We left Aberdeen for the northern city of Inverness, and on the way, we stopped at Elgin Cathedral. Abandoned after the reformation, the cathedral lies in ruins. Isn’t it interesting that we find ruined things so interesting…so beautiful? What does that mean for us, on those days when we feel like our lives lie in ruins? Something to think about. I obviously don’t have time to explore that question today. I’m a zillion days behind on my blog.
Somehow, the rain seemed fitting as we walked among the broken pillars, the moss covered stone, the floating archways and the gravestones.
A Family Find
One reason Jean wanted to come to the town of Elgin was to find information about her ancestors, some of whom lived in nearby Belle Moray. (Have I mentioned that Jean’s a genealogist?) So imagine her disappointment when she arrived and discovered that the town flooded years ago and still lay deep under water.
After visiting the cathedral, while Doug and his parents headed to the car, the girls and I picked up a few postcards in the gift shop. When I mentioned that we were going for lunch, the woman behind the register (or “till” as they call it), recommended Cobbs’ Café, just short walk down the street, and in the same building as the library. Everyone liked this idea, and as we were walking to the café, Doug’s mom said she was excited because the man in the cathedral had recommended she go to the library and talk to a local genealogist. Apparently she didn’t mention that to us previously because didn’t want to drag us all to a library with her. And now she could go anyway because we were having lunch there! Doug, of course, was like, “Mom! Why wouldn’t you ask us to go to the library with you?! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and if you need to go to a library, we’ll go.”
Anyway, God seemed to want us to get to that library, and so we did. After lunch (food was decent..nothing specatular…nothing awful), Jean went to the library and with the help of a local genealogist, found the baptism and birth record of one of her ancestors. Another generation accounted for…so exciting! A little bit like striking gold.
Later, when we were in the car, we marveled at how that all worked out so perfectly – and Jean and Steve said that’s what Gloria (Steve’s sister-in-law) calls a “God thing”. And we all agreed!
Perhaps most famous for it’s (fictional) connection to Shakespeare’s MacBeth, Cawdor Castle is one of the few castles in Scotland still used as a residence. Our favorite parts of this castle were the gardens, the original tapestries (because we admired the handi-work and antiquity – I wouldn’t exactly recommend decorating your walls with them – unless you have a castle in which to hang them), and the many original pieces of furniture. Also, one of the rooms reminded us of Mary Crawley.
We rented a home for three nights in Inverness, entirely because all the hotels were booked approximately one thousand years ago. Situated in the rolling hills of rural Scotland (Honestly, “rural Scotland” seems a bit redundant but because there actually are some cities in Scotland, I’ll keep the qualifier.), our five-bedroom rental home was immaculate. Getting there was the real issue.
Do you know that in rural Scotland, they have single lane (or “single track”) roads – fiats, trucks, tractors and our mini-bus, all on single lane roads? How does that work, you ask? Passing Places. Every ¼ mile sometimes closer, sometimes further, there’s a pull off on one side of the road or the other, with just enough room for one car to pull over and wait for the oncoming car to pass. And the people here in Scotland seem quite comfortable with this arrangement as they drive about 150 mph between passing places, in the dark, over hills, around corners, you name it.
This is a) a wee bit stressful and b) nauseating. Steve said he read an article that claims the Scottish average blood pressure rates about 12 points higher than others, and that some researchers blame this increase on the single lane roads. And I was like, “Really? The roads? That’s what’s causing their high blood pressure. Because I’d blame the haggis.” Thought the roads are pretty stressful. Doug says he’s pretty sure he could feel his blood pressure increase every time he turned onto a single track road.
Anyway, passing places, being what they are, we were just glad to arrive at our house unscathed!
Dinner at Encore
We ate dinner in Inverness (Travel Tip: Traffic in Inverness between say 9am and 6pm is a NIGHTMARE. Avoid it whenever possible!) at Encore. We started at the bar (Christina can sit at a bar and drink alcohol in Scotland, if she’s with her parents. Don’t worry…her ale of choice is still “ginger”.) and then moved to a table. Jacquelyn and I shared a cheese board with gluten-free bread and Christina had fried chicken. I don’t even know what anyone else ate, but I think we all left pretty satisfied.
Home to Bed/No Heat!
I know that back home you’ve been experiencing a sweltering heat-wave, right? I told my parents that I’d be glad to split the difference and take 20 degrees off your hands. Put us each at around a nice 80 degrees.
Fun Fact: OK, I don’t know if this fact is actually “fun” but maybe interesting. In the UK, they use the metric system for temperature (Celsius) but the imperial system for measurement (in particular, miles per hour). Weird, right?
Anyway, while in Inverness, we were wearing our North Face’s, gloves, and occasionally our rain coats. And when we returned from dinner, our house had NO HEAT! We went to bed bundled from head to toe, hoping the owner could help solve the mystery the next day.
Cairngorm National Park, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle…