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Into Scotland

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The Cannon Clan


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The Beginning October 17, 2011 Hobart ÂŤ This is some sample text for your layout. Use the page options to edit this text and adjust its display settings.

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Hamish Has Arrived In The UK

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I haven't thrown up movies r great and it was a great flight. (Hamish's text message on arrival in Manchester)

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The team with The Cup.

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Change rooms at Old Trafford

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Tour de Football October 18, 2011 Europe ÂŤ Last night we bought some tickets to Glasgow Rangers v Dundee Utd at Ibrox (Rangers home). This will be one of many football matches we will see on our tour.

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Pure Football | 2004 - Hamish in the light grey beanie, Ian in the black beanie

I have somehow convinced Alex, a long-time football widow, to consider, in our design of the itinerary, the fixtures of the EPL, the SPL, La Liga, Serie A, La Ligue, the Champions League and even lower divisions.

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Some people design a tour around regional food and wine, some people will consider particular museums and galleries, some are keen to experience the drama of plays and opera, and some simply wish to see historical monuments and landmarks. In my humble and biased opinion, Football provides all of this.

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Way back in 1990, when I began my tour of Europe as a lone backpacker, I did appreciate the finer things in life despite my lack of years and wealth of testosterone. It wasn't all a beerfest. I enjoyed seeing the Louvre in Paris and a definite highlight was the Hermitage in St Petersburg. "But I was so much older then, I am younger than that now".

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Sure our everchanging itinerary will include capturing some high-brow culture to enlighten us, but to be honest it will be a football tour with some light entertainment between matches.

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"Oh look at that building designed by Gaudi!". "Yeah that's great honey, but look how Messi dribbles with such control and venom!" You can see how it will pan out.

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Football has it all. We will witness real-time drama Shakespeare would not have dared writing and reality TV couldn't capture. We will be caught up in the emotion of the crowd's chants. We will consume the local cuisine at half-time and the local beverages when the final whistle blows. We will see history in the making in monumental stadia. We will see architecture unfold before our eyes designed by batlling managers' egos. And we will witness art most profound where beauty will be created out of nowhere by teams of artists and individual flair...

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Departing Australia October 23, 2011 Sydney « So here we are at Kingsford Smith airport waiting for our flight to take us to the other side of the world.

Au revoir Abbey

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We spent last night in the transit lounge known as Parramatta Street Cronulla in the company of our gracious hosts, Shane, Clare, Emily and Charlotte and other guests of the Clan Cannon, Rita, Jim, Juleen, Natalie, Darren and Jonny. We enjoyed a pleasant BBQ evening which followed a dip in the Pacific at Cronulla Beach.

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As Alex alluded to in the first post, it has taken a lot of planning and a lot of shifts to bring us to this point. We have many people to thank for helping us with this achievement without any loss of life; close friends, family, neighbours, kids’ bffs, employers, workmates, real estate agents, travel agents, plumbers, labourers, gardeners, arborists, teachers, principals and so on.

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Special thanks must go to Alex’s work colleagues who went on leave and to the inflow of patients; together they created an increased demand for Alex's talents and a whole lotta shifts. In the end, Alex, the socalled part timer, worked more hours than me.

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Thanks must also go to the State. No, I am not going all North Korean on you, we simply would not have got as far as we have without Alex’s packaging capacity. Sacrifice that part of your salary for the mortgage, sacrifice that part for meals, and sacrifice that part for accommodation. OK – we won’t say no to that. In the end, Alex, with her so-called supplementary income, earned more than me.

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Waiting for the plane

“Trails of troubles, roads of battles, paths of victory we shall walk”

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It was not all smooth sailing. Life still had to go on no matter how much we tried to focus on a particular goal. Alex may have felt the stress early on in the piece while I was oblivious or simply in denial believing “she’ll be right” and so forth not knowing who this ‘she’ was or whether she had any particular political bent. For me it hit me like the proverbial outhouse over the last week. It was the closest I think I will get to understanding how a ship’s cook attempts to coordinate the kitchen so that everything comes together to feed the masses in a perceived seamless manner. I was not always ‘Ian the Stoic’. What would have been amusing to the fly on the wall, was how when one of us had our head in our surrendering hands the other would support and convince the said headholder we were on the path to victory. We would often swap roles.

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Hobart Airport. farewell Tasmania

Other amusing outtakes of the last few days were the murdering eyes I received from all quarters when the Austar TV was cancelled a

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couple of days earlier than expected, and, in a similar vein, Oliver’s disbelief that the “Interweb” was off on the very last day at our house. I will have to search Wiki for a simple explanation of how the internet works so I can pass onto the youngest as OD kept asking me “where did I put the Interweb”. We have estimated, since we started the process back in January, we have removed the equivalent of five skip bins. The house is clean and packed so well I think I might buy it. The chickens are with a friend, the dog has gone to camp at the kennels, and the cat is now horse meet.

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Waiting Waiting

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[That should have been "meet horse"; the cat has been dropped off at a friend’s where she will meet her horses. Apologies.]

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No animals were harmed in the production of this post.

Excited little Vegemite

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The Jet Lag Cuddle | Oliver literally fell asleep while walking holding his Dad's hands. This is us walking back to the hotel on Blackfriars.

Bags are meant to be cute accessories. They are not meant to be hand-me-downs. But i am not talking about handbags, i am talking about eyebags. If you don't know what eyebags are they are bags that form under your eyes if you get really tired and your eyes get really heavy and they start to make a WRINKLE.

Eyebags

October 25, 2011

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Manchester ÂŤ

On the plane we all got really tired we were on the plane for 22 hours. We got to watch movies. Every one had a screen in front of them and they could choose a movie whenever they wanted to. Jo watched Monte Carlo, Water for Elephants, Never Say Never, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules, Pipers Penguins, X-Men First Class. I, Zara, watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid , Monte Carlo, Rio, and I forgot the rest.

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Bella watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Monte Carlo, Pipers Penguins, X-Men First Class and she forgot the rest. When we arrived in Manchester we had to go out to get dinner and when we did Oliver was sleep walking while holding dad's hand, so Dad carried him on his shoulders and Oliver fell asleep on Dads shoulder. When we got dinner we had spuds; I had plane cheese in my spud. And Oliver had the exact same as me and mum had to feed him and in the end he was so tired he would just leave it in his mouth without chewing or swallowing. When Jo woke him up he started chewing and then he went back to sleep at the table with his head in his hands. Our hotel isn't the best but it is something. The hallways stink, no offence. I got sick on the plane I thru up. It is yucky and the waits at the airport took forever so in total with the airports and the plane rides just to get to Manchester it took us 30 hours. It was very long.

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On the other shoulder is a case of beer

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Zara.

Staggering back to the hotel.

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Bella the Poser | Bella at the Manchester Art Gallary. Bella performed in a production based on this picture. The Sirens sang to bring the sailors into shore to their deaths.

Getting Lost In Manchester

On our first night in Manchester, Jo and I woke up about one in the morning because of jet lag because we did not sleep on the plane.

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We had a huge breakfast especially me because I didn’t eat properly on the plane. Everything I had was such small things. The stuff I didn’t eat had tomato sauce on it or were sausages and hamburgers YUK!!!!!!! When we finished our breakfast we did our normal stuff like did our teeth and our hair.

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We went out to town and there was a man there and he painted himself gold to look like a statue so I went up to him and I was going to feel his jacket and then he moved like a robot it scared me so much. We got very lost

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walking in town, we went in circles and by mistake found the art gallery. There were statues and REALLY OLD paintings. There was also a kids zone where we could play with things. We went shopping. It was a fun day. Peace Isabella Charlie Cannon

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Dressing up in the Machester Gallery

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Jo and Ian at the MOSI | We are the Interface, resistance is futile!

I am not sure if it enamoured me because it was the first place of our travels, or if it is because, compared to my home "city" of Hobart Tasmania, simply a real city with real citizens going about their real city life. Maybe it appealed to my senses purely on its own merit. Whatever the cause, I was pleasantly surprised with the City of Manchester.

A Man's Chapter of Manchester October 27, 2011

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We did hit Manchester in the middle of England's schools' mid-term break, so activity was high. The main city hang-out, Picadilly Gardens, and the main pedestrian street-mall, Market Street, was full of life, with little sign of the financial crisis. A walk in the more exclusive retail streets, however, did tell a different story.

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The tram system was efficient, safe and inexpensive. On one journey to see Hamish at Old Trafford, I did board the light rail during the commuters' peak period. The sardine effect was magnified by the beforementioned school holidays.

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There is evidence of major capital injection into the city. There is an impressive newlooking business precinct in the south-west part of the city-centre, between the river and the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). In the eastern outskirts of the city centre further developments are also underway.

While we enjoyed sampling the local food, it was a struggle to find a decent coffee, at least to our spoilt Australian taste. There were no disappointments, though, in sitting back sipping the local ales in ye olde english public houses. One particularly memorable house was The Oxnoble opposite the Science Museum where we had a couple of pints while the kids played in the adjacent garden that was home to the Macumium, a reconstruction of the old Roman Gate. I have set a personal challenge to avoid ordering any lager/pilsner etc. while in a British pub.

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Leaving Manchester | Oliver and Ian departing Manchester (both eyeing Mancunian babes to their left)

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What would life be like without its challenges?

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I had intended on catching Bury FC, a League 1 team (English 3rd division), playing at home against Notts County. Unfortunately I got the date wrong as the fixture list I was referring to was in Australian EST not UK GMT. My back-up was a League Cup game the next night, perhaps Stoke v Liverpool. I decided to pass on this game as a greater opportunity presented itself - South Hobart v Stockport County (under 14s).

Tour de Football II: Manchester October 27, 2011

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Manchester ÂŤ

I will now let Hamish provide a brief on his experience with the Manchester United Soccer School... (Ian)

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It was a tough game, we lost 3-1 but I think we played better as a team then the opposition. The opposition was arguing through the game and we kept cool and proceeded with the loss. Personally I think I played a 4/10 because I thought 45% of my passes were off target or just sloppy. But all the other things that I did were good or great. Overall a good day and a good game. Over the past 10 days, I have played 3 games. The first game was 14-0 our way. It wasn't that tough but our coaches did not like they way we played. We played sloppy and most of the game we where too rushed. The next game was a 5-3 win our way. We played much better than the other game but not as good as we wanted to play. During the 10 days we trained everyday and learnt new drills and ideas to take home. A professional coach from the Manchester United Soccer School took us

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everyday to train and took charge of our games. His focus was less on the match result but more on improving the players' performance. In his assessment of my approach to the game was that I had srong vision and understanding of the game and had room for improvement on my physical strength and speed over short distances.

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The team and I went to see a Premier League game. We watched Bolton v Sunderland at Bolton. We had to choose a player that played our own position and take note of what he did. I chose number 7, Eagles. We sat just above the goals. The game was a great match because the two teams were near the bottom of the table so there was a lot at stake for both teams. I was going for Bolton because apparently, when in England, if you dont go for the home team it could mean trouble. The game had a massive atmosphere and the spectators were getting right into it from start to finish. Bolton lost 0-2 but the Bolton players at the end went around the stadium and applauded their fans. We went back to the hotel and thought over the game, what were their mistakes, where could they have been to get the ball, etc.

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We also got to go around town and shop a bit. We got lots of things and everyone was happy. I got some stuff that I thought was good for europe. Overall the trip was great and I hope to do that again sometime. Hamish

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Manchester Art Gallery | the judges of Manchester's Got Talent

We are finally in the UK. The trip over was painless. I must say the A380 and Emirates did make it easier. We had a lovely 24hrs in Sydney with Shane, Clare and the girls. We had the morning on South Cronulla beach. I had forgotten how busy Sydney beaches get especially on a beautiful Sydney spring day. The first flight to Dubai started with excitement and the kids all got into the movies. Oliver slept for ages which did make for a very easy trip. We did get a bit worried when Jo ‘complained’ that she was uncomfortable after only 3 hrs into the trip but she did settle and we found her later cuddled up on Oliver’s lap! We only had about 2 hrs in Dubai, enough for a coffee and toilet stop. We had been warned that we would need to change terminals by bus but we had no issues,

Our First Few Days October 27, 2011

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just wandered between the gates.

We got to Manchester Monday lunchtime. The difference between Dubai airport and Manchester was like Sydney and Hobart! We are so happy we had arranged a pick up. Seeing our name on the little white board held by the driver was a welcoming site. The hotel, Travelodge Central on Blackfriars, is basic but you do get what you pay for. We can’t let the kids get used to any luxuries this early into the trip. Oliver was so tired that he fell asleep while walking around town and had to be carried back to the hotel.

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As budget as the Hotel was, we can't complain too much. The breakfast on offer was all-you-caneat including cereals, fruits, juices, and your typical hot english breakfast offerings. Plentiful to fuel our days of wonder. The rooms were basic, limited to a kettle, which we fully utilised for one of our evening meals - minute noodles and cup-a-soups from the local Tesco Metro. There was a partially

Manchester Art Gallery

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staffed bar in the hotel which also offerred good-value pizzas along with nice english ales - this covered another two nights of dining.

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It has a button....The Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester is a pleasant surprise. We have been told all sorts of stories and asked many times why we would want to come here but as a first stop it has been perfect. The shopping district is great and there has been many moments we have all just drooled over the clothes, the variety and the price.

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Ian and I have both been out to see Hamish on separate occasions. He seems to have had a great time with his soccer team. An experience he will not forget I am sure. He is staying about 15 mins outside the centre of Manchester in a hotel looking over Old Trafford, The Manchester United ground. He has played a few games, been to an EPL match and seen how and where some of the best in the game play and train. His trip so far has been without issue bar the loss of one phone and the international SIM card with it‌. Manchester has a lack of street signs which lead to the first of many lost moments on the trip. I took the girls and Oliver for a walk on the first day armed with a map provided by the hotel and a lack of direction. The map may as well have been for Calcutta, it was WRONG. Anyway, our wanders did allow us to bump into many varied statues, old buildings and The Manchester City Art Gallery. This was a nice find as the kids loved the art works and the kids play area was a nice break for me!

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Manchester Art Gallery

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The next day we headed over to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). It is a great set up and by chance our visit coincided with science week so they had lots of other hands on activities run by the Uni students. While there, we went to the 4D movie and simulator ride. We all enjoyed the movie which incorporated movement, water spray, bubbles, wind and an odd electrical prickle sensation to enhance the experience. The feeling of crabs crawling up your legs had us all twitching. The simulator ride was ‘awesome’, ‘wicked’ and ‘sick’. It simulated a flight in a new military fighter jet with rolls and flips. Oliver thought all his dreams had been realised.

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The Manchester Art Gallery entertaining kids and letting parents put their feet up.

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Next we head into the wilds of the Scottish highlands to really see what a true scot wears under his kilt.

Oliver's favourite painting in the gallery

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Zara shopping in Manchester

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Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

View from Manchester Travelodge

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Bella, Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

Jo and Zara at The MOSI

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MOSI, Manchester

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Waiting for the car.

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Made It To Scotland October 28, 2011

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We departed from Manchester early Friday morning. We decided to walk up to the car hire depot we had booked from Australia, to avoid driving back through town. This would have been fine if we had a better map and Manchester decided to label their roads. We went off track and overshot the cross road by about a km. After stuffing in bags and children into a 7-seater car we took off up the road. After a few snappy words later between the driver and navigator we made it out of Manchester and headed north. Our first stop was Windermere.

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The Highlands ÂŤ

Windermere is a very busy tourist town especially during the last weekend of the school holidays. The town reminded us of a cross between Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Valley and towns on the south coast of NSW such as Berry, except a lot older. We had a quick lunch, care of the local supermarket, and Dad bought a wool flatcap from a specialist store. The kids played in the local park while Mum and Dad had a quiet so-called coffee.

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Walking through Manchester | They can never take the easy route.

When we got to Windermere, there seemed to be smoke/steam coming from the lights of the car. We ignored it being

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Jo walking through Manchester | Jo was the star of the morning. She could walk forever with that pack. She amazed us all.

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the car experts we are. After our wander and lunch we started to travel further into the Lake District only to notice the car heating up and more steam coming from the engine. Unable to get hold of the emergency breakdown service on the international SIM we headed slowly back to Windermere and a public phone. To cut a long story short we were relocated back south to a depot in Morecambe, an "on another occasion it would have been nice to see this lovely seaside town", for a change of car. This delay meant that we would not get to Ayr during the day as planned, nor other places we were hoping to drive through and visit. With a truck-stop dinner experience on the way, we finally crossed the border with a late arrival in Dumfries. On the road in Dumfries by 6.30am on the Saturday meant that we were travelling in the dark

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(something we had not considered) and unable to find a shop open to feed kids some breakfast, and believe me they do not like that. Eventually we stumbled across a shop. A BIG shop. TESCO on a grand scale. I just wanted something basic, in/out/done but no, we could have done the shopping for the year from that shop. From here it was onto Ayr. The Robert Burns Museum was the main attraction for us but as this did not open until 10 we found an amazing park on the coast. The photos and movies tell the story but fun was had by all especially on the flying fox! The Robert Burns Museum has been done very well and had a lot for both adults and kids. The gardens are beautiful even with inclement weather.

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Early morning trek through the streets of Manchester

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From Ayr we headed through Prestwick and Troon, the famous golf-links towns of Scotland before arriving in Dundonald to see Dundonald Castle. One of the lesser frequented castles, we had the place to ourselves and were offered an intimate tour in and around the castle. I am sure the features the personal guide showed us will help us when looking at other castles. The kids were fascinated with the stories of how the castle was built, knocked down and rebuilt, the royal and non-royal residents, the battles associated with it and how the castle was used and functioned day to day. I think I prefer the castles that have not been rebuilt as you can let you imagination go wild.

Lunch in Windermere | Love Tescos for a quick cheap lunch.

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Waiting for the tow truck

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From Dundonald we did the long haul by-passing Glasgow, coasting alongside Loch Lomond, which was very overcast, through majestic Glen Coe onto our destination, Dornie. It was late by the time we got to Dornie and all were tired and fed up with the car. At one stage during the drive, Ian stopped suddenly (to Jo's fright) at a makeshift lookout to step out and inhale the scenery but the rest of us stayed in the car eager to continue to our destination. Ian understood our reason and kindly stopped short of his intention to undress and shout into the Highland sky. At Dornie, we just dumped our stuff and took off to the local pub, The Dornie Hotel, for dinner and a pint or 2! It was a very long journey from the dawn of Dumfries to the dusk of Dornie but we made it. Driving through the countryside, with its many lochs, mountains and glens, we are all very much looking forward to exploring The Highlands over the next few days.

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Road from Dumfries to Ayr

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Finally made it to Ayr

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Ayr

Outside the Burns Museum

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Inside Dundonald Castle

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My Prince

Dundonald Castle

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Glencoe

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Glencoe

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A Tale of Three Rabbies - Part I: Robert The Poet October 29, 2011

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After the debacle with the hire car in the Lake District, we had to engage Contingency Plan #437, not to be misunderstood for #473, which would have been impossible to implement anyway as we had a limited supply of coffee and were in no proximity to olive trees or for that matter a mongoose.

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Ayr «

This meant missing out on seeing Hadrian’s Wall near Carlisle, as well as foregoing the tour of the Smugglers’ Coast in south-west Scotland. We still made it to Dumfries, albeit a brief visit, limited to an overnight stay in the last two available rooms in a Travelodge, a quick break-ofdawn driving tour of the city, and a raid of the local Tesco Extra for supplies. We were willing to miss all this as a priority was to spend some time in Ayr.

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Who's the Bard?

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The main purpose of our visit to this seaside town, was to go to the Robert Burns centre. Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Humanity, was born in Ayr (He spent his latter years in Dumfries). It was a great experience that surpassed my expectations.

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The centre was a modern interactive outfit that engaged the children’s imagination and provided insight into the social and political times, environment, family and women that provided his inspiration, and, in turn, highlighting the lasting influence he has had, and still has, on men of prose, whether poets, authors or songwriters. The gardens and monument at the centre were presented well in a beautiful and quiet environment.

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Burns in Dumfries

In addition to being a lesson in history and literature, it also tugged at the heart. This was likely due to a combination of further understanding and appreciating my roots and a reminder of a relatively more recent family event and specific family member. “My love is like a red red rose…” one of Robert Burns’ most famous poems, was recited by my late uncle, Gordon, at Alex’s and my wedding in 1997.

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"O my Luve's like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June; O my Luve's like the melodie That’s sweetly play'd in tune" Being caught in the emotion of it all I went a bit silly in the gift store. Yes, I loved it so much I bought the t-shirt. Within the centre there was a historical poster on display once used by the University of West of Scotland showing Robbie Burns a la the famous print of Che Guevara with “Scottish Revolutionary”. I pointed it out to Alex and said that should be a t-shirt. Low and behold it is! I was also on

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Bust of Burns

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the hunt for a CD with contemporary versions of his most famous work. I could not find what I was looking for but I could not leave empty-handed, thus I have Kenneth and Moira singing Burns’ songs. It did not last more than 3 minutes before the kids and Alex were demanding its ejection from the car’s CD player.

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...Stay tuned for Rabbie Part II

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Burns Museum

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Alex and her Bonnie Lassie Ian

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This is Ian's favourite castle and by chance we are staying around the corner in the village of Dornie. He has been up early walking down to the castle to catch it in different lights and again in the evening. The castle itself has a long history and was rebuilt in the early 1900s. They have done an amazing job with the restoration and you can now wander through the castle. I think the kids gained more of an understanding of how the castles worked and felt in their day.

Eilean Donan Castle

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October 30, 2011

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The castle sits on an island in Loch Duich that is believed to have been inhabited since the iron age. The original castle is thought to have been built in the 1200s as a defensive measure against the vikings. It has been in different forms over the centuries. I believe it now replicates the 13th century plans. The views from the island are magnificent. The photos just do not do it justice. We have

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uploaded a lot of photos and a lot look alike. We are using this blog to back them up (and you will start to see proof Ian's obsession to get the right photo). Alex

My love affair for The Castle started when I first saw the 1986 film 'Highlander', starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. The Castle was the setting of the residence of the Clan MacLeod when the film flashes back to the 1500s. It still remains one of my favourite films and often can be found playing on the tv at home when Alex has a night shift.

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Eilean Donan Castle

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I was able to see The Castle with my own eyes in 1989 when, still in High School, I visited my family in the UK during school holidays. The image of the first glimpse of The Castle as you drive along the loch is lasting and was still with me now in 2011, in anticipation of seeing it once again.

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When we were planning this trip, seeing The Castle again was almost a certainty as, at the very least, I, just as my father before me, would want to show my children this stunning site and its picturesque setting. Further back in my mind I dared to have a small thought how good it would be to stay somewhere near The Castle, not entirely remembering where exactly it was. During our planning, Alex had identified a small number of home accomodation, care

Eilean Donan Castle

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of homeaway.co.uk, across the Highlands for us to consider, with one in Dornie being a frontrunner contender. When I had a closer look at the location of Dornie and saw the proximity to The Castle, it was a done deal! Unlike some fond distant memories where the passing of time elevates a past experience to an exaggerated level, The Castle was even better than I remembered. It is no wonder The Castle may be the most photographed in Scotland (I definitely further fed this belief).

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Aside from the new tourist centre and car park, not much had changed from the outside. We arrived with a couple of days left before The Castle closed for the off-season, so were able to enter The Castle, something I had not done previously. While it was wonderful to step inside The Castle and explore the grounds, most of the furnishings and fittings in the banquet hall, kitchen and bedrooms, were replicas of how the castle would have looked and operated in the 1930s. This took something

Eilean Donan Castle

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away from one's own imagination of a medieval castle.

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Staying in the nearby village will further add to its legacy in my memories. Whether its taking the opportunity to go for a walk in the wee hours, or for a leisurely stroll after a pint or two in the evening, or even simply driving by during an everyday mundane task such as a supermarket trip; it will all elevate this experience to a new high.

Eilean Donan castle is one of those sites where no words will do it justice, no art will fully capture its setting, no fridge magnets its essence, nor no film fully capture its magnificance.

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There can be only one!

Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle

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The Cannon Clan

Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle

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The Cannon Clan

Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle

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Jo..Where is the make up??

Halloween is the time of year where everyone dresses up as anything. Last night we went trick or treating. Mum decided to get us some costumes from a store in Fort William that stocked Halloween gear and she cleared out the whole store. It was a massive clear out, like 35 pence for an amazing broom stick and for some fake teeth it was 10 pence. Everything was half, half and half off all costumes and accessories.

Halloween

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November 1, 2011 Âť The Highlands

When we got to our house we decorated our face with black and red face paint and got dressed up as devils or witches or zombies or

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even vampires. I went as a witch and decorated my face with black and red face paint and I got dressed in a huge plastic cape and a big witch’s hat. I covered my whole body in spider webs and spiders. Zara dressed up as a witch with me. Bella dressed up as a devil. Oliver dressed up as a vampire. Hamish dressed up as a zombie.

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Than we all went trick or treating for LOLLIES. The 1st house we went to gave us each a whole huge bag of lollies and already our hole bag was full and it wasn’t a small bag.

Evil Bella

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The 2nd house we went to gave us a packet of chips each and a bar of chocolate each. And they let us in the house and they asked if we were going to tell them a joke or sing a song so we all pointed to Hamish and he told them a soccer joke.

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The 3rd house we went to wasn’t prepared and he gave us a packet of choc chip biscuits and a huge bar of chocolate. He let us in as well and Hamish told the same joke. The 4th house gave us crunchies and since we were her first customers she said we could have as much as we wanted.

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Oliver the Devil

The 5th house gave us a big bag of lollies like the first house did. And it had chocolate, lollies and much, much more in it. And they let us in and Hamish told the same soccer joke. We then caught up with Mum and Dad who

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were at the pub. Halloween ended for the night and nobody came to our house to trick or treat. When we tipped the whole bag out it was like a huge pile of leaves. It was about a week’s full of sweets each but we ended up eating most of it in about an hour.

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Jo

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Zombie Hamish

Zara the Zombie Witch

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The Swan

There was a swan from Loch Long Who had a few teenies in tow Whether it was a boy or a girl We will never know

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The Infamous Swan of Loch Long

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November 2, 2011 It would turn up for breakfast And also lunch and tea Because it knew it was beautiful It knew we would always please

The Highlands ÂŤ

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We offered some bread In the hope of some kisses While it swallowed our crumbs All we got were hisses. This white elegant bird With a neck so graceful and long Was not from Loch Duich or Loch Alsh But was from Loch Long.

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Zara and swan

The Infamous Swan of Loch Long

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The Battlefield November 4, 2011 Âť The Highlands

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The battlefield was really fun. They gave mum and dad a G.P.S. (this gave us info around the battle field site) but it was an adult one. Hamish, Jo, Zara, Oiver, and me got a kids one and it told us lots about the battlefield. I was the one that got there first then Zara then Jo and then my mum had to go back and help dad because dads one was telling him that he was some were else. That crazy thing.

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When I was finished there was a hill and I rolled down it. It was so fun then when I did it again I did a backward rolly polly and I hurt my neck (but it is OK now). We learnt a lot of new things. Did you know that the Jacobites started the battle against the Government forces to try and catch them by surprise?

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Oliver The Highlander! | By chance we stumble into a demonstration/explanation of some of the weapons used. Kids got to handle the guns and swords.

We got to hold a sword and shield used by the highlanders. They were heavy. They showed us how the soldiers used them including the tricky methods the highlanders used to battle. Highland kids were 12 years old when they were taught to fight. They also carry a small knife behind the shield to use in battles. This knife was always carried by the highland men and if you promise something and kiss

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the top it is an unbreakable promise. You cannot stab someone with the big sword (broadsword) as it might get stuck in the person. Instead you slash. The Government soldiers had big muscat guns and they were really heavy. They had to be able to load and shoot the gun in 20 seconds or they would be whipped by their leader.

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We are now in Inverness and going to Stirling tomorrow. We are having lots of fun in Scotland. The cows are so cute.

Highlander Heritage??

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Bella of Culloden

Culloden Battlefield

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Hamish with weapons... | beats playing Total War

Culloden Battlefield

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The Highlands November 4, 2011

Our time in the Highlands has been mindblowing. What a place. We had a great 3 bedroom house for 5-nights in Dornie on Loch Long, not too far from the bridge to the Isle of Skye. Dornie is a tiny village with 2 pubs, a shop and a coffee shop.

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We did a lot of travelling in the area. On Sunday, the first morning after our arrival, we spent time in the local castle, Eilean Donan. We then headed for a short drive down the road to Kyle of Lochalsh and Plockton. If anyone has seen the tv show Hamish Macbeth they may recognise the seaside scenes as the show was filmed here and it feels just like it. I could just imagine wee Jock, Hamish's dog, coming around the corner.

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Inverness ÂŤ

Urquhart Castle

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We stood in line at the supermaket (no, Rory the grocer was not there) and listened into a conversation between the check out girl and another customer and I only got about every 5th word. This is not the first time either. Just after crossing the border the same occured. The difference in the accents over short distances is incredible. The following day we did a bit of a

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backtrack to Glen Coe. A couple of days before, on our epic drive from Dumfries, we drove through the Glen, and while we were in awe of the sheer wild mountains, we didn't stop as it was getting late and a pint and a warm meal was waiting for us at Dornie. Together with the spectacular scenery, Ian was keen to return in a more leisurely manner as the Glen is also home to the site of the massacre of the MacDonalds (Ian's ancestoral clan) in 1692 by the Campbells by order of the King.

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Urquhart Castle

At the north-west end of the Glen lies the village Glencoe. Nearby we visited the Glen Coe visitors centre, which had plenty of interactive displays about the landscape, wildlife and history. The kids, armed with a children's activity book, soaked up the information. There was a short video about the massacre that provided a great summary of how the massacre came to be. The massacre is infamous for a number of reasons; the order signed by King William, the number slained, the number of women and children left to die of exposure after their homes were burned, but perhaps worst of all, the fact that the massacre was an example

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Urquhart Castle

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Glen Coe truly is some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever witnessed. I cannot explain the grandure of the mountains surrounding you as you drive through the valley. We took hundreds of pictures but they just don't capture the feel of the place. Somehow, you simultaneously feel insignificant against these monoliths while also feeling like you are an integral part of something momentous.

Urquhart Castle

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of "murder under trust", which the Scots consider one of the most heinous of crimes. The men who carried out the orders, under the command of Robert Campbell, accepted the traditional Highland hospitality of the MacDonalds and stayed under their roofs before commencing the massacre. On the way back from Glen Coe, we drove along Loch Linnhe and stopped in Fort William. The town seems to serve the local outdoor activities of skiing and hiking. We had a quick bite to eat, care of Tesco once again, in the central gardens. Later we had a pint and some mandatory bar food at The Crofter Bar, a pub on High Street. We stumbled into a clearance sale of the Halloween costumes. The kids had been on our backs about going trick or treating for days so I became the best mum in the world and bought lots of bits to make the witch/ zombie/devil creations they came up with.

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Dornie

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House in Dornie

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The Isle of Skye was next on the list of must dos. The bridge to the island was only about 15 mins from the house so we found ourselves there early. First stop, the main town of Portree in the north with its colourful houses and shops. The weather was perfect for the experience; one minute it was dark and stormy, the next, sunny, as you will pick up from the photos, and this did add to the feel of the place. We were given advice to head south and into a small bay near Glenbrittle for a picnic lunch. The drive down to the bay saw us dwarfed by more mountains of the Cuillins range. We would have loved to have had a chance to walk into some

Oliver and the locals in Dornie

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of these areas but the younger of the kids would find many of the walks just too challenging and we really were not equipped.

With the thought that none of our photos would do the landscape justice we set out for a wee gallery tour of Skye in the hope of coming across something to take home. When we visited the Skye village of Armadale in the south, we found what we were looking for. Here we came across a mad photographer, Grumpy George, who managed to capture Skye, in particular, the Cuillins range.

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While in Grumpy George's gallery, we heard a very definitive phrase; a middle-aged couple entered the gallery, whom, given the greeting from George, were long-time return visitors to Skye. The greeting went something like this... "good to see you again; how are we today?" "all the better for being back in Skye..." Simple, yet it says it all.

View of Dornie from the house

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We were all looking for a down day so took the last day in the area as an opportunity to sleep in and relax around the house and the village. The house in Dornie was our first home accomodation of the trip and it has been an inexpensive luxury. Everyone is able to relax in comfort and privacy, pretending, for a moment, we were residents of Loch Long. Being able to cook true home meals made from local ingredients, or at least from the local supermarket, adds to the home feel and is less punishing on the wallet. Ian did take off for a quick drive up to the lookout and a brief chill in a local pub with an ale or 2. I must say the pints have been going down very well. I have found a few I like a lot!

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Plockton

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Thursday came and we had to leave our little home and head back into civilisation. The famous Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle was the first stop of the day. An amazing place. They have set up the place so well and made it very kid friendly. The introductory film was an excellent, well, introduction, and when it finished the curtains were drawn to reveal through a large floor to ceiling window, the ruined castle. It was one of those WOW moments. Exploring the castle itself, Oliver talked Ian's ear off imagining all battles and functions of the castle. You are able to climb all over the castle and climb the old stone spiral stairs up the tower. We had been told these castles would be as good as any theme park and I would now have to agree. We all did keep a watchful eye out for Nessie, no luck but I still believe...

Plockton

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Culloden Battlefield, outside of Inverness, was the next stop. They have set up a heritage centre that engages all of the kids and gave us a true feeling of the battle fought here and the history behind the conflict, which was part of the Jacobite uprising and the last pitched battle fought on British soil. The kids also had a chance to hold some of the weaponry used in the era and were shown how it was used. Bella has written more about this in her blog.

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Inverness was a pleasent surprise, and we would have loved to have seen more, but I can say we did enjoy the pints at The Gellions, the oldest pub in the Highland capital, while the older kids explored the town centre. In addition to the castle dominating the night scene over the River Ness, Jo made the evening interesting demonsrating her fear of bridges, when she almost crawled over the Grieg Street Bridge, a springy pedestrian suspension bridge.

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That night was spent in one of the local Travelodges, a roadside motel overlooking the Moray Firth. It was very good except we were advised to go across the road to The Snow Goose, the local country style pub/restaurant.....great meal and atmosphere until we returned back to our rooms to watch Hamish and Jo turn green and chuck within minutes of each other (yes, it was the fish)! We went to sleep that night wondering if we would be going anywhere the next day to wake to find 2 hungry kids wanting for breakfast. Good to see all that possum poo in the water tanks and mud eating over the years has paid off.

Dornie

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The Cannon Clan

Out of the Highlands next to Stirling via the Cairngorms. I can see how people are drawn back here time and time again. A very special part of the world, not just the scenery but the people who make the place unique.

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Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

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Isle of Skye

Portree

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Glencoe

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Glencoe

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Urquhart Castle

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Urquhart Castle

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Urquhart Castle

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The Cannon Clan

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Urquhart Castle

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Arise Sir Oliver

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My Wench

Inverness

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Stirling

November 5, 2011 Âť Stirling

LOVED, LOVED the castle here. It has only recently reopened and WOW they have done a magnificent job.

Before heading to the castle, we stopped at the Bannockburn battlefield and met one of the more colourful locals walking his dog who filled us in about some of the history (what a clever dog). The heritage centre at the site, although closed for the off-season, had just had a school group through and the manager invited us in for a private viewing at no cost. He played a short film showing the history and events around the battle fought there in 1314 during the Wars of Independence between Scotland and England. Other than providing the opportunity to educate and entertain some tourists, his motive was also to rescue us from the talkative local. Yet another example of the Scots hospitality.

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Stirling Castle

Near the heritage centre is a monument to the Battle of Bannockburn, which was a significant victory for the Scottish army, lead by Robert the Bruce. 700 years later and two of Scotland's most famous songs are still sung in rememberance; "Scots Wha Hae" is the title of a patriotic poem written by Robert the Bruce and "Flower of Scotland" refers to Scotland's victory over the English at Bannockburn.

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Stirling Bridge, Stirling

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Stirling was strategically important, being the gateway between the Lowlands and the Highlands, the lowest crossing point of the River Forth, and the naturally defensible hill where Stirling Castle stands.

Stirling Castle

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Stirling Castle itself is amazing. There was so much to see and learn. All seven of us kids loved it. We were also fortunate to be one of the first to see the Renaissance Palace, only restored a couple of months earlier to its 16th century glory. Stirling was the historical capital of Scotland, and you could see that the castle, in its time, would have rivalled any building in Europe. Sitting atop a hill, you can see for miles and miles and can easily point out landmarks such as the Stirling Bridge and the William Wallace monument. The castle grounds themselves were incredible. Here we were walking in the footsteps of the Kings and Queens of Scotland and standing behind the walls that defended many sieges throughout the ages. In addition to the architecture, the historical displays were also well presented, including the story behind the King James Bible.

Stirling Castle

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On our way to Stirling from Inverness we went through the Cairngorms, including a brief stop in the town of Aviemore. During our drive we had one of those Griswald moments where we got out of the car, stood beside a small loch in a beautiful natural setting, nodded our heads and went on our merry way. It wasn't quite that bad, but you get the idea. Again, we were the recipient of Scottish hospitality, when the national parks officer at the gate let us in without charge as we were only going to have a quick look. (the officer at the car park at Stirling Castle also let us in without charging for parking - he had just received news he had been offered a pemanent position)

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The night was again in a Travelodge, not too far from Bannockburn. Ian hunted down some fish and chips, and to wash it down also brought back some local brew and some Irn-Bru, Scotland's other national drink, which the kids had come to love.

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Stirling was not even considered during our planning of this trip, and it wasn't until we were in Dornie did we decide to visit this wonderful place. We had two nights accomodation to book between Dornie and Edinburgh. Initialy we were going to try to get to the east to Aberdeen and Balmoral, but, in the end, Inverness and Stirling won. We are so glad we made our way to this historical living city and it is a must see for anyone touring Scotland.

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Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

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Stirling Castle

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Bannockburn Battlefield, Stirling

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After arriving in Edinburgh this Saturday morning, Hamish, Jo and I caught the train to Glasgow to watch Rangers v Dundee United. We were impressed with the transport service. Trains run every 15 minutes and were very comfortable. I even caught a power nap within the 50 minute ride.

Tour de Football III: Rangers v Dundee Utd

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November 5, 2011 Âť Glasgow

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As we were making good time we decided to treat ourselves to a quick Fish & Chips takeaway while watching the buskers in busy George Street on this beautiful Glasgwegian day. The meal hit the spot with just the right amount of grease required.

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One reason why I decided to eat in the city was my expectations of extortionate food prices within the stadium. This expectation turned out to be ill-founded - the prices were quite reasonable. Although there were no alcoholic beverages for sale - I had been previously warned of this by a local when we were in Stirling.

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We made our way to Ibrox via the local subway, which, while dated, is again very efficient and inexpensive. We arrived at the stadium with plenty of time to spare. After picking up our pre-purchased tickets we ventured into the club's merchandise store and made our obligatory injection ino the local economy.

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Jo purchased a bling rangers top and I got hold of a club tie and a retro jersey from 1972. This is a very notable year in the history of the club. I even think the club's phone number ends in the numbers 1972. I understand it is homage to a particular fan who was born in that year. Oh and, of course, it also happens to be the year Rangers had their biggest success in Europe - winning the European Cup Winners Cup (for the younger readers, this is a competition that no longer exists and was merged into the UEFA Cup, now the Europa League). As the game was a Remembrance Day match, we also purchased a Lest We Forget scarf in Rangers colours. At half-time many servicemen came onto the park to a grateful Ibrox crowd who gave them an emotional long standing ovation.

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While we waited for the gates to open Hamish kept himself busy juggling his bouncy tennis ball sized ball occasionally kicking it against the external stadium wall. No-one seemed to mind. Neither did I see any scouts watching him. We were one of the first through the Turnstiles with over an hour to go before kick-off. We were seated in the first (A) row near the 18-yard box. While being at ground level is amazing, Hamish and I knew we would lose some depth in seeing the game played out. Hamish was eyeing other parts of the stadium that we might try to move to, as he was not expecting the stadium to be filled. Just like time lapse photography the stadium filled up with true football fans. As the teams came onto the field to warm up we saw our fellow Aussie, Matt Mckay, join them. Matt moved from Brisbane Roar to the Rangers in the off-season but had only played in one SPL game as a substitute back in September against the same opposition. We were not expecting him to play, which explains our surprise and joy to hear his name over the PA as part of the starting 11. We were fortunate to witness Matt McKay's first start in the SPL!

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While we knew how talented a footballer Matt was, we wandered whether the local fans knew. Behind me were comments like "what a wee boy that McKay is". We tried to get his attention from the sideline with intelligent Aussie calls such as "Onya Matty" - but to no avail. Maybe if I wore my socceroos top and brought an Australian flag...

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Matt had the first kick of the game at kick off and was playing as a central attacking midfielder which was good to see as he usually plays as a left midfielder or left defender under Socceroos coach Holger Osieck. Matt was one of the better players on the park, holding and protecting the ball well, always looking for a ball to his feet, as well as showing some of that Aussie fight in hassling his opponents giving them little time on the ball. He assisted the first goal with a trademark whipping cross with his left foot from the right which found the head of Jelavic, the big Croatian centre forward, at the far post. 1-0 after 19 minutes. Matt also was involved in Rangers' second goal that made it 2-0. He won the ball just outside the 18 and played it into Jelavic who passed it out to Wylde who was fouled in the box. Jelavic converted the penalty in the 63rd minute. Matt was on the park for another 10 minutes taken off after Dundee United scored to make it 2-1. For a few minutes before he was taken off, his Aussie fight was at times getting a bit overzealous. Although his little fouls were not dirty, I was personally surpised the ref did not brandish a yellow card for his repeat offences. It was good to see him go off to a warm applause by the Ibrox faithful. The final score ended 3-1, after the right full-back, Wittaker, who I had reservations about throughout the game, made a pentrating run down the right wing before crossing a low cross that was met with a nice diving header from Jelavic into the back of the net. Later it would be noted as an own goal as the header hit a defender before being diverted into goal - something we did not see from our seats. Overall the match was entertaining with sufficent tension and intensity. The fans know their football and, in unison, let their feelings known to any Rangers player not playing up to standard. While physical and fast the match was not as brutal as I was half-expecting. More times than not, there was some decent football being played by both sides.

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We all enjoyed our day out. Some local cuisine, some local football with a touch of Australia. I enjoyed the overall experience, Hamish enjoyed the intensity, and Jo has a new hearthrob in Matty McKay (he may be taller than my 12-year old daughter). It is an old but not overused cliche - there is nothing like being AT the game! After the whistle we slowly made our way back to Edinburgh via a sardine subway full of happy fans and the less occupied comfy doze inducing train.

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Ian (born 1972)

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View of the Apartment, Edinburgh

It has now been more than a fortnight Since we left our home on a Tasmanian street

At World's End November 7, 2011

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Can we look after ourselves at night While our folks seek the world’s end?

» Edinburgh

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At first what they suggested was a threat Of a nanny who could babysit But four of us are now well over eight And it is not as if it’s the world’s end

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From the window of our tiny student’s flat Across the cobbled road known as St Mary’s Street At the corner with High and Canongate Is the beginning of the world’s end

They say they are enjoying the quiet Even if it is at world’s end

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So while we watch the screen-flat Entertained by Dreamworks or Disney

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Here Dad has something flat from the tap While Mum is given something made with wheat

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Our folks are amused with what’s at The place known as At World’s End

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A Tale of Three Rabbies - Part II: Robert the Novelist November 10, 2011 Edinburgh ÂŤ

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Our tale of the three Rabbies continues in Edinburgh, where we attempt to walk in the footsteps of RLS. No I am not talking about the infamous Roaming Lager Sampler or even the lesser known Restless Leg Syndrome. I am talking about none other than Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born and raised in Edinburgh.

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The Writers Museum, Edinburgh

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While RLS is most famous for penning such novels as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, he also was a poet, social critic and travel writer. In fact, my admiration for this Rabbie does not only stem from his writings but also his outlook on life, in particular, his passion for travelling, even in the face of frequent illness. "For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

The Writers Museum | Robbie Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson

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Arriving in Edinburgh, I was unsure what I would find to satisfy my RLS quest, and was ready to accept simply stumbling across a plaque on a nondescript building, which would

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be, in some way, an official and glorified work of graffiti stating something like "RLS waz ere" (This is all there seemed to be for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised when the nice lass at the tourist bureau (yes, I am a male and I did ask someone for directions) directed me to the Writers’ Museum in Lady Stairs Close, just off the Royal Mile.

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So, one late afternoon off I went from our apartment with everyone who wanted to come (in other words, I went alone) in search of Lady Stairs Close. One of the charming aspects of Edinburgh are the many Closes. These are alleyways, typically consisting of a narrow steep stairway with an arched entry and exit built within other buildings almost giving an atmosphere like a tunnel or canyon. While I never felt unsafe, one could imagine the likes of Inspector Rebus squatting beside the latest murder victim of an Ian Rankin crime novel slumped within one of these Closes. After a couple of attempts I finally found the Close in question and the Museum.

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The Museum does not attempt to be a comprehensive collection of Edinburgh or Scottish writers, but has focussed on three writers; Robert Burns (see Rabbie Part One), Sir Walter Scott and RLS. The RLS display was wonderful describing the different periods in his life amongst his bust, portraits, rare books and personal possessions. One item is his ring given to him by a Samoan chief with the inscription "Tusitala", meaning "Teller of Tales". Of course, Samoa is where he spent his last years and where he died at the age of 44.

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To most he is remembered as a great 19th century author but to me he was also a great adventurer. Overall it was an enjoyable experience and also quite apt given we are at the beginning of our own great adventure.

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Footnote: While I spent most of my time enjoying the RLS exhibition, I also cast an eye over the Sir Walter Scott display. I knew he wrote Ivanhoe, but I did not know he also authored the historical novel Rob Roy, one of my favourite films, starring Liam Neeson. I have now added another book to my Kindle to read.

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Our time in Edinburgh has come to an end and we will all miss the place.

Edinburgh November 11, 2011

We have spent the time wandering the streets and doing a bit of people watching. The city parks have been good, allowing the kids to run off some steam. We walked everywhere. To Calton Hill, with its historical monuments and 360 degree views; to the Princes Street Gardens underneath the castle between the two towns, old and new; to the West End and its business district; to the Meadows (which should only be said in a Scots accent, just like other words such as "look", "dog" and "murder"); along Princes Street and its shops;

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Edinburgh ÂŤ

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The Cannon Clan

along George Street and its book-end squares of St. Andrew and Charlotte; along Abercromby Place, where we could imagine living, assuming the lease came with a set of keys to the adjacent and exclusive Queen Street Gardens; and of course, along the Royal Mile and its Closes, which was pretty much our local strip given its proximity to our apartment. Although we have walked a lot, the place is very compact and very easy to navigate once you get your bearings.

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The weather has been magnificent. Where is the rain, cold and wind everyone warned us about? We brought way too many winter clothes. We were more at risk of getting sun burn than hypothermia! Heading to Rome tomorrow and the forecast is for 20-22 degrees C and sunny. Are we ever going to hit the snow and ice? My recent purchase of a fabulous vintage faux fur may just be too warm, but I am willing to suffer as it really is fab.

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I was not the only one to spoil myself. Ian purchased a very smart wool flat cap from Walker Slater,

Abercromby Place, Edinburgh

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a Scottish Tweed specialist store situated between the Royal Mile and the trendy area of Grassmarket, underneath the towering castle. In Grassmarket, the kids played in the market square where public executions took place.

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Edinburgh

We hit the National Museum of Scotland twice as it is huge and incredible (and free). Ian was keen to point out to the children the marvelous feats achieved by the Scots over the years such as James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird and Alexander Fleming, and inventions such as antiseptic, the bicycle, the radar and Dolly the Sheep. The kids just took off once there and we had a chance to sit in the coffee shop and drink an average cup before exploring the exhibitions ourselves.

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We visited Edinburgh Castle and it is very impressive. It has amazing views over the city. The place was busier than all the other castles we had been to which took some of the magic from it, but still inspiring. The crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny are a major draw card. In the busy months you can be waiting over 30 mins to see them but we were just able to wander in.

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Edinburgh Castle at Night

The castles of Scotland we have visited will be a lasting highlight of the trip for all of us. Not once have we heard from the kids the likes of "...I'm bored..." or "...not another castle...". In fact, most of the time we have had to drag them away. Typically, we have entered the main gate and then gone our separate ways

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wandering through the maze of the castle to cross paths now and again and share our experience and ensure we all see particular aspects. Whether male or female, old or young, we have all been enthralled by these historical, architectural gems that catch our attention and feed our imagination. Edinburgh Castle was no different.

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The search for the perfect brew has been on and there are too many contenders. We will just have to try them all again. Compared to the variety and styles of tap-beers that Edinburgh has to offer, the beers back in Australia just seem distant, homogenous and bland. On the downside, while the pubs are old, wonderful and plentiful, they will generally not let kids in.

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Edinburgh

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We have been disappointed that we have been unable to take the kids into many of the more traditional pubs. Local licencing rules mean that many will not let them in at all. We were being constantly teased by A-boards promoting the roast of the day or their 10pound lunch special. A small minority of pubs might allow them in if they have a full meal. In other areas of Scotland it was more child friendly where we may have been asked to buy a bar snack for them, but the main meal rule in Edinburgh makes it unfeasible. Empty pubs were turning us away. It is a funny rule as, in the corner store, you can find beer and wine for sale next to the milk and bread!

Edinburgh

This has meant that the kids have been

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babysitting Oliver while we have explored a few local pubs in the evenings. As a couple pretending to have no kids, we enjoyed the late night atmosphere of the pubs. One night we found ourselves late for the quiz night but were still able to answer a few questions, another night we heard some live music.

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We have had trouble finding a good coffee throughout the UK (necessary after a few beers and late nights). I enjoy a good coffee and I am not that fussy, but the milky substance that has been produced you could give to a baby and it would not keep them up. We were hoping this was going to improve once we hit Edinburgh but to no avail. We found one outlet that is ok, but I think I just might be getting desperate.

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The Edinburgh Dungeon was something I got roped into while somehow Ian got to take Oliver on the tour bus around town. I'm not sure how that happened. I did find myself wandering around in

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh | John Knox House

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the dark watching actors retell the more gruesome side of Edinburgh’s history. It was done well and the kids loved it. We have the souvenir picture to prove it. My face on the drop ride tells it all.

The apartment has been perfect, on St Marys Street in the Old Town just metres from the Royal Mile, which has allowed us to come and go and use the place well. It is a 2 bedroom flat that has a pull out in the lounge room, tiny kitchen but all really workable and simple. Apart from pizza on the first night, we had home cooked meals for dinner during the length of our stay. We would stay at the apartment again and would recommend it to anyone travelling to the area.

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We are off to Rome in the morning. Till the next blog, ciao.

Edinburgh Castle

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View from Edinburgh Castle

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View from Edinburgh Castle

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View from the apartment, St Mary's Street, Edinburgh

The Girley in the Galley

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View of Calton Hill, Edinburgh

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Scott Monument, Edinburgh

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Toffee Apples, yum

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Edinburgh | Remember when we played on these. Kids have loved them, crashed off and got back on

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Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

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Grassmarket, Edinburgh

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Looking back at our time in Scotland, we asked the children what was their most memorable experience;

A Scottish Epilogue November 11, 2011 Âť Scotland

Oliver: The castles

Zara: The swan in Loch Long

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Bella: The House in Dornie and the neighbouring Highland Cattle

Josephine: Loch Long, including Halloween; Edinburgh Dungeon was fun too.

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Hamish: Edinburgh Castle

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There appears to be a common theme of castles and Loch Long. I guess our time in Dornie offered it all. Dornie was our first home accomodation of the trip care of www. homeaway.co.uk, and was set alongside a beautiful loch with its own wildlife. It offered unique landscape in a quaint village in a region full of character and history. The timing of Halloween provided the children the opportunity to experience Scottish hospitality at its best. Its location in the Highlands also offered us the opportunity to go for drives to nearby villages, as well as Glen Coe, Fort William and the Isle of Skye, with the knowledge we had a comfortable home to come back to. Dornie, of course, had its own castle in Eilean Donan.

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Edinburgh, being the first major city since our arrival in Manchester, satisfied the need for services typically only offered to such larger populations. Shopping. Of course, Edinburgh had more to offer than just to quench our consumable thirst. The four eldest enjoyed the Edinburgh Dungeon, and we all got something out of the National Museum. The number one attraction in all of Scotland is, of course, the Edinburgh Castle. Number one according to Hamish, too. Whether you agree or not on a personal level, no other attraction in Scotland has a chance when measured by number of visitors. Just the sight of it alone, from whatever distance, is enough to make you want to enter through the gate behind the great walls soak up the atmosphere and history while occasionally gazing out over the views of this beautiful city.

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Overall, Scotland has been wonderful. Based on the theory of first impressions lasting the longest, it was part of my cunning plan to come to Scotland early in the piece to increase the chances of the family falling for this beautiful nation. Who knows, maybe one day one of us may return to live here.

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22-Oct-2011 to 11-Nov-2011

Itinerary

* Sat 22nd October 2011: Hobart to Sydney [1 night]

Âť Hobart to Edinburgh

* Sun 23rd: Sydney to Manchester (via Dubai) * Mon 24th: Arrived in Manchester [5 nights]

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* Fri 28th: Depart Manchester to Windermere & Dumfries, Scotland [1 night]

* Sat 29th: Dumfries to Dornie [5 nights]; via Ayr, Dundonald, Loch Lomond, & Glencoe

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* Sun 30th: Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Plockton * Mon 31st: Glencoe, Fort William, Halloween * Tue 1st November: Isle of Skye * Wed 2nd: Dornie

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* Thu 3rd: Dornie to Inverness [1 night]; via Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle & Culloden * Fri 4th: Inverness to Stirling [1 night]; via the Cairngorms & Aviemore

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* Sat 5th: Stirling to Edinburgh [6 nights]; I, H & J day-trip to Glasgow * Fri 11th: Edingburgh to Roma

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