|Who knew pigeons were so colorful.|
|Coastal Red Poppy|
How I’ve Become So Dependent on the Internet
Evaluate your own use of the net, but for me it is rather frightening how hard it is to live without the internet. I recently saw (on the web) an interesting proposition. Would you be willing, it asked, to live without phone, tv, or the internet for one month, if at the end of the month you would be given $100,000? My answer was immediate, “Of course I would and could.” Now I’m not so sure.
We arrived at our timeshare, Scandinavian Village in Aviemore (Highlands), on Saturday evening. We were told that the free internet system was down, but that it’d be up in the morning. It wasn’t. In fact, we didn’t have internet in our unit for a full week. Not only that, but the system was poor all over town because BT was putting in a new fiber-optics system. So even in the usual “internet cafes” service was poor at best.
Suddenly we found we were cut off from our normal world. Weather forecasts weren’t available except the 20% accurate TV forecasting. Route planning that we’d left to the last minute wasn’t available—we had to rely on the five year old A-Z Map. Just try adding up those mileage numbers without a magnifying glass. I found that I relied greatly on the net for my entertainment and games. More important still was the fact that on-line banking wasn’t accessible. Paying bills would have to wait as would checking on our accounts. Most important, though, we felt out of touch with friends and family. We could still get and receive emails and texts on our iPhone, but gone were the face-to-face (sort of) contacts through Facebook. The one good aspect of our net draught was that we didn’t have to follow the news daily, but even then by the end of the week I was feeling a little news deprived.
Would I, could I…for a month…even for the Big Money? It’s a tougher question than I thought.
A Stay at a Castle (Sort Of)
We booked in for a week at Kilconquhar (as close as we can come, it’s pronounced kil-con-ker) Castle in the Kingdom of Fife about 12 miles from St Andrews. We traded our Worldmark credit through RCI for our week—rules say we can only do this once every four years.
The castle resort has hotel units in the castle proper, a couple of garden units connected to the castle (we stayed in one once), and small (2 bedroom) and large (four bedroom) villa units around the grounds. There’s a bar and two restaurants in the castle. On the grounds is an equestrian centre, a pool and games complex, exercise room, and tennis courts.
Our villa—Ginger Beer Villa 4— was a four bedroom, three bath, sauna, full kitchen, living room, dining room, loft play room, and patio unit.
|Anne enjoys her patio time and her gin.|
All Five Star. Yes, we have to admit that our life is great much of the time.
Kilconquhar Castle and its walled estate was the fortified great house of the local laird from about 1200 onwards. In 1266 the then laird Adam of Kilconquhar, Earl of Carrick, went on the Crusades in the train of Prince Edward of England. He died with his friend King Robert the Bruce of Scotland in Palestine in 1270. The castle and estate stayed with the family for several hundred years and finally was purchased by the Carstairs family in 1640. From there the estate eventually ended up being owned by Lord Lindsay and today the castle’s tartan is the Lindsay tartan and the Lindsay Room in the castle honours the family.
The village of Kilconquhar about a half mile from the castle is very much like a village in the Cotswolds of England, except it lacks the thatched roofs of England—quaint well-decorated houses along a narrow main street with a Norman-style church and one pub.
|Kilconquhar Parish Church|
|In the parish churchyard we found graves of Earls and Barons as well a famous golfer's family.|
We ate twice at the Kinnneuchar Inn. The food at the inn is quite good and locals are friendly. It’s a kind of small village Cheers. And while the castle resort is Five Star, the bistro in the castle could use some help. We booked in for steak night in the bistro and wondered why the crowd was rather sparse. It didn’t take long to find out.
|The Castle Bistro|
I ordered steak and tiger prawns (you know the big guys). When my dinner came the steak was there (and was tasty) but there were no prawns, just a sort of cream sauce. I asked the manager about the prawns and he said, “They’re in the sauce.” In the cream sauce were three hard, over-cooked baby cocktail shrimps—those were my King Prawns.
We found out from a waitress that the chef had run out of prawns so they substituted shrimps in a sauce. Whether it was the manager’s decision or the chef’s, somebody ought to learn the difference between shrimps and prawn and when to tell the customer the truth.
Other than that dinner foul-up, our stay at Kilconquhar Castle was lovely. We look forward to being able to return.
|His eyes were bigger than his stomach.|
|A windmill at St Monans used for drying salt.|
|St Monans Church and the Village|
The Ferry to Isle Arran
We came over to the Isle of Arran on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Ardrossan on the Ayrshire (west) coast. At the beginning of the crossing they made a safety announcement and this is what we think we heard over the garbled speaker system:
|Sailing to the Isle of Arran|
“In the event of an emergency you will be instructed to swim. Do not attempt to take your luggage or your cars. Above all, stay calm and stroke firmly.
“Parents with children should keep them under control. Those out of control will be tossed overboard.
“Passengers traveling with pets should keep animals away from drink serving areas. Nobody likes a drunk dog. Have a good voyage.”
|Full Moon and the Elie Lighthouse|