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St. Kildas & Scotland
April 4-14, 2012

Click on any image to enlarge it, provided you have a high-speed connection.

David, Janet & Sarah moved to the country in August, 2011.  They traded in their Maidavale flat for pastures and a sixteenth century farmhouse.  Crazy, right?  Well, you will see how beautiful it is.  After a few days there, cousin Cathy & I toured central Scotland coast-to-coast.  Here is a mapping of my trip:

Alternate Text 

Friday (4/6): Daylong flight Boston->Heathrow.  David & Sarah kindly picked me up at the airport.  During the ride David described the social decline of Britain.  Thatcher, for example, created equal opportunity, but damaged services through privatization.  Janet made a bolognese and a watercress salad.  We had an interesting discussion about the importance of relentless practice in developing professional-level skill.  Janet is influenced by the book, "Talent is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin.  The basic idea is that what endows high performance is not talent but hard work -- long hours of difficult practice under the tutelage of a good teacher.  (I was at the Harvard squash courts this afternoon, empty on this local (Patriot's Day) holiday save for my partner... and the best female player in the United States, who chose to spend her holiday strength-training.)

Saturday (4/7):  I awoke to the incredible beauty of St. Kildas and Chilcomb.  (Chilcomb is the village.  In villages house names (e.g. St. Kildas) are used in place of street numbers.)  Here is the realtor's brochure.  Here is a movie of the orangery & kitchen.  An unusual feature is a 50-foot well, now dry, beneath the furnace room, but alas there is no photo of this wonder.

Location of St. Kildas within Chilcomb
Location of St. Kildas within Village of Chilcomb
Lawns & Paddocks
Lawns & Paddocks (far paddock not shown) 
 Living Area of St. Kildas
Living Area of St. Kildas
Kitchen
Kitchen (Panoramic View)
 Kitchen
Orangery / Dining Room

lView Over Portico
View from my 2nd floor window over Portico
Stables
Stables
Stables
Stables 
 
Patio and Near Lawn
Patio and Near Lawn
View of House from Near Lawn
View of House from Near Lawn
View down the stairs
View down front staircase
Backyard 
Backyard

Middle & Far Paddocks
Middle & Far Paddocks
Harold Bedroom 1
Harold Bedroom 1
Harold Bedroom 2
Harold Bedroom 2
Driveway #1 & Portico
Driveway #1 & Portico
 Middle & Far Paddocks
Middle & Far Paddocks 
House from Near Lawn
House from Near Lawn 
Near Paddock & Horses
Near Paddock & Horses 
Pond & Neighbor House
Pond & Neighbor House 
Near Paddock, Far & Near Lawns
Near Paddock, Far & Near Lawns
(Panoramic View) 
Tennis Court
Tennis Court 
Sheep Grazing in Far Paddock
Sheep Grazing in Far Paddock 
 Napoleon in Googles
Napoleon in Goggles (print in foyer)
       

Saturday, cont.  David took me on a 25-minute walk to Winchester Cathedral, on the other side of the M3 freeway.  Although this is a major freeway, the village is far enough away to be quiet.  Janet, Sarah and Charlie decorated the church for Easter service.

South Downs Rd through Chilcomb
South Downs Rd through Chilcomb
Rapeseed field with Firing Range
Rapeseed field and Firing Range on far side
The M3
The M3
Winchester Park
Winchester Park
Winchester Stream
Winchester Stream
Figurines
Figurines in Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral
 

Saturday, cont.  David, Janet, Sarah & I brunched in nearby Arlesford, which name David cannot pronounce in Sarah's view.  Charlie was walked in a beautiful local park.  Janet drove us on a tour of the local watercress industry.

Charlie (muzzled)
Charlie (muzzled)

Saturday, cont.  Janet gave me a tour of the two back lawns ("near" and "far").  (The near one is a simple lawn; the far one holds a nascent orchard.)  She noticed the fence of the near paddock was broken.  After interrogating the horses she patched the damage.

Horses Grooming
Horses Grooming
Janet Interrogates Horses
Janet Interrogates Horses about Broken Fence
Janet Fetches Replacement Fencing
Janet Fetches Replacement Fencing

Janet Inspects Patched Fence 
Janet Questions Charlie about His Role in Breaking Fence
Janet asks Charlie if he caused the horses to break the fence 
 

Saturday, cont.  Finally, ever tireless, Janet made a cassoulet of chorizo & beans.

Sunday (4/8): We went to Easter service in the village church.  Coffee & biscuits at the house of two villagers, Rolf & Ruth.  David & I picked up Cathy at the Winchester train station.  Janet drove us to brunch at a most enjoyable French restaurant (in Lyndhurst?).  She then took us on an extensive tour of the south, including a stop in Lymington Harbour.  (She had considered a ferry ride to the nearby Isle of Wight.)  Janet tirelessly made pork roast and rhubarb tarts.

Chilcomb Church
St. Andrews Church
View from Chilcomb Church
View from St. Andrews
Janet makes rhubarb tarts (2)
Janet makes Rhubarb Tarts
Group Photo at Lymington Harbour 1
Group at Lymington Harbour
Group at Lymington Harbour
Group at Lymington Harbour (My stomach
muscle is  impressive!)
Janet makes rhubarb tarts (1)
Janet makes Rhubarb Tarts (hi-tech!)

Monday (4/9):  Cathy and I discussed what we wanted to see.  The weather forecast registered a week of rain, but it would turn out the weather was generally sunny or overcast, with infrequent showers, sometimes hail.  Cathy had an interest in seeing the Lake District, as well as having obligations at York and Aberdeen.  David gave Cathy a tour of the borders, during which time Charlie tackled a sheep.  Fortunately he was muzzled and the sheep got back up.  (Confer "A Rude Awakening" in which Charlie attacks a deer.)  David drove Cathy & me to the train station in Winchester, where we sadly bid goodbye.  By the way, here's what it is like to drive down the main village road (South Downs Rd).  I learned that my credit cards do not work in British machines, because PINs are required even for credit cards there.  But a human can make them work.  To get to Cambridge requires two train rides separated by a tube trip.  We walked to Cathy's house, dining at The Golden Curry along the way.

Tuesday (4/10):  Cathy is changing jobs from Aberdeen to York and needs a place there.  We set out early to get to a 1 pm appointment to see a house.  Cathy made the terrible mistake of asking me to navigate, but three multi-mile wrong turns later we were on the motorway to York.  Cathy liked her prospective new home but found it overpriced considering the work required.  She has a good sense of value and pricing repairs.  We then walked around York's pedestrian shopping streets and I bought two caps.  We then set forth on the most beautiful drive of the trip, through the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  Hilly and green, it is divided into thousands of paddocks filled with sheep.  Daffodils were ubiquitous in England and Scotland, in mind-boggling quantity.

York Cathedral
York Cathedral
Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales

Tuesday, cont.  As darkness fell we arrived in Windermere, situated in the Lake District and site of the largest natural lake in England.  Most of the town seems to be B&Bs.  We found haven at the Lingmoor Guest House (nice owners but cramped and overpriced).  The best restaurant in town had just closed their kitchen, but we found a first-rate meal at the Lighthouse.  The prices are high to most people, but not to a Bostonian.

 

Wednesday (4/11):  After a generous breakfast we drove down the hill and discovered the incredible beauty of the lake, to which these pictures do not do justice.


Windermere Yachts & Snow-Capped Mountains
Cathy & Yachts
Cathy & Yachts
Windermere Ferry
Windermere Ferry
Swan
Swan
Harold at Ferry Dock
Harold on Ferry Dock
View from the Ferry
View from the Ferry

Wednesday, cont.  A 5-minute ferry ride took us to Far Sawrey (which is closer than Near Sawrey), whereupon Cathy had especially tough driving -- through windy, narrow, touristed lanes.  We drove northwest into Scotland and, via an hour-long ferry ride, arrived on the Isle of Arran.  Because Arran is in the gulf stream, it sports palm trees!  It is a lovely island with high steep forested hills, an alleged but invisible artist population, a nice old castle, and a bit of history.  We took a brief drive along the northwest corner, had a peek at the Castle, then dined in luxury in the Eighteen69 at the Auchrannie Resort.

Isle of Arran Eighteen69 Dining Room
Eighteen69 Dining Room
Eighteen69 Lounge
Eighteen69 Lounge
Arran countryside
Arran countryside
Arran countryside
Arran countryside
Ship leaving Arran
Ship leaving Arran

Thursday (4/12):  We drove around most of the island, explored Brodick Castle and the Heritage Museum (both interesting), picnicked on Lamlash Bay, and caught the ferry back to the mainland (Ardrossan).  The exterior of Brodick Castle is unnotable.  And as you can see, Brodick isn't an attractive town, consisting of a long diffuse line of prosaic storefronts and businesses.  But the island is lovely.

Backyard of Rasburn B&B
Backyard of Rosaburn B&B
Garden below Brodick Castle
Garden below Brodick Castle
Cathy at Brodick Castle
Cathy at Brodick Castle
 
Brodick Castle
Brodick Castle
Brodick Castle "Household Wants"
Brodick Castle "Household Wants"
Brodick Town
Brodick Town
 

Thursday, cont.   It was too far to Aberdeen, so we overnighted in Stirling (avoiding Glasgow for its traffic).  Stirling is a small place consisting of a beautiful and interesting castle at the top of a hill, some old city just below, and the newer city at ground level.  As it sits at an entry to the Highlands, it has been an important fort over the centuries, site of many battles.

 

Friday (4/13):  Cathy & I briefly toured the castle.  The natural setting is lovely.  Inside there is a good dose of heraldry.  For some reason they have latched onto the unicorn series of tapestries (originals in the Cloisters in NYC);  they are weaving copies, one by one.  William Wallace is a local hero, thus a neighboring hill bears his monument.

Castle Approach
Castle Approach -- Outcropping
Castle Approach
Castle Approach
Cathy at Castle Approach
Cathy at Castle Approach
Castle Approach- Outcropping
Castle Approach- Outcropping
"Unicorn is Caught"
"Unicorn is Caught" Tapestry
Docent in period costume
Docent in period costume
"Unicorn is Found" Tapestry
"Unicorn is Found" Tapestry
Unicorn, Lion & Eagle Heraldry
Unicorn, Lion & Eagle Heraldry
Sculptured Heads on Ceiling
Sculptured Heads on Ceiling
Cathy on Ramparts
Cathy on Ramparts
View of Wallace Monument
View of Wallace Monument
Wallace Monument
Wallace Monument

Friday, cont.  We made a frivolous detour to see the Dunmore Pineapple, "the most bizarre building in Scotland."  Thanks to my navigational skills it took a while to find!  Anyway, it was built by a pineapple enthusiast using a lot of cheap labor and energy to create the hospitable growing environment between the double walls.  You can rent out the interior apartments and throw parties.  I love this thing.

Placard #1: "Welcome to the Pineapple"
Welcome to the Pineapple
Long View
Long View
Side View
Side View
Close Shot
Close Shot
View from upper terrace
View from upper terrace
Oblong View
Oblong View

 

Friday, cont.  We hit the road again for Aberdeen.  The third largest city in Scotland, it is nicknamed "the Granite City" because most of the houses are fabricated from the local grey granite.  Cathy had a tough weekend ahead of her, preparing for the movers Monday.

Saturday (4/14):  Flew Aberdeen to Heathrow, and from there back to Boston.  Adieu Britain!  Cathy, thank you for all that driving and a splendid holiday!  David, Janet & Sarah, ditto!  What a fantastic home you have found!