Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And on to Edinburgh. . .

After a night in an actual room with an actual bed (our fantastic family, splurged on a hotel for us all on Saturday night) we continued on our way South and went to Edinburgh Castle. Time for a photo or three:
Ok, so apparently those are the only photos we took of the outside of Edinburgh Castle, so now here's some inside bits. . .

And this is the fireplace that they used to roast people in. . .we couldn't find any literature on that, but they must have otherwise, why is it so big?
And this is the prison, we put Shelley in there because we could.

So, the inside of that outside part we took photos of is a HUGE War Memorial that was built after the First World War (as you can see from the dates above). Since then of course, it also has all the following wars (cause, you know, the "war to end all wars" apparently wasn't). We couldn't take photos inside which was a shame as it was really beautiful in there. We asked if it was an original building that had been converted or if it was added and apparently it's a bit of both. They guy we asked was really knowledgable about it and told us that what happened was that the architect who was hired to build was told he wasn't allowed to put a "modern looking" building in the Castle grounds. So what he did was he tore down an old barracks building (cause it seemed appropriate that a War Memorial should be made out of a building that used to house soldiers anyway) and he kept the materials from it and rebuilt it as the above building. And yes, Amber cried a little bit at some of the, displays, in there.
Oh, speaking of wars, here's a photo I took just for Rob and our Hogs of War marathons; it's an actual mortar:

The other thing that we saw there but that they wouldn't let us take photos of were the Scottish Crown Jewels. Shelley was in a little bit of heaven. Amber kept yelling at people who were taking photos (if we couldn't take photos, no one else should be allowed to either). Shelley wants a crown now. And possibly a sceptre and a really big necklace too. Oh, and Amber wants a Sword, altough the one that's a part of the Scottish Crown Jewels might be a little bit on the large side, it's one of those big two handed jobbies.

Anyway, after the Castle we went for a bit of a wander through Edinburgh itself. Which was really cool because the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was on and there were street performers EVERYWHERE!!

We also got handed leaflets for like EVERY show that is on in Edinburgh and we got really upset that we couldn't stay and go see everything. This probably won't mean much to anyone who isn't a Terry Pratchett fan but, they're doing MORT!!!! Oh, speaking of Terry Pratchett, on to The Hunting of The Haggis.
In Terry Pratchett's books he wrote about these little creatures called the Nac Mac Feegle. They're Pictsies. . .They wear tartans, are tattooed blue and love drinking, fighting and stealing. . .and they say "Crivens" a lot
They also generally try to hide what they're up to from the only human who they kinda trust. So one day, when she asked them what they were up to they said "Hunting the Haggis". Shelley and I started talking about what a Haggis might look like; we decided that it would be furry and kinda Guinea Pig sized. . .So when we went to Scotland, Mel and Mike, who have read the said books, told us to catch them a Haggis. While wandering through a town in Scotland, we saw a sign that said "Wild Hairy Haggis" and there was a whole bunch of them lying in a box! We quickly pounced on one and caught it for Mel and Mike but the rest managed to avoid us. . .However, as we were leaving Scotland, we saw another nest of them. One gorgeous little female bounced out at us (they have no legs, they only bounce everywhere) and begged us to take her with us. So, we caught us some Haggises (Haggi?)
The little lady on the left is our girl, Kelda. They also have tails too which aren't shown in the photos.

So, that was Scotland. . .We then went to Bradford where Amber's sister lives. She took us to Haworth which is where the Bronte sisters grew up and there was a proper old-fashioned Apothecary there which we just loved!! Then it was Amber's nephew's fifth birthday and we went to Blackpool for the day. Blackpool is an. . .interesting. . .place. Picture Las Vegas for children and then add a beach (with Donkeys on). But possibly the best part of the whole week in Bradford was the ZOO!!! Nanimals EVERYWHERE!! And, lots of nanimals that you just don't get in New Zealand like Snakes (which Shelley wasn't that keen on) and Tarantulas (Which Shelley has decided aren't really spiders, they're furry rodents just with more legs) and Jaguars AND, our favourite was the BATCAVE!! It's a free-flight Bat shed that you walk through in the dark and was opened by Douglas Adams!! There's a sign as you enter that says, "Bat's WILL NOT fly into your hair and they WILL NOT bite you. However, baby bats who are learning to fly, may bump into you as they go past, please be patient with them however, everyone has to learn somehow." It's quite an experience to feel the wind whistling past you and to realise it's a bat!! You can't take photos in there however as the flash will scare the poor little batties. We do however have a photo of Shelley in her animal form:
This is pretty much what Shelley looks like before her coffee in the morning. . .

But on to more photos of nanimals:

The last one is for Shelley's mummy who loves her Owls. . .
Anyway, I think that's enough for now. Hugs to you all

Monday, August 25, 2008

. . . . And We're Back

Hello to everybody,
We have arrived back in Horsham after a day spent on the trains and the tube. When we flew to Scotland we had 1 large pack and when we came home we had the pack and a suitcase! it would seem that we may have come home with more than we left with.

We took over 800 photos in the last 2 weeks so now I will post some pretty castles and ruins and things from our travels.
These photos were taken from the very first Loch that we went to. Loch Etive. It was raining and the day was pretty cold but the view was very pretty. We drove down a very narrow winding road to get to this spot. Coming from NZ it felt like we were driving on a footpath it was that narrow. One of the things that I am still getting used to is the size of the roads over here.

The highest mountain in Britain is Ben Nevis and these next photos were taken on the Nevis ranges. We took a gondola up to the only ski fields in Scotland and from there we took a trek to a look out point further up the mountain. The following three photos are taken from that walk.

The day after our trip up the mountain (which, compared to mountains in NZ is a hill - The summit of Ben Nevis is the same height as the visitor centre on Mt Taranaki apparently), we took a ferry across to The Isle of Mull and then from there to the Isle of Iona where there were some pretty ruins of an old Nunnery and an old Abbey which had been restored and was once again being fully used:

That last photo was Amber trying to be arty. . .

When we got back to Mull from Iona there was a Seal playing in the water beside dock. Unfortunately we didn't actually get any photos of that, our brother-in-law did though so hopefully he'll e-mail us a couple of them and we'll be able to add them. The locals said that the seal visits quite often and sometimes brings his mate and pup with him. He seemed quite tame and friendly, our theory is that he sometimes gets food from the locals, they have mussel farms so sometimes they probably drop some fish and stuff that he snatches up.

On the Thursday we visited Loch Ness and although we didn't spot any monsters, we did find a really pretty castle!!

So that is Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness (and the view from said castle).

So, continuing on from Loch Ness we went to Fort George which is an actual military base now but was built in the time of George the. . .5th? (I can't remember which George exactly right now, but one of them!!) It's HUGE, we wanted a golf cart so we could get round the place and explore properly. (they don't offer that service though!!!) They do have the funniest signs though:

Unfortunately we don't have any photos of the "Danger of Death" signs which are everywhere here! Fort George also has a very pretty view:
But anyway, Fort George was actually built to be defended from attack in times of unrest (it was an English fort in Scotland after all) so the following Sluice Gate was designed to be opened to flood the moat. . .

Unfortunately, this only worked during High Tide which lead to a discussion amongst us all as to how they would react if attacked during Low Tide. Would they have sent a message asking the attackers to please come back in 6 hours when they were more prepared??? Speaking of English stupidity when it came to the Scots, Urquhart Castle was actually destroyed delibrately by the English because they didn't want the Jacobites to hold it during the Uprising. They packed the gatehouse full of Gunpowder, threw a match at it and ran.

After all of that military history we decided to find ourselves some Standing Stones (No time-travelling though, Shelley would have gotten lost. . .) Without going too far out of our way we found Clava Cairns, an old OLD cemetery, burial mounds with Standing Stones placed around them.

Pick the movies the following image is featured in:

So, after that busy day travelling the countryside, we packed up the camp and started on our way back South. On the way we went to Scotland's only Lake (and anyone who can tell us the difference between a Lake and a Loch will win. . .something, Shelley said $5,000; but we don't have that, so, no) and took a little boat ride to a pretty Island with Inchmahome Priory on it. Apparently lots of people like Mary, Queen of Scots and Richard the Third visited it in it's heyday, but now it's kinda. . .ruiny looking. . .

From Inchmahome we contined to Sterling Castle, which, for those movie-buffs out there, is where William Wallace (Braveheart) fought his big stand against those damn English. . .

Shelley says this one is my Labyrinth photo:And now here's me sitting on my scottish throne:

Personally, I think it suits me. . .
Anyway, it's getting kinda late over here and we still have Edinburgh Castle, street performers from the Edinburgh Festival (which we were lucky enough to wander through) AND our week in Bradford with Mai-ana. . .so, we will post more later.
Sweet Dreams,
The Travelling Shambles.
P.S. The Hunting of the Haggis is not bloody in anyway shape or form. We'll explain later and also post photos of our Haggis, Kelda.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Coz Nat said....

Well we have returned from the Highlands of Scotland. Although we have taken approx 600 photos being the num-nuts that I am I forgot to bring the USB cable to upload any of them and so the photos will not be coming until next week when we get back to Horsham.

Scotland was amazing (once you figure out what people are trying to say to you) the locals really are very nice. We went to heaps of places and saw many castles and lakes opps I mean lochs. We may even have been sucessful at hunting and catching our very own haggis!!!

We are now staying in Bradford which is in Yorkshire (apparently) and will be here until Sunday.
Sorry this is a short post but I am about to go and taste my first ever tub of Ben and Jerry's icecream and just wanted to let you all know we haven't forgotted you.

Take care
love and hugs
the Travelling Shambles

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Of Cider Tasting, Guinea Pigs and Chipmunks

Ok, so I've decided that I want at least two chipmunks nesting in my hair, two guinea pigs sitting on my shoulders burrowing into the hair at the bottom of my neck (one of which has to be Monkey and the other one should be this gorgeous Grey fluffy Abysinnian that we saw at Tully's Farm - Unfortunately no photos of it though), I also want two bunnies and a cat who was raised with bunnies sitting on my lap, a Black lab leaning against one leg, an Alaskan Malamut against the other leg and a King Charles Spaniel on my feet. . .and a bigger lap to fit all the rest of the animals that I want to cuddle. . .But I especially want the chipmunks and the bunnies and the . . . Ok, I just want all the animals I can get. . .Chipmunks are sooooo cute though. After the cider tasting (which I will get to in a second) we went to a little petting-type zoo with Bunnies and Guineas and birds and Chipmunks. . .they're like, little, and quick and furry and friendly and there were THREE of them (although they looked NOTHING like Alvin, Simon and Theodore). . .and the aforementioned Grey fluffy Guinea was just ADORABLE and Shelley was joking about stealing it and bringing it home (and was also saying that if it was a girl Monkey and her would make the most beautiful babies) but my sensible side (I apparently have one, it came as a shock to me too) said no.
And as for the Cider tasting, that was just AWESOME. . .the little shed smelled so strong that you could've gotten drunk off the fumes alone. There were wasps buzzing around the ceiling that were so drunk they kept bouncing into the casks (drunk wasps are funny) and there were fruit wines and meads and dry ciders and sweet ciders and Perry (Cider made of Pears). And free tastings of whatever you wanted. . .bad bad bad. . .(or more to the point, fun fun fun!!) And we ended up spending like 25 pounds on Elderberry wine and meads. . .mmmmm, alcoholic liquid honey. . .
So Shelley and I want to go back there and taste more and probably spend more. . .but in the mean time we will have to just be content with our meads and our Elderberry Wine. . .

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Big Smoke

First of all, I'd like to say that my wife beat me to this. . .I had this whole plan about telling you all about The Shambles' first castle (it came complete with a moat and four towers and EVERYTHING) but she's already posted about the castle we slept in so it would be a little out of order for me to be talking about our first castle now. . .But, that's not going to stop me from adding a photo of it. . .

See, moat, round turrety-towery things on each corner, a proper little fairy-tale castle. And it was the first castle that Shelley had been to!! And the first one The Shambles visited together. And, it was a whole two days before the castle we slept in!! Oh, AND it had a unicorn and tiny gates (possibly for fairies?)

But ANYWAY, that's not actually why I was writing this post. . .
On Tuesday I took Shelley to London so we could activate our English Bank Account and maybe take in some sights. . .The Bank we had to go to was on Oxford Street, which as you may or may not know, is full of shops. Think multiple shops with three floors of woman's clothing each. . .HUGE stores and apparently, all having sales. For those of you that know Shelley, I think it will be no surprise to you that we didn't see any sights. In fact, we didn't get off Oxford Street.
Shelley has promised me that we can go in another day, so that I can take her to The Globe, possibly next week as Shelley broke me. (My sore throat which had gone away came back and bought friends with it)
We did make it to one "sight", before we got to Oxford Street I managed to get Shelley to Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately however we were there during the changing of the guards and the crowds were HORRENDOUS!! So we didn't actually get to see much of the Palace. Not too disappointed though as both Shelley and I are more interested in the Theatres anyway. So, sometime next week we shall be heading back to "The Big Smoke" and going from The Globe to West End and, hopefully, taking in some shows. Wicked, Chicago, Phantom, Sound of Music. . .we shall take our pick!!