Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Here Comes the Sun...

"The aftermath of Culloden exacted penalties which were to leave a permanent scar on the Highlands of Scotland in the deliberate extinction
of the Celtic way of life - by killing, destruction, confiscation and deportation. A tragic time, unequalled by any other in Scottish history."
-Iain Campbell

May 20: Culloden (Drumossie Moor) The weather turned appropriately gloomy for our trip to the battlefield. We first toured the museum, and I couldn't help but tear up watching the reenactment. Then we walked the field, taking note and pictures of the clan stones. Looking through the brush of gorse, marsh, and heather I wondered what it must have been like for them to run through it. Many didn't even have shoes, and most were starving and sleep deprived. We all stood in awe of the large memorial, and I'd venture to say there were more than a few misty eyes.

We moved on to another sad place, Fort George. It's similar in design to Wentworth Prison in Outlander. It is now a training facility.

Turning away from the gloomy theme, we drove to Castle Stuart. I've seen pictures of the castle, built in 1625, thanks to my previous mother-in-law. While doing some genealogy research, she traced part of their family back to the Stuarts. In a Twilight Zone moment, I looked at the castle remembering a certain photoshopped wedding picture of myself and my inlaws in front of that very castle. It was appropriate since it had been a Scottish wedding-kilts, bagpipes, and all. (right: our group on the castle roof)

Caroline (a much prettier version of Mrs. Fitzgibbons) gave us a tour of the castle, complete with hidden doors, a secret spying place in the wall, and hints of ghosts. Erin, Scott, John, and I walked the grounds and encountered some curious "feral" cows. Walked down Moray Firth as the tide slowly came in. It's such a peaceful place.

Making a loop through the golfcourse, we met back up with the cows. Lucky for Erin, I was able to charm them away. Before making our way back to the castle (by way of nettles-ouch) we strolled through a cemetery and found many Frasers. It's amazing to see the same names over and over again-a wonder how anyone knew who was who.

Back at the castle, we cooled down our recent purchases from Black Isle Brewery (to room temp) and lounged in the Drawing Room enjoying our liquid fortification. Eventually, we pulled ourselves off the sofas and went upstairs to get dressed (again...the third flight of stairs up-do you see the theme? this time-a very narrow spiral staircase).
While getting dressed, John discovered a pale blond Viking-like wig and a pink princess hat. I couldn't resist having a little fun with that. So I donned my costume and greeted our fellow tour-mates to enquire if they were ready for dinner. We all got a kick out of it.

We heard the bagpipes start downstairs and we followed that beautiful sound. I won't lie-I got a little choked up that we got piped into the Dining Hall. One of the many things I'll never forget about this trip.

The dinner itself was simply delicious, and we all enjoyed the "butt wine" (named for the shape of the decanter). After almost three bottles of grapes of wrath, we adjourned to the Drawing Room again for Scot's hypnotic storytelling.

He almost had us in a trance with the lap harp, but more excitement was due. Scott and John both had a turn at folding and wearing the plaid. I can't imagine waking up to do that every morning.

And the fun continued in the Billiards Room for Snooker and Darts, and my true alter-ego was released...Sacagawea-Viking Princess/Cow Charmer...I'll let the pictures do the talking :) It was a blast-suffice to say, we ended back up on the roof around 1:30 am.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Aven, my husband and I also spent time in the Inverness area. A week of heaven pretty much. We went to the Black Isle brewery too! Now my husband fancies that he wants to brew (organic) beer as well! I told him we would just have to move to Scotland so he could apprentice himself first (oh what a sacrifice:) We also went to see the reindeer at Cairngorn. Now since that does not come up in any of the Gabaldon stories, I am sure you may not been encouraged to go there, BUT, if you ever go back, I encourage you to go! Especially if you and your husband go back with children!