Tag Archives: Scotland

#COVER #REVEAL ~ 2nd Edition of A Shadow in the Past

Here it is – the shiny, new cover for the 2nd Edition of my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past. I’ve been busy editing the content and getting my girl ready to return to the world of print and ebooks.

When a contemporary teen is transported back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head on only to suffer the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Here are the covers for the series side by side.








Updated buy links to the 2nd Edition of A Shadow in the Past to follow.




It’s Robbie Burns Day – House of King style

I’m remiss this year in getting an online Burns Day celebration together. Shame on me. But, I have a valid excuse. I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.

January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

It’s Robbie Burns Day. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

Here at The House of King, we’ll be having a toned down version of previous Burns Night celebrations. Although I don’t have a wee haggis, I do have some frozen sliced haggis (great with a Scottish breakfast) so it will do, especially since I’m the only one who truly enjoys eating it here. I made Cock-a-leekie soup shortly after Christmas and it’s in the freezer and for the toasts to the lads and lassies afterwards, I have a bottles of 18-year old Glenlivet and Cardhu.

The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

And a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where your celebrate.


Today is…


Never heard of it before? Well, you can read more about it here. The stories can cover everything from Grimm to urban legends.

Scottish legends, myths, and mystery are found in A Shadow in the Past, so what better time to celebrate it?

Even the cover exudes fairytale mystery. Once upon a time…

cover by Aidana WillowRaven

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Available from the publisher 4RV Publishing or amazon

And then there’s the sequel … Shadows From Her Past

A cruel twist of fate returns Sarah Shand to her life in the year 2010 where she discovers she is a patient in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and has been for months. Struggling to come to terms with the situation, she insists she belongs in the year 1886 at Weetshill mansion with her husband the Laird, Robert Robertson, and adopted daughter, Jenny. Her family and consultant physician try to convince her she was dreaming or hallucinating but Sarah refuses to believe them.

Robert, who has experienced strange things at the stone circle at Gordonsfield Farm, somehow breaks through the time-space continuum and visits Sarah in his future. He pleads with her to return to the past but his cryptic messages only confuse her.

Medical student, David Robb, himself a descendant of the Robertsons of Weetshill, befriends Sarah. Fascinated with her stories of the past, after her release from the hospital, he takes Sarah to meet his parents, the current owners of the mansion and surrounding land.

This year, the winter solstice and lunar eclipse occur on the same day. Will a trip to the stone circle during this combination of events create the magic Sarah needs to return to 1886 and her family there? Or will she remain in the present and make a life with David?

Available to buy from amazon.

Do you have a favourite fairy tale? I’d love to know what is is. Tell me in the comments.

#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 26 Glasgow Airport to Toronto


Sept 26 – Glasgow Airport to Toronto

With a stop in Montreal


Sept 26
Sunrise over Glasgow

This morning was a first. Don got pulled aside going through security. They swabbed his hands (backs and palms) and his shoes before placing the swab in the machine to be analyzed. An episode of Border Security played out before my eyes. Me, I passed through with no problems at all.

We stopped at Beardmore for breakfast. We’ve eaten here before. It seems our flights always leave from gates beyond this point so when you’re lugging a heavy pack on your back, it’s a welcome stop – not to mention, the food is good.

Sept 26
From the window at Beardmore Restaurant, Glasgow Airport

On our walk to our departure gate, we got a good look back at the hotel. We’d intentionally left our curtains open so we could see our room when we were out and about. This was the first chance I had to get a photo.

Sept 26
The hotel showing our room

My plan was to read on the plane on our return flight. Not to be. My iPad was SO dead, even plugged in, it wouldn’t turn on. The seats in the departure lounge weren’t the best for plane watching but fantastic for charging devices. I had my phone and my iPad both plugged in.

While they charged, I took my Canon DSLR for a walk.

Sept 26
Our plane

Enough charge now in the phone to take selfies. We’re not looking overly happy here, but then the vacation was well and truly over by now and by the end of the day, we’d be back to reality.

Sept 26
Terminal selfie
Sept 26
On the plane selfie

Albeit blurry, we’re finally looking happy. A glass of champagne in hand!

Sept 26
Champagne selfie

Since I couldn’t read on my iPad, I watched movies instead.

When we landed in Montreal, I had the opportunity to get a picture or two out of the plane window. This Air Canada was at the gate next to us.

Sept 26
During our stopover in Montreal

It seemed to take forever to get the headcount of the remaining passengers correct. Only those deplaning in Montreal were allowed off. People stretching their legs and milling in the aisles made it impossible for the flight attendants to get an accurate count.

In Toronto, we couldn’t get off the plane straight away because of the bag log in the customs hall. It was still bad when we arrived but when we finally got to the checkpoint, like good Canadians, we declared our 100 gms of fudge we purchased on the Royal Yacht Britannia (indicated on our landing card), the remaining tin of Pringles we’d purchased so we could use the toilet at one of the roadside services, and our bottle of whisky each.

Usually, we have to wait for our luggage at the carousel. Not this time. It waited for us… and had been removed and placed on the floor. That was a first.

Cleared past the last checkpoint and out into the arrivals hall where we made our way to the post where we phoned for the hotel shuttle to come and collect us.

I had a gift card for Montanas, so after we checked into the hotel, we walked over there for supper. They had a large group in so we’d have a wait for our meal. I wasn’t super hungry after everything they fed us on the plane. We had drinks and waited for them to take our food order. Even though it took them longer to do that than we wanted, our meals were brought to us before the estimated time. Amazing what can happen when you get into the queue.

I can’t wait to go back to the UK. Now the question remains… what time of year? Next year? What part(s) do we want to visit?


#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 25 – Broughty Ferry to Glasgow


Sept 25 – Broughty Ferry to Glasgow

Our last full day in Scotland… 🙁 So sad. After we checked out of the hotel and packing our suitcases so we thought they were of reasonably equal weight, and as few packages as possible once we dropped off the rental car, we struck out.

I knew we’d forfeit some diesel but we’d be between a quarter tank and empty if we took the most direct route. With our experiences with rental cars on this trip, I didn’t want to run out and be stuck waiting for roadside assistance to come with a jerry can to give us a drop.

I remember seeing this tower on the cliff on my first trip to Scotland in 1993 when I took the bus from Glasgow to Aberdeen. Back then I was petrified to drive so close to a big city on my own.

Sept 25
Kinnoull Tower on the cliff (centre of the photo)

I stopped at many laybys (parking areas) along the A90 between Dundee and Perth where we switched onto the A9 after a brief stint on the M90.

We were both to the point where we needed toilets so when we saw the signs for Dunblane (which were clearly posted WC – aka water closet) along with the Historic Scotland signage for Dunblane Cathedral, we decided to make that our ‘port of call’.

Following the signs for the “WC” we drove into the village. Said signs became more and more obscure. A public car park was located off a narrow street near the cathedral – still used as a working church. No matter how bad I need the loo, I couldn’t pass up this photo op.

Sept 25
Dunblane Cathedral

We walked back to where the signs for the public toilets pointed. The council office which was closed on Sundays. ACK! I spotted an older woman across the street so approached her and asked where the public bathrooms were. “There are no public toilets in Dunblane anymore,” she replied.

Panic! We both needed a toilet badly.

“But, go up the street to the cathedral and off to the left. Use the toilets there.”

If I didn’t have to go so bad, I would have hugged and kissed her. We strode up to the hall but chose the wrong entrance so had to navigate through the church crowd who had gathered after Sunday service. We didn’t make the same error when we left.

Sept 25
Dunblane Cathedral
Sept 25
Dunblane Cathedral

We dropped Monty off at the convenient Europcar rental return (across the road from the hotel) with his proper paperwork. A bit more complicated than on previous car rental returns but we got through and sent on our way. The collision damage waiver (CDW) and roadside assistance looked after our woes from earlier.

We arrived back at the airport hotel before the 2:00 pm check-in time but our room was ready and off we went. 8th floor and a view of the planes landing on one side and the M8 motorway on the other.

Sept 25
Glasgow Airport from our hotel room
Sept 25
Plane landing in the approaching storm
Sept 25
Sept 25
Clearing up a bit?
Sept 25
Airport activity

Before we both crashed and burned, we went for a walk around the airport complex past the Holiday Inn Express, the Europcar rental return (no sign of Monty) and back to the hotel.

We had a meal in the bar at the hotel where we’ve had excellent service in the past. This time not so much but the food was good.

After returning to our room, I took advantage of the twilight and got some more photos.

Sept 25
The M8 motorway from our hotel room
Sept 25
Plane landing at dusk

Leaving tomorrow would be hard. Since leaving Broughty Ferry I tried to come up with every excuse I could think of to stay.

We double-checked the weight of our bags so come morning when we had to put our last night/morning things away we knew,  what suitcase to put them in.

Breakfast tomorrow at Beardmore (hopefully, still in business) then people and plane watch while we wait to board.


#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 24 – Fun and Family


Sept 24 – Fun and Family

Since we weren’t meeting the family until 7:30, we had the entire day to get to the distillery and back and have some time to freshen up before catching the bus over to Carnoustie. Responsible thing to do. And this way we could both drink and not have to worry about driving afterwards.

I wanted to avoid driving through Aberdeen so we headed cross-country at Stonehaven. Once I got up into familiar territory, I no longer needed Satnav Sally. I followed my heart – after a stop at the public toilets in Alford.

We encountered roadworks after we left Craigellachie, near the junction of the A941 and B9102. Another side road comes in just south of the junction so the traffic lights controlling things were odd to say the least. We sat there for quite some time before getting a green light.

Sept 24
From the carpark at the Cardhu Distillery
Sept 24
From the carpark at the Cardhu Distillery

Two bottles of 18 year-old Cardhu purchased (£69.00 each), we used their toilets and started back towards Broughty Ferry.

Curious to know if anything else had been done with Wardhouse Mansion since our last visit, we came home by way of Keith and Huntly so I could go through Kennethmont for a look.

We stopped at a petrol station in Keith to get a bottle of water (I know it sounds strange when we’re having to look for toilets all of the time) because we were thirsty. While I waited in the car, I shut the engine off. No need to idle. Well, Monty decided not to recognize the keyfob! He wouldn’t start! So here we are stuck in Keith with a car that won’t start and we have to be back in time to get to Carnoustie for 7:30! Would the vacation end on a downer (more than usual) like it started?

Eventually, Monty saw things our way and he started. Phew! After 27 hours for a flat tyre, I shuddered to think how long it would be for this before we got help.

Nothing new on the mansion restoration at Wardhouse. Wanting to avoid Aberdeen again, we got off the A96 at Kintore and went across country and found ourselves on the B974 Cairn O’Mount. Narrow road, lots of potholes along the edge. A wonderful viewpoint that we didn’t have time to stop to enjoy. Besides the weather wasn’t conducive to stopping.

This archway in Fettercairn is amazing! It’s plenty wide on its own, but the road is narrow and the curbs twist and turn making it extremely difficult to navigate.

We made it back to the hotel about 5:30 – plenty of time to freshen up and get ready to go meet the kin. So, since we were taking advantage of public transit, we stopped in the bar downstairs for a drink before heading out to catch the bus.

Our reservation was for 7:30 at The Aboukir Hotel. Don and I arrived first followed about half a large glass of red wine later by the rest of the gang.

Sept 24
The first of many pictures and lots of laughs

It was hilarious how the Canadians all sat on one side of the table and the Scots on the other. It wasn’t planned. It was just the way we sat down. I wanted to be on the end because I’m left-handed and we were the first to get there.

Sept 23
Carnoustie Cousins

It’s really hard to get good photos of everyone all at once.

Sept 24
Carnoustie Cousins
Sept 24
The family represented from both sides of the pond
Sept 24
The Canadian cousins

Lorraine was the first to go to the ladies. When she came back, she wasted no time telling Lise and me about the heated toilet seat! That brought on peels of laughter.

I went next and she was right. It was warm! It also had bidet functions built in. Now how’s that for up-market?

Lise went last and took her phone in with her. She came back with a photograph of the control panel for it. More laughs!

After a wonderful night catching up with everyone, the time came to call it a day.

We parted company outside the hotel – some of us on foot, some of us via public transit.

When we returned to the hotel in Broughty Ferry, we put our things in our room and went to the bar for a nightcap.

Our wonderful holiday quickly coming to an end – our last full day would be tomorrow – driving back to Glasgow, returning the rental car and getting ready for our flight home on Monday.




#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 23 – Edinburgh Bound!


Sept 23 – Edinburgh Bound!


I booked our return train tickets long before we went to Scotland. When I knew the train and our seats, I immediately contacted my friend, Chris Longmuir, with the carriage and seat numbers so she could book a seat with us.

The bus stop was close to the hotel, so we walked there and boarded the #5 and told the driver we were going to the Dundee Railway Station. Two return tickets in hand, we settled in for the ride.

When we reached the Nethergate (Stop 1), the driver exited his driving compartment and told us this was the best stop for the train station. We were both impressed that he remembered us and our destination.

A short walk to the train station and we redeemed our tickets at one of the self-serve kiosks before heading to the platform to await our Virgin East Coast train to Edinburgh.

Anxious and excited to spend the day in the city with Chris, it was hard to settle on the train. We chatted about publishing print books and ebooks and changes that needed to be made or which version of the document to use. I’d done it before and had no problems but the current (I’ll call it WIP) gave me grief… hence the request for advice.

The Edinburgh train crossed over the Forth Bridge. This has been on my bucket list for a long time. The bridge looks like it was constructed from a Meccano set.

The train windows were dirty so that didn’t help the picture. In the background, you can see the current Forth Road Bridge and the new, still under construction, crossing.

Sept 23
The Forth Bridge from the train

Before we left the station, we stopped at the bathrooms. 30p to use the toilets but they were clean and the attendant made sure the lines of patiently waiting customers moved smoothly.

I had booked us on a tour of “The Real Mary King’s Close” for about an hour after we arrived in Edinburgh. The printed ticket confirmation said we needed to be there about 30 minutes before the tour started.

Having taken the train into Edinburgh Waverley on more than one occasion, I didn’t realize there was a way from there to the Royal Mile that didn’t require walking up a steep hill. Chris took us on an alternate route, although a bit longer and out of the way, required less effort and on reasonably level ground.

After we checked in at the ticket office and were told we had plenty of time, we decided to look in the nearby whisky shop to see if they stocked 18 year-old Cardhu. They did stock a 21 year-old. For a mere £350.00 we could buy it. On this day, the Bank of Canada exchange rate from UK pounds to CAN dollars was $1.7059 so a bottle of whisky would have cost us $597.00!!! Yikes!!! We knew we could get the age we wanted from the distillery and we had free time on the next day (not meeting my cousins until 7:30 for dinner) so decided rather than traipse around Edinburgh all day looking for what we wanted, we’d wait and make a distillery run on Saturday.

While Chris picked up a few Christmas presents in the shop, I went out and took a few pictures.

St Giles Cathedral
St Giles Cathedral

How appropriate… Writers’ Court. Chris and I are both writers – just different genres.

Sept 23
Writers’ Court

And, no the Tattoo Office has nothing to do with marking your skin (permanently or temporarily with henna).

Sept 23
Entrance to “The Real Mary King’s Close”
Sept 22
“The Real Mary King’s Close” sign

Because Mary King’s Close is under the City Chambers, you’re not permitted to take photographs. *sigh*

Our guide, Paula, was a hoot! Knowledgeable, friendly, and funny. Even though I don’t have photographs of my own to remember the tour, I do have a guidebook and a few other mementos.

Back on Princes Street, we waited at the bus for the #22 that would take us to Ocean Terminal (a waterfront mall and ticket office for the Royal Yacht Britannia).

There’s the #29 headed in the opposite direction.

Sept 23
Lothian Buses #29 – and look what’s on the side!

When our bus arrived, we bought two day passes which would also get us on the trams.

Rule Britannia

The tour of the Royal Yacht Britanniais completely self-guided. You’re provided with an audio guide (looks like an overgrown cellphone) which is available in a number of languages. They also have a guide in Braille for visually impaired visitors.

Sept 23
Don in the wheelhouse of the Royal Yacht, Britannia
Sept 23
The Royal Rolls Royce
Sept 23
Chris and I at the binnacle rescued from the Victoria and Albert III
Sept 23
Her Majesty the Queen’s bedroom
Sept 23
Prince Phillip’s bedroom
Setp 23
The only room on the yacht to have a double bed – Charles & Diana’s room
Sept 23
One side of the State Dining Room
Sept 23
The other side of the State Dining Room

We had a late lunch/snack in the Royal Deck Tea Room. I had coffee and fruit scones, Don had chocolate cake, and Chris had a bowl of Carrot and something soup.

Sept 23
The Royal State Room

Here in the Verge Inn, you have the chance to take “Corgi selfies” (see the wee guy on the left of the photo) or take selfies wearing these hats. No, the beer isn’t real. It’s resin coloured to look like beer with a light foam head on top.

Sept 23
Enjoying a “pint” in the Verge Inn, one of the areas for the officers to unwind.
Sept 23
The Royal “Barge”

After departing the yacht and Ocean Terminal, we boarded the #22 and returned to Princes St where our next adventure began… a ride on the Edinburgh trams!

Sept 23
One of the Edinburgh trams

We had to walk to one of the stations in the middle of Princes St so that Chris could buy a ticket. Her Angus council bus pass didn’t count for nowt here. Now that we were all legal, we boarded the next tram and rode it to Murrayfield Stadium. Out here the main railway line and the tram line aren’t too far apart.

On our way back to the city centre, Don struck up a conversation with a guy stood near where Chris and I sat. Said guy was reading a Stephen Booth novel. Don told him that Chris also wrote crime fiction (embarrassing her) but she pulled our her stash of book postcards and gave them to him.

The tram ride was another thing crossed off a bucket list (not mine). My next thing was a pint at the Oxford Bar, Ian Rankin’s local. Seeing how Chris was with us I hoped he wouldn’t think I was a pyscho Canadian stalker… LOL!

By now, it was getting later in the day. The next train back to Dundee that stopped in the town Chris lives in departed from Edinburgh Waverley at 7:30. We still needed to get a bite to eat to get us through until tomorrow.

The Oxford Bar – Ian Rankin’s local
Me outside The Oxford Bar

I settled for a photo so I could say, “I’ve been there” but I’ll definitely be back again and have an IPA or something before leaving.

Over supper, still thinking we had to be back at Waverley for the 7:30 train, I checked our tickets. We were locked in to a Virgin East Coast return or pay a fee to change it.

Chris checked her train schedule that she carries with her and luckily for us, that happened to be the 8:30 train. We could have stopped for a quick drink before stopping in at TGI Fridays on Castle Street. Oh well. It did give us some more time for evening photo ops.

Sept 23
Edinburgh Castle
Sept 23
Nighttime tram
Sept 23
Heilan’ coo in a shop on Princes Street

When I visited with my cousin, Eric, a few days ago, he mentioned climbing to the top of the Scott Monument with his father back in the day. He claims they carved their initials in the wall at the top level. Must climb up sometime (oh my aching knees) and see if they’re still visible.

Sept 23
The Scott Monument

When we arrived back at the railway station, we still had some time before we needed to be at the platform. Where else does a writer go but a bookstore?

And look who I found! Fellow loveahappyending author, Sheryl Browne, and her novel The Rest of My Life. She’s in some pretty good company there with Stuart MacBride and Kathy Reichs.

Sept 23
Sheryl Browne’s novel – in some good company at WH Smith in Edinburgh Waverley

All too soon, our wonderful day came to an end. We were getting off the train in Dundee and Chris was carrying on up the line to her stop. At least the turnstiles in Dundee were open so I got to keep our tickets as souvenirs.

It finally started to rain and drizzled as we made our way back up to Nethergate and a bus stop to catch our return bus to Broughty Ferry.

After we returned to the hotel and deposited our things in the room, we went to the bar for a drink. Whilst chatting with the young barman, we found out that he’d come to Canada on a hockey scholarship. Then we narrowed it down to Ontario (most people wouldn’t have a clue where our city is in the grand scheme of things). Come to find out, he stayed in Cornwall! That’s only a little over an hour away from us. And he played some hockey in Brockville, too.

Tomorrow, in addition to supper with the clan, we have a “side trip” to the distillery. Another adventure.

#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 22 Kelso to Broughty Ferry


Sept 22 – Kelso to Broughty Ferry

Castle and a Cold War Bunker, too


Jeff, our host at Duncan House, and his black lab joined the group of folks in the dining room. He apologized profusely for not remembering me (actually, putting the name with the face). With the number of people who stay in his wonderful Georgian B&B, I’m not surprised, nor was I offended.

After a hearty breakfast, including porridge, we set out. Shortly before we left home for Scotland, we received an email telling us that Craigmillar Castle would be closed until Sept 20th. The picture of the property included in the Historic Scotland email intrigued me and it being after the 20th, and the castle being close to (if not in the ‘burbs of Edinburgh) so en route to Broughty Ferry, the satnav was programmed to take us there.

I ended up driving Monty further into the city than I wanted thanks to roadworks (as in a humungous hole) in Craigmillar Castle Road. So I had to drive by that end of the road, follow the diversion signs … AND ignore Satnav Sally.

Two school buses (not like our North American ones) parked back to back on opposite sides of the car park. No way on earth Monty would fit between their snouts.

I parked sort of on the edge of the road and we strode to the ticket office/gift shop. “One concession (aka senior), one adult and toilets,” was the buzz phrase of the day. He stamped our “zero charge” receipt with the combination we needed to gain access to the facilities and off we went.

Sept 22
Craigmillar Castle
The entrance to Craigmillar Castle
The entrance to Craigmillar Castle inside the outer curtain wall
Sept 22
Don standing by the yew tree inside the inner curtain wall of Craigmillar Castle
Sept 22
Me standing by the yew tree inside the inner curtain wall at Craigmillar Castle
Sept 22
Stairway to … at Craigmillar Castle
Sept 22
Sign indicating the direction of the wine cellar

My favourite place! I’ll even do the spiral stairs to get there… 😉

Sept 22
Spiral staircase leading to the wine cellar
Sept 22
Sign describing the room. Note the windows on both sides of the fireplace and the stonework on the mantle

Years later, the windows have been filled in but the fireplace remains.

Sept 22
As the room looks now
Sept 22
One of the massive fireplaces
Sept 22
Me standing inside the fireplace

The school children were amazed that in two different towers of the castle there were bathrooms. One group called over to the other, “we’ve got a loo!” and the other replied “So do we! We have a loo, too!”

Sept 22
View from the castle ramparts
Sept 22
Craigmillar Castle from the highest level you can access

The view from the castle ramparts is amazing. The clear weather made it easy to see and recognize North Berwick Law (we’d seen it last year on our way to Dunbar and on the train to Edinburgh).

Sept 22
View from the castle rampart – the visible hump in the center of the background is North Berwick Law
Sept 22
Salisbury Crags
Sept 22
Busted taking a photo
But so was someone else
But so was someone else…

Driving towards Craigmillar Castle, we had spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat but no place to pull over for a photo op. I was chuffed to bits to get this view from Craigmillar’s ramparts.

Sept 22
Edinburgh Castle on the left and Arthur’s Seat on the right

As we approached the Forth Road Bridge, the first of many signs for Scotland’s Secret Bunker popped up. It had been a possibility on previous trips and we happened to have the time, so decided to make it a reality this trip. Canada has the Diefenbunker (which we’ve visited) so we needed to compare the two locations.

Imagine a Cold War Shelter capable of running the country from under an innocuous farm house? Now that the cold war threat is over (or is it) things aren’t so secret anymore.

Unfortunately, the roads leading to it aren’t so smooth, so again the buzz phrase when we bought our tickets was “One concession, one adult and toilets” but this time I added “and not necessarily in that order”.

Sept 22
The cottage that the bunker “hides” under
Sept 22
Page from The Courier
Sept 22
Inside the bunker
Sept 22
Barracks room inside the bunker
Sept 22
Bulletin board with related photos and articles
Another bulletin board
Another bulletin board
Sept 22
The chapel
Sept 22
The switchboard
Sept 22
A place to take selfies… or of each other
Sept 22
A place to take selfies… or of each other
Sept 22
A “rat” on the conduit
Sept 22
Military vehicles outside

Finally, we reached our destination for the night. When I booked, I thought we’d get the same room as last year but this time we got one on the ground floor at the front of the hotel (corner of Queen Street and Claypotts/Westfield Road). Finally, a place where we didn’t have to lug everything up at least one flight of stairs!

Sept 22
Our room at the Hotel Broughty Ferry
Sept 22
Our room at the Hotel Broughty Ferry and our champagne waiting for our arrival
Sept 22
In the bar at the Hotel Broughty Ferry where we had our evening meal

Tomorrow morning, we’re catching the train in Dundee to Edinburgh where we’ll spend the day with our good friend (fellow author and crime writer), Chris Longmuir.


#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 21 – Temple Sowerby to Kelso


Sept 21 – Temple Sowerby to Kelso

We decided that when we left Temple Sowerby this morning, we would attempt to visit  The Devils Porridge Museum in Eastriggs one more time. We weren’t far away and had plenty of time before we needed to arrive at Duncan House in Kelso.

My computer scared me bad. I mean scared me real BAD. When I shut down my laptop this morning, Windows 10 decided it needed to download and install updates. You can prevent it from happening, but I didn’t know how at the time. I chose install and restart. Except it didn’t restart. It went through the motions and it looked like the days of DOS or a Linux system starting up. We’re talking command line code happening… until it froze.

I froze in panic! The computer had to be turned off at some point for travelling, so pressed the power button until it shut down. I turned it back on and the same thing happened all over again. Visions of taking it in to the store I bought it from when I got home flashed through my mind. No computer until then? Whatever would I do? Sure I had my iPad and hubby had his laptop but still, you develop a relationship with your own computer. You know its quirks and idiosyncrasies (at least I thought I did).

After checking out of The Kings Arms Hotel and leaving some of my books’ postcards at the hotel – gal checking me out of the hotel asked if I knew the author – I said yes, it’s me. Well, that prolonged the process because we had to talk about writing and reading and what not. She told me there’s a book club in Temple Sowerby. So maybe one of these days, they’ll read one (and maybe all) of mine.

On to Eastriggs and the museum. We arrived there about 10:15 to a reasonably empty car park. Yay!

Robbie Brodie (I think that’s his name), gave us an overview of the original munitions plant that occupied the land between Eastriggs and Gretna.

Sept 21
map of the HM Factory Gretna
Setpt 21
#s 1-5 from the above map
Sept 21
#s 6-10 from the above map
Sept 21
uniform worn by the munitions girls
Sept 21
one of the nitrating pans

Another event depicted here at the museum is the Quintinshill Rail Disaster.

Sept 21
petition to the King asking for the signalmen charged in the disaster to be pardoned

On the upper level of the museum, they have an area set aside for research, and another for “selfies”. Here, clothing from the era is available to try on and take your picture in – including an army helmet!

Sept 21
Don modelling a helmet
Sept 21
Me wearing a hat

I rather like my chapeau even if I don’t look best pleased in the photo. Note to self… try to find something similar when I get home.

Before leaving the museum, I did namedrop. As in my crime writer friend’s name – Chris Longmuir and her historical novel, Devil’s Porridge, set at the actual munitions factory here.

I wanted to visit Hermitage Castle, one of the many properties under the care of Historic Scotland. It happened to be on our route to Kelso (more or less).

Sept 21
Hermitage Castle
Sept 21
Hermitage Castle
Sept 21
within the walls of Hermitage Castle
Sept 21
The chapel grounds at Hermitage Castle

After leaving the castle, I got my fill once again of narrow roads with passing places – and cattle grids. I really don’t mind these roads although they’re much better when the visibility is better. You don’t want to end up having to back up to a passing place if you don’t have to. I drove and put hubby to work taking pictures out the windscreen.

Sept 21
driving on one of the single track roads…
Sept 21
in a passing place on a single track road
Sept 21
Hope nothing is coming from the other direction…
Sept 21
Waiting in a passing place for the oncoming vehicle

The Waverly Route Heritage Association has preserved a section of track and we spotted this passenger carriage on our right. Despite passing place etiquette not allowing for such things as photo ops, the traffic was so light, I couldn’t resist.

Passenger carriage
Passenger carriage on the Waverly Route
Sept 21
Viaduct on the Waverly Route
Sept 21
Approaching a cattle grid
Sept 21
Tree canopy created by the lorries
Sept 21
Civilization! A road with centre markings
Sept 21
At the intersection of the B6357 and the A68
Sept 21
Approaching Jedburgh Abbey

Once through Jedburgh, it didn’t take long before we found ourselves at Duncan House in Kelso. This is the third time we’ve stayed there and since the first time, have said ‘next time we’ll stay for more than one night’. So far it hasn’t happened.

Call it premonition, but the night before I looked up an email from our host (from the previous year) to check the combination for the lock box.  If I hadn’t, we might not have been able to get in, although I carried printed confirmations of all of our accommodations and other pre-booked events with me.

The first thing I did when I got up to our room (same room we’ve had each time, too) was pull out the laptop and its power supply. Plugged in, I powered up. A huge wave of relief washed over me when the lock screen came up. Not sure what crawled up the computer’s butt in the morning but at least now I could say ,”It’s alive!”

Sept 21
River Tweed and Floors Castle from our room at Duncan House

Knowing the computer survived, we walked down to Kelso Abbey. On the way, a woman outside one of the shops approached us with bags to collect gently used clothes. I had something else in mind for them. After accepting them, we continued on to the abbey, poked around the ruins there and through the cemetery on the other side of the street.

Sept 21
Kelso Abbey

This cute gallery in the shape of a boat stands on Abbey Row across the street from the graveyard.

Sept 21
Huggins Haig Gallery

After a wander around the town, we made our way to The Waggon Inn where we had a delicious meal.

Sept 21
The Waggon Inn

Paused for a selfie on the way back to Duncan House after our meal.

Sept 21
After a delicious meal at the Waggon Inn

Tomorrow we head north to Broughty Ferry and back to the same hotel we stayed in last year.


#SEWES2016 ~ Sept 20 – Market Rasen to Temple Sowerby


Sept 20 – Market Rasen to Temple Sowerby

Temple Sowerby was our final destination today. Barring traffic slowdowns due to incidents and/or roadworks, we could make the trip in just over three hours. In reality, that doesn’t happen.

One of my acquisitions yesterday – a companion for “Robbie” Raven. His name is “Phil” Flyer. So far they get along well. A few more days of these close quarters, as in the jute bag, will tell if they’ll remain friendly towards each other.

Sept 20
“Phil” Flyer

The first leg of today’s journey was a short jaunt up the road to visit my cousin and his wife in Dragonby.

Sept 20
Eric and me this year

I first met Eric in 2013. Here’s a picture from that visit…

Sept 20
Eric and me on our first visit in 2013

I think we’re like fine wine… improved with age. What do you think?

We had a lovely visit before it became time to move on to Temple Sowerby and the King’s Arms Hotel.

Sept 20
The King’s Arms Hotel (our window is to the left of “Kings”)
Sept 20
Robbie” Raven and “Phil” Flyer are looking out our room’s window
Sept 20
Our cozy room
Sept 20
Our cozy room

Once we set up hubby’s CPAP machine, returned the bottle of distilled water to the boot of the car (one less thing for tomorrow morning), we went down to the bar for a pint where we chatted with a couple of the locals.

The conversation turned to fishing (one of them brought his newest fishing rod in to show to his friend) and they told us the fishing was bad this year compared to others. The one put it down to the flooding in late 2015/early 2016 (same floods mentioned in my earlier post about Brougham Castle) ruining the river.

Sept 20
Enjoying a glass of wine in the restaurant
Sept 20
Silver serving tray cover


Sept 20
Fireplace next to our table in the restaurant

The hotel’s key rings are huge! It seems like they’re made from newel posts. You certainly won’t lose them. I should have used my DSLR to take a picture rather than my phone, but that would have required effort.

Sept 20
Our keys and keyring