Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Notes from Scotland, Part One

Isn’t It Always About the Weather in Scotland?

A pleasant morning in Branklyn Garden, Perth, Scotland.

Three days later...a cold snowy wind whips off the loch.
        I’ve talked about the Scottish weather in previous blog posts, and I’m going to again.  We arrived in Scotland five days ago and so far I’ve played golf in my shorts at 20 C (70 F), played golf in sleet at 5° C (40° F), played golf in 20 mph wind at 7° C (44° F felt like 34° F), and driven home in a snow storm at 1° C (33° F), and tonight it is supposed to get down to -4 C° (I can’t even calculate how low that will be…just call it damned cold!).  We did have a few days of very nice weather but it has since turned to winter.  Pictures show some of the various conditions:
At St Fillans GC in 60 degree weather.

Lovely flowers in the gardens.

The next day the cold rain hits the course.

Then the rain turns to sleet.

The Montrose Medal GC looks pleasant, but the wind was 20 mph and bitterly cold.

On the way home from Montrose in a bloody snow storm.

Scotland is lovely in whatever condition and we are actually looking forward to heading up into the Highlands and north with snow on the hills.  Should be quite photogenic.

Why Do we Choose Crieff as Our Home Base?

High Street, Crieff.
        Besides being adopted by a family (John and Jacky Clifford who own Merlindale B&B) we believe Crieff (Perthshire) is a great place to stay.   
Merlindale B&B in Crieff is our Scottish home.
        There are several reasons we recommend Crieff to all our friends who travel to Scotland?  First, Crieff (from Soottish Craobh meaning trees) has an interesting history.  It was a drover’s or market town where Highlanders would bring their cattle and hides to be sold every year in the Michaelmas (October) tryst or market.  In fact, Rob Roy MacGregor visited Crieff to sell cattle and his son was chased and shot in the streets of Crieff.  Besides being a drover’s town, Crieff was also where Bonnie Prince Charlie held his final war council (The Drummond Arms Hotel) 
Art on the Drummond Arms Hotel.
before the disastrous defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden in April of 1746. It is also home to Scotland’s oldest lending library, the Innerpeffray Library.
Secondly, Crieff is centrally located for tourists.  
James Square, Crieff.
St Andrews is a little over an hour away, as are both Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Stirling with its magnificent castle and Bannockburn battlefield (both of Braveheart fame) is less than an hour away.  At the edge of the Highlands, Crieff is also only a few minutes from the famous Gleneagles Resort and Golf Courses where the Ryder Cup matches were played in 2014.  But you really don’t have to go out of town to have plenty to do and see.
Crieff is home to The Famous Grouse Experience (Glenturret Distillery), the most visited distillery in Scotland.  The town has two 18-hole golf courses and one 9-hole course.  The High Street shopping area has a plethora of specialty shops including J L Gills (my go-to whisky shop),

J L Gills--whisky paradise in Crieff.
an Edinburgh Woolen Mills shop, 
A local fruit and veg shop.
bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, a deli, a couple of art galleries, a well-stocked tourist information shop, and a world renown candy shop.  At the east edge of Crieff is the Crieff Visitor’s Centre with the famous Caithness Glass Works.  Near to the visitor’s centre is a Stuart Crystal shop 

and the huge Nutcracker Christmas Shop.
After all that you really need to relax and have something to eat.  Crieff has several tea or coffee shops, including The Red Squirrel (my writing office since there’s no Starbucks here).  
High Street, Crieff.

There’s also no dearth of fine dining establishments either—Yann’s is our favorite, but The Lounge, The Gallery, and Delivinos are also popular.  Plenty of pubs in town serve good pub fare if that’s to your liking.  
If this sounds like a commercial for Crieff, it is.  Anne and I spend about six weeks a year (spring and fall) in Crieff and we love it
A fence in Crieff's residential area.

—the people, the shopping, the attractions, the food.  We enjoy other towns in Scotland as well, especially Peebles, Grantown on Spey, Aviemore, Ballater, and Dornoch.  But it is Crieff which is our Scottish home.      

Saturday, April 11, 2015


To continue with our Santa Fe adventures....

The second part of the trip found us wandering more in Santa Fe, exploring Bandelier National Monument,  and playing more golf.

The street art was some of my favorite art.

Window displays in the shops were also fine street art.

The San Francisco de Asis Church in Toas has walls eight to twelve feet thick.

The San Francisco de Asis Church's angles are made lovelier with Taos' blue skies. 

The mystical staircase in the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe has a great story.  In need of  help to build a staircase to the choir loft, the sisters prayed for divine help.  Soon a carpenter appeared, built an architectural masterpiece by hand, and left without accepting any pay.  Engineers are still studying how the staircase could be built.

Santa Fe is famous for its artistic doors to homes and shops.

Beautiful scenery on the way from Santa Fe to Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos.

A cliff dwelling at Bandelier National Monument.

The Anasazi (the Ancient Ones) were the people who built these cliff dwellings as much as a thousand years ago.

I climbed up to level one, but the next four ladders got even steeper and more exposed.

Young people had no problem negotiating the ladders.

On the way from Bandelier to Los Alamos we stopped to watch a herd of mule deer.

The dry ground of Marty Sanchez de Links of Santa Fe (a municipal course) made for good roll.

. The last course we played was the Santa Fe Country Club (a public course).  This is the course I played the most while working at the summer debate camps in the early 90s.
We end our Santa Fe trip with another great sunset.

Scottish Festival and Our Next Trip:  As we got ready for our next trip to Scotland (the next post will be from there), we attended a Scottish Festival in Albany.
Our booth at the festival selling books and photos.

The good entertainment included a fine pipe band.

A special treat for us was one of our favorite Celtic vocal groups, Golden Bough.

Shortly after our return from Scotland we'll set up shop at the Newport Celtic Festival and Highland Games (June 13 and 14, at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds).