The Scotland Connection


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When I travel, I enjoy bringing home small keepsakes to remind me of my adventures. An easy way to memorialize the trip is to create art from postcards from each country. On this trip, with Edinburgh as my home base, I looked for postcards that represented the fascinating city. As my sister and I browsed in different shops, I checked out the postcards for sale. However, nothing really captured my interest.

I was looking for the Scotland connection, a link between Edinburgh and my interests. As we waited to enter the Museum Context, I spied a small artistic shop next door, called The Red Door Gallery. How grateful I am that I stepped inside!

The Scotland Connection Title Meme

The Red Door Gallery

This delightful shop, established in 2003 and located at 42 Victoria Street in Edinburgh, showcases artwork from Edinburgh and UK based artists. The Red Door Gallery offers a large assortment of artists prints, homewares, jewelry and CARDS.

Suddenly I went from not having the right options to having too many! I’d been so busy looking at postcards that I almost missed an opportunity to purchase greeting cards featuring the artwork of local artists. I quickly located a dozen cards that appealed to me, that offered the Scotland connection I desired.

As a bonus, the cards easily tucked into my carry on. I can’t bring home a bunch of souvenirs, when I travel, which is perfect. The small space helps me to decide what’s most important.

The Scotland Connection Haul
My treasures from the trip: Maitland tartan pieces, Maitland Clan Badge, kilt pin, art cards, small keychains, dated thistle Christmas ornament and a jacket that I had to wear home.
The Scotland Connection David Fleck Art Cards
Cards by artist David Fleck. David grew up in Edinburgh and now creates from Glasgow.

Inspired Art

Back home, I studied my art cards, eager to create. (Check out my previous postcard art.) I chose the watercolor and ink art cards by David Fleck as my first project.

Previously I purchased frames from Michael’s Craft Store to hold postcards from Italy, Scotland and England. This time, I wanted to be more creative. Daily I looked at my cards as I sought inspiration. And each day ended without a solid idea. Finally, as I clicked off the light one night, an amazing flash of creativity arrived. I turned the light back on.

Interestingly, during this same time, ideas simmered on the back burner of my mind for another creative project. That night, the two projects merged into one.

The Scotland Connection Vintage Chair
The chair my grandfather made, literally falling apart.
Vintage Chair Unassembled
The chair, carefully disassembled.

My Grandfather’s Chair

In 2014 my sister, the same one who accompanied me to Scotland, passed on to me a couple of vintage chairs made in the 1950s, by my paternal grandfather. The chairs underwent numerous repairs over the years. When I received them, one of the chairs needed extensive work to make it usable. (You can read about the restoration here.)

However five years later, this old chair is literally falling apart, due to exposure to weather. I considered throwing the chair away, but it’s one of the few keepsakes that I have from this grandfather, who passed away when I was just five years old. What could I make from it?

Last week inspiration provided an answer. Repurpose the chair into a frame…for the David Fleck art cards.

With Greg’s help, I disassembled the chair, piece by piece. The worn and weathered wood provided the material for a unique frame, a work of art in itself.

The Scotland Connetion Frame
From chair…to whimsical frame. I love that the arms of the chair became the sides of the frame.
Finished Repurposed Frame
Something new from something old.

Something New from Something Old

As I studied the pieces and tried out different frame styles, the finished work came together almost on its own. Suddenly the arms of the chair naturally became the sides of the frame. The 120 year old lath slats, which aren’t original to the chair but came from a remodel in my own house, created the back. And two dowel rods that formed the back of the chair perfectly divided the art cards, creating a window pane effect.

I’m grateful for Greg’s help in repurposing the chair into the frame. He used a variety of tools to assemble the frame and I attached the cards. I used double sided tape to close the cards and rubber cement to attach them to the frame backing.

I love the imperfections in the old wood, the nail holes and fine cracks. They add to the charm of the frame and remind me of the wood’s original purpose.

Vintage Chair in 2014
The chair as it was in 2014, after extensive repairs.

The Scotland Connection

I’m so pleased with this frame that holds four of my art cards from Edinburgh. The cards depict scenes throughout the old city, from the castle high upon its rock to the closes (alleyways) that offer shortcuts through town to the Hot Air Balloon event from 1785. One card, called Seek, is for those with wanderlust. It captures the Highlands north of Edinburgh. I love these cards.

I appreciate this framed work of art for another reason. My grandfather who made the chair, Dennis Fleet Lauderdale, is the Scotland connection in my family, to the country that I so love. It’s through his line that I trace my way to the Maitland Clan. This chair that he crafted once held him and my father and most recently, me. It now holds these mementoes from the country that birthed our family.

I hung the framed cards in my bedroom, above a table with a quirky telephone lamp that Greg’s dad made, a photo of my Lauderdale grandparents on their wedding day, and a small lion statue. The Clan Maitland crest has a lion at its center and the Latin words, consilio et animis, “by wisdom and courage”.

As I worked, I asked my grandfather if he minded that I took apart his chair and created something new. I hoped not. Grandpa was, after all, a carpenter and enjoyed tinkering in his workshop. And I intend to create more frames from this chair and the second one that still rests in my garden.

He appeared in my mind as I last saw him, a kind man with a bit of stubble on his chin and merry eyes. He smiled. I don’t think he minds.

The Scotland Connection Vignette
Finished art piece.

 

Scottish Watercolor Print from Amazon

Get inspired with this watercolor of Scotland’s national flower, the thistle. Better yet, travel to this gorgeous country, find your own mementoes and create the Scotland connection!

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Clan Means Family

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

After five days together, our Clan Maitland group gathered one last time, for a formal dinner. Each of us arrived in the Maitland tartan, in the form of kilts, ties, sashes, scarves and skirts. For my sister and me, it was our first time to formally wear our clan’s tartan and attend such an event.

When our group gathered for the first time, some of us were strangers to each other. Others were connected on social media but had never met in person. Several sibling groups traveled together to attend the clan gathering. Debbie and I fit in this category. Those from England, Scotland and France  knew each other well. The strong thread that bound us all was our heritage, our kinship connection. Ian shared on our first evening together that clan means family. By our final dinner together, I felt the deep truth of those words.

Clan Means Family title meme

Maitlands and Lauderdales

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect of a clan gathering. I’ve been a member of Clan Maitland for years, however I’ve never had opportunity to attend a gathering. Debbie and I added extra days around those allotted to the gathering so that we could explore and enjoy Edinburgh. We looked forward to meeting our kin and yet kept our expectations neutral.

A part of me wondered if being Lauderdales, the American branch of the family, would make us feel a bit like outsiders. Debbie and I also wondered how we should address our clan chief. Ian is the 18th Earl of Lauderdale The proper title for an earl is Lord. We wisely decided to see how others in our group addressed him!

Ian quickly set the tone for the next five days during our first evening together. While we dined, he moved from table to table, introducing himself and chatting with us. After dinner, he shared a couple of stories that I appreciated, about the family’s origination in Normandy. Placing a hand on his chest, our clan chief said simply, “I’m Ian. Clan means family. We are all kin.”

He answered the question of how to address him…and he established kinship. I loved and appreciated my chief immediately.

Clan Means Family First Dinner
First dinner together as family, at the Angel’s Share Hotel.
Clan Means Family Glenkinchie Distillery
Exploring the museum at Glenkinchie Distillery.
Clan Means Family Lauderdale Aisle
Sitting quietly in Lauderdale Aisle, above the family burial chamber.

Becoming Family

Between that first dinner and the last one, our group shifted from strangers to family. During our days exploring in the Borders and sharing meals, an amazing thing happened. The historic locations that we visited, connected to the Maitland family, became touchstones marking our journey in the past and bringing us together in the present.

These places told different parts of our story, a story shared between us. It changed perceptions, hearing ancient family stories and seeing how alike we are, rather than how different.

I loved that when Ian shared historical accounts, he often began with the words, “Your kinsman…”. He didn’t say, “My ancestor….my kinsman…”. No, he fleshed out people I’d only read about and made them real to me. He told stories from personal knowledge, which gave such depth to those I’d only known as a name printed on a page. And in the process, he connected them to me, to us, as our family, our kin.

Clan Means Family New Club
Drinks on the New Club balcony, in Edinburgh.
Thirlestane Castle Dining Room
Exploring Thirlestane Castle together.
Clan Means Family Lochcarron
In the Lochcarron showroom.

Clan Means Family

During my time with my kin, I learned that clan means family, indeed.

Curious, I looked up the word. The Cambridge dictionary defines clan as “a family or a group of families, especially in Scotland, who originally came from the same ancestor.” Ian’s claim is absolutely true.

Further, the root word for clan is the Latin word planta, which means “sprout”. That word became the Old Irish word cland, and the Scottish Gaelic word clann, meaning “offspring, family” which eventually became the word as we know it.

I love the idea of a sprout, a plant that comes from a single seed and grows, spreads and matures. A clan embodies the concept of a family tree, with the single trunk and the many, many branches that connect to it.

Clan Maitland at Thirlestane Castle
Clan means family…at Thirlestane Castle in Lauder, Scotland.
Clan Chief Ian Maitland, 18th Earl of Lauderdale
Clan means family…to our beloved Chief.
Clan Maitland Collage
Family collage. Ian and Cindy. John Maitland, Ian’s son, and Debbie. Cindy, Crawford and Debbie. Ian and Debbie.

Saying Goodbye

Those branches of the family gathered for a final dinner, to conclude our time together and say goodbye. I love formal Scottish dinners with their different courses. Dinner isn’t a hurried affair, but a meal to be savored and enjoyed.

At our large round table sat family members from Virginia, Arizona, Paris, France, Missouri, Oklahoma and London, England. It was so representative of our shared days and the way we came together to become family.

The food was excellent. Our glasses remained filled with fine wine. Conversations and laughter flowed around our table and outward, around the room. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Our meal finished, we exchanged email addresses. The group gathered on the stairs for a last family photo. We snapped pics of each other too. And we hugged and kissed cheeks, promising to remember our time together and stay in touch. My heart felt so full of love and appreciation for these, my kinsmen. I felt sad to say goodbye and yet so grateful for the connections.

Debbie and I will never forget our trip to Edinburgh together and the Clan Maitland Gathering. We left Scotland enriched by the experience and determined to return to that beautiful country as often as we can. Scotland feels like home. It always has to me. And now I know why. It IS home. I belong here. The Maitland Clan is my clan. And clan means family.

Clan Means Family Formal Dinner
Clan Maitland, gathered.

Check out the other Clan Maitland posts:

Clan Maitland Gathers

Maitlands in the Borders

Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle

Traquair House

If you are a Lauderdale or Maitland descendant, join your kinsmen!

Clan Maitland UK

Clan Maitland North America

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Traquair House

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

On our last day of exploring together, Clan Maitland members visited Traquair House, the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland. Maitlands owned this property for a short time. The interest in visiting this house, beyond its own incredible historic value, is that Thirlestane Castle began life as a house very similar to this one.

Upon arriving, our large group divided into two smaller groups and off we went on our tours.

Traquair House Title Meme

The History of Traquair House

The word traquair is Celtic in origin, from tret or tre  meaning “a dwelling place or hamlet” and quair meaning “a winding stream”. The name is perfect for this incredible house. The Quair Burn joins the River Tweed a few hundred yards from the house.

The earliest mention of Traquair House dates to 1107, when King Alexander I signed a royal charter there. The property served as a hunting lodge for many of the kings and queens of Scotland. In the museum room a mural painting dating back to the early 1500s depicts a hunting scene from this time.

It is likely that a tower with three stories and an attic created the beginning of Traquair House and now occupies the north corner of the present structure.

In the mid 13th century Traquair belonged to Thomas de Mautelant, ancestor of the Maitland line of Earls of Lauderdale. He passed the house on to his son, William when the young man married. That line eventually failed to produce an heir and the property passed to the Murrays in 1464.

From there Traquair House changed hands several times until 1478, when the estate sold to James Stewart, Earl of Buchan, uncle of King James III. The Stewarts have remained in residence since. Expansions and additions enlarged the house through the years, with the last of these completed in the late 1600s. While the interior underwent extensive remodeling in the 1800s, the exterior is relatively unchanged.

Traquair House Exterior
The exterior of Traquair House is relatively unchanged since the 1600s.
Bear Gate
Bear Gate built in 1738.

Bear Gate

There’s an interesting story about the gate at the end of the original driveway. The 5th Earl of Traquair built the pillars in 1738 and topped them with sculptures of bears holding the family crest. The bear gates closed following a visit by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1744, with a vow to keep them closed until a Stuart king sat on the throne once more. The gates never opened again and remain closed to this day. A smaller driveway, called the “temporary drive”, allows entrance into the property.

Traquair House Bell System
I loved the bell system at Traquair, which reminds me of the popular tv series, Downton Abbey!
High Drawing Room
The largest room in the main house, the High Drawing Room.

Touring the Main Floor of Traquair House

My group had such a fun tour guide! Kenneth speaks with a soft Scottish brogue and displays a wonderful sense of humor. His stories illuminate the history of the house while adding whimsical elements too, all punctuated by that dry Scot’s humor.

In the High Drawing Room, the largest room in the main house, we studied a section of the original ceiling, covered over when the 5th earl redesigned the interior. The original beamed ceiling was discovered in 1954 and two small sections are on display. Also in this room is a rare harpsichord crafted in 1651 by Andreas Ruckers. The harpsichord is restored to perfect working condition. Kenneth played a few chords on it, and joked that his cds are available in the gift shop.

We also viewed a bedroom and dressing room, complete with furnishings, that Mary Queen of Scots used. The queen, her husband, and infant son James visited the house in 1566.

Traquair Dressing Room
The dressing room on the main floor of Traquair House.
Original indoor toilet in Traquair
Traquair House boasted an early indoor toilet, supposedly used by Mary Queen of Scots.
Tour Guide Kenneth
Our guide Kenneth on the house’s main staircase, a stone spiral one.

The Upstairs at Traquair House

My group moved upstairs to continue our explorations, by way of the main staircase in the house, a set of narrow stone steps that spiral upward.

There was much to see on the upstairs floors, as we wandered through bedrooms, a library, a museum room and the priest’s room.

The household maintained a Catholic tradition within Traquair, in spite of the dangers of doing so at that time. Mass was held in secret in the priest’s room on the top floor. If necessary, the priest could escape through a concealed passageway hidden behind a cupboard door and flee down a small twisty staircase. The room remained in use until the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1828. There is now a chapel on the property that is used for services and special events such as weddings.

White Bedroom Traquair House
I loved this pretty bedroom upstairs.
Priest Room Traquair House
The priest room at the top of the house, where secret mass was held. Note the escape staircase concealed behind the cupboard door.
Maze at Traquair
Rain prevented us from getting wonderfully lost in the maze on the grounds.

Saying Goodbye to Traquair House

We concluded our tour with visits to the two side wings, added to the house in the 1600s. The laundry room and chapel occupy one wing, along with a gift shop and ale tasting room. Kenneth told us a funny story of Americans who got married in the chapel. He noticed, right before the ceremony fortunately, that the groom and his groomsmen all had their kilts on backwards!

In the other wing we viewed the formal dining room and sat in the blue sitting room, while Kenneth entertained us with more stories.

I loved the daring tale of Lady Winifred Herbert, Countess of Nithsdale, whose portrait hangs in the dining room. She rescued her husband William, charged with treason for being a Jacobite, from the Tower of London in 1716. On the night before his execution, Winifred visited him, accompanied by several maids. They dressed him in women’s clothing. William walked out of the tower with a maid, wearing a dress and the “nithsdale cloak”, which is still held by the family. Lady Winifred remained in the cell and pretended to talk to her husband, before making her own escape. She joined William in Paris, to live out the rest of their lives together. I love a happy ending!

In twos and threes Clan Maitland members walked up the driveway, in the pouring rain, and finished our afternoon with lunch at the cozy Traquair House Café.

Laundry Room at Traquair
Doing laundry at Traquair House required strong muscles I think!
Formal Dining Room
The lovely formal dining room.
The Blue Sitting Room at Traquair
My group sat in the blue sitting room and listened to Kenneth tell stories, until it was time for lunch.

Back to Edinburgh

After a wonderful lunch at the café, enjoyed with pots of hot tea and lively conversation, we boarded our coach for the trip back to Edinburgh. En route we stopped at Lochcarron Mill. There we looked at the Maitland Tartan and several had fittings for kilts.

The Maitland Tartan is a private one and products are only available at Thirlestane Castle and by special order here at Lochcarron. How grateful I am that we could purchase tartan products during this trip. Debbie and I picked up scarves and sashes and Maitland Clan badges to wear at our final former clan dinner.

The dinner marked the end of our time together as family. I’ll share thoughts about that evening in my next post.

Maitland Tartan
The Maitland Tartan, created in 1953, is a variation of the Lauder Tartan.

Read more Clan Maitland Gatherings:

Clan Maitland Gathers

Maitlands in the Borders

Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Dean Village

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

On this activity-light day with Clan Maitland, in between two very full days, my sister and I checked another “must see” location off our list. I’ve been drawn to Dean Village, in Edinburgh, for years, based solely on beautiful photos that I’ve seen.

Checking the map app on my iPhone, our destination seemed walkable. On this gorgeous sunny day, Debbie and I left the apartment and set out on our own on foot, bound for one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems.

Dean Village Title Meme

Dean Village History

This former medieval village, founded in the 12th century, began as home to the milling industry. A river winds through this valley, located a short distance from Edinburgh’s New Town. Mills sprang up along the Water of Leith, and cottages soon followed, to house the mill workers. The area became known as the Water of Leith Village.

The village was a successful center of milling for 800 years. However, due to the development of larger, more modern mills the village fell into decline. By 1960, the community was filled with poverty and decay.

Fortunately, in the mid 1970s the area’s beauty and tranquility inspired restoration. The warehouses, mills and workers’ cottages transformed into desirable residential homes. Now called Dean Village…”dene” means deep valley…the area attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Dean Village Well Court
One of the most well known renovated buildings in Dean Village…Well Court.
Dean Village Upstream
View from the metal bridge.

Walking to Dean Village

From our apartment on Thistle Street, Debbie and I walked three blocks to Charlotte Square. Intuitively, we knew which direction to go from there, to reach Dean Village. However, my map app took us along a longer, out of the way route.

Ultimately, we came to Queensferry Street and walked down it to Bell’s Brae. If you continue on Queensferry Street, which becomes Lynedoch Place, you cross over Dean Bridge. The village lies below, in the valley.

Walking down Bell’s Brae, we arrived at Miller Row and the Water of Leith. There is a circuitous path through the village that crosses two bridges, a stone one and a metal one. The gorgeous photos that I’ve seen posted are taken along that path and from the metal bridge.

Dean Village Metal Bridge
The metal bridge in Dean Village.
Dean Village Stone Bridge
The stone bridge

Exploring Dean Village

This area is still residential. There aren’t any pubs, cafés, shops or public restrooms. Instead, there are flats and cottages, a school and at the edge of the village, a museum.

We walked Dean Path, exclaiming over the adorable stone cottages, the abundance of flowers and the incredibly homey vibes of the village. Even though there were many others strolling in Dean Village, people respected the fact that this is a neighborhood. It’s a charming neighborhood, to be sure. But people live here and raise families in this beautiful place. Visitors remained quiet, talking softly as they walked.

We all paused to take photos, and smiled at each other as we traded places along vantage points. However none of us laughed loudly or called out to one another or behaved in a boisterous manner. I appreciated that. I’m sure the residents of Dean’s Village do as well.

Laundry in Dean Village
Such a homey scene in Dean Village.
Container Garden in Dean Village
A cottage in Dean Village. I love the Scots’ appreciation of flowers and gardens.

Another Dream Realized

Walking through Dean Village was another dream realized for me. And the photos don’t really do it justice. It is such a gorgeous place. Beyond that, Dean Village is peaceful and idyllic. How wonderful to stroll along the Water of Leith and experience the incredible feel of the village, basking in the warm Scottish sunshine.

Realizing that dream birthed another. Debbie and I peeked into a vacant flat and imagined what it must feel like, to live in this tucked away place. Although Dean Village is only a 15 minute walk from Princes Street and Old Town, it feels like a country burgh, far from the busy hub of the city.

As we climbed back up Bell’s Brae….brae means steep bank or hillside and this road is aptly named…we paused to rest on a bench and allow our dreams of living in such a beautiful place to expand. I don’t know how or when it will happen, but that day, my sister and I released into the universe the desire to own or rent a flat or cottage in Dean Village. The strong desire is released and out there now. I just need to be me and stay in the flow of life, trusting the guidance of the Dream Giver. I’m content with that.

Dean Village Upstream 2
Gazing downstream from the metal bridge.
Dean Village Upstream
Gazing upstream from the metal bridge.

Gratitude for Dean Village

I’m so glad we had opportunity to discover and walk through Dean Village. After the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, this was the other place I absolutely wanted to see while in the city. I’m grateful Debbie was willing to explore this hidden gem with me and appreciated its beauty as well.

Walking back to the apartment I put the map app away. We trusted our instincts to get us back. They served us well, guiding us quickly and unerringly along picturesque narrow streets back to Charlotte Square. Technology is often helpful, however, I can always trust my instincts.

Have you heard of Dean Village? Would you love to visit it as well? Someday, I’ll be back there. I know it.

Check out these Scotland and Edinburgh finds:


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Maitlands in the Borders

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Traveling together, Clan Maitland spent the most time in the Scottish Borders. This area borders Edinburgh and extends south and east to the English counties of Cumbria and Northumberland.  We were Maitlands in the Borders, exploring. Our roots sunk deep here, in the hilly rural countryside. Centuries ago, our family settled in the beautiful lowlands, grew and expanded outward into the world.

After touring St. Mary’s Church and Lauderdale Aisle in Haddington, and lunching together, our day trip took us to one of the former Maitland houses, Lennoxlove. We concluded our outing with a fascinating tour at Glenkinchie Distillery.

Come along and join the Maitlands in the Borders and share our discoveries.

Maitlands in the Borders Title Meme

Lennoxlove House History

After lunch we explored Lennoxlove House, south of Haddington in East Lothian. The house includes a 15th century tower, known as Lethington Tower, and experienced several building expansions. Currently the seat of the Duke of Hamilton, this property began as a house of Maitland.

Robert Maitland of Thirlestane purchased the lands of Lethington in 1345. He built the L-shaped tower that now forms the southwest corner of the house. Mary of Guise, mother to Mary Queen of Scots, stayed at the house on her visit to Haddington in 1548.

Lethington House remained in the Maitland family until the death of John Maitland, the Duke of Lauderdale, in 1682. The trustees of Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, purchased the property after her death in 1702. She stipulated that the house should pass to her “neare and deare kinsman, the said Walter Stuart”. Walter Stuart, eldest son of the 5th Lord Blantyre, became the 6th Lord Blantyre upon his father’s death.

The Duchess requested that the house be renamed “Lennox’s Love to Blantyre” which eventually shortened to Lennoxlove. The property remained in the Blantyre family until purchased in 1960 by the 14th Duke of Hamilton. During the summer the house is open to the public and available for special events.

Maitlands in the Borders Lennoxlove House
Exterior of Lennoxlove House
Lethington Tower
The Great Hall in Lethington Tower

Maitlands in the Borders at Lennoxlove House

Our large group divided in two to tour Lennoxlove House. My group benefited from our Clan Chief Ian being with us. He is a historian and an excellent storyteller. I loved hearing the stories connected to this grand old estate. We moved from the newer part of the house, with its extensive collections of art, furniture, porcelain and artifacts, through hallways and rooms to the older tower.

Many extraordinary portraits hang on the walls throughout the house, including a couple of the Duke of Lauderdale. On display too is a silver jewelry box belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots, and her death mask.

I especially enjoyed the older section of the house, including the great hall and the rooms beneath it. I’m sensitive to energy and the flow of it. The past pools and eddies in this ancient part of Lennoxlove, swirling and spilling over into the present. I felt tingles of energy several times and delighted in the discovery of a narrow passageway in the chapel that led to a small dungeon. The secrets and stories, joys and sorrows, lives lived and lost in Lennoxlove give fresh meaning to the phrase, “if walls could talk”. As I wandered through this beautiful place, I listened.

Lennoxlove Sitting Room
The front sitting room in Lennoxlove House.

Maitlands in the Borders at Glenkinchie Distillery

We finished our long day together with a tour of Glenkinchie Distillery. I am not a whisky drinker, however I am always open to a learning opportunity. And a learning experience it was, at Glenkinchie, and so much more!

Glenkinchie Distillery began in 1825 under the name Milton Distillery. From 1837 on it has operated under its current name.

Maitlands in the Borders at Glenkinchie Distillery

Making Single Malt Whisky

Whisky making is an ancient process that’s been refined over the centuries. The first thing I learned, from our amazing tour guide Brian, is this: good whisky requires four ingredients…water, barley, yeast and time.

Water

Because of its importance, it’s not surprising that distillery locations are often determined by a pure source of water such as a spring or stream. Water encourages the barley to germinate during the malting process and it is added at the mashing stage to extract the sugars and make wort. Cold water is used to condense the vapors back into liquid as well.

Barley

Grains are essential to whisky making. They provide the starch that becomes alcohol. Scotch can be made from a variety of grains, however Single Malt Scotch Whisky is created from barley only.

Yeast

Yeast is a mirco-organism. Its purpose is to convert sugar into alcohol through the process of fermentation. Only a few strains of yeast are suitable for fermenting malted barley and these can influence the flavor.

Time

To classify as Scotch whisky, the newly made spirit must mature in an oak cask, in Scotland, for at least three years. Single malts can mature for up to 70 years. At Glenkinchie, the usual maturation period is 12 years. Oak is the wood of choice for the casks. Rather than using new oak, which negatively influences the flavor of the whisky, American oak casks are used that previously held bourbon, wine or sherry .

Brian at Glenkinchie
Our fun tour guide, Brian, explaining the process of making single malt whisky.

Walking Through the Process of Single Malt Whisky Making

During the distillery tour, we walked through rooms where each step of the process was underway. Malting, the process of rapidly germinating the barley, is actually the first step in turning barley into whisky. It’s no longer done at the distillery, however Brian explained the malting process to us and then led us on to the next room.

In the milling room the dried malted barley is ground into a coarse flour called grist. Next the grist is fed into the mash tun and hot water is added to dissolve the sugars. The resulting wort is drained off and cooled.

In the fermentation room, the cooled wort goes into large tubs called wash backs, made from pine wood. Yeast is added and fermentation begins. The mixture is now called wash. The next step is distillation. This process involves heating the liquid in large copper stills. And finally the alcohol goes into casks to mature for up to 70 years.

This is a very simplified explanation of the whisky making process! Please visit the Glenkinchie Distillery website for a much more in depth look at the fine art of making single malt whisky.

Whisky in casks
Whisky maturing in oak casks.

The End of the Day for Maitlands in the Borders

At the end of the tour…and the end of the day…we sampled whisky at Glenkinchie. I did not intend to have a dram…or four…of whisky. However, Brian conducted our tour with great knowledge and great humor. He explained the whisky making process in such an informative and fun way that my curiosity kicked in. After hearing about the incredible amount of work that goes into creating whisky…who figured all this stuff out anyway??…I HAD to sample the whisky. Could I taste the subtle flavors imparted by an oak cask that once held bourbon?

Brian poured out a round of drinks for our group and we followed his instructions, swirling the golden liquid, sniffing it and then tasting it. My initial reaction was “WOW”. The alcohol taste seemed so strong. Then Brian walked among us and added a small amount of water to each glass. “Taste it again,” he suggested. What an amazing difference that tiny bit of water made! Now I could taste the flavors. We sampled four different whiskies. I’ll never be a whisky connoisseur. However, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about how whisky is made and tasting the resulting “water of life”.

What a full day! Perhaps because of the wee sips of whisky, we were quite jolly on the coach ride back to Edinburgh. Maitlands in the Borders certainly know how to make the most of experiences. The bonding as a family increased that day and my heart felt very enlarged by our shared adventures.

The next day’s activities kept us in Edinburgh. However Friday promised a return to the Borders, to visit Rosslyn Chapel and our ancestral home, Thirlestane Castle. I couldn’t wait!

Copper Still
Copper Still at Glenkinchie

Check out these books about Scotch Whisky:

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.