Monday, October 23, 2017

Inverness Street Fair

The Inverness Street Fair was a Thursday through Saturday fun time; music, magicians, street performers, all free for the looking.

We first saw Mary and her sheep on Thursday, while on our way to the museum.  It was obvious that something was going on, but what?  Mary led the flock, while they were "behind" a fence labeled "sheep school".  They would stop and interact with pedestrians, with the sheep offering to draw a picture of "ewe".  Of course, all the pictures look like a sheep, or kind of like a sheep!  Everyone was laughing and the lucky participant received their picture as a souvenir.

On Saturday, we found the kilt wearing Pete Anderson's Unstable Acts.  He removed his kilt for the final part, while standing on a ladder and talking non-stop.  This guy really knew how to work the audience, a must for a successful street artist.  We watched for close to 30 minutes as he balanced, tossed knives while balancing, solved aa rubic's cube in 90 seconds while balanced on a handrail, then jumping onto the ladder.  The crowd of Saturday shoppers seemed to enjoy all the different acts;  I know we did.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Inverness from the Top of the Castle

After hearing about the new observation area on top of Inverness Castle from Eleanor and Brian, we knew we had to go the next time we had a non rainy day.  While the day started out with rain, it cleared just as we were walking down by the river, so up to the castle we went.

The last staircase up to the top. 

The largest, but not tallest, of the towers on the castle now has a covered entrance to the top.  When you walk out, you are walking around the turrets with a 360 degree view of the world from Inverness. It's important to remember that the river runs North to the firth, then out to sea, when trying to get your bearings. I kept getting east and west confused if it was cloudy.
Looking up the River Ness.  

The Hotels across the river on the west bank.

The car bridge across the River Ness.

The buildings are a mixture of old and new on the west bank, while looking down river.

"Our" pedestrian bridge; I don't know how many times we have walked across.

The Scottish Saltair proudly flying.

Looking east towards the bridge across Beauly Firth.

The hills of the Black Isle in the distance.
 If you are ever in Inverness, take an hour, spend the 5 pounds, climb the stairs and prepare yourself to be amazed!
Ready to go back down.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Meeting up with Friends

Meeting new people and making new friends is one of the best parts of house sitting. It's always fun when we are close enough to a former house sit to get together with the home owners.  In this case, we were able to see both of the folks we stayed with the last time we were in Scotland!

Dinner at The Kitchen with Eleanor and Brian from Muir of Ord. 
Muir of Ord is quite near to Inverness, so Eleanor and Brian met us for dinner.  The food was yummy and the view from the wall of windows on the second floor was splendid!  We were able to hear about their new grandchildren, house remodel and Lucy the Spaniel and Charlie the Chocolate Lab.  Eleanor also told us about the new viewing platform on top of the Castle; a must see.  We had a wonderful evening!

Marty and Rae in front of the mural at Gellions Pub.

Rae and Marty from Newtonhill, were in Inverness while enjoying the school Tattie Holiday; the traditional time off to harvest the potatoes. Marty used to work "lifting the tatties" every fall as a way to make his money for the year while still in school.  We met for dinner, and to listen to the live music, at Hootenanny's.  Dinner was good, but the music wasn't, so we walked to Gellion's Pub where the music was lively. Another evening of catching up on each of others lives, as well as the escapades of MacGregor the Cat.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Ardvreck Castle and Manor House

Driving in Scotland, you never know when you will find a ruin of a castle.  Ardvreck Castle and it's newer Manor house, Calda, came into view when we rounded a corner.   It's quite the story of the Clans MacLeod and MacKenzie, with the Sutherlands thrown in for good measure.  Rumor has it that the place it haunted by the weeping daughter of a MacLeod chief, who was forced to marry the Devil to save her father's castle.
A brief history of Ardvreck Castle.

As there were sheep grazing, Lexie and I stayed in the car.  I wasn't sure how she would react to sheep. The rain pouring down had nothing to do with it!

The Manor house was built by the last MacKenzie laird to own the property.  He and his wife spent too much money on it and ended up bankrupt!  A bidding war broke out between another MacKenzie and a Sutherland to buy the property.  When the Sutherland won the bid, friends of the MacKenzie's looted the house and burned it.  "No Sutherland shall live in a MacKenzie house!"  or some such nonsense.  I wonder who ended up with the property and if any money had changed hands? The house was never rebuilt and stones from it were used to build other projects.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Old High Church or the Mystery of the Clock

Old High St Stephen's church on a rainy day.
Where we cross the river on the pedestrian bridge, we walk up the hill to Old High St Stephen's Church.  It is the Church of Scotland, built mostly in the 18th century, and is the oldest church in Inverness. We have enjoyed walking through it's graveyard, reading the old tombstones.

A large family stone, with names on all four sides.

After dinner one evening, while walking home, the clock bell started to ring the time.  For fun, I was counting the hours,  7, 8,9, 10,  wait a minute it's not that late! 11, 12, 13, this clock on military time??  At this point Bill took up the count, too.  20, 21,22.... I started to laugh as the count grew and grew........99,100....129,130,131!!  Now the mystery is;  What hour is 131 in Scottish time?  I don't know if this happens every evening, but I do bet the priest received some phone calls to fix his clock bell!

Looking over the river to the Old High St Stephen's Church after the clock bell stopped ringing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Creag Phadrig

The views from the top of the hill fort were amazing.
Creag Phadrig, Patrick's Hill, is to the west of Inverness.  Tradition says it has the fort of Pictish King Bridei on top.  Excavations have shown there is a vitrified fort from the right time, 800 AD, so it could be true.  After a day of taking care of things around the house, we decided to hike the hill and see for ourselves.
Looking the other direction at Beauly Firth.

A little explanation, plus a picture of a cute Red Squirrel.
The walk up is steeper than it looks from the parking area.

The inner wall of the fort, now grown over with grasses.
We walked up and around the top of the fort, stopping to admire the views, as well as trying to figure out just where we were looking.  It would have helped if I hadn't been confusing east and west but we did identify Beauly Forth.  Things look different from on high. We walked down the opposite side of the fort from where we came up, to continue the longer forest walk.  Bill was sure we were going the wrong way, but all you have to do is follow the colors on the posts.
Follow the painted signs to make it back.
We made it back to the car park, just as several locals were arriving to walk their dogs in the woods.  We saw a couple of wild locals, too.
 A European Common Frog, although with his beautiful golden color, I think he should be named European
Royal Frog.
This little fuzzy guy was walking along the path in a hurry to get somewhere..

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stoer Lighthouse

Stoer lighthouse from the parking area.

It's quite the drive to Stoer Lighthouse; another one of those single track roads with passing places.  The lighthouse is no longer used, except as a holiday rental.  It's been replaced by more modern technology.
The beach below the lighthouse is too rocky to want to walk on and the hill is too steep to comfortable go down, or back up!

Lexie and I waving at Bill.

The wind was blowing a gale, but there wasn't any rain, so Lexie and I walked up to the lighthouse.  She was quite taken by the cow and sheep poop everywhere.  Water was water streaming down the hill, but I didn't feel comfortable letting her drink because of the poop.  Back to the car to share a bottle full of Inverness water.
Lexie and the lighthouse; this was a fun picture to take.

Black sheep behind a sturdy fence.  They must be special, as the other sheep are left to roam.

A local by the side of the road.

More locals, taken as we drove by.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Dun Telve, one of the best preserved b rochs in Scotland.
"A broch is an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure of a type found only in Scotland.  Brochs belong to the classification "complex atlantic roundhouse" devised by Scottish archaeologists in the 1980's.  Their origin is a matter of some controversy."  Wikipedia

Dun Telve from the road.
A passageway between the two walls of dry stacked stones.

Mary in one of the entries to give you an idea of how big this house was!
We always are on the lookout for ancient sites.  While researching one at Dunrobin Castle, Bill found these two listed.  Of course, they were not as easily accessible as the one near the castle.  Dun Telve is considered one of the best preserved of the brochs.  It wasn't excavated, just cleaned out from centuries of rubbish.  The building was in fairly good condition until the 1700's when the rocks were taken to build barracks.
How they think it might have been finished on the inside.

Beautiful dry stacked stones.

Dun Troddan is not as large, but still had lots of room inside.

This area of Scotland is the only place where brochs are found.  They think is was a common building type, with the men going from one place to another to build them.  They are very sturdy, and with the roofs on would have been warm and protective.

Dun Troddan is on top of a hill.

I had to navigate the mud to get to the interior doorway. It rained the entire time we were there.

This shows how the walls lean in.
Finding these places is always an adventure. We drove on one lane roads with "passing places", until we came to a one lane track with no real passing places.  Fortunately, we didn't meet anyone.  Across the road from Dun Troddan are several homes used as holiday rentals. It would be an ideal place to spend some time.
The road less traveled.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Enjoying Music in Inverness

Music abounds in Inverness, from the buskers on the street, the pubs with traditional songs, and Eden Court Theatre.  We have enjoyed them all.  We also meet the nicest people.
Gellion's Pub.

Lovely lady who shared her table with us.

Hootenanny's on our first visit.

"Accordian, Too" setting up to play at Eden Court.

Hootananny's on our second visit.

A Piper greeting wedding guests at a hotel on the River Ness.

Two young musicians playing on the street.  They are some of the best we have heard!

Singing her heart out.

Inverness Street Fair

The Inverness Street Fair was a Thursday through Saturday fun time; music, magicians, street performers, all free for the looking. We ...