Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Z... is for Zoo!

I had an amazing experience at the Edinburgh zoo because

1. I love zoos
2. It was the first time I was visiting a zoo outside India
3. It has penguins and pandas!

I saw 12 animals that I'd never seen before, including pandas, penguins, koalas, wallaby, meerkats, and Sumatran tiger (that looks like a kitten). Anyway, the zoo is celebrating its 100th year, we got showed around the entire facility, including the Budongo Trail, the seat of leading research! The caretakers are a lovely bunch, everything seemed meticulous and the animals were vying for their attention. One of the researchers, who works with capuchin monkeys, was showing us around and we came to an enclosure with about 20 of the animals; he knew them all by name and face! He clearly cared :)

All their names!

A lot of research is ongoing, and the animals choose (or not) to participate in the research as subjects! How cool (and sensitive) is that!

'Lured' into a research pod for us, by nuts!

Tian Tian (the girl panda) has been artificially inseminated this past week from Yang Guan (the boy) and all well-wishers are keeping their fingers crossed for some pandalicious good news soon!

Here is the website www.edinburghzoo.org.uk
More importantly, here is their Youtube channel (you can spend hours watching the videos!!)  http://www.youtube.com/user/TheEdinburghZoo

Lastly, this is my favourite video



Some pictures from my visit, one that I highly recommend. Take your kids, ask questions, bond, donate... you won't be disappointed!





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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of ScotsRobert BurnsStirlingTantallon CastleUrquhart CastleVenisonWriters' MuseumSaltire, Young.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Y... is for Young, James

Well, I didn't have anything that began with Y; but I knew I wanted to do a post about Science in Scotland. Aside from the Literature side that we've talked about and Scotland's footprint in philosophy (read: David Hume), this tiny little country  has a massive contribution to science, especially in innovations! James Young, from Glasgow, was a Scottish chemist best known for his method of distilling paraffin from coal. His Wikipedia page will tell you more, for anyone interested in Chemistry, he was pretty fab!
But wait, you must must take a look at this page, for this blows my mind every single time I look at it. And I look at it at least once a month, to remind me of the greatness of this country!
I mean, Dunlop, Telford, Watt, Bell, Logie Baird, Napier, Maxwell, Higgs, Black, Fleming... absolute insanity to what we use everyday and don't realise was born in good ol' Caledonia :)

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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of ScotsRobert BurnsStirlingTantallon CastleUrquhart CastleVenisonWriters' Museum, Saltire.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X is for... the Saltire, of course!

The Saltire is the beautiful national flag of Scotland. It has a large white X on a blue backdrop. The patron Saint of Scotland, St Andrew, was crucified on a diagonal cross instead of the traditional cross. Apparently, this was because he felt that he wasn't as great at Jesus and felt that he shouldn't have the same cross. The Saltire is the oldest continuously used sovereign flag in the world, having been in use since AD 832 - or so legend has it.
I love how you can do anything with it! By that, I mean, you can hoist it, fly it, drape it, weep on it, click happy pictures, make memories... in India one can't do anything at all with the Indian flag (read: Flag Code of India)! I know that this safeguards the fact that no one can disrespect it... but in the light of the current state of India, do we need a flag to show our disrespect?
Anyway, here is me and the Saltire!
Glencoe, with Piyush, Nippon, Vishesh

Loch Ness, with Vishesh, Nippon, Piyush, Nessie!

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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of ScotsRobert BurnsStirlingTantallon CastleUrquhart CastleVenison, Writers' Museum.

Friday, 26 April 2013

W... is for Writers' Museum, The

This is by far the best museum I have been to. Dedicated to the lives of  Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, the three of the greatest Scottish writers. There are, of course, painting and sculptures, but there's also memorabilia - their desks, their pens, shoes even.
There are tales of how their greatest works came to be, their stories, inspirations, and thoughts. Lives of these men are brought out in a beautiful collection of objects that were related to them. I grew up reading Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and Stevenson's poetry, some of my favourite childrens' works ever! And for me to visit this place was like taking a spin in a time machine and coming face-to-face with my ten year old self.
I loved it! And the courtyard in front of it has their immortal words and the works of other famous authors set in stone. How lovely!







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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of ScotsRobert BurnsStirlingTantallon CastleUrquhart Castle, Venison.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

V... is for Venison!


Venison is one of the many things I ate for the first time when I got to Scotland. To be honest, I am no cook, so I don't have any recipes of my own. But I do enjoy the very occasional cooking of something that takes a while but tastes delicious. So, here is a recipe that I wish to try someday. I had it at the hostel that I stayed at in Skye and oh my goodness, it was fantastic!

Venison Sausages Braised in Red Wine
  from Millbank Parkland Venison

Enjoy!
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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of ScotsRobert BurnsStirlingTantallon Castle, Urquhart Castle.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

U... is for Urquhart Castle!


More on castles, this is a very very famous one. You wonder why you haven't heard of it? Well, that's because you have heard of it as the Castle by Loch Ness :)
Yes, Nessie and her stories do overshadow everything, don't they? So, Urquhart was a castle that wasn't built for strategy at all! What harm could come to them from a Loch really, other than wee  monsters! But, quite the contrary, this castle was built for people to live in, sort of like a huge mansion. The ruins that exist now date back to the 13th century. Earlier that that, it was apparently a Pictish fort, with objects that date back to the 6th century! Ancient... However, the castle looked very different in every century that it has seen.
Many modifications, including the extra fortifications, were added to it as and when required. Of course, like all other castles, invading it was seen as messing with someone's powers and so, it was the victim of a number of seiges and loot and plundering; but what remains today is still very impressive and picturesque.





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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of ScotsRobert BurnsStirling, Tantallon Castle.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T... is for Tantallon Castle!


No theme of Scotland is complete without at least two hundred pages on Castles! And so, as I racked my brains before the challenge began, about which one was going to be my highlight(s), I had to choose Tantallon, probably because I like the lesser known ones :)
This was the first castle I visited and by far, the best. So far I have been to six other ones, and not one of them can compare to the view from this one! They are much better in terms of political/strategic importance, yes, and even how well maintained or imposing they are. But the view, oh the view!
From Wiki, "Tantallon Castle is a semi-ruined mid-14th-century fortress, located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of North Berwick, in East Lothian, Scotland. It sits atop a promontory opposite the Bass Rock, looking out onto the Firth of Forth. The last medieval curtain wall castle to be constructed in Scotland, Tantallon comprises a single wall blocking off the headland, with the other three sides naturally protected by sea cliffs."
I was there on the last day of last year, watching the last sunset of the year, the sun sinking down beyond and  the Bass Rock in the sea slowly being taken over by shadows of the night. Very poignant place. Must go again.




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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of ScotsRobert Burns, Stirling.

Monday, 22 April 2013

S... is for Stirling!

Stirling is the perfect day out from Edinburgh. It is a tiny town about and hour away by bus ans id packed with things to do! The Stirling Castle, for one, is an attraction that can easily take up all day! It is a big big castle, overlooking the city much like Edinburgh, except that it looks much bigger. The views onto the city and beyond are absolutely fabulous! And since I was lucky to have gone on a sunny day, you could see for miles until your eyes found the snow capped peaks in the North.
Another popular place is the National Wallace Monument, that stands tall as a proud monument for Scotland's favourite freedom fighter, immortalized by Mel Gibson's Braveheart (don't believe everything you see in the movie, though!). The Bridge of Allan is close by as well, and for those who have seen enough, the city centre has a lovely selection of restaurants, pubs, and cafes.
Stirling is the kind of place to take off for without a prior plan... just get up and go, no matter what the weather, you'll still love it!
Look at the view!

In the gardens, Stirling Castle

Wallace Monument
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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of StorrPortobelloQueen of Scots, Robert Burns.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

R... is for Robert Burns!

Scotland's favourite son, The Bard of Scotland, The National poet... are some of the titles Burns has earned over the years. I had read very little of Burns before I got here, only having perused his most famous works. I have been reading some more now that I've been around a bit of Scotland and can see what inspired him; and man, is he brilliant!
I'm not in the mood to write much today, so I'll leave you with some wonderful poetry and my favourite version of Auld Lang Syne


Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie.
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power,
Chains and slaverie.
'Robert Bruce's March to Bannockburn'

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Wee, modest, crimson-tippèd flow'r,
Thou's met me in an evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem:
To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
Thou bonie gem.
'To a Mountain Daisy'

The following is my favourite version because this thing in the video is exactly what I'd do for a friend. And people who have heard me sing this like it :)




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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of Storr, Portobello, Queen of Scots.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Q... is for Queen of Scots, Mary!

The history of civilisation is bloody and torturous. Death, murder, villainy, and tragedy... Mary's life, like the lives of many women before us, was difficult, and much more than what makes us complain. For one, she became Queen when she was 6 days old! What a joke... anyway, Scotland was ruled by regents while she grew up in France, married the french Dauphin, and came back to reign.
Imagine being 19 - 20, married, and expected to come and rule over a land that she was in for the first time! Anyway, when he died, she was heartbroken. But I don't think there was ever any place for personal emotions for Monarchs. She remarried, and soon after, that man died too or was murdered, but not before she bore him a son.
Following this, she made a mistake in marrying the prime accused of her ex-husband's murder. Two, he had divorced his earlier wife very recently. Three, he was Protestant! The Catholics were outraged, obviously! She was imprisoned and forced to give up her crown in favour of her one-year-old son. She escaped and fled to England, where she sought asylum from their Queen (her first cousin, once removed). But instead, her claim to the English throne politically meant that she was imprisoned, for 19 years! Finally, found guilty of plotting the assassination of the Queen, she was executed! Her son had her exhumed from her initial burial place, though, and re-interred in Westminster Abbey.

Edinburgh Castle: Entry to where the crown jewels of Scotland are kept

Phew! What a life to have led! Her story always makes me somber...

Born: Linlithgow Palace (to go),
Crowned: Stirling Castle (been!),
Gave birth to son: Edinburgh Castle (been!),
Recuperated from illness: Craigmillar Castle (to go),
Married both second and third husbands: Palace of Holyroodhouse (to go),
Imprisonment (Scotland): Loch Level Castle (seen),
Buried: Peterborough Cathedral (seen),
Re-interred: Westminster Abbey (been!)

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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolisOld Man of Storr, Portobello.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

P... is for Portobello!


Portobello is the nearest beach from my place in Edinburgh. It is a medium stretch of mud+sand beach on the North Sea, where families and students throng in scores. The first time I went there was on impulse, V has grown up in Delhi, India and had never ever seen a beach before!
'Outrageous!' I said; 'that's 24 years of unacceptable existence!' and we jumped on a bus and were there in half an hour, on a very cold and windy day. He was very happy, obviously never having seen one before. I, however, was not as impressed... the water was too cold. Gah - I suppose you can't complain of that in Scotland.
Anyway, it's a pretty beach, and it's a nice Sunday afternoon picnic with the kids and dog kind of place...




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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwaiNecropolis, Old Man of Storr.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

O... is for Old Man of Storr!


At 719 m, the Old man is the highest point of the Trotternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye. An old man and his wife, that lived close to the foot of the hill climbed up everyday and when they reached the summit, they told stories to the faeries. They told great lovely stories and the wee folk loved them! This went on for years and years until every fairy in the fairy land came to listen to their stories every evening.
Then one day, the Old man announced that this was his last visit to the top because he was old, his knees weren't so good anymore and he needed rest. The faeries were very sad, they pleaded, but he couldn't have done anything about it. That evening, the Old Man and his wife stayed longer. It was pitch dark by the time they began their descent. The nasty faeries, however, are very nasty. They did not share the love that the good faeries had for the old couple. And they charmed them! As the man and his wife began walking, they slowly turned to stone...
To this day, the Old Man of Storr stands tall and proud. His wife stood beside him for many many years; but in the late 19th century, her knees finally gave way and she crumbled.






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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and LussMogwai, Necropolis.

Liebster Award!

My lovely friend S, over at Failed Experiments & Experimental Failings, nominated me for the Liebster Award!
A couple of days later, Kathleen from Writing, Reading, and Life, nominated me again! I have only started reading her blog but the name, if you know me, is like a magnet and you should definitely stop by.
This is very special to me as this is the FIRST award this blog has won. Thank you, both of you!
This is a pay-it-forward award. It’s only for participants of the A-Z blogging challenge that began on April 1st... I understand that some of you might not 'do' blogging awards, so just take it as my appreciation for your work :)

The rules are:
1. Thank the person who nominated me and link back to their site
2. Post 11 random things about myself
3. Answer 11 questions that S has for me
4. Ask my nominees 11 questions of my own!


Here we go then:

11 things about myself:

1. I'd really like to be a travel writer. Being paid to travel and to write is my dream.
2. My friends are my life. As an only child, they have always been my support system.
3. I love Scotland! There is something simple and unpretentious about life here.
4. I have lived 23 years of my life in India and am not patriotic at all. Close friends say I was born in the wrong country :P
5. Poetry is a sublime form of life.
6. I believe in magic and fairies!
7. My favourite movie is Walt Disney's Cinderella; there is wayyyyy too much to learn from it.
8. I'm a huge pessimist when my feet are on the ground.
9. I love entering peoples' lives when they are messed up and then fixing them!
10. I get taken for granted by friends a lot, I hate it!
11. I am a Grammar Nazi.

Now to answer the questions S put up:

1. What does your name mean? Do you like your name? Have you ever wanted to change it?
It means 'the rising'. I do like my name. I am called Jhelum at home (most Bengali kids have two names lol), sometimes I wish I was called Udita at home and Jhelum formally.

2. Why did you start your blog?
This blog began on 18th Feb, 2007, the day I turned 18. I wrote my first post at 1800 hrs.

3. Tea or coffee?
Both

4. If you could revisit a  day or a certain period of your life, what would it be?
It would have to be my undergrad years, I loved it then, and I would like to relieve it again!

5. What’s your favourite thing about the internet?
Being able to read pretty much anything that I want to read

6. Do you think all this technology and social media has made us better or worse at being social?
Definitely worse! People can't even read real maps anymore!

7. What’s your favourite food?
I'm not fussy about food, anything goes. But I quite like my Gran's Mutton Curry :)

8. Are you a city person or a country-side person?
Oh I'm a countryside person through and through; I'm miserable in cities

9. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you’d buy or spend on?
More books :) and travelling

10. Why did you decide to do the A-Z challenge this year?
It gave me a reason to put down in words all the thoughts I have in my head. Also, I wanted to catalogue Scotland the way I saw it.

11. Describe yourself in 4 words.
Imagination. Creativity. Free. Aquarius.

Now for Kathleen's questions:


1. Of the Three Stooges, which one are you most like: Larry, Curly, or Moe? Curly!

2. If you could take the place of any character in any book, who would it be and why?
Tough, maybe Alice, or Sophie... they're both curious :)

3. Mac or PC? PC

4. What is your favorite book cover of all time?
Don't know, maybe the old cover for The Bell Jar

5. What are the last 5 books you’ve read?
Leave of Absence
This Mobius Strip of Ifs
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Leonardo’s Swans
... all of which i have written about at BookMark

6. If your life was a movie, who would you want to play your nemesis? (HA! Tricked you on that one!)
Liv Tyler

7. Vanilla or Chocolate? Vanilla :)

8. By some strange accident of fate, I’ve been stranded in your home town. Can I stay at your place?
Yes!

9. Are you sure? Yeah...

10. What was your favorite book as a child?
Moby Dick and Treasure Island

11. What is one word that describes your current MC?
MC?


So, here are the people I nominate. They are doing a great job in their spaces!
Life and Times of a Student
MAGICAL MYSTICAL MIMI
The Ruralhood
Paula's Place
Life on the Muskoka River
Crazy California Claire
Finding Eliza
Voices in my Head
Oh, Frog it!
Michael Abayomi
Phenomenal Lass

My questions for you are:

1. Do you know the meaning of the German word 'Liebster'?
2. One place on your must go list?
3. Do you believe in astrology? Why? Why not?
4. What is the most daredevil thing you've done?
5. What is your favourite book? If you don't read, movie?
6. What is your biggest weakness?
7. Do you believe in fairies?
8. Tea or Coffee?
9. Who is your best critic?
10. Life in five words?
11. One blogger you read everyday (doesn't matter if they aren't taking the challenge)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

N... is for Necropolis!


There is something infinitely sinister about the world Necropolis, City of the Dead. Dark, depressing, and creepy are the feelings I'd associate with the word. The Glasgow Necropolis is all those feelings, and one more, that of sheer beauty.
For a bit of background, Wiki says, "Following the creation of Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris a wave of pressure began for cemeteries in Britain. This required a change in the law to allow burial for profit. Previously the parish church held responsibility for burying the dead but there was a growing need to give an alternative solution. Glasgow was one of the first to join this campaign, having a growing population, with fewer and fewer attending church. The planning of the cemetery began formally by the Merchants' House of Glasgow in 1831, in anticipation of a change in the law. The Cemeteries Act was passed in 1832 and the floodgates opened. Glasgow Necropolis officially opened in April 1833."
This place is stunningly beautiful. Among the buried are actors, musicians, and scientists. Almost every grave has a massive and prominent tombstone, mostly having something to do with the profession of the person buried there. This place is free and very close to the city center, so if you are, say, changing trains or have a couple of hours in Glasgow, go to this place. I have seldom felt so powerless and humble in front of anything that is man made.





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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirkLoch Lomond and Luss, Mogwai.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

M... is for Mogwai (Music)!


Little known and little heard, Mogwai is the only band I knew about that was from Scotland. That was before I came here, but Mogwai has stuck with me for a long time now.
This is a tiny post because I'm on a trip using someone else's computer to type it. And also, friends and conversations are waiting. So, I'll leave you to listen to my favourite Mogwai track!



Enjoy!
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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' GroatsKirk, Loch Lomond and Luss.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

L... is for Loch Lomond and Luss

Loch Lomond is very very popular. Almost everyone who I know that has been to Scotland has been to Lomond. And it doesn't disappoint! The largest freshwater lake in the UK (nope, it isn't Loch Ness, with its monsters, that's the deepest), its waters are an absolute delight to look at. Silvery and ripling, the waters have a beautiful, serene quality with hardly any waves. The sides are dotted with low hills, and in autumn, the contrast of the yellows of the tops of pines with the surrounding dark greens is magnificient to look at!
Little known, and very close to the main tourist area of the Loch, is the village Luss. I only got to go there because I was with Scottish friends, who have lived in Glasgow all their lives! Luss is tiny, maybe a hundred or so houses. It is pretty and has this absolutely wonderful coffee shop where I had the most heavenly scones! Most of you will go to Lomond, if you can spare an extra hour, go to Luss, feed the duckies by the Loch, have a scone, you will have made a lovely headful of memories!




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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of SkyeJohn o' Groats, Kirk.

Friday, 12 April 2013

K... is for Kirk!


Kirk is the Scottish word for Church, and oh my, do they build them well here! As part of tourism, various volunteering activities, and just being poor because I'm a student, I've been to a lot of kirks here. Usually, they would have been built by one king or another queen, either for their own private prayers or as part of a celebration/coronation.
For example, St. Margaret's Chapel, which was probably a personal prayer house, is the oldest surviving structure in Edinburgh, having been built in the 12th century. On the other hand, built during the same period is the massive 'High Kirk of Edinburgh' or St. Giles' Cathedral. It was primarily built for public use and is also called the 'Mother Church of Presbyterianism'.
I've been to both... and while I've been to some other too, these two, visited within two weeks of one another brought out some stark similarities; the damp cold stones, the beautifully carved/painted ceiling, the quiet that is mildly perturbed by the whispers of centuries, the altar... very very imposing facades that house God in all his marvellous glory. I'm not religious at all, but because I went to a convent Catholic followed by a missionary Methodist school, I had my fair share of Jesus storied drilled into me.
Visiting kirks is, thus, a beautiful way to spend an afternoon here.

Stained Glass - St. Giles'

Ceiling - St. Giles'

Chapel at my school - it was a beautiful building wasted on a terrible school.

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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamishIsle of Skye, John o' Groats.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

J... is for John o' Groats!

Again, this post comes at a strange time, for it will have to be updated next week!
John o' Groats is famous famous, as being the northernmost point on the UK mainland. It is not. That glory belongs to Dunnet Head, a peninsula that is close by and that actually is the northernmost point! This weekend, I'm going on a trip to hopefully both these places.
John o' Groats is only 2,200 miles (3,500 km) from The North Pole, a thought that is celebratory and humbling at the same time. It is named after Jan de Groote, a Dutchman who obtained a grant for the ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney, recently acquired from Norway, from James IV, King of Scots, in 1496.
There is nothing much to do there, what does one want to do at such a place, I wonder. The sheer feeling of being there, of being so far far away from everything else, everyone else must be so overwhelming. Anyway, as I said, wait for the update :)


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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgowHamish, Isle of Skye.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I... is for Isle of Skye


Last weekend, I went on a three day trip to the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye. The entirety of Sunday was spent in exploring the Isle. I loved it. It was an organised trip, so we had a lovely guide explaining to us what on earth it was that we were looking at, where it all began, and how everything was beyond pretty!
According to Wikipedia, Skye  is the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island's peninsulas radiate from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillins, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country. It isn't very tiny really, it's just that there's not much to do. The island is 67 miles long, there are 3 -4 small towns, and the total population is about 10,000. It is connected to the mainland by way of the Skye Road Bridge.
The scenery is stunning. It is dotted with bens (mountains) and glens (valleys). The hills are not very high (certainly for me, I have been to the Himalayas too many times), but they are older and more rounded, no spikes. And they get snow because of the latitude rather than their altitudes. It is also home of Drambuie, a fine Scottish whiskey liqueur. It is said that Bonnie Prince Charlie's supporters gave the recipe away to the islanders as a way of saying thanks for sheltering him and helping him escape after the Battle of Culloden (which, by the way, is the last battle to have taken place in the UK).
Most of the rivers are enchanted, they are dotted with the wee folk (faeries), and they glitter and gurgle. Skye is very very beautiful; all of you that have been expressing their wishes to visit Scotland should know that your visit would be incomplete without your footprints in Skye.

The River Sligachan

On top of the Old Man of Storr

Trotternish Peninsula 

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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth BridgeGlasgow, Hamish.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H... is for Hamish, the Hairy Highlander

I'm just back from the Highlands of Scotland and my head needs time to recover from and process all the beauty that I was bombarded with in the past three days. I'm scarred from the assault of sheer beauty and magnificence on my senses. Anyway, so for a funny one.
Hamish is a hairy coo. He is big, he is hairy, and he's pretty much the first thing you'll see in the highlands. He's also adorable and loves veggies!
He's really famous too; do a Google search and you'll find posts, pictures, forum - all for Hamish appreciation!


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This post is part of the ongoing A-to-Z Challenge. Previously, AyeBerwickCramondDisabilityEdinburghForth Bridge, Glasgow.