17 November, 2009

Inverness!

This weekend I went with my friend from CU and Celtic class, Lindsey Stirling, to visit her family and the sights in Inverness! It was truly a blast and I'm so thankful to have been so well looked-after by Lindsey and her family!

We took the crowded Friday evening train to Inverness, where her parents collected us and fed us and put us to bed. The mattress in the loft was paradise compared to the Hillhead mattress, and I slept like a baby!

Next day (Saturday), we rose early (for college students, okay?) to visit Culloden Battlefield! I have been an amateur historian-fan of the Jacobite Wars for a long time, and this was a special experience (a wee guide for those unfamiliar with the battle here http://www.britishbattles.com/battle_of_culloden.htm). Considering the tragedies that occurred there in 1746, I look way too happy in the pictures. That would be the geek side of me just being excited that I was there. (I smiled at Lexington, MASS, too.) I did have my quiet moment of respect for those that fought and died there, too, but you just can't photograph that sort of thing.



Unfortunately the museum doesn't allow photography, so most of my pictures are from the battlefield itself and the cairns and monuments erected there in the nineteenth century. I did however, try to sneak a pic of a brace of pistols engraved with "Murdoch"--since that's a family clan name. My illicit efforts were not rewarded, as the pictures did not really turn out.





A few minutes drive from Culloden we visited the Clava Cairns. This was honestly the most beautiful area I have seen so far in Scotland, and it was such a surprise. The pictures hardly do it justice (there are some better ones here: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/inverness/clavacairns/ but still, really, nothing like being there), but I tried. Just the combination of the gnarly trees, the orange leaves of autumn, the moss-covered rocks, the pagan mystery, the standing stones, the mist--gorgeous! The surprise favorite of the trip!







We turned out to be too ambitious in our planning and had to save Urquhart Castle (pronounced, basically, like "irk" + "heart"--just omit the second U) for the next day, but I was rewarded with a hillwalk around the shores of Loch Ness with Lindsey's family and dog. The country they took me through was beautiful, and by the time we got back to the Loch the water was perfectly still (Nessie's nap time?) which made for some great pictures.









After a wonderful supper ("tea" is what they actually call the evening meal) prepared by Lindsey's mother, we gathered in the family room to play a game of LotR Risk! I had never played this version, but I've always been keen on World Domination, and despite being the red "orc" team, I felt no remorse when Lindsey and I won! The victory is documented!



The next day we went to Lindsey's lovely church, and afterwards took a packed lunch to Urquhart Castle! (http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/drumnadrochit/urquhart/) My camera pooped out about halfway through the visit, but I will get pictures from Lindsey when we get around to sharing photos. Built in the 13th century on the site of an old fort visited by St. Columba in the 6th century, and blown up as testament to Scotland's inclination towards scorched earth tactics in the 17th.



The ruins were beautiful, and Sunday was a much brighter, prettier day, so the visit to Urquhart Castle was a success. Lindsey has a great eye for photography, so I'll post her pictures when I get a hold of them: we visited every nook and cranny of the ruins and photographed each other in them. It was a lot of fun. There's also a trebuchet outside the castle walls, allegedly built by some American medieval history students.











We took the train back Monday morning, and I arrived back thoroughly pleased with my visit. It was great having not only a local but a local with a car and a heart of gold showing me around the place.

I returned to an empty kitchen but Lynne totally rescued me, cooking up a batch of tacos and macaroni and cheese, and I was so glad that the taking-care of Megan was continuing I stayed at her flat all day and we watched movies. A perfect lazy end to a wonderful trip!

Now it's really back to the daily grind, probably until Christmas. I want to get studying done early, but besides that I'm staring down the barrel of three papers and a presentation. Wouldn't have fazed me before, but either I'm getting lazy or I just want more time to explore!

Hope this rather more entertaining post finds all of you in the best of health and happiness! Love!

02 November, 2009

Fireworks and Halloween and Ceilidhs, Oh My!


Well, I caught up on my homework just in time, because it's been nonstop fun since then!

The Bible Study I go to Tuesday nights are awesome. I've included some pictures. While going through the book of James we bought an enormous pizza that made Pudge Bros' Monster look like a midget. Good times!




Since then my activities have mainly included movie nights at Jennifer and Tom's place with Lynne. Long Island Iced Teas and much good-natured fun abound. They haven't yet let me synch up Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of Oz, but I am working on it...


One excitingly Scottish thing I've done recently was, ironically, not very Scottish: Aberdeen's Malt Whisky Society hosted a very fancy tasting session of INDIAN whisky! They make it Scotch style, but in India! They have a whisky ranked 3rd in the world! It was very informative and swanky and I learned a lot. And I confirmed how much I love my peat!



The highlight has been Halloween! Lynne, Jennifer, Tom and I met up with AURA (Aberdeen University Roleplaying Society--the gamer folk--ooh! And I'm now officially First Year Representative on the Committee!) at the student pub where they played really loud music but drinks were yummy. It was so not my scene but I managed some dancing in my sweltering costume. Then we went to a better place called the Bassment where they played good music not too loud and we got to talk with other AURA members. A fun group. Lynne was Anakin Skywalker (RotS), and Tom went as Darth Vader. Jennifer went as a Twi'lek, and made an awesome tentacle-headress for herself.




I was, of course, an Ewok. I will post better pictures when I have them, but suffice to say it worked out very well. Jennifer helped my build the hood, and I rented the bear costume and bought a small spear. The cute fuzziness was a total dude-magnet-- which was awesome! (Although it says some unfortunate things about the male population of Aberdeen...)

A few days later I attended a Ceilidh! Sadly only my second one, but it was a blast! Hosted by the CU (Christian Union--come on, people, learn my acronyms!), there was fun-filled dancing and, luckily, a full bar. You don't have to be pretty or a good dancer to get asked to dance at a Ceilidh! Yes! I was only allowed to sit out the one dance which I insisted on photographing.




Then, for Guy Fawkes Day, a few members of AURA put on a fabulous fireworks display on the beach! There were glow-sticks and sparklers and beer and s'mores (well, sorta), as well! That was a blast!

video

I'm now off to Inverness with Lindsey for the weekend, to see Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, and perhaps a castle or two! I will hopefully be much more prompt in posting my adventures there!

Love!