Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ceilidh

Our trip last summer to Scotland left an impression in several ways.  At the top of that list was the pride of the Scottish people in their re-telling history and carrying on traditions.  One of my favorite traditions is the Ceilidh (pronounced kay’lee).  A traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing.  We had a taste of it one evening with the visit of several young musicians sharing the traditional music true to its roots and with a modern twist.  Along the Caledonia Canal as we passed small villages you would see banners advertising the upcoming weekend Ceilidh.

“On long, dark winter nights it is still the custom in small villages for friends to collect in a house and hold what they call a “ceilidh”. Young and old are entertained by the reciters of old poems and legendary stories which deal with ancient beliefs, the doings of traditional heroes and heroines, and so on. Some sing old and new songs set to old music or new music composed in the manner of the old.”
Mackenzie, Donald A., Wonder tales from Scottish myth and legend, 1917

Our tour guide, Paul, described a recent birthday party for his nephew.  Attended by young teenagers and parents, the gathering started with rap and hip-hop music to the dismay of all the adults.  But, the parents figured it was the kids’ party and they would support whatever they wanted; although Paul had made up his mind to make a short evening.   Without any prompting about 30 minutes in, the kids pulled out an assortment of fiddles, accordions, drums and guitars and began playing the traditional Scottish tunes.  Everyone joined in with the singing and dancing.  The party became an spontaneous Ceilidh and no one left until dawn.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Technical Difficulties

Having a few problems posting.  Hope to fix soon.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Travel Trivia

Many people keep copies of restaurant menus, matchstick covers, or some small memento of a place they have visited.  We like collecting drink coasters from bars.  Not sitting and drinking away your trip, but rather chatting with the bartender about fun things to do and see, striking up a conversation with the stranger next to you, and trying out the house drink specialty. 

Our Scotland tour host picked up all the passengers early evening at the Glenmoriston bar and drove us out to the Caledonian canal to board the barge.  The hubby, me and our two travel partners decided to indulge a few hours early at the bar before the scheduled pickup time.  We met Robert, the bartender, listened to music new to me (Kygo) which I loved, and tried the week’s special drink.  Details were documented on the coaster (see photos).

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Here are a few more coasters collected over the years (below—Darwin, Australia; Singapore[yes, we had the Singapore sling at Raffles hotel/bar], and Kauai).  We have not been very disciplined about collecting the coasters and we have missed a lot of locations, but will try a little harder in the future.  The coasters are used back home and it is a fun way to remember details of the trip.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Starting in Inverness

It has been four months since our trip to the Scottish Highlands.  If I do not take the time to journal this, the bits of information will be forgotten….

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Inverness is the hub for visiting all the sights and sites in the Scottish Highlands.  Not necessarily a tourist destination by itself, we still found the city charming with cute little stone houses and grand ones and old churches with ancient tipped, sunken headstones.  Many people pooh-pooh Inverness, but I thought it was wonderful.  The hubby and I would have an early breakfast and walk the residential neighborhoods (the photo above right captures one of the homes along our walk).

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Especially loved the old used book store, Leakey’s, in Inverness.  Using an old converted church, the shop is stocked from floor to ceiling with used books and antique prints.  Peeking in between the bookshelves are stained glass windows with the streaming light filled with dust from the old paper.  And of all things, a large wood burning stove to take the chill off sits right smack in the middle (chilly seems to be a year-around thing for Scotland). 

[Photo  of Leakey’s from Pinterest, photographer unknown.  Too busy looking at books and prints to fiddle with the camera! The photos above I actually took/obviously.]

We have a friend (Hi, Tom), who loves to read every day and loves to collect hard back books.  Tom and Kate’s living room has bookshelves also from floor to very a high ceiling filled with books (but they don’t live in a church/smile).  I believe Leakey’s should be one of their bucket list places to see.  It was on my list!  I walked away with a small print of two kilted Scotsmen fishing in a loch (circa late 1800s).  It is now framed and hanging proudly in our living room.

Friday, October 16, 2015

New Home

2015-09-22 10.49.23The townhouse we purchased in 2011 was supposed to be our retirement home.  It was beautiful with hickory hardwood floors throughout, granite countertops, open floor plan backing up to a large meadow (never to be developed) and the golf course beyond.  But, there were changes in our lifestyle in the last few years and the townhouse was not meeting our needs. 

None of the rooms had enough light to paint.  I took over the guest room for more room, but the lack of light was a problem.  The husband’s driftwood carving needed more room and a place to contain the dust from sanding. 

Fortunately, a home nearby became available that met all our needs.  We put the townhouse on the market, and it sold in 9 days.  We made an offer on the home we wanted and the purchase closed last week.  This all happened in the last two months.  It has been a hectic time with paperwork and moving, but at the end of this month we will move in (we are in a rental now).

In the coming months, we will share photos as we settle in.  There is a wonderful light-filled room for painting and the garage is bigger.  The house needs a little freshening up with paint inside and out; and there will be lots of work to get organized and things put away, but in the end it will be worth it. (Photo of our new front porch.)

And the journaling of the Scotland trip still needs to be finished.

Friday, September 4, 2015

History Lessons from Paul Martin

Continued retelling of our July 2015 trip aboard the barge, Scottish Highlander, and our passage down the Caledonian Canal in the Scotland Highlands.

DSCN0927History lessons from a passionate and informed guide will always make the past come alive.  And Scotland came alive for us.  From the battlefield of Culloden to the massacre at Glencoe, we experienced the Scottish Highlands via Paul Martin.  Being from Wales, Paul has a lot of sympathy/empathy for the people of Scotland at the hands of the English.  And, I am sorry, but why are the Royals/Aristocrats still major landowners in Scotland?  Time to break free Scotland!  Hope the vote for independence succeeds in the future.

P1010579In addition to the lessons, Paul made arrangements for various cultural “events”.  In Inverness, a trio singing and playing traditional instruments with song arrangements given a modern twist.  Another included our barge approaching a remote location along the Caledonian Canal, and encountering an elderly Highlander dressed in his clan kilt, marching slowly while playing his bagpipe.  The music was haunting as it echoed off the valley hills.  Well done, Paul!  Well done!

Paul also provides his services on the French canal trip for European Waterways.  He fell in love with the French countryside so much that he and his wife purchased an old farmhouse, barn and surrounding acreage for their retirement.  And he is a talented artist (30 years of painting and quite well known in the UK).  The barn in France will become his studio with plenty of space for workshops.  His plans include building small cabins for visiting artists to rent whilst (he says that a lot) attending his workshops.  Guess who is invited and going in a few years?!  Moi! et Madame Wanda.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

2015 Annual Mother/Daughters Get-Away

August has been an active month!  Between our annual get-away, my volunteer job as HOA treasurer, and some other goings-on (if the results of this turn out, I will share later), I have not had time to post on the blog and finish my Scotland trip debrief (the July trip).  With summer coming to a close, at least the HOA commitments will slow down.

https://a0.muscache.com/im/pictures/18846107/eb04e5a9_original.jpg?aki_policy=xx_largeThe Annual Mother/Daughters Get-Away was fun, as always.  My turn to pick this year.  Never been to Poulsbo before, except to drive through from the Bainbridge ferry to our home on the Olympic Peninsula.   So, Poulsbo was my choice and this was the first time using Airbnb.  Airbnb is such a brilliant resource—lots of places to pick from, reasonable cost, and the transaction process works efficiently.  Our little cottage looked out over the marina, was a 2-minute walk to Old Town (cute with Norwegian roots), and the weather was perfection.  Little Momma gets cold ya’ know?!

A fun to-do this year was for each to take a turn picking out a song from their favorite genre.  You could really see the differences between each of us with our selections.  Mom, of course, was anything big band from the 40’s.  Melinda was a little bit country.  Tracy, blues and rock and roll.  I tend to lean toward folk (or singer/songwriter stuff) or chill-out type (Kygo remix, “I See Fire”).  Entertaining as we drank wine and drank in the views.

Next year, sister Tracy picks the location.  Talking about someplace closer to drive.  Maybe somewhere in the Columbia River Gorge (Hood River?  Skamania Lodge?), Bend, Oregon?, Oregon Coast? or maybe we will fly to Las Vegas!  Anyone have thoughts or recommendations?  Need someplace to keep 4 girls entertained and more than one bathroom (the cottage only had one bathroom and it was a bit tight!)

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