Tag Archives: Journal

Westray, Orkney: Noltland Castle

Noltland Castle Approach by David Gadient, 2016

While in Westray, David took some photos during our visit to Noltland Castle, the castle built by Gilbert Balfour back in the 16th century. On approach, it seems like an possibly-welcoming Scottish tower house… but then you discover it’s speckled with dozens of gun-holes, has a massively thick wall, and is pretty much a fortress. Now in ruins, it’s welcoming enough and open to all guests.

For the intriguing tale behind Noltland Castle, click here. We were lucky to get the background told to us by Graham of Westraak as we explored the property.

Noltland Castle Exterior by David Gadient, 2016

Quite a few gun-holes, aye. Every approach to the castle is covered. 71 gun-holes, supposedly―more than any other Scottish castle.

Noltland Castle Walls by David Gadient, 2016

The upper level is a hall that remains unfinished. The stonework is fascinating and the color of the stone is quite lovely with bits of yellow and green.

Noltland Castle Interior by David Gadient, 2016

Noltland Castle Interior View by David Gadient, 2016

There are bars to keep you from falling as you wander the castle.

Noltland Castle Newl by David Gadient, 2016

The newel post that greets you at the top of the staircase.

Noltland Castle Courtyard by David Gadient, 2016

The courtyard is a relaxing place, especially on a clear day.

I’ll share more photos from Westray soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral
Skara Brae
Standing Stones in Orkney
Westray, Orkney: Part 1

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Filed under History, Holiday, Journal, Life, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

Skara Brae

Skara Brae 7 by David Gadient, 2016

As we’ve been out of town, it’s taken a while to post more photos from our time in Orkney. But here are some from our visit to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, which is on the Bay of Skaill, west of Kirkwall.

Uncovered by a storm in 1850, Skara Brae gives a remarkable picture of life 5,000 years ago. The site is older than Stonehenge, and has been called the “Scottish Pompeii” because of its excellent preservation.

Right next to the shoreline―some of the village has already been lost to the sea―there are eight stone houses, clustered together and connected by stone paths. Researchers believe it was home to 50 to 100 people.

Skara Brae 1 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 5 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 3 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 4 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 2 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 6 by David Gadient, 2016

Skara Brae 8 by David Gadient, 2016

If you visit Orkney, Skara Brae is truly a place not to be missed.

I’ll share more photos from Orkney soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings
St Magnus Cathedral

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Filed under History, Holiday, Journal, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall

St Magnus by David Gadient, 2016

St Magnus Cathedral is a magnificent red and yellow sandstone cathedral in the heart of Kirkwall (the largest town in Orkney, and the capital). Both the cathedral and the grounds are a beautiful place to explore and think. It’s the most northerly cathedral in the British Isles―and well worth the trip to see it.

Weeping Window by David Gadient, 2016

We were fortunate to arrive in Orkney while the Poppies: Weeping Window installation―to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland―was still in Kirkwall.

Poppies by David Gadient, 2016

Poppies Close by David Gadient, 2016

David also took some lovely photos while we walked around the churchyard.

St Magnus Plants by David Gadient, 2016

St Magnus Door by David Gadient, 2016

St Magnus 2 by David Gadient, 2016

More photos from other locations in Orkney soon!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney
Orkney Wanderings

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Filed under Family, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Nature, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

Orkney Wanderings

Orkney Roads by David Gadient, 2016

After looking over the photos from our time in Orkney, I realized that some things had enough photos to be a post of their own. This post is for a few of the miscellaneous ones. I’m no travel blogger, but I figured it was good place to start.

The top photo is the causeway between Burray and Glims Holm. This causeway is one of the Churchhill Barriers. Check out some panoramas on 360Cities.

As we stayed in St Margaret’s Hope, we did a lot of driving over the causeways to get around (and get groceries, since we were self-catering). Driving over the causeways was a lot of fun―as long as a tour bus wasn’t coming the other way.

We got to see so many boats, from cruise ships and ferries to fishing boats and half-sunken blockships… and even a tall ship!

Ships by David Gadient, 2016

This photo was one I took with my phone, since I loved the look of it:

StMarg_Pier by Karen Gadient, 2016

Our self-catering (for those not familiar with term: a rental home where you can cook for yourself, which worked perfectly for us) flat was more of a house, and was a part of The Creel. The Creel is run by a lovely man named David who went out of his way for us the moment we arrived, even giving us some veggies to cook when we arrived too late to get to a grocery. His sons, who arrived while we were there, were friendly and as brilliant as their father when it came to conversation. While we didn’t join them for breakfast, we stopped down―The Creel has a sitting area next to the restaurant―for drinks and chit-chat with David and sons, plus some of the B&B guests.

Our self-catering home:

Creel by David Gadient, 2016

…which came with a ‘bonus cat’, whose name was Manky, despite no longer being as manky as he’d been when they found him. Manky was sweet and kept us from missing our own kitties too much―two weeks catless is a long time!

Manky by David Gadient, 2016

We did a lot of walking in Kirkwall, but were caught in the moment instead of snapping photos. We have lots of photos of specific sites around Orkney, and I’ll give some of them their own posts. While in Kirkwall, we mostly just enjoyed being there. The streets are great for exploring, and we usually left our car in one spot while taking long walks, even when we fetched groceries.

Kirkwall by David Gadient, 2016

Many people go to Scotland to visit numerous distilleries. While in Scotland, we’d planned to visit one distillery only―and that one was in Orkney: Scapa. Much like our beer obsession with Innis & Gunn, we have a whisky loyalty with Scapa. Hence, we didn’t visit the other distillery in Orkney (which was crawling with tourists anyway). Alas, no photos are allowed on the tasting tour, other than outside of the distillery.

Scapa by David Gadient, 2016

Scapa2 by David Gadient, 2016

The building holding the casks was truly the angel’s share of heaven scent-wise. We got to go in, but couldn’t take a photo. It was a wee bit like this.

Casks Inside by David Gadient, 2016

The view from the Scapa distillery is relaxing too, whether you have a glass of whisky in your hand while there or not.

Scapa View by David Gadient, 2016

St Margaret’s Hope (and Orkney, in general) at night is a thing of beauty, especially in summertime, when the sun never really sets. I snapped these photos just after midnight. Hours and hours of sunset―just wonderful stuff.

Self Cater at Night by Karen Gadient, 2016

StMarg Midnight by Karen Gadient, 2016

Much more from our Orkney trip as soon as I can organize it!

Links to previous related posts:

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay
On a Ferry to Orkney

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Filed under Family, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Ocean, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Sea, Seascape, Skyscape, Travel, Vacation

On a Ferry to Orkney

Ferry View by David Gadient, 2016

From Gills Bay, we took the ferry to Orkney, and while a ferry ride isn’t that exciting unless you’re on it (and perhaps even then, depending on how you like ferries―I love boats of all kinds, so I had a great time), I wanted to share some of David’s photos from our ferry crossing. I hope you enjoy!

Ferry by David Gadient, 2016

We brought along our hired car. The cars were parked in a loop on their own deck while passengers hung out on the upper deck or had tea and treats on the lower deck. We spent our time mostly on the upper deck, although it was chilly and windy. We didn’t mind, since it was a clear and dry day with a lovely view.

Karen-on-a-Ferry David Gadient, 2016

I’ve been on ferries before, but Orkney offers different scenery than the Staten Island Ferry or Cape May–Lewes. While David didn’t catch a photo, there was even a whale sighting―everyone near me got all excited for a moment, but it was brief. Still, it’s not like we have whales to watch in Arizona! Mostly, gulls followed the ferry; some of them flew close to the upper deck.

Gull by David Gadient, 2016

Orkney has quite a number of lighthouses. I believe the lighthouse in the next photo is Cantick Head Lighthouse. We only saw that one from afar, as we didn’t get to the island of Hoy on this trip.

Lighthouse by David Gadient, 2016

Orkney also has many wind turbines. As you’re wandering the Orkney Isles, they stand in the landscape like waving giants.

Turbine by David Gadient, 2016

We planned to stay several nights at a self-catering flat in St. Margaret’s Hope. Since I’d seen pictures, I could spot the building we’d be staying in as we approached the pier. On the right, you’ll see a yellowish building (The Creel. We stayed in the brick building right next to that (which is also part of The Creel―wonderful stay, more on that in another post).

St. Margaret's Hope by David Gadient, 2016

As the ferry moved to dock, David got a cool shot of the end of the pier.

Pier by David Gadient, 2016

I promise more photos and rambling from me when I have time to go through photos and update. We spent five days―not nearly enough, more than worth a trip back―in Orkney, and I’m lucky that David takes so many photos when I’m mostly the sort to travel with my senses and forget the camera. If you have compliments for any of the photos in this post, previous related posts (below), or ones to follow, I’ll be happy to pass them along to David!

Our First Day in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Our Day in Edinburgh
Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay

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Filed under Family, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Nature, Ocean, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Sea, Seascape, Travel, Vacation

Our Day in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Pano by David Gadient, 2016

The first photo is a panorama of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle. It was a bit of climb to get there, but we’d already been walking miles that day, due to hiking from Waverley station to The Auld Hoose first. It was our plan for lunch, because: ‘Home of Edinburgh’s Largest Nachos’. Vegan nachos, in our case. Utterly epic nachos, the size of your head, loaded with guacamole, beans, and jalapeños. You’d think, living in Arizona, that we could get something like that here. Nope. And certainly not with local Scottish beer. So, it was worth a hike from the station, even if there’d be a hike to Edinburgh Castle from there.

Edinburgh Streets by David Gadient, 2016

We walked many residential side streets, but also the Royal Mile. It was a Sunday and crawling with tourists, but that made it all the more interesting. Weather was perfect, despite a bit of drizzle when we’d first arrived.

Edinburgh Castle by David Gadient, 2016

Edinburgh Castle is as impressive as they say. We spent many hours there, all the way up to when they kicked us out (we were actually the very last visitors that day). Although David had seen castles in Europe many years ago, this was the first castle I’d ever been to―well, other than Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley―and that’s not quite the same. Edinburgh Castle is a glorious place.

Royal Dragoon by David Gadient, 2016

A group of German tourists were happy to take our photo in trade for taking their photo… so finally, a photo of both David and I greets the online world!

Karen and David Gadient, 2016

The evening brought our true plans. Aye, many folk go to Edinburgh for the sights, but we went primarily for the beer. Specifically, to indulge in our love for Innis & Gunn. We trekked another mile and spent the remainder of our day in Edinburgh at The Beer Kitchen by Innis & Gunn.

Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen by Karen Gadient, 2016

Innis & Gunn makes our favorite beer. Back home in Phoenix, we have to drive hours to Las Vegas to fill our car with bottles just to keep our fridge stocked. And we do, when we can. But it’s not a wide selection, so we were thrilled to sample all the beer we’ve never tried, including limited edition, seasonal (Espresso Barley Wine, how I miss you), and test series brews.

Of course, we got glasses and t-shirts; we couldn’t figure out how to bring a cask head home. Being vegan, the food menu was all sides dishes for us, but we had no complaints because we were given enough tasty chips to keep us upright and get us back to the station. Well, actually, our server pointed us to a taxi, which was lovely after such a long day of walking and beer-sipping.

Edinburgh Waverley by David Gadient, 2016

So, there you have it. That’s how we experienced Edinburgh. You’ll find that our travels might be different than most, but that’s really what travel should be: personal and meaningful to the traveler. Happy travels!

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Filed under Family, Food, History, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Glasgow Botanic Gardens by David Gadient, 2016

We spent most of our second day in Glasgow at the Botanic Gardens. It was perfect sunny weather and lots of people had come out to enjoy the day. If we lived in Glasgow, this is a place we’d go to every week. I love our Desert Botanical Garden, but the high temperatures in Phoenix make it difficult to enjoy a walk there in summer. So this was a real pleasure. Plus: so much green!

Glasgow Botanic Flowers by David Gadient, 2016

We explored all of the buildings too, which were free to enter. We really enjoyed The Kibble Palace (nifty 360° views at that link), and we nearly had it to ourselves, probably due to the humidity inside―which, while heavy, was a pleasant change for us, with so little humidity back home.

Kibble Palace by David Gadient, 2016

The variety of plants inside the buildings is amazing. There’s even a section of desert plants―a bit of Arizona in Scotland. Of course, we didn’t take pictures of those, since we have heaps of them here, but David snapped quite a few shots of other, less familiar-to-us, plants.

Glasgow Botanic Plants by David Gadient, 2016

Elsewhere in the Gardens, we found the abandoned railway station. We could look down to the platform area below, but the beauty was at our level.

Abandoned Underground by David Gadient, 2016

There was also part of the West End Festival on display: The Ideal Hut Show. Colorful and clever sheds by artists and designers. This isn’t even all of them. Kids and adults alike were having fun examining these little pieces of architecture―such a fun outdoor installation!

Ideal Hut Show by David Gadient, 2016

We took a wide walk to cover the entire Garden, and were greeted by plenty of pigeons and squirrels. The squirrels were particularly gregarious; David made friends with one while we stopped at a bench.

Squirrel by David Gadient, 2016

If you’re ever in Glasgow, be sure to check out the Botanic Gardens. It’s an oasis in the West End and a wonderful way to spend some hours.

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