Jul 17

Today we went global

I sat in a chair for about an hour and moved three faders up and down at the appropriate time and listened to three ladies talk about their time in town, in the state, in the country. It was a multinational show, you see. The ladies are from Zimbabwe, Mali and Mozambique. They are here, 25 in all, from 20 African nations, young leaders in a six-week academic and leadership institute called the Mandela Washington Fellowship. It is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative.

They did two shows today and we recorded one last week. They are really passionate, thoughtful people. I’m just moving faders and listening closely. They have a lot to say. I have a lot to learn.

Here they are now, in the production booth:

The composition was a deliberate choice. I didn’t say anything, it seemed right.

I think we’re in week three of their visit. I hope I get to see them a few more times while they are in town.

Meanwhile, on the site we are returning to a dormant section of the site. We’re back to checking out historicals markers. I haven’t uploaded anything there in a little over year. The original premise of that subsection of the site was, and remains, that I would ride my bike to all of the historical markers in the county. Now, of course, I have an entire new county to explore. So here we are. You can find out all about why this building is important right here:

To see the complete list, go here. There will be more as the weeks progressed. Watch, as they say, this space.

Elsewhere, check me out on Twitter and over on Instagram, too.

May 17

From Shieldaig to Overscaig – with so much in between

There are three videos, three panoramas and 10 photos below. You’ll enjoy them all.

If you’re just joining this story, we’re touring Scotland. It is a big tour and a grand place. It is worth your consideration.

We’re touring all of Scotland. This is what we are driving:

Vauxhall Adam

For scale, each letter above the car is the width of a quarter. Place them edge to edge, that’s the size of our car. It holds everything we brought to the UK, but only just. And all of the things must be configured in a particular fashion to fit. But we have legroom, it is pretty easy on gas mileage and our Vauxhall Adam cranks every time. Today, it got driven a lot. And we stopped and started our way through a great deal of this magnificent countryside today.

Here are a few clips from this morning’s drive:

The day’s first panorama was at your standard issue, beautiful Scottish loch. Click to embiggen:

loch panorama

You could get used to this sort of thing.

We also hit the beach!

Udrigle Beach

This is Udrigle Beach. White sand, mountain views, odd smells. There were a few people enjoying the beautiful springtime weather. (We’ve been lucking out on the weather so far.) There were a few dogs digging in the sand. I had a nice little chat with an elderly woman who’d walked down from the nearby lodge to sit and soak up the sun. It was a lovely day, she said. She said it again to someone else, so you know she meant it.

Udrigle Beach

And here’s a beach panorama. Click to embiggen:

loch panorama

We watched the ocean from the roadside for some time today, too:

I realized I tend to take a lot of panoramas with water as a main focal point. So I changed this one up and put a person in one corner of the shot. Look how The Yankee is peering through her camera allllll the way across the shot. Click to embiggen:

Udrigle Beach panorama

We also saw this today:

Corrieshalloch Gorge

Let me explain.

We found that gorge along the way. This wasn’t one of our planned stops. It was just a name on the map. But you have to learn to be curious about names on maps. That curiosity often rewards you.

Down from the Victorian-era suspension bridge there is a viewpoint, where you see the gorge from a better perspective:

Then we saw a castle:

Ardvreck Castle

And you know what that means, right? Castle selfies:

Ardvreck Castle

I put the details of the ruins into a video package which is conveniently located here:

I don’t know how the routines in your life treat you, but we seldom get to take castle selfies, so we took another:

Ardvreck Castle

And now we are in Overscaig, which is about the most middle of nowhere place you can ever be. Over the last few days locals have been asking us our next stop. We’d tell them and they all said, “Where is that?” No one knows. And that’s a shame. It is simply stunning up here:

Vauxhall Adam

We’re dining in with our bed and breakfast hosts tonight. I have some more videos to show you after that. I’ve discovered a new technique that I’ll no doubt use far too often …

May 17

Cruising Loch Ness and touring Culloden Moor

Where’s Nessie? We found Nessie! This morning we searched for the Loch Ness Monster. Also, we cruised by Urquhart Castle:

And this afternoon we visited the field where the 1746 Battle of Culloden took place. This video tries, in vain, to explain the modern interpretation of that battle, a bloody affair that ultimately marked the end of the 1745 rebellion.

May 17

Edinburg to Inverlochy to Fort William to Inverness

We’ve set off for the Highlands on a grand adventure! And this is where the geography started to change.


You go over a hill, round two curves and the landscape is entirely different:


It is rugged and scrappy and harsh:


And it holds a brutal beauty all its own, which is impossible to capture in just one or two pictures:


So let’s try a panorama. Click to embiggen and scroll around:


This is St. John’s Episcopal Church. Looks ancient, but is pretty young for these parts. It was built in 1842:


That church is in the village of Ballachulish, which is where the mountains and a lake and a river estuary meet. This is the time of year to visit, because of all of the bluebells:


This church may well wind up as the video on the front page of the site, soon …

Opposite the church is Loch Leven. Pronounce it “Li’ un,” or, in the local Gaelic, as “Lee’ oon.” Click to embiggen and scroll around:


Lunch was in Fort William — a charming little tourist town with about 10,000 residents and a history dating back to the 17th century when the English were busy dealing with the Scots and, later, to control them through force. It is named after William of Orange, the Duke of Cumberland, who the Scots called “Butcher Cumberland.” I had a nice steak and ale pie there.

We stopped off in a light drizzle at Inverlochy Castle. I made a video:

And then we made our way up near Inverness, where our B’n’B is. We’ll stay for two nights in a room with a view of Loch Ness. As in …


Didn’t see Nessie today, though we have a fine vantage point:


After dinner in a pub in Inverness — I do enjoy pub food just a bit too much, I know — we got back to Kimcraigan just in time for a great light show. A double rainbow. Again, click to scroll around in the larger version:


Tomorrow, we’re finding Nessie.

May 17

Where am I? Who am I?

We flew all night. Because red eye flights give one character. We flew on the Dutch airline, which is happy to feed you as long as you are happy to eat. And I watched three movies — The Founder, Reacher and something I’m already a bit foggy about. It was a long night, you understand.

And so we landed safely in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was the plan. We exited the plane onto the tarmac into a slight chill and a light sprinkle, feeling every bit like world weary rock stars in the world’s largest band that requires a plane with an upstairs level which I never checked out.

We shuffled through the U.K.’s Border Force version of customs and then began an approximately 10 minute walk to the car rental desks. Got our car, reminded each other to drive on the left side of the road and off we went, to check in to our AirBnB, where we’ll sleep all of this off in just a bit.

Met the owners, a lovely older couple, and then walked down the street to the Grassmarket, which has been a central part of the city since the late 15th century. Today, of course, it is part of the tourist path.

Just above, the famed Edinburgh Castle:


The timeline here is incredible. The castle sits above everything, and even today dominates the city’s skyline. There is archeological evidence of people there for perhaps more than two millenia. The castle has been there for at least 800 years, and was actually a royal residence until the 15th century when it became more of a military installation. Today: they give grand tours, I’m sure. In fact, it is Scotland’s most popular paid attraction.

We stayed below it. But, inside, you could see the Stone of Scone, or the Stone of Destiny. Scottish kings, and now the UK’s monarchies, are installed on this stone. The Scottish crown jewels are also on display there. The crown dates to 1540, the scepter to 1494 — it was a gift from Pope Alexander VI.

Mon’s Meg is also on display. This is a canon that could send a 330-pound projectile two miles downrange … in 1457. That’s state-of-the-art. It was used in actual combat for about 90 years.

St. Margaret’s Chapel is up there, too. It was built in the mid-12th century, which makes it so old that its historical origins were forgotten and then re-discovered in the mid-19th century. Otherwise, Wikipedia tells me, not many of the buildings at the castle are older than a 16th century siege. Newbies.

Walked by this:


At 17 feet by 14 feet, about 20 people can stand in there, they say. Notice, it is Scotland’s smallest, so I guess there is a bar somewhere in England that is more wee than this one.

We saw Boston’s smallest bar in 2005. It closed soon after, because the world needed new condominiums. Sometime later I heard the owner opened a new smallest bar in Boston and it closed, too. More condos. So watch out, Edinburg.

And we saw this. Interesting to see that this debate is ongoing in Scotland:


When, obviously the answer is Roger Moore.

Anyway, we have our car, got our bearings, had fish and chips and we stayed up until bedtime (which is the key to minimizing jetlag) and are now ready for our big trip. Tomorrow, we go north.