||Do the boys look a bit cold? We weren't sure what
a November trip to Scotland would be like. We were staying in Aviemore
near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The latitude is 57 degrees
which is similar to Juneau, Alaska.
||It turned out that the timeshare we traded for was also
a ski resort. Unfortunately, it had just started to snow and the
slopes weren't going to open for two weeks. For the most part this
area looked like any other small ski resort in the U.S.A. The A-frames
and cabins were sprinkled throughout the woods surrounding a Hilton Lodge.
|Here are the ruins of the castle Urquhart on the famous
Loc Ness. There has been a castle here since the 12th century, and
before that there was a prehistoric fortification. Records show that
Urquhart may also have been the stronghold of Brude, King of the Picts,
whom St. Columba visited in the 6th century AD. It is from the story
of his visit that the first accounts of the "Loch Ness monster" were found.
This castle was an active and bloody part of Scotland's history but has
been abandoned since the 1700's.
||So, like all good American tourists, we visited Loc Ness.
How could we come to Scotland and miss it? We stopped by the "Official
Loc Ness Tourist Center" (which describes all of the research that's been
done and concludes that there's nothing down there,) and then headed down
the loch to the Urquhart Castle ruins. If we're not going to see
Nessy we might as well get some more castle pictures.
||We also enjoyed watching a crane lift and dump large
buckets of concrete for a new visitor center near the castle. It
was pretty quiet in Scotland. During the summer this is a popular
mountain and tour bike destination and in the winter there are a few ski
||With the cool, wet fall weather we had an opportunity
to enjoy the pool and relax in the condo for a week. The Hilton that
we stayed at was known for catering to families, (you could even bring
your dog.) We had access to two great pools, restaurants, arcade and a
large lounge overlooking the pool. Across the street was a kid's
fun house, like the Discovery Zone. Every evening we enjoyed live
Scottish music, with a mix of English and American hits. The
boys thought it was all American but we explained that many rock bands
are from England.
||Max was determined to get onto of this floating tube,
but he never managed to stay topside for very long. One of the nice
things about Europe and Canada is that the pools are not restricted by
insurance companies and lawyers. You can find pool toys, slides,
diving boards and we've even seen a high rope swing.
|The "Turbuchet", used to hurl large stones at castle
walls. King Edward I brought many turbuchets with him during his
siege of Scotland. We saw several of these throughout Europe.
||This replica is based on the work of 13th century architect
Villard de Honnecourt. It has a counterweight of 6 tons and a throwing
arm of 36 feet. It can hurl a 200 pound stone over 400 feet.
Larger turbuchets could fire up to 1200 feet.
This breed is called a Scottish Highland and I've always
enjoyed seeing them county fairs, but this Scottish was enormous.
They usually have an mean disposition so I wasn't going to get anywhere
||O.K., so I pasted this model of Nessy into the Urquhart
||Mitch and Max also enjoyed watching this artist melt
glass to make small glass animals. We bought them a torch for Christmas
and after we read a little more about working with glass we'll give it
a try ourselves.
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