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?

Threats and Warnings – What Would You Do?

So destiny has packed our bags and my husband, Danny, and I will travel to five European countries during the month of June. One of them is England. I had thought it perfect timing that Blogger’s Bash 2017 would be held in London while we traveled from Scotland to France. We made our reservations near Victoria Station and are ready to go. I can’t wait to meet my blogging friends from the UK.

Then the unthinkable happened in Manchester. Prime Minister Theresa May raised the terrorist threat flag from severe to critical adding “an attack is imminent.” She called for police presence on the streets and help from the military. Not exactly the relaxing trip I’d planned.

We stopped in NYC on our way to Europe a few weeks before 9/11. My son, Kelly, wanted to see the World Trade Center, so we taxied down to the financial district. You never know. (I’m behind the camera.)

world trade center 2001

Why so much hatred in the world? Of all concerts, why Ariana Grande? She is queen of the tweens. So many little girls attended. Why would killing little girls be a terrorist’s goal? I imagine a horrific, hellish afterlife where they suffer for eternity. That line of thought ends with me hating them. That’s not the answer. Hate begets hate. Somehow or other, things have got to settle down. We all need to peace the hell out.

World leaders tweeted strong defensive strategies like stopping ISIS before their routine attacks undermine and dismantle the government. That didn’t sit well with me. I’m not a defense kind of gal. I loved the Pope’s message: “Dialogue allows us to plan for a future in common. Through dialogue we build peace, taking care of everyone.” That’s playing offense.

Every day security ramps up. Some British tourist attractions are closed. Worries have extended to France, Belgium and Germany. Great.

It’s no big deal to hunker down in Scotland. I am an Outlander super fan and could find tons of activities to keep me busy. But I visualize terrorists hidden in gloomy alleys who watch my cowardly reaction. They throw up their hands and shout, “We win!” I’m not a coward. I refuse to live my life in fear. Instead, I will be vigilant.

I have no control over others and their hatred. I only have control over myself. But I can make an impact by loving others without judgement and living my wild life. If it means going to Europe in June where terrorism just got real, then the Wild Ride will get a little wilder. I can’t wait! The countdown has begun.

England collage

Would you cancel your trip? What would you do to stay safe? Any travel tips, you’d like to share?

Related posts:

Change Your World

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

And Our Flag Was Still There

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

ducks in a row

Doesn’t it always seem when you get your proverbial ducklings to trot single file, Destiny senses your achievement and watches like a lurking bully? Just as you hit your stride it jumps from the bushes and scatters them. Yup. Big D loves to mess with us. We can’t predict what life has in store for us, EVER!

“You think you’re in control of things? Ha!” says Big D, “You crack me up, Susie Lindau.” Destiny always has other plans in order to teach us life lessons.

This was the year I wanted to hunker down to finish projects, enter contests and get into super shape. Most important to me was to start a regular routine to balance my life and accomplish more in less time. Destiny buckled over it laughed so hard.

When my brother, Joe, died in March, shock pulled more than five weeks from my stellar equation to reach 2017’s goals. During that time I shelved most of my writing, but made some positive changes. I write in a gratitude journal every night and refocused my goals after finally learning about the fragility of life. You’d think breast cancer would have taught me that.

Destiny crosses its arms and shakes its head.

But Destiny also taught me to take opportunities presented NOW. I won’t wait for a better time in the future. You never know what’s ahead. Since adventure’s my thing, I decided I wanted to travel a lot more, but I wasn’t sure how I would balance that with hunkering down. I figured once things settled down after the funeral, I could get a ton done and plan an adventure sometime next fall. Ha! In hindsight, Destiny and I both share a laugh over that naive thought.

My husband and I returned home between Joe’s death and the funeral and discovered water pouring through the ceiling of our house from my demon washing machine. I took it as a cosmic joke and cliché moment about how life goes on and most of the setbacks are fixable. I figured we would patch up the ceiling and move on.

“Gotcha, Destiny.” I clucked my tongue and winked.

Big D shook its head. It had other plans.

So we’ve been inundated with workers since March 14th. Driers, contractors, drywallers, painters and soon the wood floors will be redone. My routine has been blown to hell. Instead, I carve out a few hours each day while workers come and go.

Then we heard from our insurance company. Are you sitting down? Because the water leaked out of the room into the hall, ALL of the wood floors on our first floor will be refinished along with my son’s room. The furniture has to be moved out. I threw up my hands and shook my fist at the Destiny. “Quit screwing with us, Destiny!”

My stomach has been knotted while waiting to get back to a normal life.

Then I discovered we need to move out of the house for almost THREE WEEKS! Another setback. We planned to drive to Breckenridge and stay at our second home. That’s cool, I guess.

One night, we picked up where we left off with Outlander. I had been so inspired when we started watching the historical fantasy about a woman who travels back in time to the 1740’s. My 100% Irish dad shocked us a few years ago when he said he had a Scottish grandmother. I did some research and she immigrated to America from the Melville Castle area. I wondered if my love for fish tropical in tanks and of the edible variety had anything to do with a connection to Herman?

“Wait a minute,” I said to my husband, Danny, after turning off a gruesome episode where a duke becomes headless, “See if there’s anything available in Scotland!” We bought a dinky timeshare unit in a lodge at the bottom of Peak 7 in Breck to use the amenities and park our car. We always forget to trade it and are about to lose two weeks.

After Danny researched availability, he came out of his office, smiling. “There’s a place in Dailly, Scotland.”

“What?” my eyebrows rose to my hairline and I took a look at his computer. We couldn’t find a trade in the US. It must be destiny.

A small smile curled in the corners of The Big D’s mouth as it peered over my shoulder.

That weekend, I caught up with a few blogs before skiing. Sacha Black announced the Bloggers Bash in London. One of our goals is to travel around and meet my virtual friends. “We could meet my friends!” I said.

I bought two tickets to the Bash and Danny booked our stay in Scotland for a week. We still needed to book the second week.

Why don’t we go to Paris the second week?”

“Really?”

“We can go anywhere, but that’s your favorite place, right?”

I would let it sink in over the weekend.

I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and had several mind blown moments thanks to Donald Maass and several other knowledgeable writers. Between classes, I spoke to my son, Kelly. “If you want to visit me this quarter, you should come out next weekend,” he said. “I have to work hard the last few weeks of school.” He’s attending Icon Collective Music Production School in Burbank. He graduates in June.

I LOVE visiting Kelly in California, but I would come home late Sunday evening and would have to repack to fly out again. Thing is, my mom comes for a ten day visit over Mother’s Day. Would I ever have time to do revisions after those mind blown moments? I remembered my new thoughts about opportunity and booked flights for early Friday morning. With the pressure of a trip, I wrote a brand new, much better first chapter and revised the second. Maybe cramming in writing between workers coming to the house was a good thing.

Monday morning I checked AirBnB’s in Paris surprised at how many lovely apartments near the heart of Paris only cost around $100 per night. I made a list of favorites. Then I noticed the walls in the Parisian apartment photos. I needed to pick a color for the bathroom that had been damaged. Most of the French rooms depicted neutrals in gray, taupe and tans. We have a very French house and I was sick of the green paint in the bathroom.

I drove to the paint store and picked out a few colors, then asked the decorator, “Is gray still a popular color?”

“It is,” she said, brown curls bouncing as she walked toward me from her desk.

“I was thinking about warm gray,” I said. “Something with a little brown in it.”

She pulled a few colors from a new line of paint. They all looked pretty much alike. When I returned home with a fist full of paint chips, I selected a taupey color called “Quicksand” and called the painter.

Destiny chuckled in the background.

I didn’t pay attention to its giggle.

Another cosmic joke came the next day. The house filled with painters. They spent the day painting the guest bedroom and the adjacent back sink area and bathroom.

After they left, I checked out the rooms. “Are you kidding me???” The walls were a light shade of green. It made the tumbled marble tile look pink. I screamed. “No!” Then I checked the code for the paint on the chip against the can. Exactly the same. How? How?

I figured this had to happen to other people and spoke the contractor. Nope. This NEVER happens.

At this rate, workers will be around for a while. I predict a lot of travel in my future. Quit scattering my ducks, Destiny!

Related posts:

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

When Death Sits on My Face

My Demon Washing Machine is Haunted

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

Fantastic Meme Found in Crested Butte

bikes leaning across trail Telluride

Danny and I biked on a trail through Crested Butte. As we rode out of town, we noticed a gathering of people taking pictures. We dropped our bikes, walked up to the cement post, and cracked up.

Things I hate meme from Crested Butte

I would love to meet the person who graffitied it. This is my kind of humor.

If you had the opportunity and courage to graffiti, what would yours say?

Mine would say:

Things I love –

1 . Respect for property

2 . Natural selection

3 . Sarcasm

I still like the other one better.

Have you ever graffitied anything? A wall? A desk? A tree? Would you?