|Saturday - Edinburgh, Longniddry After an overnight flight from Atlanta, Janice and arrived in Edinburgh on an unusually
warm, 80 degree day. The Hardies had parental duties at Cameron and Lachlan's school, so we spent the day
reacquainting ourselves with the Scottish capital. Our first meal was fish and chips at Deacon Brodie's on the Royal
Mile. Sadly, we think the Deacon had forgotten to change the oil in his fryers for a couple of decades. The food really
wasn't very good at all, but we drowned our concerns in ale and carried on. We went to the Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood
House (right), Jenner's Department Store and generally did a lot of walking. We finally ended up at the Hardies around
Sunday- Roslin, Ullapool On Sunday, the real adventure began.
The Hardies attend church at Rosslyn Chapel in the village of Roslin, near their home. As you might know, the chapel is prominently mentioned in
The DaVinci Code as a possible former resting place for Mary Magdalene. We attended the service and were much impressed by the minister
who combined the best of spirituality and good communication skills. What I remember best is an observation he made about the individuals who
own Rosslyn Chapel. He seems to think that the owners don't want to offend potential visitors, so the signs outside the chapel prominently display
that admission is four pounds, but they say nothing about the fact that the chapel is an operative church with regular services.
After church, there were about fifty tourists waiting to get in. We helped clean up after the service before we left. In the picture at right, Cameron is
extinguishing the candles in one of the candelabras.
Monday- Isle of Harris, Isle of Lewis
Tuesday - North Uist, Isle of Skye
We took the ferry on Tuesday morning to North Uist, drove the length of the island, and then took another ferry to the Isle of Skye. On
Skye, we stayed at the amazing Viewfield House (left) in Portree, where our host, Hugh McDonald (standing in short sleeve shirt, below),
an old friend of David's, runs an outstanding establishment in an old Victorian home.
Wednesday - Skye
Wednesday's highlight was visiting the Talisker distillery, Eilean
Iarmain (sometimes called Isle
of Ornay) and the Clan Donald Centre on the Isle
of Skye. At Eilean Iarmain, David says I embarrassed men
everywhere by sampling the whiskey and ultimately deciding to
purchase the creme liqueur, Scottish Mist. A photo of Janice at
the tasting bar is below..
Thursday - Isle of Mull (and Isle of Matt), Iona
En route to the historic Isle of Iona on Thursday, we
stopped along the way to visit places that David and
Leslye knew in earlier lives on the Isle of Mull. In
between a couple of those places, we stopped on a
beach which had a green patch just offshore that did
not flood in high tide. I promptly named it the Isle of
Matt. Here I am (below) standing in the heather in my
Friday - Staffa, Iona
On Friday, we took a boat ride to the Isle of Staffa, near Iona. Sadly, I left my camera in the car, so I didn't get any pictures.
Janice, however, wrote up our trip as an article for Travel Girl Magazine, so if you're interested, you can search their
archives and see the pictures.
Meanwhile, if you ever get the opportunity, you MUST visit Staffa. It's a geological miracle, boasting soaring sea caves and
thousands of puffins.
Saturday - Isle of Mull
At last our sojourn was coming to an end. On Saturday morning, we took the last of our ferry rides from Craignure on the Isle of Mull. Along the way,
we stopped at Castle Duart. Mary Lou Evans in Batesville had told me that she was a McLean, and that Duart was her clan's ancient seat. So we
stopped and looked, and I took the photo at right of Cameron outside the castle's walls.
The end of our voyage of discovery also meant the end of our visit to what seemed like a never-ending parade of craft shops. After promising that it
would be the last, I took the photo (left) of Leslye, Janice and the boys outside the last of what we had started calling "crap shops".
Sunday - Gullane
When we got back to the Hardies' home in Longniddry on
Saturday evening, we were pretty happy to have the
opportunity to rest up on Sunday and poke around some of
the villages in East Lothian. As everyone knows (right?),
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in the village of Gullane in
1850, and as it turns out the village was having a festival in
honor of its favorite son while we were in the area. The
highlight of the festival was a scavenger hunt for kids--and
grown-ups at the beach park on the Firth of Clyde. We
happily hunted for trivia about the life of RLS as we climbed
over the inspiration for Spyglass Hill and peered out at the
original Treasure Island. Here's a photo (left) of the crew
digging for clues.
|In 2005, Leslye and David Hardie entered the Tourism Relocation Program, when they left
their home in Jackson, Wyoming, and removed themselves to Longniddry, near Edinburgh.
By June 2006, Janice McDonald and I had tracked them down. Oh sure, they said something
about wanting to send their sons to the same school David had attended, but we knew they
were just trying to get away from us.
Not caring when you're not wanted and casting good manners to the wind, we convinced them
to take us with them on their family vacation to the Western Islands of Scotland. This is the
story of our visit.
|The Hardies have a wonderful old South African
cape house over looking the Firth of Clyde in East
Lothian. My comfy bedroom on the third floor in the
photo at right had a magnificent view of the golf
course and the North Sea.
Two of Leslye's favorite features of the house are
the garden and potting shed, where she tends to
amazing flowers like the peony at left.
We left directly after the service for
Ullapool in the Highlands, which would
be our jumping off place the next
morning for our first of seven ferry rides.
Along the way, we marvelled at the
masses of rhododendrons (left) we saw
along the highway. They were enormous, and they went on for miles.
In Ullapool, we had the first of what would be an astonishing parade of
outstanding dinners we would enjoy during the course of the week. If
you're ever in Ullapool, check out The Celidh Place and say hi to Ewan
Miller, the waiter, if he hasn't made it big in London or Hollywood by that
time. (We hope he makes in show biz because we really don't foresee
a long career in the food service business for him.)
|Monday - Isle of Harris, Isle of Lewis.
On Monday, we loaded the Peugot onto the Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac) ferry (right) for
the three-hour cruise to Stornaway on the Isle of Harris. Upon arrival, we drove to see the
Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis (Harris and Lewis are the same island. I don't know
why it has two names.), which are over four thousand years old. Although they pre-date the
birth of Christ by over a thousand years, they are laid out in the shape of the cross of St.
On the road to Leverburgh, where we spent the night at a bed and breakfast, we stopped for
the first of several sweater-buying opportunities (below). As you can see, we knew the wool
would be fresh. After buying four sweaters on this trip, I'll never have to buy another one.
|In Leverburgh, we spent the night at a bed and breakfast owned by the very charming John
and Mary Ann MacSween (right). The view from their front door is the sunset photo at the
top of the page. Mary Ann is the nutritionist at a local school, where the mother of one of
the teachers is 81-year-old Annie Kate MacDonald. Annie Kate knits sweaters--which Mary
Ann sells to visitors to her bed and breakfast. Needless to say, I bought a sweater, and
Leslye not only bought one, but put in a special order for sweaters for the two boys.
After dinner, we visited the Church of St. Clements in Leverburgh. The photo (right) is of
Janice climbing a ladder to the tower of the church.
Janice and I left the Hardies to explore an old lighthouse
designed by the father of Robert Louis Stevenson at Eilean
Iarmain while we continued on to the Clan Donald Centre in
Armadale. Janice wanted to trace her roots, but the staff at the
center referred her to the chief of the clan--who lives in
Savannah, Georgia! Here's a picture of her (below) outside the
ruin of Amadale Castle, the ancient seat of Clan Donald. (There
were no golden arches on the premises.)
|Well, I never said we
were the world's most
Here are Leslye,
Cameron and Lachlan
enjoying a laugh at a
road sign (right) we saw
on the way to Iona.
Pottie turned out to be a
vacant lot where lobster
traps are kept. How
|It was an amazing adventure. Janice and I can only hope that the Hardies enjoyed it as much as we did. (We think so--they seem to be smiling in most of the pictures.)
Thanks to Janice, and especially to David, Leslye, Cameron and Lachlan for making it possible!
It was an amazing trip--and certainly well-documented. Leslye, Janice and I took over a thousand photos
among us. Here's a snap at left of Leslye getting in a photo of the family with its treasure map.
Monday - Home
So, yes, all good things do--well, you know what. On Monday morning, we dropped Cameron at his school-
Belhaven- which in the recent British "Good Schools" guide was described as "Hogwarts for Muggles."
Later we dropped David for a day of golf at Muirfields and Leslye at home for a day of some sort of rest,
we hope. Then it was off to the airport.