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High Lodge in the Spring

Our play date for this morning had to cancel last minutes so it was just Weston and me out at High Lodge in the Thetford Forest.

Weston had a blast on the big slide. We wandered the den building area. And then he conquered the bigger kids playground. He was still too short for all of it but he managed to climb up and down and around most of it.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Snap Circuits

Weston received some snap circuits in the mail from Big Daddy. These things are really cool. The included project book steps you through lots of different types of circuits and the snaps make them easy for little hands to put together. Weston has already followed the instructions to make a fan, an alarm, light a lightbulb, and various other noise effects.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Wee Gillis

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Wee Gillis

 

In preparation for our Scotland trip, we spent a couple weeks with the book Wee Gillis. Wee Gillis is a boy who lives in Scotland. His mother’s people are from the Lowlands and herd long haired cows. His father’s people are from the Highlands and stalk deer. Wee Gillis must decide where he fits in and where he wishes to live. To help him decide, he spends time in both Lowlands and Highlands. In the end he can’t decide and a plot twist has him choosing to be a bagpiper and live right in the middle halfway up a hill in neither Lowlands nor Highlands.

The book, Wee Gillis, was full of fun Scottish details and Weston and I used it as a starting point to learning more about Scotland. We ate porridge (oatmeal) like Wee Gillis. Weston even chose porridge for breakfast a couple mornings when he tired of eggs and toast.

We drew pictures of Highland mountains and admired the illustrator’s use of texture in his pen and ink drawings. I was pleased to find the illustrations accurate depictions of the Scottish landscape.

We learned more about bagpipes, how they are made and played, and listened to bagpipe music. I do wish we’d been able to try playing the bagpipes or at least seen someone playing while up in Scotland, but I guess that will have to be for another trip.

We also talked about Scottish clans and clan names as Wee Gillis’ full name is very long and very traditionally Scottish. It was fun on holiday to still hear the clan names even today.

We learned more about Scotland’s important native foods – salmon, mushrooms, venison, cheese. We even spotted some salmon farms in some of the lochs we passed just like they had in the documentary. We also made sure to eat salmon when we had the chance while in Scotland and it was always delicious.

We learned about tartan, and how it’s made, and kilts and the different parts and how a kilt is worn both traditionally and more modernity today. Weston really enjoyed seeing the kilts and tartans at the Lochcarron Weavers shop and wants one of his own, especially now that Andrew has one.

We read some Scottish fairy tales and had fun looking for fairies, loch monsters, selkies, and water kelpies. We also enjoyed reading The Water Horse as a bedtime book. Andrew actually reread it to Weston, at his request, in the evenings while up in Scotland.

Weston watched several animal documentaries about Scottish wildlife to include hairy cattle (Heilan Coos) and sheep, which we saw a lot. While looking through the Duke’s stuffed animal hunting trophies in the museum at Dunrobin Castle, Weston correctly identified by name both the Black-Throated Diver and the Puffin. He was pleased to see birds like in the documentary. I was impressed he remembered them well enough to point them out amongst the many other birds in the display.

Scotland itself offered plenty of learning opportunities while we visited and we took advantage of all we could. The Scotland’s Birds of Prey book below I actually found in the gift shop at Dunrobin and couldn’t pass it up.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Mother’s Day 2016

For Mother’s Day each year I ask for photos of Weston and me. Since we were leaving for Scotland the day after Mother’s Day, I told Andrew we could do extended Mother’s Day photos while on holiday. They made for a fun chronicle of our trip and I’m glad to have them.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Scotland Day 11 – Going Home

Weston quote – I’m sad and happy this morning. – Said when talking about being happy to go home, but sad our holiday was now over.

We had a quick breakfast and an uneventful drive to Inverness airport. Inverness airport is rather small and navigating it is easy, but that also means there’s not much to do. We watched the planes come in and spent a few minutes watching maintenance workers apply frosted plastic tint to a window.

Our flight home was also uneventful (thank goodness!) We collected our luggage and then had a bit of a run around trying to figure out where Weston’s booster seat portion of his carseat went since it hadn’t shown up with our bags. It was quickly found by the helpful EasyJet staff (it was so light it had gotten shoved to the side by the belt and not carried all the way through with the bags) and we were on our way home. Andrew quickly missed our lovely rented Mercedes and we laughed about when we’d have reason to rent a car again.

Since it was just mid afternoon, we swung by the base post office to collect our held mail (7 packages!) and grab some basic groceries. At home the pile of dirty laundry quickly brought us back to reality.

That weekend Andrew had a haircut and shave after letting everything grow while on leave. We thought it would be funny to chronicle his scruff so I have a photo from each day while we were gone and a before and after from his haircut and shave.

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We had such a lovely holiday and enjoyed our time together so much without work or other errands to distract us. Scotland is a beautiful country! And the people were warm and friendly. There were so many interesting sites to see and things to do. We look forward to exploring more of Scotland when we get the chance.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Scotland Day 10 – Dunrobin Castle

Weston quote –

Me: Do you have a wobble today?
Weston: Yes, do you know why?
Me: Why?
Weston: Because one leg is longer than the other. It’s supposed to be like that.
– Said at Dunrobin while walking down the stairs. Andrew kept half sliding down them because he was paying more attention to the view than the uneven stone steps and Weston was doing the same.

After breakfast at our B&B, Blar Mhor, in Golspie, we headed the short drive north to Dunrobin Castle.

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Teacup twins

 

What a fabulous castle! The interiors were beautiful and extensive. They didn’t allow photos but you can see professional photos here. There were lion skin rugs in the library and leopard skins in the Duke’s study. The interconnected nursery rooms showed where the older children would have sleptĀ  and played. The nanny’s room had basinets for the babies. The dining room was Weston and my favorite. Andrew’s favorite was the Duke’s study.

There were two wonderful falconry displays. Weston got to assist during the first one. He had an eagle owl land on his gloved hand. And the falconer later gave him a few discarded feathers from a few of the birds afterwards. Weston was ecstatic. Birds are another of his favorite topics.

We walked through the museum which contained the Duke’s hunting prizes and other artifacts collected from all over the world. Again no photos allowed, but you can see professional photos here.

We also enjoyed the gardens. There were fountains, lots of flowers, and a croquet lawn.

After many enjoyable hours at Dunrobin, we drove into Inverness for our last night. We checked into Ardentorrie Guest House near Inverness Castle. After dropping off our luggage, we walked to dinner at Zizzy’s for Italian. Yum!

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Scotland Day 9 – Cairns of Camster, Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, Orcadian Rock Museum and Big Burn Hike

Weston quote –

Me: What are those tower things on the hill?
Weston: That’s a castle!
Weston: Naw, it’s really a police station. I was kidding.
– Said while driving from Wick towards Golspie. For the record, it wasn’t a police station or a castle. It was some sort of monument.

By this point in our trip we’d definitely lost the sun, which was expected. It can’t be sunny in the Highlands always. I’m thankful we never had pouring rain. We did however have some chilly, overcast with a bit of drizzle days on the later part of our trip. We didn’t let it diminish our fun and enjoyment. We just layered on boots, jackets and hats when needed.

We started the day at the Cairns of Camster. Weston quickly figured out why there was a wooden pathway. He stepped off into the wet squishy marsh and was surprised. You can actually crawl inside the cairns. They have “doors” but they are only latched to keep out livestock. Weston was short enough to just duck his head and walk through the tunnel. Andrew had to crawl on hands and knees. I was able to duck waddle with a ducked head. They were very interesting and Weston really enjoyed exploring their interiors. We were glad to have a small flashlight, but the grated roof peak provided some dim light once inside the chambers.

Cairns of Camster – The Grey Cairns of Camster are a pair of Neolithic chambered cairns (circa 2000-3500 BC), one round and the other linear, in a secluded hollow near the River Wick. The Camster cairns are considered among the best preserved in Britain and have been carefully restored so that visitors can access the inner chambers.

The round cairn was originally surrounded by kerb stones, but these have now been lost. The inner chambers are beautifully constructed, with overlapping stones creating a corbelled roof, and large upright stones dividing the interior into three sections. Remains of several skeletons were found in the chamber and passage, along with burnt bones, pottery, and tools.

Next we moved on to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe on the coast near Wick. The texture of the stacked stone walls were interesting and its location and design would have made it a beautiful castle in its time.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe – Girnigoe Castle was built around the late 14th to early 15th centuries on a rocky promontory, and was defended on the landward side by great ditches, spanned by drawbridges. The main feature of this castle is a three or four storey tower house, probably completed towards the end of the 16th century although there are the remains of 15th century buildings beneath it. During a period of redevelopment at the castle in the early 17th century, George Sinclair (4th Earl) obtained an Act of Parliament to change the name from Castle Girnigoe to Castle Sinclair. However it appears that the two names became associated with different parts of the castle leading to the impression that there were two castles on the site.

The Campbells of Glenorchy briefly occupied the castle after emerging victorious from a battle with the Sinclairs. In 1680, George Sinclair of Keiss, who later became the 7th Earl, removed the Cambells by force, partially destroying the castle in the process.

In recent years the ownership of the castle has been returned to the Earls of Caithness, and is listed as the official seat of the Earldom. The castle is currently maintained by the Clan Sinclair Trust who are working to preserve it.

From there we drove to Golspie and had lunch at Poppy’s Cafe. Then we checked out the Orcadian Rock and Mineral display. The exhibit was awesome. So many different rocks from all over the world. Weston loved the gems and minerals and we marvelled at all the colors. Weston loves rocks. He collects them from wherever we go. “Just one,” and, “Put the rock back on the path with its friends,” are frequent refrains. We told him he could choose something (within certain cost and size parameters) from the shop. Weston picked out a piece of flourescent glowing fluorite.

It started raining gently while we saw the rocks. It wasn’t hard so we braved it with jackets and boots for the Big Burn hike to the waterfall and skating pond and back.

We walk in the drizzle to a delicious dinner at Trawlers for fish and shrimp and chips with fun desserts.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
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