Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Scotland: September 12th-19th 2014

Clay and I spent a little over a week exploring the Highlands of Scotland from September 12th-19th.  Upon landing we drove 6 hours north to Tongue (1 night), the next day we passed through Durness on our way to Lochinver (2 nights), then we stopped at Ullapool (1 night), Dufftown (2 nights), and then to Edinburgh (1 night), and back to Glasgow (1 night) before returning home.

Highlights of our trip, in chronological order, include:

Castle Varrich in Tongue

Cocoa Mountain chocolate store in Balnakeil Craft Village, near Durness, where former military base buildings have been re-purposed into residences and small shops for artisans.  We also stopped at Lotte Glob's beautiful ceramic studio overlooking a loch.  

Smoo Cave in Durness:

White sand beaches near Durness;

In Lochinver we took a fly fishing lesson with Stewart of Assynt Fly Fishing.

After our fly fishing lesson we drove the Drumbeg Loop where we saw additional gorgeous beaches and stopped at the Little Soap and Candle Company.

On our way back to our B&B we had a delicious dinner at Kylesku Hotel where they focus on locally grown/raised/caught ingredients.  This was our favorite meal of the trip.

The next afternoon we walked up the majority of Stach Pollaidh between Lochinver and Ullapool.

That night we stayed in Ullapool at coziest bed and breakfast with an amazing view from the bed and breakfast table.
Ullapool in the distance
breakfast in our room, same view from bed
It took awhile driving from the west coast of Scotland to the east from Ullapool to Dufftown in the Speyside region of the country.  Dufftown, because it has 7 main distilleries, is known as the whisky making capital of the world.  

Before checking into that night's accommodation we visited the Speyside Cooperage where we were able to see casks being made by hand.  All barrels are casks but not all casks are barrels, barrel being a specific size of cask.  Wood is imported from America and the barrels are assembled by hand, after being used they are returned and reassembled and repaired.


The next morning around Dufftown we visited the ruins of Balvenie Castle and the occupied and functioning estate of Ballindalloch Castle.  

That afternoon we tour Aberlour Distillery with a nosing and tasting session at the end.

This much will make you legally too drunk to drive.
Bird in his Heaven.
That evening we joined the Dufftown Distillery Walk taking us 5 miles around town while we learned the history of the local area and the local distilleries.

The next morning we had a falconry lesson at Huntly Falcony Centre where we were able to handle owls, hawks, and falcons and learn the process of how to train them.  Our course was just the two of us with a trainer for 3 hours, you can hear her Scottish accent in the videos.




Our final stop was a few hours in Edinburgh the day after the vote for independence.  We walked from Edinburgh Castle down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse which sits across the street from the Scottish Parliament.  #DelightedToBeUnited 
Top: Edinburgh Castle & Palace of Holyroodhouse
Middle: Media village covering the referendum
Bottom: Scots voting, Scottish Parliament
We truly enjoyed our time here and were amazed about how it hardly seemed real 2 days later when we were back at home with Mr. Duke preparing for another workday in New York City!  Amazing memories were made!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

August 2014

The first weekend in August Clay and I went on a forging tour of Central Park with two of my coworkers.  Foraging as in searching for wild renewable natural food resources will Wildman Steve Brill in New York City!  It was a fun hands-on learning experience about the environment and getting back in touch nature.  I wrote up a post about what we learned here.  This happened to be during the first weekend of our Daniel's fast and we took a couple of the plants we found and added them to our juices and salads.

The second weekend of August Wednesday-Friday we attended Hillsong NYC Summer School in the evenings and were ministered to by Pastor Krist Wilde from Boise Idaho, he preached on the Beatitudes and brought it!  We're looking forward to Hillsong NYC Winter School where our favorite Hillsong pastor, Robert Fergusson, will speak.  That Saturday I had brunch with two friends at Jacob's Pickles in the Upper West Side then went home and cooked some seasonal vegetables I picked up at the market before heading to Loy Ann's apartment in the Finance District for a Connect Group Girls' Game Night.  Since it was during the fast I had my casserole of yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and a sweet potato while they had pizza before we played Nertz, a fun card game Clay is terrible at playing.  :)  That Monday night I also attended a going away dinner party for Michael and Loy Ann as they're moving to Florida to have their first child.

The next weekend was the last weekend of our Daniel's fast and Clay juiced for that Saturday and Sunday.  We stayed at home and chilled as it was one of our only quiet weekends until the 3rd weekend in October.  We watched Ms. Doubtfire and the Grand Budapest Hotel on Friday and Saturday then Sunday after church we headed up to 125th Street on the Upper West Side to look at Grant's Tomb and the Riverside Church.

For my birthday weekend that Saturday we went to the Bronx Zoo with Joey and Linda from church for 6 hours before going to a fun beer garden in Astoria.  We then picked up Mr. Duke on the way back to their apartment and taught them to play 2 games of beer pong before watching a comedian's dvd. Sunday we went to lunch with Joanie, Brooke, and Baby H at Cheesecake Factory and walked around a mall.

On Monday, August 25th we attended the US Open with 5 other people and were able to see Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic.

For Labor Day weekend we headed to East Hampton to spend time with Mary, Joanie, Brooke, Harrison, and Harrison.