Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Of Monsters

   We've learned "monster" is a relative term. There are monster homes... hunters....
...and monster golf courses, in this region of Scotland. 
   St. Andrews is a lovely village, with an important history

  Elements of the past remain, a Cathedral that played a major role,
   and a castle also steeped in legend.
   Then there is St. Andrews, the home of golf.
  The club house that is a kind of castle in its own right...
 and the old course that is dream of golfers around the world. As one of this foursome told me, when you get a chance to play St. Andrews, you play it, weather and all.
 Not far is a loch that has gained legendary status.
  It's 24 miles long, a mile wide and some 950 feet deep.
  They come from every nation on the globe to take a look and watch for Nessie.
   Locals don't call her a monster. Here she is a gentle creature who resides in imagination and legend amongst these mountains of Glen Mor.
  During our visit a team of researchers, looking for DNA samples were at work. They reported Loch Ness shows signs of eel life in some abundance. 
   Transiting the Scottish Highland one enjoys the villages
with their culinary and shopping offerings.

As you are never far from a pub, neither are you far from a castle.

   The approach revealed the "back yard"...
  and then we wound our way to the front door.
 Ballindalloch Castle has been in the McPherson-Grant families since 1546. Grants occupy it now and the old McPherson Coat of Arms is now a legacy. And you are correct, the motto does read Touch Not the Cat, Bot a Glove.
  I'm still not sure what that's all about. But I learned one of the doors leads to the enterprise that permits the present family to maintain this monster house.
  Their kitchen staff operates a tea room featuring fresh scones, with clotted cream and preserves, tea, coffee and other goodies.
   Revenue from the goodies, preserves and souvenir items offset the operating expenses of keeping up the old pile. 
   The family occupies private quarters, but most of the castle is open for tours. It's a favorite of Prince Charles who has visited here for years when he's in the neighborhood. The Royal's Scottish Highland retreat, Balmoral Castle, is not far. Photos of the royals visiting Ballindalloch fill hallways. 

   The gardens are extraordinary, especially the "rock garden."

   There is a sizable stand of historic trees, including a cousin of a redwood, a national pine.

      Great views from some of the turret rooms, but it gave me pause...
  Ballindalloch is a lovely place to visit, but not the home for me...
   I left lawn mowing behind when I moved to California from Indiana...Look at these expanses...
    and this is only front yard....speaking of monsters!

   More of the Highlands, and then the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Skye, Glasgow, then Dublin, Belfast, County Meath, Kerry, Dingle and more on the schedule. Lot to see and share of Scotland and Ireland. 

   See you down the trail.

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