Tag Archives: Life

Westray, Orkney: Part 1

Westray Coast by David Gadient, 2016

We took the ferry to Westray a few days into our time in Orkney. With Graham of Westraak as our local guide, we had an amazing tour of most of the island.

I’ll be making a few separate posts about different areas of Westray, but these are the some miscellaneous ones that David took that I still wanted to share.

Westray Birds by David Gadient, 2016

While at the Aikerness Craigs, David caught quite a few shots of birds. This one is my favorite; they look very cozy on the rocks.

Aikerness by David Gadient, 2016

The Aikerness Craigs. Gorgeous and rocky coastal area. While here, Graham told us the story of Archie Angel, the lone survivor―an infant―of a shipwreck back in the 18th century. The wrecked ship had the word Archangel on it and that’s how the boy got his name. He grew up on Westray and the surname of Angel was found there until the early 20th century.

Westray Airport by David Gadient, 2016

The Westray Airport is home to the shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world, which takes you to Papa Westray (Papay) and is about a two minute flight―or shorter. While we didn’t take the flight, Graham drove David and I over to watch the plane leave and return. We’re usually not fans of tiny planes, but we’ll likely give it a try on our next trip there. Graham also showed us where we could take a boat if we decide just can’t stomach the plane.🙂

Westray Homes by David Gadient, 2016

A photo of a traditional style of house you might see in Westray.

Westray Sheep by David Gadient, 2016

And a shot of some grazing sheep. Baa.

Westray Grobust Beach by David Gadient, 2016

Grobust Beach. Just a lovely place. While there, we also got a bit of an off-season (read: mostly covered) glimpse of the archaeological dig of the Links of Noltland.

Westray Cruise by David Gadient, 2016

On the ferry back, we got to see a massive cruise liner go by. Pretty sure it was a Disney one. While in Kirkwall, we’d seen a liner in port, but I’m not sure whether it was the same one or a different one.

I’ll share many 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


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


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


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

Scotland: Glasgow to Gills Bay

Highlands View by David Gadient, 2016

Halfway through our Scotland trip last month, we got a rental car, had a yummy farewell lunch at Mono, and got to know our dubious new friend, the GPS (who later misguided us or just faded away on more than one occasion) as we headed out of Glasgow. Since David was driving and I’m not much of a shutterbug, especially while in a moving car, there aren’t many pictures of our driving days.

On a different side of the road than we’re accustomed to, we drove up past Loch Lomand and kept going. Along the way, we stopped twice, once for the sheer greenery of the view, and again when we reached Glencoe―as the GPS (we had begun to call her “Evil Siri“) directed us off and onto our first single-track road, where we got a luckily-not-crash course in passing places. Since we needed a stop and a turn around, we went further down the road and ended up at the Clachaig Inn. We went inside for a break, and I noticed a sign there: No Hawkers or Campbells. Glad neither of us are Campbells! History lesson here (with mention of the Clachaig Inn at the end): These Terrible Historical Events Inspired Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding.

Glencoe Driving by David Gadient, 2016

From there, we ignored Evil Siri and got back on the A82, where we were led past Loch Lochy (aye, really) and Loch Ness (didn’t see Nessie, but didn’t expect to) and finally reached Inverness, where we spent a lovely stay at Carbisdale B&B, which we highly recommend, if you happen to be in Inverness; we stayed there again on the trip back and hope to return.

Inverness Sunset by Karen Gadient, 2016

The next morning, we enjoyed a lovely vegan breakfast, cooked by Wilma and served by Colin, and chit-chatted with other guests while admiring the bird-filled garden. Then we were off northwards. We stopped at The Storehouse of Foulis for some tea and to take in the view of the Cromarty Firth. Worth noting on the entire trip so far: no rain. Just wonderful weather.

Foulis Tea by David Gadient, 2016

When we got far enough to feel comfortable with our schedule to meet the ferry to Orkney (the reason for the drive), we made other stops. One was in Wick, at The Alexander Bain, which not only offered a wide selection of beer, but some veg-friendly items on the menu. At the time we were in Scotland, all the news was about the Referendum, and this pub was papered in material to help make a decision. Most people we met during our time in Scotland didn’t feel that leaving the EU was a grand idea, and their final vote reflects that sentiment.

EUwetherspoon by Karen Gadient, 2016

As we neared the ferry, we still had more time, so we stopped at The Castle of Mey and got a look at our second castle so far plus a relaxing view of the tip of Scotland before boarding the ferry that would bring us over to Orkney.

Mey View by David Gadient, 2016

Thurso by David Gadient, 2016

Finally, we got to the ferry. We parked our car in the line to board, and had a cuppa tea. I’ve always wanted to see Orkney, so this is where the trip gets bucket-list for me. Might take me a while to sort out how to post about it, but I will!

FerryToOrkney by David Gadient, 2016


Filed under Family, History, Holiday, Journal, Landscape, Life, Nature, Photography, Scotland, 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!


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.


Filed under Animals, Holiday, Journal, Life, Nature, Scotland, Travel, Vacation

Our First Day in Glasgow

Airplane Wing by David Gadient, 2016

For the first day in Scotland, we didn’t take many photos, due to being utterly exhausted. We’d been on three different planes and had gotten no sleep; the longest flight had several very unhappy babies directly behind us, and not even earplugs and Bose headsets could drown out the noise.

Oh. And I had been struggling with the flu for the week before the trip and was still a bit sick with congestion. I pretty much lived on cough drops and pain killers to get through the flights. You do whatcha gotta, right?

So! We arrived in Glasgow around noon, having been awake for a long time―and the plan was to remain awake to adapt to the time difference. The day of arrival was David’s birthday. I had made a reservation months earlier at the Red Onion and, despite being tired (and, for me, somewhat sick)… we went. Of course!

Sadly, I was too out of it to more deeply appreciate the amazing three-course meal. No pictures (apologies to my dear Tanya for not letting the camera “eat first” for so many meals of this trip). But, trust me―if you’re in Glasgow and have a chance to go to the Red Onion: GO. Whether you’re vegan like us, flexitarian, or full-on carnivore, you’ll love the place. Next time we visit, we’ll make our reservation for later in the trip, so we’re more alert!

Our hotel―Grand Central Hotel―gave us a wonderful room and had the most awesome of staircases, complete with the most awesome of chandeliers.

Grand Staircase by David Gadient by David Gadient, 2016

Room service breakfast was glorious and just the thing for us to start our day.

Grand Breakfast by Karen Gadient, 2016

The second day, we were still tired―but ready to take on some serious walking. My next blog entry will have more photos, because we spent a perfect day at the Botanic Gardens, happily basking in the warm sun with the locals.


Filed under Food, Holiday, Journal, Life, Scotland, Travel, Vacation