A Travellerspoint blog

Scottish Highland Fling

Edinburgh, Fort Augustus, Julian's Birthday in a Castle & Nethy Bridge Highland Games

semi-overcast 18 °C
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We arrived back in Scotland to enjoy the Tausney family hospitality for the last leg of our trip. A day trip to Edinburgh was a buzz joining the throng of holiday and festival crowds. We had a great lunch in the Elephant House Cafe – made famous because this is where JK Rowling penned her first story about a young wizard.
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We then enjoyed a visit to Edinburgh castle, just in time for the boom of the one o'clock gun. The audio tour was enjoyed by all.
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On Wednesday we headed north for 4 night highland trip with Tausney family. Driving through spectacular scenery we had a quick stop at Loch Lomond and a picnic at Glen Coe.
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Out to Glenfinnan to see the 21 arch viaduct which features in the Harry Potter films and the Glenfinnan monument & Loch Shield.
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Onto Fort Augustus which was our first overnight stop, sitting on the Caledonian canal, a series of locks that allow the boats to travel between the Lochs. The kids found it fascinating to watch them in action and see the boats travel through the different levels to access the next waterway.
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Thursday – Julian's 8th Birthday!
We enjoyed the scenery of Loch Ness, stopping at Urquhart castle.
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We drove north of Inverness to Carbisdale castle for our second night – Julian's birthday in a castle! Amazing building, now a Youth Hostel, with some fabulous rooms – statue gallery, ballroom, library, lots of hallways and stairways for the kids to explore – very special.
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On Friday we headed south into the Cairngorms National Park and to Nethy Bridge village, staying two nights. A quick stop at Aviemore and then a relaxing afternoon with the kids enjoying the mini golf on the lawns at front of our grand hotel.
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Saturday was a big day for the village of Nethy Bridge – the annual Highland games at the town sports ground, kids events in the morning, Julian received a lovely rosette for coming second in his running race.
A mass pipe band (120 pipers and drummers) opened the games – very impressive and stirring stuff.
There were heavy events – tossing the caber, scots hammer, 10 mile race, rides, highland dancing, piping competition (was over the sound of that one) and the mass pipe band did a lap of the oval each hour or so. Lots of fun.
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To top it off, the mass pipe band came and did a few laps at the front of our hotel at the end of the games – a great sight.
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On Sunday we leisurely drove back to Glasgow enjoying the mountain scenery and stopping at Blair Castle along the way.
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This week we have been relaxing, shopping, packing and had a few grown up nights out. All looking forward to arriving home on Saturday after our adventure. Thanks to everyone who has followed our journey on the blog and particularly to those who have left comments – we have really appreciated the feedback and enjoyed sharing our story.

Posted by aadjoTRIP 16:52 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

London & Surrounds - Installment 3

London, Hampton Court Palace, Greenwich & Essex.

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Another busy day exploring London – we enjoyed a guided walking tour of the West End – lots of interesting insights, wandering of back streets and the best place to view the changing of the guard.
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On Thursday we ventured to Hampton Court Palace which consists of two parts – the Tudor palace of Henry VIII and the baroque palace of William and Mary. The boys enjoyed dressing up in the velvet robes to wander through the palace. The family audio tour was excellent and really entertained the kids. We also enjoyed the gardens and the maze – one of the oldest in the world.
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Another London day and we decided to visit Greenwich, our old haunt from 1994. We caught the dockland light rail – a bit of a thrill going through the tunnel under the Thames sitting right at the front. We enjoyed another walking tour through the grounds of the Old Naval College, past the Queen's house and Maritime museum to the observatory and the fabulous views of London from the top of Greenwich Park.
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Back into town, we enjoyed some street performers in Covent Garden and dinner with Lester.
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Saturday we drove to Essex for some family hospitality, we visited Jane, Stephen & family at Wrekin farm and were joined by Simon, Marlena & baby Thomas and also Jim and daughters Emily & Katie. Delicious gourmet food from their farm produce shop and a great day catching up with everyone.
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We quickly came to the point of farewelling St Albans and our exchange house. We explored the Roman history of the area with a visit to the Verulamium Museum and park on our last day. We would thoroughly recommend house exchange – it has been great particularly for the kids to have a home to stay in with all the play equipment and toys.
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Posted by aadjoTRIP 20:02 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

London & Surrounds – Installment 2

Castles & Jousting in Kent, London and trip to Oxford

overcast 20 °C
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We spent Saturday in the local area shopping and an afternoon visit to Hatfield House – the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I.
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On Sunday we drove into Kent to visit firstly Leeds Castle with its beautiful grounds and moat.
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We then ventured to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Bolelyn, which featured a jousting festival and a visit from Henry XIII and his Queen. It was a fantastic display of horsemanship, jousting, sword fights and slapstick.
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Monday London – London Science Museum, Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, and Hamleys Toy Shop
Ear popping excitement for kids, Crash, Bang, Wallop, is a live explosion demonstration at the London Science Museum. It is a show about how explosions work and what they do. The Museum is interactive and features a numerous activities for the kids and like minded adults, including simulator pods.
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Hyde Park offered welcome relief from the holiday crowds and a great place for lunch and run around for the boys.
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In the afternoon a quick stop at Piccadilly Circus and then we visited Hamleys – the finest toy shop in the world!? The boys enjoyed the chance to choose a souvenir of their London visit and will love to show you upon our return.
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Oxford on Tuesday
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The highlight of our Oxford visit was lunch at the Head of the River a lovely pub literally overhanging the Thames River nestled under the Folly Bridge.
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We also enjoyed a guided walking tour, we were the only ones on it,
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as well as seeking out a number of the locations used in the Harry Potter movies
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Posted by aadjoTRIP 23:16 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

London & Surrounds – Installment 1

Settling into the St Albans House, London sights & Legoland

overcast 20 °C
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We arrived at St Albans following four weeks on the road, great timing to be at a home with kid’s toys providing the opportunity to relax & recharge. Our first day was spent settling in, shopping and meeting the neighbours.
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Tuesday we made a quick trip up to Cheshire to visit Uncle Gerald, stopping off at Little Morton Hall to see some Tudor Architecture. We enjoyed a pub lunch and catch up with Uncle Gerald.
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Wednesday we hit London alighting from Westminster Tube and emerging to a view of Big Ben and Parliament House along the Thames River. We headed to the London Eye for our ‘flight’ providing a great view of the city and the kids loved it.
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The gardens surrounding St Paul’s cathedral provided a great place for lunch. We then climbed to the base of the dome of the cathedral for another view of London – particularly the new Millennium Bridge. For Harry Potter fans we were on the lookout for troublesome Death Eaters but none were spotted!
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Trafalgar Square was the final stop of our first action packed London day amongst the fountains, statues & crowds.
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Thursday has been judged ‘the best day of the holiday’ and this was our day at Legoland, Windsor – a theme park based around Lego themed worlds each containing rides and displays. A very big day but lots of fun.
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Another day in London on Friday and this time we went to the Tower of London enjoying the crown jewels, the castle building and the great displays about the kings and queens who lived there. This year is the 500th anniversary of Henry XIII’s coronation so there is a large exhibition featuring many of his costumes, weapons and armour.
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We also enjoyed a quick visit to Hamleys toy shop but more of that in the next installment...

Posted by aadjoTRIP 22:32 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

Weekend in Wales

Beaches & Good Family Times

overcast 19 °C
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On a wet and windy Friday we traveled to Wales and rather than visit the scheduled castles we stopped in Cardiff. Much to the delight of our young companions we found the nearest cinema and watched the latest Harry Potter movie!
We then traveled to Helen (Andrew’s cousin) and Mel’s at Swansea and the boys made themselves at home very quickly making friends with Oscar the dog. We were also joined for the weekend by Sian, Andy & Gareth.
On Saturday we drove to the Gower Peninsular visiting Pobbles Beach and stopping at the King Arthur Hotel for a half pint.
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After lunch we visited the Mumbles and had the pleasure of promenading in fine summer weather, truly it was, along the waterfront finishing with a treat from the famous Joe’s ice cream parlour.
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We enjoyed a great dinner on Saturday night with lively conversation and too much wine, port and smooth Welsh whiskey. Andrew Graham, another cousin, impressed Oliver with his wrestling skills also joined us for the evening which ended quite late.
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A very slow Sunday and then a long drive to London after what was a very enjoyable weekend.

Posted by aadjoTRIP 09:43 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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