A Bonny Time In Scotland

September 21, 2011

We have been very fortunate to have had a few days in which to drive to Scotland to visit family again. I can remember the first time I had learned that my uncle Colin was wanting to do a family tree and wanted to make contact with the family members who had immigrated to Australia over 40 years ago…me being the youngest member of that family. With a little trepidation I sent him an email and promptly got an email back and that was the beginning of a wonderful ‘relationship’ long-distance style.

I had always hoped that one day I might get to visit them, and low and behold I’ve just had my third visit to Scotland; I can hardly believe it. Sadly, we lost uncle Colin before we made our first visit but I’ve loved meeting my relatives on each visit…there are still some I haven’t met so I guess we’re just going to have to go back again one day. :-)

I vaguely remember my Aunty Isobel telling me that her house was over 100 years old but it seems my memory is a little unreliable…it is in fact over 200 years old! It was built between 1773 and 1776…I can’t remember the exact year…but what has stunned me about this is that Australia was settled in 1788…which means my aunties house is older than Australia’s birthday. Extraordinary.

The weather for our first day was glorious, a very unexpected blessing to be sure. We visited Culzean Castle…pronounced ‘Kullane’ and it doesn’t have a royal history, it’s more of a residential castle that was owned by various earls and was passed down from generation to generation.

It has a fascinating history, it was added to and adapted over the years and like so many big homes and castles on privately owned estates that covered multiple generations and centuries, there were some very responsible earls who maintained and extended the family fortunes and land and there were the scoundrels who squandered the family wealth through gambling and increased debts which following generations had to deal with. Finally, death duties brought and end to the family ownership and the property is now maintained by the national trust.

So here are some of the photos we took on the day…unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any inside the castle, but the gardens and the outside of the castle are very beautiful.

The Scottish countryside has a rugged beauty all it’s own as is the case with Scottish castles, they have a rugged elegance about them and most were built during the time when the clans ruled the land and there were a great many family feuds between them; the castles were really fortifications for protection and defence from feuding families and clans. It’s a fascinating history.

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Warwick Castle

September 19, 2011

What a lovely day we had a Warwick Castle. It was so different to what I had expected really, the other castles we’ve visited were more serious in that they were really like preserved ‘museum-ish’ where you walked through the grounds and the buildings, observing the rooms and decor and learning about the history. Some you can take photos in and some you can’t.

Warwick Castle however is quite different in that it’s far more interactive and is really catering to families and is a lot more commercial. They had a demonstration of the trebuchet (catapult), a fabulous falconry demonstration with the most magnificent birds and the grounds are maintained beautifully. Inside you can walk through the various sections of the buildings to see the armour, the bedrooms and what the living quarters were like during various eras in the castles history.

Also, there is an enormous amount of life-like wax figures of different people throughout the centuries who lived or stayed there and there are recordings in each of the rooms that give you the history of those people and what took place there. It was really very fascinating and informative.

They also had jousting presentations and archery and there is a rampart walk that begins at the bottom of one tower and it takes you through three towers in total…once you start you can’t stop…you have to keep going. The towers themselves are very narrow and there’s about 200 stairs in total. The views are well worth the effort but by the time you’ve finished, your legs are a little jelly-ish. :-)

I think my favourite part of the day was the falconry display…but then I’m a bit of a birdy person. Here are some of my photos from my day at Warwick Castle.

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