travel through them to other places, worlds, or times?  She gave her usual  laugh of  disbelief and disgust. “Such stuff and nonsense, who would believe such things. Why I heard tell of traveling to such a different world as where there be no Vampyres, no Witches, no Fairies… where they chain their babies to their cradles and don’t let them out till they be a child? They canna move their furnishings around just as they wish, they canna build a cellar, they canna design pretty fabrics as they wish… Now, would ye not be hating to live in that world?  Someone even said as one of their tiny villages had a name… something such as a place called Willow Creek?” Minn pointed her finger at Brennie and laughed as she added, “Now do ye not think that even with all of our problems in this world, it’s still not such a bad place to living… You could get too close to those Stones, Lass, and who knows where or when ye might end up.”

 

Brennie tried to laugh with Minn about all of it but her mind was thinking back to those past events that had caused her to end up here in the first place. She hadn’t thought of it in a long time, since shortly after arriving here to live in this remote isolation and safety from some of those early events. Now, as she left the room and Minn, she shook a little with doubt and real fear. Minn thought it all nonsense, but she knew otherwise. She knew that there were ways to travel through time, even though she had tried very hard to forget… and maybe if there were ways to travel through time, there were also ways to travel to other worlds?  That scared her even more and she thought perhaps she should stay far away from those pools and those circles!

 

 

Eleanor’s Journal 80: After the Death

Finally, a story update! So sorry for the long delay on it but hopefully I can get back on track with it now! This story update does not contain any illustrations other than a few Character references. I really just wanted to get this posted as soon as possible since there has been such a long absence from the actual story. I do apologize for that!  this is the continuation of Eric’s ancient past and the people in it.

Previous story post, Eric’s story: Visions in the fire: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/eleanors-journal-79-visions-in-the-fire/

 

The energy of Reina

           Eric’s soul was still fighting as it slammed back into his body and Reina’s parting words were burnt into his mind, engraved there forever. Sometime much later, as the sun began to rise over the river, he regained consciousness. His heart was barely beating, his breath so shallow that it was almost not noticeable. It took the greatest effort for him to lift his head and his eyelids to see the group of women kneeling around him. The reminder from Reina was the only clear thought in his head. “Look around you, there are those who still need you.”

                 The women gasped at his slight movement and Artorius, who had been standing aside guarding their mourning, quickly stepped in. He picked up Eric’s nearly lifeless body, threw it over one of the horses, swung himself up and yelled for the women to follow as he took off up the hill towards the safety of the closest enclosure. Eric’s body would not withstand another dose of sunlight and Artorius knew it.

                        The river they buried Reina next to was between the Fairie realm and the remains of Eric’s home where Svein resided under the heaviest of Vampyre guards. Artorius headed for that place as it was the closest. It was much in ruins and held the worst of memories for all of them, but there was little other choice for the time being. He knew that the women would be in dread of returning there and thought momentarily of sending them back to the Fairie realm. He did not have time though to argue with them and he thought that their concern for Eric would well outweigh their fears of their old home. Artorius urged the horse on up to the protection of the buildings not waiting for the women to catch up. They all knew the way well and were close behind, leading the other horse.

                      The Vampyre guards, having heard the commotion, were waiting with doors to the stable open. Scoithin had mounted the other horse and arrived in a flurry. The horse well lathered, the woman’s hair and cloak whirling out around her as she jumped down unassisted and ran to Eric’s side as Artorius pulled him down to the floor. She cast out orders to the guards and to Artorius as she knelt down next to Eric to assure that he was indeed still alive. No one thought to disagree or question her. It was obvious that she was well in charge of this particular situation. It would be apparent later on that Scoithin was well in charge of most situations. She was not a woman to be taken lightly and her quiet power would long be one to lead this group.

              

          Scoithin very quickly had Eric put to rest in one of the more private sleeping chambers. She determined that he would live and what was most needed for the present time was deep sleep. To assist in that deepest sleep she poured some vile smelling liquid down his throat and left his sisters, Freya and Helga to watch over him.

                            While she was occupied with seeing to Eric, Artorius was meeting with the guards to inquire about the condition of Svein, who was locked away in a darkest lower chamber. Young Scotia sat at a table near by, head in hands, listening closely to what was being discussed about her Father and crying quietly. Her Father who had once been so strong, so full of life and cheer, so full of love for her and her Mother… was now broken in his mind and spirit, locked away in some dark unreachable place filled with the demons that haunted him, might haunt him forever it seemed.

                             The men continued their discussion and seemed to forget she was in the room. Scoithin entered the room, saw her grand daughter weeping in the corner. She approached the men holding up her hands and firmly demanded they cease their talking, pointing to the young girl who had sat silently taking in every word. “Cease these words now! Have yourselves some heart for his daughter who has already endured enough for a lifetime in the past months.” The men suddenly looked towards the table and bowed their heads in remorse.

                       Artorius moved to the table where Scoithin was attempting to soothe the girl. He waved the men out of the room and knelt close to the two women, reached his hand out to Scotia’s face, which was buried in her Grandmother’s shoulder. He stroked her face and turned her to face him with care. “Scotia, I know these words, this truth is hurting you greatly now but, it is your Father who is in the greatest pain. You do understand this, do you not?” She looked at him tearfully and nodded her head. He and Scoithin held her and comforted her as much as possible while he went on with the most difficult of thing he felt he should ever have to say to one so young.

                                  “Your Father is in some darkest of in between places right now. He can not move forward out of that place and return to us, nor can he see clearly to move on to the other side where he might find peace. It has come time for us to help on his way to either side… for us to put it in the hands of the Gods, much as we did with Eric.”

                          The realization of what he was saying hit Scotia and she shook with weeping. She shook her head fiercely. “Nay, I can not do that. I know what you are asking and I can not give you leave to do it. I can not bear it, can not stand to lose him.” Her voice came in soft gasps between sobs.

                         Artorius brushed her hair away from her forehead. “Would you have him live on the way he must now, chained to a wall in the dark being held by those guards who must hold him in the tightest of grips just in order to force feed him nourishment to ensure he does not die of that? You think that is a life he truly wants? You have lost him already. If he stays this way much longer, he will never come back to you or recognize you.”

        

Scotia of Svein, daughter of Svein and Gizella, grand daughter of Scoithin

Scotia of Svein, daughter of Svein and Gizella, grand daughter of Scoithin

              Scotia paled and clutched her Grandmother’s arms. The older Vampyre woman looked down at her sadly with tears in her own eyes. “Scotia, my dearest one… He is right in what he says. This man who is locked away in such pain is not your Father. If he continues on this way, he will never be your Father again. His mind will snap completely, will separate forever and he will cease to recognize any of us. He will live out his life in some madness of the soul, never be human or vampyre, but some horrific semblance ever wanting only to roam the earth in search of blood…”

                   Scoithin stood then and paced the room thinking before she spoke. “I have a thought, of one last thing that might bring him back to us.” She paused and stared at her grand daughter with tears still in her eyes. “It is a great risk and it may not work… but at this point, I see little else in choice, save putting him out misery immediately.” Artorius looked up at her with some doubt. Scotia stopped weeping to wipe her eyes and her nose, and peered up at Scoithin with some hope.

                     Scoithin went back to pacing and holding hands to her face while she shook her head back and forth. “No, I should not even be thinking of this. It is far to dangerous to attempt and it may drive him further into the darkness instead of back towards us…” She stood still and looked up at the ceiling speaking in her ancient language in some form of prayer.

                   Artorius finally bid her to go on with it and she slowly voiced her thoughts again. Staring again at Scotia, she spoke softly in a murmur. “The girl looks exactly like her Mother.” Her voice broke as she remembered her daughter. “Ahhh Scotia, tis plain for all the world to know you are your Mother’s daughter. Every moment I lay eyes on you, I see Gizella. I hear her voice in you as you speak to me. You are the only thing that keeps my own heart alive, you keep her alive for me in so many ways. When I look at you, I can erase that last sight her from my mind. Perhaps the sight, the sound of you near to him will do the same for Svein?” Scoithin’s face showed her heartache and her fear. “The guards tried inside of him, to tell him, let him know that you were alive but his mind seems far past that ability. Maybe if he could see you, hear you, feel your presence close to him, he might fight his way back?”

 

                          Scotia jumped up from the table in haste and youthful hope. “I would do that, I would go to him and beg of him to hear me, to see me!”

The two older ones turned to circle her and contain her brimming excitement. Their eyes were full of caution as Artorius spoke. “No, it is not as simple or as that Scotia. If it were that easy, they would have brought you to him immediately as soon as you returned. Your Grandmother is right. It is a dangerous act that could push him either way.”

                   Artorius sighed sadly and looked at both of the women before speaking again to Scotia. “Tis not you, child that is torturing his soul. It is your Mother’s death that has driven him over that edge. I believe that what your Grandmother is suggesting is more for your Mother to drive him back this way?” He looked at Soithin in question and she bowed her head in agreement.

Scotia looked at them both in confusion. “What do you mean? I do not understand…”

                       Scoithin took Scotia’s hands in hers as she explained. “What I am suggesting Scotia, is that you must go to him not as yourself, but as your Mother. She is the only one he might still cling to memories of somewhere in his soul. You must go to him as her and tell him in no uncertainty to return here to those who need him most.”

Scotia closed her eyes and clenched her fists, she drew in a deep breath and tried to calm her trembling nerves as she asked, “Like Reina did to Eric?”

The older adults looked at her warily and Scoithin replied softly. “What did you see out there?” She ran her hand down her grand daughter’s arm to sooth her fear. “It’s alright to tell us here of what you saw or what you felt.”

                           Scotia was young and still troubled by her own recent horrors. She also was as yet unsure and fearful of her abilities that had recently developed. Her Grandmother had tried to reassure her that the things she felt and the visions she was were normal for one such as she was, with the Vampyre blood that ran through her veins and the other ancient blood from her Grandmother as well. Scoithin called it prophecy, others called it second sight… She had inherited none of the other Vampyre traits as yet, and this gift of sight had just recently come upon her. She knew, though she told no one, exactly when it had begun.

                           When she had stood out there in the Courtyard, held captive by those Romans, unable to do anything but stare terrified at her Mother’s crumpled, beaten and bloody body laying on the ground. Gizella’s arms wrapped around her swollen stomach, holding the life within her tightly as she and the child took their last breaths together. During those last moments, Gizella looked over to her daughter and sent her a final thought. Scotia felt her Mothers arms around her, heard her voice in her mind hushing her cries and telling her to be strong for all of them. Scotia felt her Mother within her, felt her life leaving, the pain ebbing away. When Gizella pointed toward the open sea and the sky, Scotia looked up to see her Mother floating away with the infant brother she would never know in this life. She looked around in fright to see if the others were watching this too? No, no one was noticing, or watching the sea. The Roman men’s attentions were focused on their captives. She, along with her cousins, was dragged off away from the yard amidst the screams of those left behind.

                            From that moment on, Scotia carried some piece of her Mother with her and her dreams were often clouded with images that did not make sense. She thought it was because of the terrifying events taking place and tried to shut all of it out. None of the young women had spoken of their individual stories as there had been no time to recover or share it. Their immediate thoughts had been of Reina and then her death.

                         So, now Scotia stood with her Grandmother, and this Roman Vampyre soldier who they said was to be trusted… She could not bring herself to do that quite so easily and knew that her Father would never bring himself to do it even if he were to be saved from the Hell he was locked in now. But, still her Grandmother seemed to value this man’s word and his worth, and trust him? Both of them waited silently for her to speak.

                      She hesitated for a moment then remembered her Mother’s words along with Reina’s words to Eric, be strong for others are in more need now than I. Scotia spoke haltingly and whispered of the sight. “Did no one else see it? I saw Reina with her baby daughter, in the mist… she was pushing Eric back to us, telling him he must stay with us, that we have more need of him than her.” She looked at Scoithin and Artorius as they both sighed and held her close.

                   Artorius stroked her hair and his voice soothed her, “It is alright, Scotia, only a very few have the gifts to see such things or feel them.” He sighed and went on, “You must always remind yourself that is a gift, this ablility you have been blessed with, for often in your future, it will feel more like a curse than a gift.”

                   Scoithin held her grand daughter in her arms and added her own thoughts. “My dearest child, I believe you have more to tell us of this sight, and of your visions… but for now, we will sit by the fire and you will rest with me for a bit.”

                     Some time later as the three of them sat near the fire, Scotia shared the vision of her Mother’s leaving and of the feeling that Gizella was still within her guiding and protecting her. Scoithin and Artorius both nodded in some unspoken agreement. Scoithin spoke gently to Scotia. “Then I was right in feeling that Gizella is still with you somehow.” She picked up Scotia’s small hand and held it while she explained, “Your Mother is with you because she still has work to do here. She, and you are the only ones who can do this. You must clear your mind of everything else and let your Mother do what she needs to do to help your Father.” Scoithin looked at the girl thoughtfully and went on, “Your Mother needs to do the same as Reina did for Eric. Your Father will never rest or be at peace with himself or this world unless she can get through to him through you.”

                  Scotia sat on her stool near the fire, staring into the flames and nodded her understanding while whiping tears from her eyes. Artorius spoke then. “You must understand that this is still very dangerous for you and for your Father. If you do not think you can do this, we will not place you in that danger. I am still in doubt whether this will work, and I would not put your life at risk for this.” He frowned then stood and started pacing, “I am torn on this, Scoithin. Perhaps better to let him go on his way to join Gizella rather than attempt this?”

                       At that, Scotia jumped up from her stool knocking it over in her haste. Her face was not quite her own, it suddenly took on the lines and the appearance of some other older version of herself. She spoke clearly in a near hysterical, hurried voice, “NO! You must give him a chance, a choice! You must give me a chance to help him! He must stay here, there is work for him to do in his future and he must be here for Scotia!”

                        Scoithin and Artorius stared at the young girl in surprise but quickly composed themselves on realizing how strong Gizella’s presence was. As fast as she had appeared, she left and young Scotia was standing there shaking. She looked about to fall to the ground and murmured of how cold she was. Artorius picked her up and carried her to a bench before she could collapse and faint into a stupor. Scoithin motioned for him to pick her back up and bring her to the back sleeping room. He carefully set her upon the bed and she drifted into a deep sleep.

Scoithin covered her with heavy blankets and they stood there watching her while they whispered together. Scoithin spoke firmly, “There, You see, I was right. Even if Scotia is not strong enough yet for something of this nature, Gizella is strong enough for them both and she will not let any of us rest until she has had her chance to save Svein.”

                     Artorius rubbed his forehead in frustration, still frowning in some concern. “I must admit, you are probably right in this. And, I have never seen before quite such an appearance as this? That does not mean though that I am not still worried about the success of this and of Svein’s reaction. To jeopordize her life, and that of everyone else’s if it should go wrong and he become even more uncontrollable?” He shook his head, “We can not send her into this as she is now, look what this one momentary appearance has done to her? And, we can not send her down there on her own… We must be prepared for the worst event. If it should go wrong, if he should break loose we must be prepared to end it for him rather than risk her life. That is the only way that I will agree to any of this?”

                        Scoithin nodded her agreement. “We can wait a few days more and prepare her better for it. I will fetch the others to help with it. And, I will abide with your decisions on how best to keep her safe from harm should it go wrong. I am sure that Gizella will not allow for any harm to come to her daughter in this. If it should come to be that she can not get through to him, I believe she will take matters into her own hands and see to his end herself.”

                          Artorius frowned even deeper at this. “NO! We can not let it go to that end, for it would not be Gizella’s hand in his ending, but Scotia’s. Then the girl would have to live with the knowledge and the overwhelming feeling of guilt at being responsible for her Father’s death.”

                           A sudden realization of that fact washed over Scoithin and she bowed her head. “You are right, I had not thought of that. I can not allow my grand daughter to carry that pain with her through life. Do what you need to, to see that it should not come to that.” She looked down at the sleeping Scotia and stroked the girl’s hair, brushing it from her pale face.

                       She called for a maid to sit with Scotia, giving instructions to send for them as soon as she woke. Scoithin and Artorius left the room to make their preparations. At the doorway, he thought of something else. “Those others whom you call to help… are they who I think they are? They are not the Fairies or the Vampyres, are they?” He gave her an inquiring and somewhat skeptical look. “Do not bring more trouble down upon us than we already have, Scoithin.”

     

Artorius and Scoithin2

                    She drew herself up showing her most regal and royal nature that which she had been born with a sense of. “Do not question their ways, their loyalties, or their abilities. They are far more ancient than any of us and though they live in secracy, they will live on just as powerful or even more so than any of the rest of us. The Druids will help in this and will seek nothing in return for it.” with that, she turned her back to him and walked away.

Dunvegan Castle progress: Medicinal room and gardens

Previous Dunvegan progress post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/dunvegan-castle-progress/

In the previous post, I mentioned the eventual purpose of this back room attached to the kitchen.

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That room is now finished! It is a space dedicated to the medicinal needs of the Castle. Most Castles would have had some form of such a space and the luckier ones would have had an in residence healer or at least an herbalist who would know the basics of potions and poultices. In some Castles, this room or area might have been a small closet space called a Simples Cabinet, in others it would have been a larger space specifically designated for medical treatment and healing as well as the storing and drying of herbs and such. 

 

In our representation of the Castle, we’ve chosen to locate it off from the kitchen and with easy access to the outer courtyard on the other side of the room. While the kitchen has been updated over the centuries, the medicinal room remains much the same as it did in earlier times. This side of the Castle is the older part and the rooms on this side will reflect that more than some other spaces. The medicinal room is located right above the old entrance and when the Castle was added on to, this was probably one of the first areas to be built above ground.

This is an overview of these rooms. The empty space will be an entrance or mud room for this back portion of the Castle. If you look closely, you can see that there is a separate entrance  and stairs to the medicinal room. This is so that those in need of the healer or the medicinal room would not have to go through the kitchen to get there. This would have easier served the servants, stable hands, or tenants. The entry from the kitchen is an archway rather than a door because in older Castles, there were few actual doors.

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The room is very well equipped with an alchemy station, storage cupboards, work table- which would often double as examining table!

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There are additional shelves for storage of necessary items.

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This is the view of the entry from the entrance room. The fireplace remains from the original building of the room.

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Much of the wall space near the fireplace was used for drying of various herbs.

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When Minn first arrived, she was disgusted that the Castle did not have dedicated working garden space. Just because they were Vampyres didn’t mean that the rest of the lot didn’t need to eat! She berated Brennie soundly for being so lax, inefficient and a number of other things… for not having a good garden and for relying on the local farmers to provide their herbs and vegetables, when it should be the other way around. The Castle should be providing for their own needs and those of their tenants! A garden space was promptly set aside.  It is located off from the formal front gardens, and while it was not as convenient or accessible as Minn would like, it would have to do.

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In addition to the garden space, orchard trees were planted along the walkway to the back area.

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This is the back courtyard, with the original all important fresh water spring well still in place and in use. This well was one of the reasons the Castle was able to survive so well in it’s earliest years, and one of the reasons that the Castle was built in this location in the first place. A fresh water source was vital to survival and protected at any cost!

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Outlanderday!

Yes, Finally it’s once again Outlanderday! The day so many of us look forward to all week! Here’s the preview of tonight’s episode!

 

I am still trying to decide on what we will feast on tonight… running a bit behind today! But, taking a cue from the ever resourceful Mrs. Fitz, and our own Dunvegan Castle’s Minn,  shall have a longer look into the pantry supplies in a bit and determine what we can serve other than parritch or more bannocks… Though, I may just have a wee bit of the parritch this morning?! I do not think, however that either of my Cooks would approve of my serving Parritch for a dinner feast!

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Hopefully, I will find something more appropriate in time for dinner and Outlander viewing?

 

Now for a bit of amusement,  on my part at least?! I was playing a bit more with that somewhat addicting Sims4 CAS demo… it is rather addicting in that it’s so easy to pop in and out of when ever I have a few spare moments, not like my Sims 3, which is a much longer process of loading up the game and then going into the character creation.  Anyway, I did previously create versions of Claire and Jamie, and thought I would try adding a few members to their clan?

The household now consists of an assortment of Fraser family members. I did include Mrs. Fitz because I don’t want them all to starve or have to survive any length of time on Claire’s cooking?!

fraser household

So, here you have it… Jamie, Claire, Brianna, William, Mrs. Fitz, and her grand daughter Laoghaire Mackenzie!

 

Jamie and Claire are already on my Sims 4 Creations page!

jamie16

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Close ups of Mrs. Fitz

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Brianna Fraser, Claire and Jamie’s daughter. She previously went by Brianna Randall before she went through the stones herself and found her Father.  For her creation, I used the play with genetics tool in the demo and this is what they provided when I used Jamie Fraser as the donor!

Brianna Fraser2 Brianna Fraser

 

William Ransom, Jamie’s son by Geneva Dunsany. His full name is William Clarence Henry George Ransom and he is Legally, the son and heir of the Earl of Ellesmere, his mother’s husband at the time of his birth. He makes his first appearance in the Outlander book, Voyager.

William Ransom

 

Ahhhh and last, but certainly not least, I have included the teen tart, Laoghaire Mackenzie! She is Mrs. Fitz’ grand daughter and causes more than a few problems throughout life for Claire and Jamie. The beating he took for her in last week’s episode was only just the beginning of the troubles this girl brings!

Leghaire Fitzgibbons Laoghaire Mackenzie Laoghaire Mackenzie2

 

Well, that was fun! I may add more of them later on!

 

Now, everyone enjoy your Outlanderday… and if you haven’t read the books but are just learning about this epic Clan through the series, go spend some time looking up these additional characters as they will be important in the future of the Series! I am off to get a few other things accomplished before the evening of Outlander!

 

Previous Outlanderday post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/outlanderday-dinner/

 

 

 

 

Dunvegan Castle progress

Previous Dunvegan progress: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/category/dunvegan-castle/
Brennie at tea

While Eric is lost in his memories of a long past, (We will get back to him soon, I promise!), work continues on the Castle restoration and Brennie has a few memories of her own. Brennie has not called the Castle home for quite as long as Eric but she has been there for quite a few centuries! Some of those centuries were more pleasant and or more memorable than others. She arrived during the 1400’s when much of the Castle as it stands today, did not exist. For a long time, it remained rather small and more of a fortress for defense. It was during the 17th and early 18th centuries that the Castle came closer to it’s present day appearance.  Unfortunately for Brennie, those were also some of her more difficult years. Prior to that time, in the medieval period, she had less problems finding ways to fit in as a female and a vampire. Those earliest years were difficult in terms of sheer survival but they did allow her a bit more freedom from social judgements on her appearance and behaviors.  Over the centuries as the Highland Clans were being more integrated into the politics and the regimes of the rest of the country and losing their individual identities and freedoms, life became much more regimented and governed by the social customs and rules of the larger world around them. Eric and the other men found it less difficult to find their place and fit in as warriors, soldiers, clan leaders or land owners. Brennie would have had a far harder time coming to terms with the restrictions and rules placed on her as a proper “young” lady of good standing. 

 

Even in her earliest years at the Castle, she struggled with being the “Lady” of the Castle. She was not raised in such an environment and had never desired to be in such a position of authority and leadership. It took her many centuries to adjust to it and even in the present day, she was not comfortable with all that running such a place entails. She did learn early on that one thing was essential to the Castle’s running… That was to have a  person who did know how to run a Castle! As Eric’s clan and the Castle took on more importance, Brennie realized that image was and is everything. She needed a person who could help her present a proper image to the rest of the world, who knew what had to be done, how it had to be done and when it had to be done, even if she herself had no real idea?  Somewhere or when during that time, she found just such a person in the form of one Mistress Minna MacGuinn.

 

Every Castle has it’s version of Minna… Castle Leoch for instance has Mrs. Fitz. 

Glenna Fitsgibbons Outlander 2014

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Our  Dunvegan Castle has Mistress Minna MacGuinn or just Minn if she likes you well enough?

Minna Minna Macguinn

There was a period of time when Brennie was not necessarily  on that well liked list and would be the first to admit that she was downright skairt of the woman!

Minna and Brennie

 

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Who’s Kitchen is it… It’s Minn’s Kitchen, Who runs the Castle… Minn does, and best ye not forget it lass!

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All of the upstairs kitchen, as well as other improvements were more due to Minn’s suggestions… or demands than anything Brennie would have thought of during that time. Once Brennie sorted things out and came to an understanding with Minn, understanding as in it’s Minn’s way… Well, after that Brennie left much of the day to day running of the Castle up to Minn and they got along fine!

 

Minn’s kitchen, and best ye not forget that!

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Minn was instrumental in a number of changes and improvements. The back room behind the kitchen would eventually become a large alchemy/medicinal and herbal room. And, Minn was also responsible for added garden space outdoors… Shortly after her arrival, she shrugged and tsked at the lovely outdoor gardens and made a comment to Brennie. “Achhh and sure it’s a pretty place for entertaining and all but what would ye be needing that for seeing as ye’re so skairt of them such things now aren’t ye?” She was right about that… This was during a time when Brennie was having such a difficult time of adjusting to the world that she avoided people as much as possible and her reason for having Minn was so that she didn’t have to face any of the many guests that often frequented the Castle. Minn was having none of that, and she was the one who helped push Brennie back to the outside world.  Minn would get her working garden and Brennie would get her life back during that time as well!

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