Celtic

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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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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Samhain 2018

(Last year’s Samhain and Allhallow’s Eve posts)

It’s both a joy and a hindrance growing up and now living in Florida. The seasons don’t really change. The calendar changes just like everybody else’s, but that’s the only way to know which holiday to celebrate. Yes, we get our 12 hours of autumn, and maybe four days of winter, but other than love bug season the rest of the year it’s the same. It was nice to get bicycles and skates for Christmas because we could use them right away. We didn’t have to wait for the spring thaw. I spent many Christmas afternoons outside on my bike, skates, playing with whichever piece of sports gear I got that year. No bundling up, hell I seldom wore a shirt or shoes!  Brag all you want about winter sports. We spent two years in Alaska. You can keep all your skis, snowmobiles, and hockey gear.  Not for me.

With my birthday falling during Thanksgiving week (no, I was not born on a Thanksgiving day. I am not a Turkey. I was born on a Tuesday), that holiday holds great importance to me. Except for the year I turned 18. That was on a Thanksgiving day. But I was at Lackland Air Force Base, in basic training, pulling KP duty. So that year it basically sucked.

One thing that has bothered me for years now is the “holiday creep”.  It really pisses me off when I go into a store before November and they have Christmas decorations already up. Let’s give all the holidays their proper time.

That would make Samhain/Halloween/Allhallow’s Eve first.

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The girl’s Jack O’Lanterns for this year

Again this year, trick or treating falls in the middle of the week, so we had to take the

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A map of the corn maze. We didn’t get lost, but we didn’t do the entire maze either. Somehow we skipped about a quarter of it!

girls out for fun early.  We hit up a “Fall Festival” with a corn maze, games, food, and other typical events. Despite the heat, it was quite fun. The girls had two of their younger cousins come along, so the adults didn’t have to be with them all the time. We just had to keep them in sight.

We also took the girls to a local church’s festive events.  We got there a bit late, but there really wasn’t much to do anyway. Both the girls did the “box maze” (you had to crawl through large boxes that were placed together. It was more of a tunnel than a maze). Granddaughter-the-elder spent her time on the big inflatable slides.  Her costume was one of the characters from Disney’s Descendants 2 show. Don’t ask me which one. Maybe you can tell from the picture. But her costume was so slippery she beat all the boys down the slides every time. They said she was cheating!

Granddaughter-the-younger (costume from the same show) spent her entire time waiting in line to get her face painted. She didn’t seem to mind (don’t think she was feeling well anyway), so I’m not complaining.  I just sat on a chair off to the side where I could see everything. But the music!  So bad! They’d blast some pop tune all the kids all knew followed by a Christian song that had no relevance to the event. Sheesh..

And of course, we carved the Jack O’Lantern’s you saw above.

Tomorrow the veil thins, and travel between the realms is easier. At least that’s what some believe. It may well be true. Having never been dead, I don’t know what it takes to cross over. But last year’s posts have more info (they’re linked at the top of the page).

There aren’t many kids in our neighborhood, although some families are moving in as us old folks die off, so Wifey® and I usually don’t stay home on trick or treating night. We’ve found that even leaving all the lights out in the front of the house doesn’t stop the most determined hoodlums’ kids from banging on the door and screaming for candy.  In the past that made the dogs go crazy. But sadly, the dogs have passed on so that won’t be a problem.*

I used to dress up in costume and hand out candy and /or go to parties. But not anymore. If my granddaughters were available during the week and not just on weekends, I would do it again. Way back in the day I would drag my sound system out to the front porch and blast Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII at a very loud volume while my bud Mo and I would do our best to scare the kids trying to steal our candy. But, alas, those days are past.

Check out my friend Kirsten’s blog Once Upon A Spine. She still has the spirit.

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I don’t even wear my clown face anymore…

Peace,
B

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* Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the dogs and cat we lost last year crossed over and visited us??

Tartan Day

Wear yer tartan ye filthy cur!

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Scotland For Ever!

A video from Albannach. The name roughly translates to “Men of Scotland”

And of course, “The Campbell’s Are Coming”

And you can’t leave out “Scotland The Brave”

Peace,
B

 

RIP

Just after I posted New Favorite Band yesterday, news came of the passing of Dolores O’Riodan, the lead singer of the Irish band The Cranberries.

I have to admit, while I enjoyed their music, especially the unique qualities of Ms. O’Riodan’s voice I sadly, did not buy any of their albums. But as a fan of all things Celtic, I feel a great loss for not only the music world but the Celtic (especially the Irish) world.

Her untimely passing at the young age of 46m is a tragic loss. Since I all really know of their music are the radio hits (which is a failing on my part), here is “Linger”.  If only she could have lingered with us just a little longer.

Peace,
B

The Tears Of A Clown

(Many thanks to Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine for the inspiration for this post)

And no, this is not a sad post, but the only song I could come up with that has “clown” in the title is “Cathy’s Clown”, and that’s not one of my favorites.

So, let’s go back in time, shall we?  The year was 1981, Wifey® and I were not yet married (although we were dating).  Wifey-to-be® and I took my oldest niece and nephew to a function at their school. But that was many, many beers ago and neither of can remember what the event was. At this event was Hi-Pockets The Clown. Hi-Pockets had his run in various circuses until he tired of the constant moving. So he left the circus and became a firefighter of all things, still continuing his clowning at parties and such.

Then he had a stroke, and his firefighting days were over, but he could continue clowning, just at a slower pace. He would go to the local schools perform a little and try to recruit folks for his clown alley. I was hooked the minute I saw his pitch.

I immediately signed up. As both Wifey-to-be® and myself were working at Metro Zoo (now the Miami Zoo), I had an in to get us into a face painting setup. We charged $2 to paint a face.  We kept $1.50, the zoo got the rest. Not a bad scheme.  We would also warm up the audience for some of the animal shows.  When we would walk from our spot by the gift shop to the amphitheater, the Bengal Tigers would go nuts. They would pace up and down their open enclosure following us.

So one of the first things a clown needs to do is design a face. I sat down with paper and pencil trying to come with something rather unique.  Unfortunately, only one picture of me in makeup survives.

 

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Skeeter the clown. I was about 22 then.

 

I had just finished putting on the face and still had the scarf on keeping my rather long hair out-of-the-way when my dad took this picture. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “Skeeter the clown”.  Hi-Pockets told me this face is registered with Ringling Brothers, but I have no proof. But I hope it is.

One of my most beloved props was an Orangutan puppet named Merlyn.  I bought him from a festival that was being held at the zoo. At the time, it cost me every penny I had, but the laughter and love Merlyn has generated has come back many times over.

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Granddaughter-the-elder with Merlyn

Merlyn has seen quite a bit. Not only at the zoo, but he’s entertained friend’s kids, even went to a strip club with me once. I would guess he’s about 36 years old now.  The first time I brought him out to Granddaughter-the-elder®, she was about 2 years old. She had no idea what it was. She wasn’t exactly scared, just very unsure. But it didn’t take long for her to warm up to Merlyn and ask me to go get him.Merlyn is enjoying his retirement awaiting the next generation to play with.And just to prove that I am not all clown, here is a photo, totally unrelated to this post, here is a picture of Wifey® and me in our kilts. Let’s face it, the Central Florida Highland Games are in about two weeks.  We already have our tickets! If you’re in the area (dear ol’ brother mine) come join us. We’ll be over by the beer tent listening to Albannach.

 

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Black Watch Tartan – The Campbell’s are coming!

 

Here’s the video to go with the title.. not the best I know. If you have a better song leave a comment telling me so.

And just to go with the kilts, here’s Albannach. The band name roughly translated means “Men Of Scotland”.

Peace,
B

P.S. I’ve never understood the clown phobia. I know people that are very afraid of clowns, and I feel for them. ‘Cause clowns are cool!