Author: brucelcampbell

Scotland 2019 – Day 4

Only two stops today, and a much shorter coach ride.

The reference map.

I will admit that as of tonight, last night’s hotel was the worst. The room was hot. It may been 50°F outside, but the windows would barely open, there was no fan available, and the down filled duvet was so damn thick and heavy that sleeping was next to impossible.

But we are Scots so we put it behind us. Our first stop of the day would be the Culloden Battlefield. I will admit that I had some major trepidations visiting this battlefield. I had the same feelings when I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC some years ago.

I have always read that the Argyll Campbell’s were loyalists to the British crown. According to my sources the Argyleshire men were stationed on the left flank of the army. They’re mission was to pull down a wall and stop the Jacobite cavalry from entering the fray. And history tells us, they were successful. So I expected to find a marker of some sort that backed this up.

To the left of this point stood Cobham Fir Earra Ghaidheal – the Argyleshire Men.

So Campbell of Argyll was here. But what about the other Campbell houses? Argyll may have become the big house, but there are others. Loudon, Cawdor and Breadelbane. We’re they there? And if so, we’re they Jacobite or loyalists?

There were Campbell Jacobites as well. I am strong enough to admit that I was overcome with emotion when I found this memorial. I knelt down and poured a dram of single malt out over the ground to honor the men of the Clan on both sides of this conflict.

I also saw a restoration of part of the wall as well.

It’s a bit hard to see, but what’s left of the wall is just in front of the trees

Culloden has a very nice cairn commerating the battle.

There is also a now restored cottage on the field that was there in 1746.

But the day was not all doom and gloom. Our other stop for the day was at a working sheep farm for a demonstration of border collies. Wifey had been looking forward to this. We have seen sheepdog demonstrations before, but not of this size. This farm has about 3000 sheep on about 11000 acres. The shepard has 18 border collies working with him, and several puppies from 8 months or so, to a new litter only one week old!

Dog momma (wifey) and one of the bigger puppies.

Then it was a quick trip to the Atholl Palace Hotel. A Victorian Era “spa” hotel. We can only hope that tonight is more comfortable.

We are here for two days. Tomorrow is a visit to Blair Castle and the Blair Atholl Distillery. That will be interesting.

Peace,

B

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Aye! We found a piper! In Scotland!

Scotland 2019 – Day 3

We had a long travel day today. Still stopped at some braw locations but we also spent long hours just riding through the Scottish countryside.

The reference map.

The day started as usual with a breakfast buffet. I now now that haggis is a wonderful dish! I do truly enjoy it. Wifey still hasn’t worked up the courage to try it.

Our hotel last night was on beautiful Loch Leven. Since I don’t sleep much anymore, I was up and took this shot of the Loch in the early morning mist.

Then it’s off to the races. Well, as much as a 48 passenger bus can race on narrow country roads. We passed through Fort William, but not slow enough for a picture. Actually, the only thing worth photographing was the ruins of the fort. But we went by it so fast I didn’t see anything to photograph!

An unexpected stop was at the Glenfinnian Viaduct. I’m sure most of you will recognize this from the Harry Potter movies. The train, The Jacobite Express, was not in the area when we stopped. But it didn’t matter to me as I’ve not seen any of the movies anyway.

Also in Glenfinnian is a monument to The Highlander. This monument is near the area where Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) is said to have landed in 1745 to rally the highlanders to his cause to remove George II from the throne. It ended badly for the Jacobite army. I’ll have more on that tomorrow when we visit the Culloden Battlefield.

Monument to the highlanders lost in battle.

Then it was north to Mallaig Harbour to board a ferry to the Isle of Skye.

In Memory Of Those Lost At Sea

Our Ferry, The Lord Of The Isles.

It was one of the smoothest boat rides I have been on. Sadly, our time on the Isle was too short. We had no stops at all. I was really hoping to be able to see The Old Man Of Stor, but we never got close.

As we left the Isle via the bridge, we came upon Eilean Donan Castle. I do believe that the castle was used in the Outlander series, but it may only been a reference not an actual location. I’m sure there’s someone who can set the record straight.

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We did however stop at Loch Ness which was also unexpected.

And yes, we saw Nessie! (Think I need a Scots language pack – autocorrect keeps trying to change all the Scots terms.)

Then we finally made to our hotel in Nairn.

That has some coos adjacent.

And that was the day that was. Tomorrow is Culloden, some sheepdog demonstrations and a two night stay at the Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry.

Peace,

B

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Scotland 2019 -Day 2

Reference Map

Today we left Glasgow and headed north to Loch Lomond and Inverary. The weather exactly what we expected. Chilly (right around 52° F) and damp. We overheard someone that they needed an umbrella because it was “pouring”. It was barely drizzling. Guess this person has ever been out in a #Floriduh summer shower.

First up was a stop and boat ride on Loch Lomond. Loch Lomand is the largest fresh body of water in Britain. The water was very quiet today.

Our boat was the Lomond Queen.

Then just a short trip to the town of Inveraray, a quaint town on the shores of Loch Fyne. We spent about two hours in town shopping and having lunch.

Wifey standing on Main Street in Inveraray. Several shops and restaurants line both sides.

Our lunch source.

After lunch it was time for Inveraray Castle. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not actually a castle, it is a manor house. Why? Because the Duke of Argyll has this as his family home. We were hoping that His Grace would be home, but he wasn’t. He has a batten (Maybe a baton? Our tour guide has a very thick brogue) of office in his role of Master of the Royal Household in Scotland. And it was “missing”. Our guide in the castle ensured us it was not stolen, but His Grace will take it without notice if he needs it in the performance of his duties.

Then the absolute highlight of the day, maybe the year, maybe even of my life occurred. Our tour guide Ian had a bit of surprise in store. You see, the route from Inveraray to our nexr stop, Glen Coe, passes right by a very special place for me.

I’ve mentioned this castle before and I’ve posted some other folks pictures. But today I got see it with my own eyes. We didn’t get to go up to the castle, just see it from a wayside stop. But here is my picture (one of several) of Kilchurn, one of the ancestral homes of Clan Campbell. Oh, and it’s pronounced Kill-kern. Not like it looks, Kill-churn. I’ve been saying it wrong for years sadly. Now I know better. Thank you, Ian for teaching me this.

From there we continued north into the highlands and (drum roll please) Glen Coe. The Campbell’s have a history with this Glen. I won’t go through it here, as it’s very complicated. If you don’t know the story, here is a Wikipedia link.

On the way to our hotel we got to see the Three Sisters of Glen Coe. II took a panoramic shot to get all three of the sisters in the shot. I hope it works for this format.

Finally we made it our hotel. This little place is way much better than the Hilton we stayed in last night.

They even have a small circle of standing stones on the property.

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So that’s it for tonight. As long as the MacDonald ghosts don’t come after this lone Campbell, I will be back with more tomorrow. And when you add that they find Argyll’s batten missing today, AND I’m deep into Glen Coe, I can’t help thinking I’m being set up!

Our itinerary for tomorrow is the Isle of Skye.

Peace,

B

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Oh yeah, I had haggis at breakfast – and I liked it!

Scotland 2019 – Day 1 (and a half)

The big day is finally here! After years of planning and those (best laid plans) failing. We finally made it to Scotland!

Our itinerary

The trip started on Thursday 16 May right around noon EDT. We had contracted with shuttle service in town to take us and pick us up from the airport in Orlando (AKA Mickey Controls Orlando). We left the house a good thirty minutes before our scheduled time, and the shuttle office is only ten minutes away from the house.

As we turn off the main road to the frontage road that leads to their office, we see the shuttle turning onto the main road. Then I get a text saying call the office immediately!

Seems they changed the schedule and we didn’t get any notification. Luckily they could get the shuttle to return, and the trip was saved. I did get the notification email at 11:33 PM that night. Not that it did any good, I was halfway across the Atlantic Ocean by then.

Despite all that hassle, and the fact that our plane was completely booked, and filled with screaming kids, we survived. I have never seen so many small children on one flight before. There had to be ten under that age of 3. And for each one of those kids there were 3 more! No sleep was to be had.

We made it to Gatwick Airport in London about 6:30 AM British Summer Time (for my dear family subtract 5 hours from all times mentioned while I’m across the sea – 6:30 AM BST is 1:30 AM EDT). And what a strange airport it is. International arrivals that are continuing on to destinations in the UK (such as we are) have to clear the UK Border Service. This isn’t very hard. You just fill out a form, show your passport to the kind folk at the counter and answer some silly questions. They needed the address that you will be staying at for your visit. But we’re not staying at one place. We move every day. So they wanted the address of the first hotel. No problem, we have that. Then they want to know how many people are on the tour! I have no clue. Turns out the answer, of course, is 42.

The Border Protection lady decides we can enter. Bad move. Letting another Campbell in is bound to cause problems. But get this. We had to exit the terminal, go back into the main building and the clear security again. To get to the departure gates you have to literally walk through the entire duty free area. You can’t skip it. I think the marketing department at Disney set this up. And as I was afraid of, the coffee sucked!

However, we are Campbell’s are we made it through.

I swear that under those clouds lie Scotland. This was taken out the plane window just about the time we crossed the boarder. By the time we landed in Glasgow the weather was clear.

On to day 1, Glasgow:

The tour company arranged for a private driver to pick us up from the airport and deliver us to our hotel, the Hilton Grosvenor. George our driver, was a very knowledgeable and humorous gentleman. It was so nice to have someone that could drive from the wrong side of the car and on the wrong side of the road so expertly. And what a car! I don’t remember which model of Mercedes Benz it was, but it was gorgeous! I now want one.

The hotel is very nice but is missing one thing that I would imagine most Americans would miss. No, not indoor plumbing, air conditioning. It may be 50°F (at 12:30 AM BST) outside, but the room is quite a bit warmer. I tried to open the window but I won’t open more than 3 inches or so. Hence why I’m up.

The hotel lobby with most of the group.

Here are some shots I took while we rode around town in the tour bus.

The Crafty Pig BBQ

Oran Mor – a former church now a restaurant. On certain evenings you can get “a pint, a pie, and a play” for £10.

King George square

We did to spend some time at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. A beautiful red sandstone building built around 1901.

These hanging masks are really cool. The light that’s projected on them change colors.

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Look what is across the street!

A Brewdog pub!

Glasgow is famous for its urban art. This was on the side of a building as we drove past. There were Segal other murals but I couldn’t get pictures.

Finally, it was dinner time!

That will wrap up day 1. In need to some sleep now as I’ve been up about 36 hours. I’m much too old for that!

Peace,

B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 16 May

(A. K. A. What’s Stuck In Wifey’s Head)

This should not be a surprise as we are indeed flying away in just a few hours time.

Peace,
B

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P. S. This is my first test with the Android app.. It sucked! I hope you can see the video!

You Take The High Road..

I’m taking a airplane, and I’ll be in Scotland way afore ye!

We will soon be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean flying to first London, and then on to Glasgow, Scotland. Yes that’s SCOTLAND folks! Home of my ancestors, Wifey’s ancestors. Can the island support yet another Campbell family (even if it’s just for a little while)? Well, we’re gonna find out.

On Saturday we will be visiting Inveraray Castle. Not only was this historic castle featured in the TV show Downton Abbey but it is home to Torquhil Ian Campbell, (born 29 May 1968) Chief of Clan Campbell, the 13th (S) and 6th (UK) Duke of Argyll. This makes him my clan chief. But I wonder, is it appropriate to ask him for a “wee dram” should we cross paths that day? Probably not.

The Duke is only one of five of British peers to hold more than one Dukedom. The Clan Campbell, N.A. web page has much more on His Grace.

Some other highlights we expect to see are Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, St. Andrews, The Isle of Skye, and Castle Eilean Donan. I don’t think we stop at Loch Ness, so if we do get a glimpse of “Nessie”, it will be fleeting. If we do get to stop at the loch, I want to bring a whole salmon as bait! “Here Nessie, Nessie!” Eilean Donan is a location used in the filming of Outlander. I’ve not watched any of the show, but Wifey has.

We will be near, but I don’t think we’ll get to see Kilchurn Castle. Kilchurn is considered the ancestoral home of Clan Campbell. At least one branch of the clan. As I’ve posted before, my DNA does not seem to link to any of the distinct branches of Clan Campbell. But that doesn’t mean I don’t claim the name. I very much want to see this ruin, but it may have to wait until the next trip.

As well as The Kelpies. Wifey and I both are eager to see The Kelpie statues. We *may* have a chance to find way to see them on our last night in Scotland.

Any trip to Scotland, or Ireland for that matter, isn’t complete without visiting at least one distillery. Our official stop will be the Blair Atholl distillery in Pitlochry, Perthshire. This is a new distillery for me, and I look forward to tasting a dram or three (wifey doesn’t like whisky, so I get hers too!). Along with all the other brands of scotch (and beer too), we can find along the way. The closest we get to Islay is our stop in Inveraray. So I’m not sure if we will have many chances to sample that style of whisky. Nor will we be near the Speyside area, so we may miss that style as well. I’m sure I will be able to find all the styles at the duty free shop at the airport. I just may need a second mortgage just to pay the taxes!

There will be very little chance to do any genealogy on this trip. Although during our visit to Perthshire we will be in basic area that I can trace my Campbell line to in the mid 1740’s. One day, I will come back to do some research. Or maybe we’ll just move here. That is an option!

I will do my best to post while we are in country. We have a portable Wi-Fi hotspot we’re taking with us. Our tour bus is supposed to Wi-Fi enabled, but I’m not sure how fast that connection will be. Likewise, hotel Wi-Fi can be spotty, and anything but secure.

The biggest problem as far as posting will be that I will only have my Android tablet. It will take some practice using the WordPress app for posting! So I ask forgiveness in adavanced for all the typos.

Here’s to sleepless nights and many “wee drams”! Slàinte!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 14 May

This is one of those songs that comes and goes at very random times. Maybe because so many people have recorded it.

This song is of unkown authorship and is considered a traditional folk song. It may have started out that way, even when Bob Dylan recorded it in 1961 for his debut album. But by the time that The Animals recorded it on 18 May 1964 it was transformed into a “folk rock” hit.

Lead singer of the Animals, Eric Burdon, tells the tale that the group needed a song to end their set while on tour with Chuck Berry, that was different. Not a straight out rocker that most bands were ending sets with. To do this, they took this song, put Eric in a single red spot on stage and rocked it some. The response was so positive they decided to record it over the reluctance of their producer. The song was recorded in one take, all of 15 minutes or so.


The Animals had begun featuring their arrangement of “House of the Rising Sun” during a joint concert tour with Chuck Berry, using it as their closing number to differentiate themselves from acts that always closed with straight rockers. It got a tremendous reaction from the audience, convincing initially reluctant producer Mickie Most that it had hit potential, and between tour stops the group went to a small recording studio on Kingsway in London to capture it.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_of_the_Rising_Sun

But, that’s not what I came here to tell you about (you were waiting for that line, weren’t you?). Back in the day when I was a worship leader in churches, we used to play around during warm ups by playing Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. Since it’s a very basic song in A minor, and in 4/4 time, the basic melody and rhythms can accept many other lyrics.

For fun, play in your head Amazing Grace to the tune of Peaceful Easy Feeling or better yet the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.

And now that I’ve got that stuck in your head, my job is done here.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Conference Time – 2019

Once again, I had the pleasure of attending the KnowBe4 Security Awareness Conference. This is the second year they’ve held the conference, and my second year of attending.  As usual, the wonderful folks at KnowBe4 put on a great conference.  I will admit that there were some things I thought were better last year than this year, but I will hold those criticisms for the email survey they will send.  I’m sure the problems I found were more related to me, and not the conference itself. I am by definition a “grumpy old man”.  The majority of attendees were probably younger than my kids. So, I’ll leave it at that.

I will mention one issue here.  One night there is a “customer appreciation dinner”.  No issue there, except for one like me with some severe social anxiety. This year there were almost 1000 attendees (up from only 300 or so last year). Before the dinner, there was an open bar (big plus in my book). My problem (all me, not the folks that set everything up), was that even with free beer, there were so many people in such a small space. The crowd noise was so overwhelming (added to my tinnitus) that I had to leave quickly. I only had 2 beers and went back to my room. My head was pounding, and the anxiety was so high, I’m surprised I didn’t have tears running down my face. I would have stopped and ordered food and drinks at one of the restaurants, but at $9 for a local craft beer that was not an option ( and the scotch/bourbon prices were way above anything I’ve ever seen before).  If I attend this event next year, I will go back to the Holiday Inn across the street.  Drinks and food prices there are much more reasonable.

ProTip:  In the Orlando, FL area avoid the Marriott World Centre unless you have big bucks backing you. Everything is extremely overpriced.

Of course, that is not what I came to talk about.  Let ‘s talk traffic.  Regular readers of this blog (both of you) know how much I hate traffic.  There are several posts about this already. For this conference I had to travel to Lake Buena Vista.  Basically, into the heart of Disney. If there is one thing I hate more than driving Interstate 4 (we used to call it the devil’s highway. Not it’s God’s Highway – because nobody else will claim it!), it’s Disney.

ProTip: Orlando’s Airport code is MCO. It stands for Mickey Controls Orlando. And they control much more than that. Their environmental policy sucks. They only bow down to the almighty dollar.

I-4 is undergoing a major “improvement”. They call it Ultimate I-4.  As in an ultimate pain in the ass. There are daily lane and exit changes. What once was a simple right lane exit, has now become, overnight, a left lane exit.

On Wednesday afternoon. It only took maybe an hour and a half to travel the 60 or so miles to the hotel/conference center.  The return trip home was a completely different story. Almost two and a half hours to make to 60-mile trip.  Why?  Because I-4 is a parking lot the majority of the day.  It just happens on different sides depending on the time of time.  Add in the Ultimate (pain in the ass) project, and most parts of I-4 are a parking lot most of the day. And since all the theme parks (Disney, SeaWorld, Universal, et al) are on the west side of Orlando, I avoid them at all costs.  I hate I-4 and Orlando beyond belief.  In fact I want out of #Floriduh in the worst way.  

In “honor” of sitting in the parking lot also known as I-4 for the majority of my Friday afternoon into the evening, here’s “I Can’t Drive 55”, because I don’t think I ever got above 45!

Peace,
B

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P.S. We’re under 6 days for #Scotland2019

Lest We Forget

4 May 1970 members of the Ohio Army National Guard opened fire on unarmed student demonstrators at Kent State University, Ohio.

I am not going to lay the blame for this tragedy on any person or origination. Events like this are never simply the responsibility of a single entity. While there may be a single source for the idea, whether it be a book, a person, or an ideology, there were bad decisions on both sides.

I believe the students at Kent State, who had a history of protests (which was their right!), up against the National Guard troops who were mostly young guys as well. The 60’s and early 70’s were a very tough time for America. And I sadly see some of the same ideologies coming back.

I had a graphic arts teacher in 1971 that was a member of that class at Kent State. He brought in the year book from 1970. Where the pictures should have been for the four students that were killed, were just black boxes.

In total, four students were killed, and nine wounded. This image has been forever burned in my mind.

May it never happens again. Anywhere.

Peace,
B

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A Convergance Of Events

Today would have been my mother’s 98th birthday! So happy birthday to her!

Geneva (Neva) Mae (Hicks) Campbell
1 May 1921 – 23 November 2001

Today is also the Celtic festival of Beltane. So, happy May Day as well!

Beltane was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain (~1 November), Imbolc (~1 February), Beltane (~1 May), and Lughnasadh (~1 August). Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season, when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the “symbolic use of fire”. There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, and to encourage growth. The aos sí (often referred to as spirits or fairies) were thought to be especially active at Beltane (as at Samhain) and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to appease them. Most scholars see the aos sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. Beltane was a “spring time festival of optimism” during which “fertility ritual again was important, perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun”


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane

Then on the way to work this morning, I heard that the always beautiful Judy Collins has her 80th birthday today. I have always loved her music. She was, of course the inspiration for this song:

Peace,
B

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