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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!

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!

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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What’s Stuck In My Head – 30 April

A.K.A. The Sleepless Night Edition

Short and quick today…

The ending of this song has been stuck for a while now;

There is no Eden or
Heavenly gates
That you’re gonna make it to one day
But all of the answers you seek
Can be found
In the dreams that you dream on the way

‘Nuff said.

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 25 April

A.K.A. The History Edition

Let me set the scene;

  • Date: Summer of 1979
  • Location: Somewhere in Georgia, maybe Duluth.

First a little back story. I was in the Air Force, stationed at Homestead AFB, just south of Miami. My family home was also just south of Miami, just not as far south. My parents had a 32′ motorhome that was used to travel around the eastern seaboard for vacations.

This particular summer, my brother and his wife were going to join mom and dad on vacation.  Their plan was to go to New Orleans, then up into the mountains of North Carolina, then to the Atlanta area, finally ending in Disney World where my brother was to play in a company golf tournament.  My plan was to take some leave and stay at the house and basically party the entire time.

Of course, I didn’t tell them that. As far as they knew my leave was not approved, which was a big fat lie. I can say this now since both mom and dad have passed. 

During this trip, they would call back to the house on a semi-regular basis. Obviously checking up on me. I’m guessing my brother knew what was up.

Everything was fine until the one evening they called, and I was, shall we say, just a bit drunk.  While talking to my brother I let it slip that my leave had been approved.  Plans were immediately set for me to fly up to Greensboro, NC to meet them and spend the rest of the trip with them. I was not too happy about this plan. The motorhome didn’t have that many sleeping places. Dad was an emphysema patient and had a nebulizer in the back of the RV where his and mom’s beds were. Having spent several other vacations in that RV, I knew how loud that nebulizer was at 2 AM.  I wasn’t looking forward to cramped sleeping quarters and being woken up at any hour of the morning.

In the end, it was a good thing I joined them.  The new plan was for me to fly into Greensboro and rent a car, then drive to meet them at the campground, just across the state line in Greensboro, SC.  Big problem.  I was only 20 at the time.  The minimum age to rent a car was 26. Even with a military ID, they legally could not rent me any vehicle.  So, the family unhooked the motorhome and drove up to the airport to rent a car and pick me up.

I’m not sure who exactly rented the car, but I was listed as the primary driver. Following them back to the campground I noticed something very bad.  None of the lights on the back of the RV were working. No tail lights, no turn signals, no brake lights, nothing!  When we made it back to the campground and got everything hooked back up we started looking at what was wrong.

If I remember correctly (always a challenge), we found a bundle of wires that had been burned out. But that wasn’t the worst of it.  Every single wire in the RV was brown.  Not brown as in burned or singed, but molded in brown plastic. None of the usual red, black, and green wires.  Everything was the same dull brown, from the front to the rear.  It would appear that the previous owner rewired the RV with only one color of wire. We had no idea which wire was hot, neutral, or ground!  That meant one thing. I was to follow, as closely as possible, the RV to Atlanta where we would park it in a friend’s driveway and rewire the entire motorhome. An entire weekend of vacation would be lost. But it was something very critical.

As I remember (again – we’re talking shaky ground here), we fixed all the wiring and all the lights worked, and we took off for Disney for that golf outing. That’s when the next issue showed up.  And now, we’re up to date, and where are somewhere around Duluth, GA.

As I mentioned dad has emphysema. While we were working on the motorhome, we could all see he was sinking into a major breathing issue.  That’s when we made the stop at a local hospital to see if we could get dad breathing better, hoping a more powerful breathing treatment would allow him to continue with us.  It didn’t work.  He spent a night or two in that hospital (my brother thinks it was “Joan Clancy Hospital”). Then he and mom flew back to Miami, while my brother, his wife and I went to Disney.

But, that’s not what I cam here to talk about.  While dad was in that hospital, my brother pointed out someone to me.  Down the hospital hall was a young guy with a big beard and longer than usual hair. His room was the only one that didn’t have a name outside the door. We would see this gentleman walk up and down the hall, stop and chat with the nurses, and really look like he didn’t need to be there. Plus, he looked very familiar to us.  It took me a little bit, but then I saw it. If it wasn’t Kenny Loggins, then it was a doppelganger! It looked just like him.  But why was he in the hospital? To complete the conspiracy theory, once he realized we noticed him he didn’t come back out of the room while we were there.

Was it Kenny?  Doubtful. But it’s fun to look back and wonder. 

All this finally leads to today’s video.  The song was originally released on the 1976 album The Best Of Friends.  The video isn’t the best, but I used this version for two reasons. The live version, while musically beautiful, is very boring.  They just stand there nothing exciting.  Second, the image of Kenny Loggins (the guy on the left) is who we saw in the hospital!

Enjoy!

That’s him! There on the left!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 12 April

Now I have to admit that the first time I heard this song it was a cover by The Lumineers. And even though I had never heard of The Lumineers at that time, I was totally entranced by the song and the band.

This is a Tom Petty song. Tom has long been one of my favorite musicians. Either solo, with The Heartbreakers, The Traveling Wilburys as “Charlie T. WIlbury Jr.”, and later (ironically since it was his first band) Mudcrutch. When Wifey got her new car and a subscription to SiriusXM Radio, she came home saying she had been listening to the Tom Petty channel, and was wondering about this band Mudcrutch and why they were being played on that channel. Once again my “music-savant” superpower came through!

This is part of the soundtrack from the movie, “She’s The One”. Needless to say, I’ve never seen the movie. Can’t even recall an advertisment for it. Judging by the listings on YouTube, it’s been covered many times. The cover by The Lumineers was on the first anniversary of Tom’s untimely death. The soundtrack actually has two versions of the song. I’m using (No. 3) version for the video. It’s a bit more mellow than the first release, although Jennifer Aniston isn’t in the video for (No. 3), but is in the video for (Circus). And no, I haven’t seen that either. I really don’t watch much TV or movies. Yeah, I’m boring.

Well enough of that, here’s “Walls (No. 3)”. And yeah, this video sucks, but the song is excellent!

Enjoy.

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 29 March

The other evening, Wifey and I were relaxing having just got home from work and deciding what to make for dinner. As usual, I had music playing while we were talking. I have music playing all the time. If not out loud, it’s playing in my head. Hence this series of posts.

Instead of the usual streaming music, SiriusXM, Spotify or Pandora, I had a YouTube playlist going. Some song would come on, and I would interrupt, or just pop out with some obscure fact about the song, band, or event that was playing. Wifey usually just smiles and goes back to whatever she was doing. She tolerates me well.

But then this song came on. And she stopped what she was doing, picked up her wine glass and came over to the computer desk where I was sitting to see the video. My playlists tend to feature guitar playing. This particular list is heavy with Eric Clapton. But this isn’t a Clapton song, even though he’s featured in the video.

Tracy Chapman has been a favorite of ours since we first heard “Fast Car“. Her music is so deeply personal it almost hurts. And she is so expressive. Her smile can light up a room, and that smile is so present in this video. As wifey said, she must be thinking “Eric Clapton is playing my song!!!!!”. Who wouldn’t simile when that happens.

So here’s Tracy Chapman and Eric Clapton playing “Give Me One Reason” from 1999. Enjoy!

Peace,
B

Fish tacos

Oh, and we decided on fish tacos for dinner. They were excellent!

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 17 March

Let’s go back to the summer of 1969. I was a strapping lad all of 10. Of course, I had not heard of this band then, much less this particular song. The name “Fleetwood Mac” didn’t hit my radar until much, much later with their “Rumours” album in 1977. And, like the majority of my male friends, I was trying to get with Stevie Nicks.

But, as usual, that’s not what I came here to talk about. Fleetwood Mac started out, not as a rock or pop band, but as a blues band. We all know, or if you didn’t know, you do now, that rock is very heavily influenced if not down right a derivative of, the blues. And I am very much into the blues.

“Oh Well” was recorded by the first version of Fleetwood Mac, and this a band that has had many changes.


Fleetwood Mac was founded by guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer. Bassist John McVie completed the lineup for their self-titled debut albumDanny Kirwan joined as a third guitarist in 1968. Keyboardist Christine Perfect, who contributed as a session musician from the second album, married McVie and joined in 1970. At this time it was primarily a British blues band, scoring a UK number one with “Albatross“, and had lesser hits with the singles “Oh Well” and “Black Magic Woman“. All three guitarists left in succession during the early 1970s, to be replaced by guitarists Bob Welch and Bob Weston and vocalist Dave Walker. By 1974, all three had either departed or been dismissed, leaving the band without a male lead vocalist or guitarist.


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


The single’s peak position in the UK Charts was No. 2 for two weeks in November 1969, spending a total of 16 weeks on the chart. In the Dutch Top 40, it peaked at No. 1, staying in the chart for 11 weeks. It also reached the top 5 in Ireland, Norway, New Zealand and France, and the top 10 in Germany and Switzerland.
“Oh Well” was a minor hit in the USA, where it reached #55, thus becoming Fleetwood Mac’s first single to reach the Hot 100, as well as their only pre-Buckingham/Nicks song to earn this distinction. The song still received some airplay on many FM rock stations and its reputation has grown in the years since its release. It has been also re-released in many countries as a ‘Golden Oldies’ single.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Well_(song)

I am taken by the little guitar riff then the vocals alone. I always thought the juxtaposition of the fast guitars, then a single voice was cool. There are two parts to the song, but both parts were never played live. Each part was released as the A and B side of a single. Peter Green says to have written part two first, and wanted it released as the A side with the now more popular part one as the B side. But that’s not what happened, and as the saying goes… “the rest is history”.

Here is “Oh Well, Part 1”, live from a 1969 BBC TV show. Enjoy!

And since this is St. Patrick’s Day, I give you this:

Peace,
B

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