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Published: July 15th 2005
What do you think of when you think of Scotland? Misty Mountains, Castles, Knights and Sea Monsters? Or maybe Bagpipes, kilts and Brave heart? Scotland is all that and more.
On our way to Scotland we stopped to visit medieval Alnwick Castle, the second largest inhabited castle in England. The castle is the family home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. It’s earliest sections were built in 1096. The picturesque castle has been used for the backdrop of many famous movies. Some of the films include “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” with Kevin Costner, “Elisabeth” starring Kate Blanchette, and most recently the “Harry Potter” movies. When we saw the castle we could understand why so many have chosen it as a set location. The large exquisite gardens, the sheep grazing in it’s surrounding hilly pastures and the sweeping views from the castle grounds are a lovely setting. The castle’s two large courtyards were used in the “Harry Potter” film for the flying scenes. While we were visiting we saw a bird of prey demonstration with real hawks, eagles and owls in one of these grassy courtyards. It was fun to see them in action.
We learned of a
famous knight named Harry Hotspur who was knighted at the early age of 11. He bravely fought many battles but sadly died a bloody death. There’s a statue in his tribute showing the brave knight on horseback. We were coincidentally visiting the Alnwick Gardens when the Duchess of the castle was doing some filming. A garden guide told us the Duchess is a lovely, down to earth lady who is the driving force behind building and caring for the garden. Our favorite was the Poison Garden where a guide gave us a warning of how poisonous the plants inside are. She warned…DO NOT TOUCH ANY OF THE PLANTS…DON‘T EVEN SMELL THEM…THERE ARE PLANTS IN HERE THAT CAN KILL YOU …she seriously said! Then as we entered she told the girls to make sure we (the old folks) stay out of trouble! If you are interested in learning more about Alnwick Castle and the brave knight, Harry Hotspur you can visit their website at www.alnwickcastle.com
Before driving North to the Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness, we stayed overnight in Dundee. We took a break from all the sightseeing to see a movie. We decided on “War of the Worlds.“ It’s
a funny coincidence that H.G. Wells was born in England. He lived for several years near Folkestone the town where we stayed where we first came to England. The movie was….well…scary! Still we really enjoy going to movies in different countries because it helps us get a feel for some of the cultural differences. (food choices, audience reactions and theater rules) Maybe we will write a whole blog to explain our multicultural movie-going experiences in the future.
In search of Nessie…We drove along Scotland’s marvelous countryside to Loch Ness. On the north shore of the Loch lies the ruins of Urquhart Castle. The ancient fortress has seen numerous battles and changed hands many times over the years. The position of the castle ruins on the rocky peninsula over looking the Loch is an amazing sight. We discovered Loch Ness is so deep (740 ft.) it is United Kingdom’s largest body of freshwater by volume. After seeing the deep blue water and unusual currents it’s easier to understand why so many people have thought they sighted Nessie. During our visit we went to the Lock Ness Exhibition Center. This Exhibition explores the possibility of Nessie’s existence and the history
of the sightings at the Lock. It is a walk-through, multimedia presentation which is very professionally done and tries to take a non biased look at the evidence. SO…… what is the verdict? Is she real? Is she fiction? Lets just say that the scientists are still skeptical and the believers are still believers. After personal observation of the Lock, WE SAW…… NOTHING!!!! Well… that is not completely true, because we did see some beautiful scenery which rivals what we saw in New Zealand. And now a little confession, at one point we thought we saw something on the loch. After pulling over for a closer look it was only a small boat. Still no Nessie… except for the big plastic one in a pond beside the exhibition. Sorry!
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