Living in a Scottish Castle

Roslin-castle-scotland

Roslin-castle-door

Last week Matt’s family came to visit us in Scotland — it was schwonderful and I miss them already. But do you know what was the icing on top of the trip cake? We stayed in a castle. A for real castle. With a turret and everythang. And dungeons, people. Dungeons. It would have scared the bejebus out of me staying there alone, but luckily I had my nephews to hold my hand when I wanted to go exploring:

Roslin-castle-stairs

Originally (we’re talking 1590s-1700s) the castle looked a bit more like this (that house-y bit to the left is what we stayed in):

Roslin-castle-drawing

We spent most evenings by a roaring fire in this room (the portraits looked way creepier at night with the fire flickering):

Roslin-castle-lounge

Cath and I have stayed in a number of grand houses via The Landmark Trust (in Italy, Cambell Town, and Aryshire). The difference with this ole pile is that it’s still owned by the St. Claire family (aka the Earl of Roslin and his brood) who’ve been around this neck of the woods since the Norman Invasion. So Roslin Castle still feels quite lived-in, what with the ancestral portraits, photos with the Queen (for reals) and such. And it’s quite cosy, you know, for a castle (she says like she’s stayed in lots).

Roslin-castle-couch

Roslin-castle-details2

So what does one do in a castle all day, you ask? Drink tea, eat copious amounts of clotted cream with warm scones and sunbathe in the courtyard-which-used-to-be-the-great-hall-in-1590 natch:

Roslin-castle-courtyard

Roslin-castle-details

We had lovely dinners in this red dinning room which is supposedly haunted by a lady in white (wayyy creepier at night when it’s just lit with candles — but good creepy).

Roslin-castle-dinning-room

Roslin-castle-dinning

Another thing to do in your castle? Take timed self-portraits — such good backdrops for blog photos! But know that if you are staying in a castle with nine other souls (or more — lady in white and co.?) someone will walk in when you are doing your blogger posing and then you end up looking like a startled prairie dog:

Roslin-castle-tapestry

This was the stair down to one of the bathrooms. When I was little and in princess-mode I never imagined Princess Buttercup et al descending the turret stairs to the toilet. What do princesses need loos for?

Roslin-castle-turret

Roslin Castle is situated right above a gorgeous glen that acts as a sort of three-quarter moat (Yes, a moat! And there was a bridge over the moat!). So lots of lovely walks to be had. And it’s just a short walk up the hill to Rossyln Chapel of The DaVinci Code fame. Rosslyn Chapel is beautiful and really magical even if you don’t care for the Dan Brown-iness of it all.

Roslin-glen-mill

Roslin-castle-ruins

Do you want to hear some modern day magicalness surrounding Rossyln Chapel? Weeeeell, we went up to the Chapel for mass on Sunday. When I walked in I noticed this lovely young Asian woman in the back pew — one notices such things in more rural parts of Scotland where the general population is decidedly not Asian nor young. Halfway through mass I noticed she’s waving at me and mouthing the words “Lar.” Holy smokes! I know that lovely young Asian woman!

Three and a half years ago Cath and I met the author Cheryl Tan at the Decatur Book Festival and got to interview her for this here blog (read the interview here). So a writer from New York met a blogger from Atlanta once in Decatur, and then they meet again in Roslin, Scotland nearly four years later?! What are the chances?

Lesson to be learned here? All Asians do know each other. Red coats are in. Rosslyn Chapel is magical.

Cheryl-tan-author

(Cheryl, I’m still so excited about this! And I’m so glad I’ll get to see you in a few weeks post-retreat!)

So, hows about it guys? Have I finally convinced you that Scotland needs to be number 1 on your places you must visit now? If you come, we’ll go castle hunting together.

—–

Dearest Cath,

Even though this year has been utter poop in a lot of ways, it has also been the exact opposite of that. I got to see you like FOUR times in six months and we stayed in a villa in Italy. And now me in a castle. Next stop? Move over Karl, the AsianCajuns are staying in Versailles.

The only logical next step, non?

It’s only been a week, but I feel like I haven’t talked to you in 20. We have to stop being busy and just skype each other all day. What are you doing? Whatchu you got on this week? When are you coming?

LOVE YOU!!!!

Lar

 


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I Dream of Shiro’s Sushi

shiros-sushi

salmon-nigiri

sushi-shiros

tamagoyaki-shiros

Not so very long ago (say, last week), I didn’t get sushi. Chunks of raw fish or eel or squid or sea urchin? Good for aquariums and not for my belly, says I! Oooo how very wrong I was.

Gone are my days of California rolls and a pouty lip when friends suggest a meal of nigiri. Bring on the raw fish! Particularly if it’s salmon and even more particularly if it’s made by the genius sushi chefs at Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle.

Before being introduced to Shiro’s (thanks, Cath and Troy!), I always thought sushi-lovers were a bit hyperbolic in their love of the stuff. How can cold fish and clumps of rice be satisfying? Turns out I was just eating on the wrong coast. I think I’ll always be an east coast girl through and through… unless I’m eating sushi. Oh heaven!

When we sat down at the sushi bar, Cath and Troy confidently said “Omakase!” I ducked my head down (keeping the planks of raw squid and fish out of eyesight) and looked for the words “roll” and “vegetable” on the menu. When I handed my checked-off menu to the chef, he looked at me (I swear there was a twinkle in his eye) and he said “you let me know if you want anything else as we go along.” And thank goodness!

By the end of the night I was a full-fledged omakaser after watching Cath and Troy chopstick mouthful after mouthful of intriguing-looking delights. For those of you who don’t know, omakase basically means you entrust your menu to the chef, so s/he’ll make you whatever is fresh and most delicious. I love the idea of putting your gustatory trust in the hands of a virtuoso sushi chef. There’s something wholy (and holy) satisfying in surrendering yourself to what is beautifully presented before you. That mean that sometimes you get sea urchin (still scares me a bit), but it also means you get a salmon nigiri that melts in your mouth like warmed butter and pure joy.

Another part of the beauty of omakase is that you don’t just get a big ole plateful of sushi in your lap at once. The chef hand-rolls each nigiri, so you wait every few minutes in between these melt-in-your-mouth mini monuments of delight (now who’s hyperbolic?!). And while you wait, you can chat to the chef and your fellow diners. Suddenly the meal is more than just food, it’s about a relationship to what you are eating and who you are eating with.

Have you guys seen the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”? If you haven’t, do! I think it’s on Netflix at the moment. I watched it many months ago before my personal sushi enlightenment last week and it gave me an inkling of what I experienced at Shiro’s.

Now tell me, have you guys always been sushi lovers or did it take you a while to come around to it? If you are a sushi lover where is the best place you’ve had sushi? I now feel like I should move to California or the PNW just so I can always drift away into omakase bliss whenever I need to.

——-

Dear Cath,

Thank you so much to you and Troy! I really never understood you guys when you would go on and on about good sushi in LA. I really don’t think it makes sense until you have amazing sushi. So much of my sushi life has been from grocery stores and subpar sushi places. I still will be partial to vegetable rolls when I’m in those places, but I’ll always be yearning for the real thing.

I think that tamagoyaki is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in my life. And unlike most desserts where the sugar leaves you craving more and more, this was such a perfect balance just as it was. Not more. Not less. Perfection.

You guys basically are responsible if Matt and I end up moving out to the west coast.

Love you like tamagoyaki,

Lar

______

Update to our readers:

Lar wrote this post before her surgery last week so I figured I should include an update on her progress. On Friday she had to go back into the hospital because she was developing an abscess from the surgery and had a high fever. The good news is the doctors were able to drain the infected area before it got really bad, but it has made the recovery process more drawn out. Lar is still in the hospital, but should be released early this week. I’ll keep you all posted and just want to thank you again for all of your wonderful words of support.

xoxo, Cath

 

 

 


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AsianCajuns Guide to Seattle

A guide to seattle
Photo credit

Yes, this is a very impartial, biased guide to Seattle, but we had so much fun eating our way around the city and following our friends’ recommendations that I wanted to share it with you. The shops section is lacking a bit so fill free to leave a comment with some suggestions and I’ll add it to the post.

pike place market Pike Place Starbucks The Walrus and the Carpenter Top Pot Doughnuts Ba Bar Dicks Seattle

Drinking & Dining:

  • Percy’s & Co – We just went here for some cocktails and olives, but I would have loved to stay for dinner because I liked the low lighting and modern farm/victorian feel of the decor. My Negroni was spot on and Lar ordered a mocktail that she really enjoyed.
  • Hot Cakes – Stood in line after dinner for about 30 minutes for boozy shakes that did not disappoint. I wish they had more seating for the night crowds, but I would have eaten my s’more shake standing up if I had to.
  • Pike Place Market – Touristy, but still fantastic. If it was a warmer day, I would have purchased some cheese, fresh bread, olives, fresh flowers (just because), and a bottle of wine from the multitude of vendors for a picnic. It was also fun to join the throng of Japanese tourists at the original Starbucks. My iced decaf tall soy latte was perfect.
  • Ballard Farmers Market - Open every Sunday on a closed-off street in the historic section of the Ballard neighborhood. We loved the sauerkraut tent (seriously – so many different flavors!), the gluten-free bakery, and the mini doughnuts stand.
  • Dick’s - Delicious, nostalgic burgers that you order at a walk-up window. We went to the Wallingford location after drinks and it was the perfect end to a long evening.
  • Top Pot Doughnuts – I loved the old fashion cake doughnuts, but my favorite was actually the cranberry mint rooibos tea Lar and I sipped on.
  • Ba Bar - So, so, so good! I wish all Vietnamese street food-inspired cuisine tasted this good. Order the congee and your life will never be the same.
  • Shiro’s Sushi - the. best. sushi. ever. Stay tuned for Lar’s post on Monday all about this place.
  • Din Tai Fung – unfortunately overrated, but still good. I enjoyed the soup dumplings more than Troy and Lar (they didn’t think they were very flavorful), but the whole experience seemed watered-down and Americanized. We went to the new, fancy location in the university district. I’ve heard the other locations feel more authentic.
  • Brouwer’s – Troy and I went for the great beer selection, but stayed for the delicious food. The muscles and cioppino were out of this world.
  • The Walrus & the Carpenter – Great oysters. Great staff. I loved the vibe in this tiny spot in Ballard.

Fjallraven Seattle Uwajimaya

Shopping:

  • Fjallraven Seattle – Lar and I love our Fjallraven backpacks. You’d think we were getting paid to blog about them since we both wear them everywhere and have featured them here, here and here. I had no idea Fjallraven had any stateside stores so when Lar and I were walking around downtown Seattle and passed by the Fjallraven store, we did a double take and then ran inside. I was so tempted to buy another backpack when I saw the rainbow wall of backpacks and Lar fell in love with this hat.
  • Uwajimaya – a Japanese grocery/mega store. The housewares section reminds me of Pearl River Mart in New York. Plus, Troy and I found giant Pocky, which we’ve been looking for all over Atlanta.
  • Kinokuniya – the Japanese bookstore adjoining Uwajimaya. Yes, it sells plenty of Japanese books, but it also has a great selection of international magazines, books, and gifts.
  • Glass Baby – Beautiful handmade glass votives and cups in every color of the rainbow. Plus, ten percent of all revenues is donated to organizations dedicated to healing.
  • E. Smith Mercantile – An amazingly curated shop with a bar in the back. I loved the old-timey, apothecary feel to it and wish I had had more time to spend in it.
  • Elliott Bay Book Company – Lar and I are suckers for independent book stores and Elliott Bay is HUGE. We spent hours browsing the shelves. Troy loved it because they serve good beer in the store cafe.

_________________

Dearest Readers,

Instead of writing Lar (who is currently sleeping in a hospital bed after a successful surgery today), I want to write a quick thank you note to you. All of your support and kindness about Lar’s surgery was so wonderful and I’m so incredibly grateful for it.

If all goes well, Lar will be sent home later today. Keep your fingers crossed!

xoxo, Cath


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AsianCajuns in Seattle

AsianCajuns-Wallingford-Seattle

Cath and I got to spend five lovely days together in the beautiful, piney, hilly city of Seattle! We hope that while we nibbled nigiri, picked fruit and veg at Pike Place and did some thrift shopping, you guys stayed warm and toasty.

Cath and Troy had a maddening leisurely nine hours at Sea Tac before they could fly home to icy Atlanta last night on the red eye. And I know that’s the least of the crazy ice stories from the south east.

We’ll have some delectable posts coming up soon on our Seattle-ness (what a wonderful city you have, Seattlites!). I feel so very lucky that even though this past year has been a struggle health-wise it’s more than made up for it in the number of times I’ve been able to see my twinie! Next up? We’ll be in Atlanta together again for about 2.5 weeks while I have surgery #2 (for my endo) and recovery. Silver linings abound.

—–

Dear Cath,

Oy, I can’t believe you guys had to do that nine hour waiting game yesterday. I know you must still feel the greasies and the sleepies, that special combination only obtained by long hours cattled in an airport and long flight.

So glad you guys got home okay. Did you have to sled on your suitcases to get from MARTA to your house? Can’t wait to see you Sunday — sooo sooooon!

Love you like rain loves the PNW,

Lar

 

 


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Sun Worship

San-Luis-Obispo

Pismo-beach

Avila-beach

Tacos-de-Alcapulco

Pismo-beach-SLO

Monarch-butterfly-grove

Pismo-beach-town

Mustang

Avila-pier

SLO-sunset

Sun! Lots of brilliant warm glowiness hitting my face — ahhhh heaven. My body is totally breathing a sigh of relief from the influx of much-needed vitamin D. Thank you, thank you, San Luis Obispo (and Pam!).

I truly forget how very dark Scotland can be. I complain about the darkness constantly to anyone with a pair of ears, but at a cellular level I think my body believes it will forever be lacking a key vitamin and has learned to live with it — ungracefully. Our few weeks in Atlanta were pretty gray and now Matt and I are in Seattle for a month — more perpetual grayness. But the second we stepped off the plane in San Luis for a long weekend I swear I became a different person. With sun I’m the lighter, happier, blissed-out version of my Scottish self.

Apart from the glorious sun, this SLO trip was: cool nights by the fire, the sweetest raspberries, orange trees ready for the picking, cool sand and even cooler waters, deeelicious for-reals Mexican food, Monarch butterflies, water swirling around pier posts, avocados that taste like avocados, the murmur of prayer, desert hills, sparkling water.

We are back in Seattle now and I feel like a tantrum-throwing two-year-old. Wahhhhh! Where’s my sun?! I want my sun!!! And there aren’t enough SAD lamps in the world to make up for the real thing. Maybe I’ll just move SLO to Edinburgh. Sounds like the most feasible option to me.

In the meantime, the best next thing? A visit from my twinie!!! Cath and Troy get here Friday and I can not wait!!! They will add some much needed glow to the pacific northwest.

I hope those of you under piles of snow right now feel the heat of the sun through these piccies and have lovely beachy day dreams to keep you warm and roasty toasty.

——-

Dear Cath,

Atlanta, Seattle, and then Atlanta. I feel so spoiled!!! This is the most I’ve seen you in years!!! Getting more surgery sucks, but I feel like it has the biggest silver lining known to cloud-land (aka, the sky).

I think you would really like SLO, but I think I will forever be biased about it because of the sunny sun sun and the Scissor Sisters and having a SIL there who is the hostest with the mostest. Can you believe we’ve never been to Cali together? You in LA and me in SLO and SF. We should meet in the middle. Between the bright lights of Los Angeles and the tawdry lights of San Jose.

I can’t wait to see you guys!!!!!!

MUCHO LOVES,

Lar


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Scotland: Country vs City

Lar gave a great overview of our wonderful Thanksgiving trip to the Scottish countryside last week. Auchinleck House was unlike any place I’ve stayed at before. We spent six glorious days drinking tea, reading, watching our favorite tv shows and movies, and walking the countryside.

Scottish countryside

One of the days we spent four hours walking through the mud and cow patties. We thought we were heading towards Robert Burns’ birthplace only to realize we were totally wrong (it was just a memorial). It was exhausting, but really fun.

walking outfit

Chenille sweater (similar here) • Lands End vest • Gap 1969 skinnies • Fyre Melissa Button boots • Fjallraven backpack

I probably should have purchased these Hunters before this trip. Instead I wore my Fryes and they got completely caked in mud.

There was a map in the house that showed a nearby castle ruins. We failed to find them, but we did find some really great bridges – and lots of sheep!

looking for castle ruins in Scotland

You can’t necessarily tell from these photos, but we really lucked out with the weather. It was kind of warm and we saw the sun every once in a while.

walking back to Auchinleck House

For all the loveliness of the countryside, I get antsy if I’ve been away from a city for a few days. So we took a quick day trip to Glasgow and it was wonderful!

on the train to glasgow

Even though I studied abroad in Edinburgh for six month in 2004 and have visited Lar a couple of times, I’ve never spent time in Glasgow. It’s an amazing city – just as wonderful as Edinburgh, but in a less refined, more metropolitan kind of way.

Lar in front of office

Lar and I did a wee bit of shopping (COS, Office, etc.) and then met up with Matt at Starbucks where we finally got someone wifi (which equals civilization to me because I don’t have an international phone plan). I also geeked out a little bit in front of a police call box – The Tardis!

DrWho box Glasgow

J.Crew coat (from the Clearance sale!) • Funktional sweatshirt • Madewell pants • Jeffrey Campbell boots

How amazing are the lights on this street? This is right next to the Gallery of Modern Art and it makes the city feel so magical.

Glasgow lights

It was so much fun to spend a day in the city with my twinie, but it was equally as nice to come back to “our” home in the country and warm up with cups of tea – and the sweaters we bought at COS.

___________

Dearest Lar,

I’m still cherishing our Thanksgiving week together, but it already feels like it was over a month ago! The only good thing about that is that it means you’ll be coming home for Christmas soon.

I just bought your Christmas present today. I almost tweeted about it and then remembered you actually read Twitter ;P

Hope you have a wonderful week! Skype you next weekend.

xoxo, Cath


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AsianCajuns at Auchinleck House

AsianCajuns-Auchinleck

Cath and I spent seven glorious days together at this Georgian estate, once the family seat of biographer James Boswell (not to shabby, Bozzy!):

Auchinleck-house

Auchinleck-house-ary

Isn’t she lovely? We rented her with a dozen other wonderful friends from The Landmark Trust to spend the week reading, watching movies, taking long walks in the Ayrshire countryside and eating and eating and eating. It was all very Jane Austen, if JA wore skinny jeans and watched Lord of the Ring movies on a projector. She must have left those bits out of her Pemberly descriptions.

I still can’t get over how massive the house is. We had 11 people in our party and were constantly loosing each other. The dinning room was cavernous, the library had squashy couches and the kitchen had an industrial stove. What more could you ask for, really?

Auchinleck-house-interiors

Here’s part of the gang eating in the kitchen (yes, even the kitchen is fancy pants ):

Auchinleck-kitchen

And to work off the piles of food and drink, we tramped around the muddy farms surrounding the estate during the day:

auchinleck

moss-time

hawthorne-berries muddy-boots

And then of course, there was the main event: Thanksgiving dinner!

Auchinleck-Thanksgiving

American readers, we hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too. Canadian, British, et al readers, we hope you are having a wonderful start to the holiday season. Tell us what you’ve been up to this past week.

—–

Dear Cath,

At this very moment you are flying over the Atlantic somewhere — noooooooo. How did that week go by so quickly? I love that we’ve gotten to be together so much this past year for two people living on opposite sides of a ginormous ocean. But somehow I get even more homesick for you when I see you more?! I don’t like it! ARGH!

I know I should stop moaning because I’ll see you in four weeks (yahoo!!!) but I don’t think I’ll be truly happy until we are living within spitting distance of each other again.

Love you to Auchinleck and beyond!!!

Lar


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My Corolla Trip to Blue Ridge, GA

Corolla 2014 Unexpect Everything

Last weekend Southeast Toyota Distributors gave me a 2014 Corolla to drive up to Blue Ridge, GA for two nights. I had been wanting to do a mini fall getaway with Troy this season, so it was perfect timing. Blue Ridge is only about two hours north of Atlanta and is especially beautiful this time of year with the leaves changing color.

This was basically my outfit for the two days we spent wandering around the north Georgia mountains:

apple picking outfit

 

apple picking outfit details
Fantas Eyes sunglasses • J. Crew jacketSo Worth Loving tee • black pashmina (similar here) • Gap jeansJeffrey Campbell bootsFjällräven backpack
The Jeffrey Campbell boots are my new pair of boots for the year. I love how simple they are and the slit down the sides are unexpected. You’ll probably be seeing them a lot on this blog :)
Downtown Blue Ridge has really grown and evolved in the past five years. Not too long ago it was just another sleepy, north Georgia town. Today it has a number of fine dining restaurants and shops along its main street. During this time of year it’s packed with tourist like me and Troy.

Downtown Blue Ridge GA

Even though the downtown is growing fast, there aren’t really enough restaurants for all of the tourists. So, if you take a trip up to Blue Ridge during the fall,  make reservations at the nicer restaurants a week ahead of time.

Blue Ridge Georgia

I didn’t make any reservations ahead of time, so Troy and I missed out on Harvest on Main, the most popular Blue Ridge restaurant. Nevertheless, we did have excellent meals at Black Sheep, Joe’s BBQ, and Blue Ridge Brewery. Joe’s BBQ was my favorite. It’s so small and so popular that the restaurant usually runs out of food by the afternoon.

Blue Ridge Brewery

We stayed at the Aska Lodge Bed and Breakfast and loved it. It’s only a five minute drive from downtown Blue Ridge and has that perfect lodge/cabin feel that you want in the mountains. There are only four rooms (each with a bathroom ensuite) so it’s really intimate and cozy. Troy and I loved the owners, Janet and Ric, and really enjoyed eating breakfast with the other guests. My favorite part was the communal snack area, which included homemade cookies.

Aska Lodge

Our room had its own private section on the upstairs porch. It was perfect for reading with a cup of hot cocoa and for applying makeup ;) I also took full advantage of the fake fireplace/heater next to our bed.

Aska Lodge stay

Aska Lodge Room

In addition to spending a few hours exploring downtown, there are a number of other things you can do in the Blue Ridge area.

We spent a morning at Mercier Orchards, which has been around since 1943. The place is huge! There’s a market, gift shop, deli, and bakery.

Mercier Orchards market

It’s a little too late in the season to pick your own apples, so Troy and I just ended up buying half a bushel of Black Arkansas apples (recommended by Ric from our B&B), and then had a mid-morning snack that included an apple dumpling and the amazingly, delicious fried apple pie.

Mercier Orchards fried apple pie

Blue Ridge isn’t far from the start of the Appalachian Trail so there are tons of outdoorsy things to do if you’re staying in that area. It’s also close to Amicalola Falls, the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. With so much beauty and so many trail options in the area you would think Troy and I spent a good part of our trip hiking. Well, we’re not outdoorsy types, so we chose the shortest and closest (and I think best-named) trail to our B&B: Fall Branch Falls.

Fall Branch Falls

I really don’t think it gets more perfect than beautiful scenery, an awesome place to stay, a sweet ride, local BBQ, and drinking hot cocoa on the porch on a chilly morning. Even though the trip was only two days, it’s one of our favorites we’ve taken. Troy and I already want to bring all of our friends on a Blue Ridge road trip next month.

Mercier Orchards tree

I’ll leave you with this last photo from Mercier Orchards. Happy fall!

___________________________

Dearest Lar,

Troy and I spent the whole weekend talking about how beautiful Blue Ridge is. . . and then I saw your photos from Perthshire. Whoa! Blue Ridge is beautiful, but Perthshire is like magical unicorn beautiful.

I think you and Matt would really like Blue Ridge. It would be so fun to do a couples trip up there some day. It also made it really fun to drive a new, fancy car. I’ve never driven a car that has a backup camera and a touch screen audio system – exactly what you’d need for a road trip. Makes you kind of miss America, doesn’t it?

Only twelve more days until we see each other again!!!!

xoxo, Cath


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A Long Weekend in Brigadoon

dunalastair estate home farm

dew rose cottage

cosy tea

Scotland is notorious for its rainy temperament, but even at its most cranky it is one of the best places in the world.

Most of our five days in Perthsire have been cold, windy and rainy, but when the sun shines I swear this place looks like something from the pages of Brothers Grim. This from a girl who was never that interested in fairy tales and who used to think nature was best left alone to the bugs and people who enjoy the sound of water-proof clothes rubbing together.

So be warned: I’m going to bombard you with pictures in this post. I want you guys to get a taste of the magical place that is the Highlands of Scotland. And then come for a visit.

Here’s a few pics of the wee cottage Matt and I stayed in:

dunalastair rose cottage

dunalastair-cottage

scotland oatmeal

One of Scotland’s famous peaks, Schiehallion mountain, covered in snow — this was our view from the front door of our cottage:

schiehallion

This has got to be the Brigadoon  bridge. Is that Gene Kelly behind that peat bog?

brigadoon bridge

We drove through Dull, Scotland: sister city (village?) to Boring, Oregon. Cath and I have been fans of the Dull & Boring Facebook page for a few years. Boring, don’t feel left out. Next time I’m in Oregon, you and me have a date!

Dull Scotland

Matt and I foolishly decided we are now, after two years of living in Scotland, as hardy as Scots. Foolish! Foolish, I tell you! Hiking in the driving sleet and freezing rain is not for us. Don’t let Matt’s triumphant stance with walking sticks fool you:

hiking dunalastair estate

p.s. Just because something is labeled water-proof (North Face, I’m looking at you) does not mean it’s water-proof in this damp country. We were soaked to the bone in water-proof trousers, jackets and hiking boots after 20 minutes of schlepping up this hill.

Enough griping! Look what happens when the sun does comes out. It’s autumn and the Highlands turn into gold:

golden light autumn

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the wee village of Fortingall and ogling the oldest living organism in Europe: a 5,000 year old Yew tree! It was 56 feet in circumference before the Victorians got souvenir-happy and chopped the base to bits. It’s still growing though and mightily impressive:

fortingall yew oldest tree

Fortingall yew

Another fun “fact” about Fortingall? Many questionable sources claim that Pontius Pilate was born here. Yes, here, this teeny village of Fortingall in the heart Scotland. And, yes, that Pontius Pilate from the Bible. Apparently, Pontius’ dear ole dad was stationed up here with his Roman legion. So maaaaybe? Anywhoodles, I find the Oldest Living Organism Yew Tree way more awe-inspiring than Ponti P.

Speaking of myths v facts, Loch Ness is no where near Perthsire, but we figured these tees would be appreciated near any loch. So we had a mini photo shoot by Loch Tay:

loch ness monster

 

See anything, Matt? Nope, just a questionable shadow and ripple across the loch:

explorers

Egads! The Loch Tay Monster is sighted. Lar flees, Matt runs to the rescue:

loch tay monster

And one last picture of Brigadoon (aka Dunalastair Estate) because it just looks so unreal:

view rose cottage

Hope you guys didn’t get carpal tunnel in your scrolly finger. I promise my next post won’t be so long. But aren’t you Scotophiles now? Come rain or shine, this fairy land won’t disappoint.

—–

Dear Cath,

I can’t wait to see pics from your mountain weekend!!! In some ways, bits of Perthshire look EXACTLY like northern Georgia. There’s more trees than on the west coast of Scotland and the mountains look kind of similar from afar. I’m guessing you guys didn’t need three layers of clothing made out of wool and Gortex to go tramping around the Blue Ridge mountains.

And as nice as long mountain weekends are, I don’t like that we couldn’t skype! Miss you oooodles! We must skype midweek then, okay?

Love you like water loves Scotland,

Lar


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A Sunrise in Perthshire

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Cath and I are both on mountain weekend get-aways: she’s in the Blueridge Mountains in Georgia and I’m in the Highlands of Perth in Scotland.

I’ll do a proper post for Monday, but I had to share these misty sunrise photos with you! It was breathtaking in person and my non-existent photography skills don’t do it justice.

I wish you were here to gulp in big lungfuls of this air with me: it is sharp and cold and so clean. And its so quiet here. Once in a while birds twitter, the wind rustles the autumn leaves, the cows moo, but otherwise it’s utter stillness. I think this city girl is turning into a country girl in her old(er) age.

Matt and I are staying in a wee stone cottage complete with a crackling fire, tartan rug and bedrooms tucked under the eaves. I’ll show you more Scottish country twee-dom in Monday’s post!

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Dear Cath,

Matt and have gone into serious hibernation mode here in Perthshire. It’s freezing rain most of the day, so we’ve holed up in our roasty, toasty cottage and eaten our way through lots of vegan/gluten-free meals. Gluten-free toast (with coconut oil and manuka honey — soooo good) and lots and lots of roiboos tea.

It’s been getting dark here around 5, so last night we went to bed around 9 pm, as in we were asleep by then! Hence my ability to be up way before sunrise.

Hope you and Troy are having a wonderful time up in the Blueridge Mountains! Can’t wait to hear all about your trip! Are you guys hibernating as well?

LOVE YOU like mountains love mist (they do),

Lar

 


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