Thursday, December 8, 2016

Quote of the Day

A wise man hears one word and understands two.
- Yiddish Proverb

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Quote of the Day

Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.
- Paul Johannes Tillich

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Quote of the Day

To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday, December 5, 2016

Quote of the Day

Inveniam viam aut faciam
[I will either find a way or make one]
- Hannibal

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Quote of the Day

How happy is he born and taught,
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill!
- Henry Wotton

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Quote of the Day

If you want a high performance woman, I can go from zero to bitch in less than 2.1 seconds.
- Krystal Ann Kraus

Friday, December 2, 2016

Final post from Scotland: Huntingtower Castle

My last touristy destination was Huntingtower Castle. The castle was previously named Ruthven, after the Clan of the same name which held it until the year 1600, when the Earl and his brother were impliceted in a plot against James VI and executed. For good measure, the name was banned in Scotland and their descendants banned from ever holding office or title again. Although the castle is much smaller than it once was, it is a handsome structure and when you walk about inside, you can see some glimpses of old grandeur.

From the back.
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Lovely decorations on the ceiling.
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The top floor was the Lord's private chambers. It had a cozy looking fireplace.
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It also had this. Not a crapper, but a secret compartment for valuables and possibly documents.
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This, on the other hand, is a crapper.
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The little holes in the walls is where they put the wooden beams that carried the weight of the floors.
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Nice views from the roof.
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Next day, at the airport in Dyce. Naturally, I was skeptical of leaving Scotland.
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Quote of the Day

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to teach him to hold in higher regard those who think alike than those who think differently.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Road B934

After Castle Campbell I took the slow road north, towards Aberdeen. For part of the journey I was on road B934, which meanders lazily through a couple of small towns and hamlets, up and down hills and through some nice woodlands. A very quiet and pleasant drive and at one point I was presented with quite a good view of the area. So I took some pics:

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Quote of the Day

Gedenke zu leben
[Remember to live]
- Goethe

Return to Castle Campbell

Since I was in the area, I just HAD to go and see Castle Campbell again. It was early October, so the roses and their lovely fragrance had all withered away, but the ruins and the views were as marvelous as ever. As always, feast yer eyes!

The outer wall of the once great hall.
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Some bits are in ruins, some bits are still quite nice.
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The keep, which is probably the oldest part of the castle, is still standing. I didn't climb it this time.
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The view from the upper level of the gardens is one of the best in all of Scotland.
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The cozy little stream on the east side of the castle. A family with two young daughters were playing merrily in the cold water as I walked by.
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The big tree outside the castle entrance is one of the nicest I've yet had the great fortune of seeing. Ye Gods, I love trees.
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Is that a face in the wood?
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quote of the Day

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
- Percy B. Shelley

The Kelpies

The Kelpies are 30 meter high horse head sculptures situated just outside Falkirk. They are very visible from the main road between Glasgow and Edinburgh and are one of Scotland's main tourist attractions. Feast yer eyes!

A grand sight indeed.
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A human being at the bottom for scale.
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The visitor centre was small, but informative. Among the nicer stuff there was a small exhibit putting the sculptures into context with other famous monuments around the world, such as the Sphinx and the Statue of Liberty.
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Naturally, I was skeptical of the Kelpies.
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Falkirk Wheel

I have wanted to visit the Falkirk Wheel ever since I first read about it over ten years ago, but it was only this year that I finally got to see it. The wheel is a rotating boat lift connecting the Union canal with the Forth and Clyde canal and it is quite the ingenious little engineering masterpiece and the only one of its kind in the world. After I'd been there I felt a slight disappointment, probably because I'd built it up in my own head to be this huge adrenaline kick, when in reality it's all very slow and sedate. Still, it's definitely a "been there, done that"-experience to cross off the ole' bucket list.

The wheel is a grand view.
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Close up.
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On the ground level, as a boat should be.
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Airborne, very much not as a boat should be. Still, there was no adrenaline, no sinking feeling in the stomach, no vertigo. The whole process is so slow and deliberate you really just sit there and twiddle your thumbs.
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Once 24 meters up, you go through this tunnel, turn around on the other side of it and go back down again. Not much action, considering it takes more than half an hour.
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The views are quite nice, though.
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View down the Forth & Clyde canal.
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Just outside the Visitor Centre they had these small copies of another famous, Scottish sight: The Kelpies.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bannockburn

After Doune & Stirling I drove to the new Bannockburn Visitor's Center, which was literally just up the road from my lodgings. I'd been there in 2012, when they were still building the new place and was interested to see what they'd done with the place. The new centre didn't have a fucking item of yore, not a display or an item of days gone by. What they DID have was timed entries where you would first enter a large room with all manner of high tech; big screens on the walls, copies of various weaponry, etc. It was supposed to give you an insight into battle techniques and such, but I found the whole thing mightily confusing and noisy. Also, if the poor guide has to fight for attention with the automated sound system, what's the fucking point?

We were then taken into a smaller room, where they had a topographical map of the battle area, including Stirling Castle a couple miles away. The guide assigned us historical names and titles, and gave us troops to command. There then followed a long battle sequence where little red and yellow figures raced across a pixeled battlefield. This too was quite confusing, but as I somehow won the battle for the English, I didn't much mind. Anyway, I'm sure it's all very entertaining and modern and grand for the young 'uns, but I prefer a good, sturdy, oldfashioned museum any day of the week. Also, you couldn't take pictures inside. Meh.

A short walk from the centre is a small memorial area for the battle.
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There was a circular stone monument with a flag pole in the middle. Also, if the engraving is true, I own Scotland. Sweet Jebus, I love that little country.
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The bottom engraving is from the end of the Declaration of Arbroath, adopted in 1320, which plead for Scottish independence from the accursed Sassenachs.
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A somewhat famous equestrian statue of Robert the Bruce.
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Quote of the Day

The politicians don’t just want your money. They want your soul. They want you to be worn down by taxes until you are dependent and helpless. When you subsidize poverty and failure, you get more of both.
- James Dale Davidson

Stirling & Surroundings

These pictures are from my favoritestest place in Scotland, Stirling Castle and its surroundings - including the always entertaining and lovely Doune Castle, where I bought two overpriced coconut shells for my own amusement.

In addition to being the place where Monty Python filmed nearly all the castle scenes in the Holy Grail, Doune is also the location of "Castle Leoch" in the Outlander TV-series. It is also used for portraying Winterfell in Game of Thrones.
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From the kitchen rooms. The lines cut into the soft sandstone are markings left by various staff who used the walls to sharpen their blades on.
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"On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place".
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The small height on the other side of the road is a golf course today. When I'm ruler of the world, I will erase all tracks of there ever having been a gold course up there and use it for the entertainment of my guests (when we're not playing hide and seek up at Stirling Castle). Yes, I'm about 5 years old.
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From the lovely, renovated James V's Palace at Stirling.
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The ceiling of the Great Hall was made by shipbuilders and the design is simply a ship's keel turned upside down. It wheighs I don't know how many thousand metric tons and not a single piece of metal went into it. The current ceiling is a reconstruction.
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Naturally, I was skeptical of the Great Hall.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Quote of the Day

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut afterwards.
- Benjamin Franklin

Inchmahome Priory

I also made time for a drive down to the beautiful island of Inchmahome, where lies the famous priory. It is such a tranquil, lovely setting. First, I stuffed face on a good but somewhat overpriced meal at the hotel that's situated on the banks of Lake Menteith, wherein the priory lies. I forget the name of the hotel, but the staff there were very nice and welcoming and I got to play with a dog who belonged to one of them. She was walking around with a piece of rope in her mouth and her greatest wish was fulfilled when I grabbed it and started playing tug of war with her. Totally adorbs.
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Out by the priory I had a little snack on bench, with great views over the lowlands of Menteith, which are part of the Trossachs.
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Access to the priory itself was a bit restricted on account of some restoration work they were doing.
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This path goes all around the island.
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What I like the most about Inchmahome is all the weird and wonderful flora there.
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You can see all manner of fantastic and monstrous things if you tilt your head and squint just so.
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Ever wondered what the insides of a tree looks like? No? Well, you've no imagination in your soul, then.
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This little clearing in the woods is where Mary, Queen of Scots would play when she was whisked away here at the tender age of four, due to the imminent threat of an English invasion.
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