Crossing Paths with Mary, Queen of Scots in Scotland – Photo Essay

We left Dalhousie in the rain and drove to Melville Castle. Finished in 1791, it’s one of the “newer” castles in the area. We inquired in hopes of finding some bit of history about my relative, Mary Melville, but discovered some about another Mary, Queen of Scotts, and her lover, Rizzio. They lived in a manor house previously built on the estate. He planted a chestnut tree in her honor and she reciprocated with five oaks. The trees remain to this day.

Melville Castle 1

Melville Castle entrance

The castle has been remodeled to accommodate guests as a hotel. Danny signs in.

Melville Castle entry

We rested our weary bones in the day room.

Melville Castle Day Room

The back stairs.

Stairway in Melville Castle

The restaurant for hotel guests.

Dinner in the dungeon

On our way out of the castle.

Leaving Melville Castle

From there, we drove to Linlithgow Palace, Mary, Queen of Scotts’ Happy Castle. I could see why it was given that name. Long winding passageways opened up to grand porches for viewing the vast countryside and waterways. I could imagine Mary hanging out on the deck in a sumptuous gown, glass of wine in her delicate hand, while plotting how to hide the Knight’s Templar’s treasures entrusted to her. An enemy of the Roman Catholic Church, cousin, King Henry, would surely help the cause.

From there, we drove to my ancestor’s old stomping grounds in Perth. My great grandmother, Mary Melville, somehow met Ed McCartan of Northern Ireland and they immigrated to Waukesha, Wisconsin. My dad was Ed McCartan, Jr. Mary Melville was his Scottish grandmother.

Funny note made from the County:

“The divorce case of EDWARD and MARY MCCARTAN which appears on the circuit court calendar, may as well be taken off. Just before the session of the court began, it was found that the parties had become reconciled and were living together again in connubial bliss”.

Source: Waukesha Freeman (Waukesha, Wis.) May 24, 1883

Editor Note: Perhaps after bearing 11 children the romance had faded slightly.

In 1900, most of the family has moved to the town of Richfield in Washington County. Edward and wife, Mary, live in separate places; Edward with his daughter Mary, and Mary, Sr. lives by herself but only several houses away. Apparently, the divorce reconciliation didn’t last long.

As we drove past stone and stucco homes, we passed a lovely park and lake. I had expected it to be a quaint and small town, but it was filled with historical significance and interesting architecture. The town dates back to prehistoric times. The Stone of Destiny once rested in the Scone Abbey where the King of Scots was crowned. Later, Perth became the stomping grounds for Jacobite uprisings.

Following signs to the city center, we found ourselves on Melville Street. Brilliant!

Perth City Center

We parked the car and splashed through puddles in search of a café for late lunch and tea. After passing several cute shops, one caught my eye. The windows were filled with tweeds for women with extraordinary pops of color. I stepped inside Blues and Browns and Danny dutifully followed.

We met Karen, a very enthusiastic shop owner, who regaled us with Hollywood connection. As a send off for her daughter’s first college semester, she decided to blow her money on a trip to Paris to visit her great aunt, Olivia De Havilland, (an Academy Award winner, twice!) Being a seamstress, she spent hours sewing fine clothing suitable for someone of that stature. So very excited, the day finally arrived. They coiffed their hair and had their nails done then made their way to her Paris apartment.

But like so many grand laid plans, life has other ideas. While on their way, the skies opened up and it poured. Without rain gear or an umbrella, they soon became soaked to the skin. Water dripped from their hems. They had come too far to turn around now. The maid buzzed them inside and gave them each a plush robe to wear while their clothes dried. They met their prestigious relative and enjoyed the afternoon sipping tea and chatting. Olivia is one hundred years old now and still lives in Paris.

The cute shop owner recommended the cute Rose House café/flower shop around the corner for a snack on a pedestrian mall. We met the owner and staff who told us a bit of history. Situated across from the cafe is St. John’s Kirk, the Church my relatives most likely attended. This historic building dates back to the 1200s where John Knox gave a speech which led to the Scottish Reformation in 1559.

Coffee at the Rose House

After a scrumptious soup and sandwich, we jumped into the car and drove to Inverness. The adventure takes a new twist of fate! Stay tuned. Lots more to come…

Related post:

Scotland – So Far, So Very Good – Photo Essay

Scotland – So far, So Very Good – Photo Essay

So far, our vacation has been spectacular. We started in Glasgow and drove to Edinburgh. I only drove the wrong way once, but immediately rode over the median, much to the amusement of Scottish onlookers. Oopsy!

Since we are already up in Inverness and Nessie is waiting for us to take a peek, I will take you on a photo journey of only a few of the places we have visited in the last few days.

Dalhousie Castle

We stayed in Dalhousie Castle for two nights.  With spectacular history and equally fine appointments, I was ready to move in.

Ready to move into Dalhousie Castle

We took a tour of the Rosslyn Church of Da Vinci Code fame. Legend has it, when the Roman Catholic Church tried to disband the Knights Templar, they hid their treasure somewhere in the church. The tour guide told us of a paver which holds much of the building’s energy. The man is stepping on it in the photo. Not expecting much, I stepped on the stone. A chill traveled up my legs as I broke out in a sweat much to the excitement of the elderly docent.

Rosslyn Church stone

Edinburgh Castle is well worth a look.

Edinburgh Castle

Amusement on the Royal Mile.

DC8A79C5-FB0A-40DB-BC60-5C3B7B61E547

Had a fabulous meal at Maison Bleu.

Maison Bleu - Edinburgh

Stopped by Stirling Castle during a rainstorm.

Stirling Castle Entry

Danny and I seeking shelter under the arch.

Sterling Castle on a rainy day

We have to call the bell hop. It’s a half hour past check out. Got to run! More later…

Going to see Nessie today!

One Way to Prepare for the UK

Prepare to drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK
I will travel far and wide in Europe this summer and will drive during part of the trip.

No big deal, right? I drive all the time. But I’ve never driven in the UK where they drive on the wrong side of the road. Whoa.

Why am I freaking out?

It always takes me a while to get used to doing something new. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a spazz. My tennis coach used to take my arm and move it through the motion of every new stroke. When I tried Zumba, I was shamed by the elderly ladies dancing the Samba for the first time.

Don’t get me started about my left hand. I never know what it’s doing. Just last night, I held a key in my hot little left hand and forgot about it.

“Where’s the key?” asked my husband, Danny.

“I don’t know, ” I said. Then I looked at my totally lame left hand. “Ha! Here it is!”

The first time I ever drove, my dad sat in the passenger seat while we crossed the street to the humongous school parking lot. Only one car parked in the lot that Saturday afternoon. I had tons of room in which to take my maiden voyage in our Buick. I took long, slow practice turns around the lot. That one car frightened me. I closed my eyes to mere slits and cringed every time I drove past. At one point, I pointed our station wagon in its direction and drove at ramming speed. My dad wrenched my grip on the steering wheel so I wouldn’t plow into it! In my defense, the Law of Attraction came into play. It was a pretty nice Ford Pinto.

How would I get used to driving without closing my eyes to oncoming traffic?

I got a BRILLIANT idea!

Youtube driving simulators.

The first video was a driver’s test in Halifax. It started out with everything and more. Soon I took right turns into the left hand lane, (in my head) like a pro. I enjoyed the tense banter between student and instructor too.

Then I had a WTF moment. The student driver took a right hand turn onto a street where the cars parked toward her on both sides of the road. It was a ONE WAY STREET! She would fail for sure. I waited for the retribution. And I waited. Nope. The driver’s ed teacher kept quiet as they continued as if nothing happened.

My Eureka moment:

Crazy Brits park any which way they want! (Apologies to my British friends.) Sometimes they all park into oncoming traffic. Why? Now I have to watch for one-way signs at every corner!

It lost me after a boring parallel parking lesson.

I found second video recorded in The Cotswolds for treadmill or spin classes. The classical music soothed my virtual white knuckles. Then streets narrowed and a car approached. I focused on the music as the driver pulled over to the side of the road to let the other car pass. What a concept!

After a few minutes with both videos, my confidence soared. I’m sure I’ll drive like a pro after these unintentional tutorials. I hope I don’t get mixed up while running errands in Boulder…

Have you driven in the United Kingdom? Have you ever driven down the wrong side of the road? Do you like road trips?

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

Threats and Warnings. What Would You Do?

Notorious Colorado Weather – A Photo Essay

Colorado weather is notorious for its unpredictability, but I’ve never seen anything like the superstorm that arrived this week. 2017 has been a year of the unpredictable, with the death of my brother and ceiling cave-in. I keep looking for that silver lining. It’s in my nature.

A week ago, I worried about how I would get “everything” done before floor refinishers and painters take over the house for the month of June. Part of my long list included planting annuals. Not only a couple of pots placed on tables, but at least eleven urns and four window boxes. That’s a lot of plant material.

radient flower box

Usually, I check out all of the garden centers before buying in order to save money. This year, I’m under a time crunch, so I was tempted to buy everything at one place. I vibed out and couldn’t motivate. After fighting the crowds over the warm Mother’s Day weekend, I only bought geraniums on Monday. Then I looked at the five day forecast and couldn’t believe my eyes. Tiny flakes of snow were predicted to arrive on Thursday night. I figured the snow would melt before waking.

The beginning of the storm rolled in several days early with huge hail in the form of golf ball-sized snowballs on Monday. It reminded me of a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. I’d never seen anything like it. You’ll have to trust me since they melted before I could take a picture. Thunderstorms rolled through the next two days.

Thursday, 8:30 AM:

After I blogged my Twin Peaks post, I looked up from my computer to the kitchen window. “It’s snowing!” I sprang from my chair and stared at the giant quarter-sized flakes. I figured it was a fluke and it would soon turn to rain.

9:00 AM:

It’s still snowing. Large puddles are forming on my lawn. A great day for ducks. Maybe you can see the duck in this video.

At this point, I wasn’t worried. It was early. The temperature would rise.

The following photographs are blurry from all the snow falling. Check out the size of the flakes in some of them.

9E73DDD1-6142-41E4-9512-48998E03D27A

Beginning of the spring snowstorm 2017

3:00 PM:

My fingers froze while knocking down heavy snow from brittle branches. Soaking wet and exhausted, I gave up and came back inside.

Under the apple tree

6:00 PM:

You can’t even tell that I knocked down the snow. The trees look crippled under the heavy weight.

Notorious Colorado Weather - Photo Essay.jpg

01D5FDEB-D922-4A86-AC70-A8031D98989E

Friday, 8:30 AM:

We woke up to MORE snow and fog. Graduations are being postponed along with most outdoor sports. Can you imagine all the planning and flights, and how people are scrambling to reorganize? We have six inches of snow here in Niwot. Trees are hunched over and frozen like conspiring old men.

The silver lining? Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort is open and has over two feet of champagne powder! I wish I could go… I will return my geraniums and wait until July to plant. Cross one full day of work off my list.

They are predicting another one to four inches of snow today! We didn’t get any in March, usually our snowiest month. What is happening?

winter storm 2017 What is happening?

10:15 AM:

As the sun peaks out from the clouds, the trees shrug off the snow and pull themselves up to their full height. The birds are singing and 70 degree weather is in the forecast. Welcome to Colorado weather.

Are you getting our storm? Do you think the weather is getting crazier?

Response to Daily Post – Notorious

How to Be a Gaper

Gaper Day is a tradition at ski resorts. Even if they don’t have a party, the last day of the season brings out the gaper in most skiers and snowboarders. We drove to Vail for their closing day. They had their spring splash the weekend before, but it didn’t dampen the party atmosphere.

What’s a Gaper?

How to be a GaperThis term generally describes someone whose helmet slips back on their head creating the dreaded gap between their noggin protector and their goggles, revealing loads of forehead. This usually accompanies first time skier attire: Jeans, firefighter, camouflage or blaze orange deer hunting jackets… You get my drift.

On the last day of the season this is expanded to skier attire circa 1970-80’s or full on crazy costumes.

We went all out this year. Since I donated my old gear long ago, I chose a fairy costume because who doesn’t like fairies? Skiing with wings did nothing help me float above the slushy snow. It must have been in the 60’s! Rarely have I been overheated while skiing. It was a great spring purge.

How to be a gaper

We hit Aspen Highlands on their closing day, but it was much colder.

Aspen Highlands closing day party

It takes a gaper to know a gaper.

gapers in Vail

The end of the season went out with a lot of giggles and a few hearty guffaws. Don’t worry. A-basin will be open until June.

I’m donning quite a different outfit Friday night for Pikes Peak Writers Conference’s Heroes and Villains Party. Stay tuned…

Do you like dressing up? When was the last time you wore a wig? Danny really rocked his dreadlocks. Ha!

Related Posts:

Gapers Cheat Summer – Another Photo Adventure

Back on the Boards!

 

 

 

Wild Conversations Overheard in Malibu and Boulder

Eavesdropping, overheard and entertained in Malibu and Boulder.

I’ve overheard a lot of wild conversations. I’m an eavesdropper by nature. Shh! Don’t tell anyone… It can be very entertaining.

Here are three conversations I’ve overheard. I just had to share:

#1. While visiting Malibu, I walked through a parking a lot filled with sports cars and other gleaming top-of-the-line vehicles. A middle-aged couple walked toward me while holding hands. The man talked in a loud voice for my benefit, I’m sure.

“What was I supposed to say to the guy? Yes, I loved your script, especially the part when they humped in every scene.”

Dogs? Teenagers? Who knows? Gotta love Malibu.

#2. While hiking on a trail north of Malibu, I overheard a wild story. Two young ladies leaned in while another spoke. I tried to keep up with their brisk pace.

“My friend, George, who worked as a waiter, flew in from London for a few days. It was his birthday. We went out to celebrate, but he drank way too much and got wasted really early. When he realized he was making a fool of himself, he went outside to get some fresh air.

He walked out to the alley, sat down next to a dumpster and fell sound asleep. At one point, he woke up because his shoes felt too tight, so he took them off. Then he crashed out again.

We didn’t know where he went, so we stayed at the bar and hoped he would show up before they closed.

When he woke up a little later, a few hookers had gathered around him. He tried to stand up. One of them was concerned and said, ‘Babe, you don’t look so good. Can we help you get home?’

‘My friends are inside,’ he said, so two of the hookers helped him to his feet and brought him back into the bar.

When he stumbled over to us, I noticed he was barefoot and carrying his shoes. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing them.

‘My shoes are too tight.’

We helped him over to a booth and looked at his feet. Then we totally freaked out. While he slept in the alley, someone had driven over them. He never felt a thing.

We took him to the hospital. He had all kinds of broken bones. He had blown his money on the plane ticket and had a huge hospital bill. He flew home on crutches with casts on his feet.”

I couldn’t hear the rest over all the giggles and the oh, my Gods. Poor George. If you’re reading this, I’d love to hear about your recovery.

#3. One weekend in September, I walked out of a Boulder, Target store and overheard a tall CU student. He spoke loudly on his phone.

“I bagged a heifer,” he said with a thick Texas accent. I imagined laughter on the other end of the line. “No, she’s really cute.” The receiver of the call must have argued. “No, no, no. She’s my girlfriend.” He paused and then said, “Isn’t that what they call a female buffalo?”

A misfired joke about dating a young woman who attends CU. Their mascot is a buffalo.

Here are the morals of the three overheard stories:

#1. Sex sells, but oversaturation in any medium can get old and tired and so would the actors. *budumbum*

#2. Binge drinking can get anyone into loads of trouble. Remember the buddy system and steel-toed boots.

#3. Be careful when trying to impress your friends. They might get the idea that you’re misogynistic or need a lesson in Dad jokes. By the way, a female buffalo is a cow. Not much better. 

Have you overheard a conversation worth remembering? 

Related posts:

Random Acts of Chat – Dave Barry, Stephen King, Erma Bombeck and Jesus walk into a bar…

When People Think You’re Crazy – I entertained others with my conversation with me, myself and I, in a grocery store.

Daily Prompt – Chuckle

5 Things You Must Do for Your Birthday!

5 things to do for yourself on your birthdayHate celebrating your birthday? Always disappointed? I had a very Happy Birthday on the 11th and celebrated it BIG time this year. How? Easy. I depended on myself to have fun.

5 things you must do for your birthday:

#1. Take control. Plan your day in advance.

Waiting around for someone else to plan it is too much pressure on friends and family. Make it easy. Do it yourself.

Me – I didn’t want to exhaust myself with appointments and running around all day. Instead, I planned two outings and dinked around with a new toy I bought for my birthday. My son, Kelly, picked it out. *hint, hint* You’ll find out soon enough.

#2. Lower your expectations.

Oh, sure it would be great to be asked out to lunch or walk into a surprise party, but what if it doesn’t happen? Don’t let disappointment ruin your day.

Me – I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. I stuck to my plan.

#3. Pamper yourself.

Make an appointment for a massage, facial, nail or hair appointment. Or why not meet with a fortune teller. Ha! Hopefully they will tell you the next year will rock.

Me – I got my hair cut. Then I took a long nap and watched a movie. Why not? It was my day!

#4. Go out for a meal.

Whether you go with a special someone or go by yourself, be sure to pick your favorite restaurant and eat something delicious.

Me – I met my family in Denver for dinner at one of my favorites, Venice Ristorante.

Interior of Venice Ristorante from their site

#5. Enter three highlights into a gratitude journal at the end of the night. There’s a lot to be thankful for. You lived another year. Yay!

Me – It’s been exactly one month since my brother, Joe, passed away. I’m remembering him through my journal by living my wild life.

Many people hate birthdays since they feel horrible about being one year older. Get over it! Remember the alternative. I’ve faced down my own death (evil death!) and tried to breathe life into one who had passed. Birthdays are what life is all about. Bring them on!

This was all I needed.

Five things you must do on your birthday

Do you celebrate your birthday? What’s your favorite thing to do?

Related posts:

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

When You put Your Dog in Charge of Your Birthday – VLOG

I’m Planning on a Happy Birthday!