Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle

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On our third day together, exploring in the Borders, Clan Maitland toured two magnificent structures. Rosslyn Chapel and Thirlestane Castle are each impressive in their own right, and full of historical significance. One intrigues visitors, due to its many mysteries and connection to popular culture. And the other, well it is my family’s ancient home. I felt excited to see both!

Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle title meme

History of Rosslyn Chapel

This beautiful place is another that I’ve had on my list of places to see in Scotland. Honestly, I didn’t know exactly where in the Borders Rosslyn Chapel was located. How exciting to receive our Clan Maitland Gathering itinerary and realize the chapel was a planned stop.

Founded in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, the chapel, originally called the Collegiate Church of St Matthew, took forty years to build. The chapel today, located in the village of Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland, is a portion of the intended structure. Building stopped and the larger church was never completed.

After the Scottish Reformation in 1560, the chapel closed to the public. It reopened in 1861. Since the 1980s speculative theories have connected Rosslyn Chapel to the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and Freemasonry. These speculations continue to circulate due the chapel’s feature in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code and the film adaptation by the same name.

Rosslyn Chapel remains privately owned by the St Clair family.

Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel exterior. Photography was not allowed inside.

Touring Rosslyn Chapel

The Maitland group arrived on our coach, just before the chapel opened. And shortly after we gained admittance, a wonderful guide shared some of Rosslyn Chapel’s mysteries and stories with us. She had a wonderful Scottish brogue and spoke with passion and humor about the chapel. I could have listened to her all day!

The chapel contains 14 pillars that form 12 arches around three sides of the nave. One of these pillars is called the Apprentice Pillar and has a good story associated with it.

Legend says that in the 18th century, a master mason, in charge of the stonework in the chapel, traveled to see an intricately carved column. He left his young apprentice behind while he sought inspiration. Upon his return, he discovered that the apprentice had created a gorgeous carved column on his own. Enraged and jealous, the master mason struck and killed his apprentice. As eternal punishment, the master mason’s face was carved into a corner opposite the pillar, to forever gaze upon his apprentice’s work.

Rosslyn Chapel Doorway
Such a beautiful 15th century structure.

Carvings in Rosslyn Chapel

One of the most intriguing features in the chapel is the collection of carvings throughout the building. There are nods to Celtic and Norse mythology. Hundreds of cubes protrude from the pillars and arches and carved stars adorn the ceiling. Stone angels, including one playing the bagpipes, share space with dragons, flowers and a figure known as the Green Man. In fact, there are 110 carvings of the green man, depicted as a human face with vines coming out of his mouth, in the chapel.

Over the years there have been many theories about the symbolism behind Rosslyn Chapel’s carvings. No one really knows. They do seem to tell a story, however what that tale is remains open to interpretation. I could spend days in Rosslyn Chapel, studying those fascinating carvings.

My sister and I concluded our explorations of the chapel by going down into the crypt. There are burial chambers beneath Rosslyn Chapel. The entrance to those was sealed off many, many years ago. However the crypt, or lower chapel, is open to the public. Debbie and I had our own mysterious experience while in the crypt. While looking around, we began to feel short of breath accompanied by a tightness in the chest and throat. Climbing the stairs back to the upper chapel, both of us suddenly felt very dizzy. A walk through the gift shop did not ease the dizziness. We headed back to the coach and only when we reached its interior did the strange feelings pass. What caused it? We don’t know! It’s our very own Rosslyn Chapel mystery.

Rosslyn Chapel Mystery
I love the moodiness of this photo.

Thirlestane Castle History

The majority of the day, for Clan Maitland, was spent at Thirlestane Castle.

Maitlands originally occupied a tower, built in the 1400s, near the present location of the castle. In 1586 John Maitland, Lord Thirlestane, bought land just outside the village of Lauder. The large house built in 1590, with its corner towers and turrets, now forms the core of the present castle.

The Duke of Lauderdale remodeled and expanded Thirlestane in the 1670s, adding on wings and creating a new front entrance. The ninth earl added more wings, to the south and north, and installed modern living accommodations.  However, by the 1840s the grand old castle showed signs of age and decay.

In 1972 the castle passed to the grandson of the 15th Earl, Capt. Gerald Maitland-Carew. He assumed the huge task of restoring the castle and preventing further deterioration. He also opened the castle to the public and created the on site café and tea room. Eventually the castle and its contents became a part of a charitable trust that brought in much needed funds to help with the upkeep of the gorgeous structure. The Maitland-Carew family occupy one wing of the castle as their personal residence.

Gerald’s son Edward Maitland-Carew and his wife Sarah now continue the care of Thirlestane Castle. They host events such as weddings, car shows and outdoor plays, and created five apartments for guests to lease for short term stays.

Clan Maitland at Thirlestane Castle
Our Clan gathers on the front steps of Thirlestane Castle. That’s the Clan Chief in the middle, next to me, and Edward Maitland-Carew in the blue jacket on the far left, front row.

Touring Thirlestane Castle

I’ve visited the family castle three times. However, this was the first time I’ve explored the castle with members of my clan, listened to Ian tell family stories and met Edward. Truly, it was a magical experience.

We began with a wonderfully prepared lunch in the former castle kitchens and then walked outside to begin our tour at the entrance to the castle. How amazing this place is and how full of history. I marvel at each room, study the paintings of long ago ancestors on the walls, smile at the familiar tingles of energy that tickle my scalp.

This tour, this time, seemed surreal. Ian entertained us with memories and stories handed down through time. Edward shared his experiences growing up in a castle and playing hide and seek in the corridors and secret passages with his brother and sister.

Edward is passionate about being “this generation’s caretaker” of the castle. I appreciated his earnestness about his role and his obvious love for this place.

Thirlestane Castle Grand Dining Room
The grand dining room at Thirlestane Castle with family portraits on the walls.
Thirlestane Castle Sitting Room
Exquisite plaster ceilings in one of the sitting rooms.

Tea at Thirlestane

After wandering through rooms in the castle and viewing the new apartments, we all met in the tea room for afternoon tea. I didn’t even take photos. We simply gathered in small groups at the tables and enjoyed chatting together as we sipped hot tea. Edward introduced us to his lovely wife and then moved around the room, telling more stories and answering questions.

As I have on previous visits, I felt a bit sad leaving Thirlestane Castle. I’m so appreciative of all the measures that have been taken, to keep this historical treasure standing and thriving. It’s no small feat. I’m deeply grateful for Ian and Edward, for sharing their wealth of information about the castle and the family. And I’m thrilled that I spent time at Thirlestane with kinsmen who feel the way I feel about this place. Strong connections now existed with these dear people who were strangers only a few days before. The afternoon was a shared experience I’ll cherish always.

What a day, between the mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel and the beauty and connection at Thirlestane Castle. One more day together, and our Clan Maitland Gathering would draw to a close.

The cranes of Thirelstane Castle
Posing with the Thirlestane Cranes. I have my own crane story that connects to these Scottish counterparts.

Learning more:

Discover more about Rosslyn Chapel HERE. And pick up a copy of The Da Vinci Code below or order the film on DVD.

 

Learn more about Thirlestane Castle and accommodations  HERE.

And read about other Clan Maitland Gathering fun with these posts:

Clan Maitland Gathers

Maitlands in the Borders

 

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Dean Village

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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:


 

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Maitlands in the Borders

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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

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Clan Maitland Gathers

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Beyond my desire to explore Edinburgh, another purpose drew me to Scotland this year. Members of Clan Maitland, the Scottish clan I am part of, gathered in the city. To meet kinsmen I am connected to has long been a dream of mine. Five days after arriving in Edinburgh, that dream became a reality.

Clan Maitland gathers in Scotland every ten years.  Family members descended from Maitlands and Lauderdales arrive from the countries they’ve scattered to.  This year the US, New Zealand, England, France and Scotland were represented.

The next few posts will share details about our fun time together and the family related historical sites we explored.

Clan Maitland Gathers Title Meme

Clan Maitland Gathers…for Tea

Clan members met for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon for a very Scottish tradition, Afternoon Tea. My sister Debbie and I walked the short distance from our apartment on Thistle Street to the Garden Room at the Kimpton Hotel on Charlotte Square. A few of our members, including our Clan Chief, would not arrive until evening, however this casual afternoon gathering proved a great way for people who are family yet strangers to break the ice.

What a joy to meet people I am connected with on Facebook whom I’ve never met face to face. We quickly embraced each other as kin and before long conversations and laughter flowed merrily around the room as we enjoyed a wonderful tea time.

That evening we all gathered at the Angel’s Share Hotel for dinner. The group from England arrived and I met Ian, the 18th Earl of Lauderdale and our Clan Chief. He immediately put us all at ease and entertained us with family stories. I learned that the Maitlands descended from the Mautalents of Normandy about 1000 to 1060.

Clan Maitland Gathers Tea Time

Afternoon Tea with Clan Maitland

Clan Maitland Gathers…on the Bus

The next morning we met early for our first full day of traveling and exploring together. Debbie and I smiled when we saw the bus, called a coach in Scotland, waiting for us. Lauderdale is such an uncommon name in the US. It’s fun to see it featured more prominently in Scotland.

Lauderdale Bus

Once on board the coach, we journeyed south to the small burgh of Haddington and our stop at St. Mary’s Parish Church and Lauderdale Aisle.

St Marys Collegiate Church

The Light of Lothian

St. Mary’s in Haddington dates back to 1139. With a length of 206 feet, it’s one of the longest churches in Scotland. Twice, in 1355 and again in 1548-49, the structure experienced extensive damage due to English invasions. The town repaired the west end of the church, erecting a barrier wall to seal off the east end, which remained roofless for hundreds of years.

In the 1970s restoration on the remaining section of the church began. Once completed the barrier wall came down and the church, called the Light of Lothian, continues to shine brightly in the community.

St Marys Interior

St Marys Organ
The magnificent pipe organ of St Mary’s, installed in 1990.

Clan Maitland Gathers…in Lauderdale Aisle

On the north side of the church, a small chapel awaited us. Because of the size of the room, our group of 30 plus people divided. Half of us toured the church while the others sat quietly in Lauderdale Aisle with Ian. Then we switched places.

I’ve read about Lauderdale Aisle, which once served as the sacristy of the church. It became a burial aisle for the Maitlands after the reformation of 1560. Entering through a stone archway, the marble effigies immediately draw the eye. The Renaissance monuments memorialize Sir John Maitland, Chancellor of Scotland under King James V, his son John, 1st Earl of Lauderdale, and their wives.

Beneath the aisle is a burial vault for the interment of the Earls and Countesses of Lauderdale. The  Duke of Lauderdale rests within this chamber as well. There are also niches for the ashes of other clansfolk.

The Doorway to Lauderdale Aisle

Marble Effigies

A Sacred Space

My group sat reverently on narrow wooden benches and listened to Ian share stories about the ancestors buried within Lauderdale Aisle. As he spoke a sacredness filled the room, shimmering in the soft light that filtered in through the window high on the wall.

I’ve so wanted to see this place. To experience it with my kinsmen, to hear stories told by my Clan Chief, created a surreal dream-like reality. I felt connection and awe, and deep gratitude for these men and women, long dead but surrounding us in spirit in this tiny room.

Ian concluded our time in Lauderdale Aisle by telling us that if we so wished, we could have our ashes brought here for interment as well. And he meant it. That amazing offer touched me in the part of my heart that declares itself Scottish and brought tears to my eyes.

St Marys Stained Glass Windwo

Clan Means Family

St. Mary’s Church and Lauderdale Aisle were the beginning of a long day together. We enjoyed lunch in Haddington and journeyed onward to two more places before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian told us that clan means family. I learned when Clan Maitland gathers, connection happens. When Clan Maitland gathers, stories are told. And when Clan Maitland gathers, adventures unfold.

I’ll be sharing more of those adventures in upcoming posts. Come discover my family roots, and some of the finest historical sites in Scotland, with me.

Clan Chief Ian with family
Ian sharing info and stories with us.

If you are a Maitland or Lauderdale, join our clan or read more about us HERE.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

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On this, my third trip to Scotland, I traveled with less of an agenda. At least, this was true for the time that my sister and I had apart from the Clan Maitland events. We built in six days of exploring on our own.

Our primary intention, while in this beautiful and intriguing city, was to wander about and soak up the city and the culture while enjoying our encounters with the people we met.

I said less of an agenda. I did hope to visit several places that I had yet to experience in Scotland. One of those was the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Royal Botanic Garden title meme

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, founded in 1670, began as a garden to grow medicinal plants. Today the garden actually occupies four sites across Scotland: Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore. Each offers its own special collection of plants. The Edinburgh site is the main garden. Its outdoor collection consists of more than 13,000 plant species and almost 300,000 individual plants.

Originally the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh flourished near Holyrood Palace, at the foot of what’s referred to as the Royal Mile. Hence the name. It is the second oldest botanic garden in Great Britain, after Oxford’s. That first medicinal garden occupied a 40 foot by 40 foot plot, and housed almost 900 plants. When the site became too small, the garden relocated in 1676 to Loch Nor, not far from High Street. Today Waverly Railway Station occupies that space.

In 1763 the garden moved again to Leith Walk, away from the more populous part of Edinburgh. And in the early 1820s the garden moved to its current location adjacent to Inverleith Row. The garden occupies 70 acres and includes a variety of collections including Alpine Plants, Chinese Hillside, Rock Garden, Scottish Heath Garden and Woodland Garden. There’s also an Herbarium on site, that houses more than 3 million specimens.

Royal Botanic Garden Entrance

Creating Time to Explore

On my first visit to Scotland, in 2014, I learned about the botanic garden and yet lacked the opportunity to explore the grounds. In 2017, on our girls’ whirlwind trip through Ireland, Scotland and England, lack of time prevented a visit once again.

However, on this visit, my sister Debbie and I built in time to explore. Rather than fill our days up with activities, we spent our hours exploring the city and getting around on the famous hop on/hop off buses. When we purchased tickets for the bus rides, we learned that we could upgrade our one day pass the next day for a three day pass that included the Royal bus line, which included a stop at the Royal Botanic Garden. Oh yes, a trip to the gardens became very doable.

Scottish weather is typically cool and rainy. And so it was, our first few days in Edinburgh. We chose Monday as the day to spend outdoors in the gardens, based on the weather app.

Royal Botanic Garden Pathway

Green Lawns at Royal Botanic Garden

Visiting Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

What a surprise when Monday turned out to be a rarity in Scotland….hot, sunny and windy! We opted for lightweight shirts and left our jackets at the apartment. Carrying our metal water bottles and pulling our hair back into ponytails, we hopped on a bus…and hopped off at the garden entrance. Admission is free although there are nominal fees to some of the greenhouses and exhibits on the site.

I’m a gardener. My soul finds great joy and peace in the gardens. I believe my love of working the earth is a result of my Scottish DNA. The Scots love their green lawns and patches of flowers and herb gardens. It’s one of the reasons I feel so at home in Scotland.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh delighted me on so many levels.

Debbie and I wandered slowly through the grounds, making no attempt to see all 70 acres. We agreed to stroll some paths and enjoy our surroundings and find a bench to sit on, amid the beauty found in the gardens.

That’s exactly what we did.

I love that the gardens are not formal. Instead, they are in a natural state. There are beds, of course, and groupings and pathways. However the overall feel of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is abundance, in a wild sort of way, and it seems so fitting for Scotland.

Woodland Garden

Clematis in Royal Botanic Garden

Refreshed in the Garden

We sat for a time on a bench, watching people walk by, sipping our water and laughing as the wind played with our hair. Just as it does when I’m in my garden at home, nature restored and refreshed me.

Simone Weil wrote,

There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.”

Beauty pierced my heart that afternoon, bypassing my mind completely. In fact, I walked through the garden and turned off my need to know the names of all the plants. I saw many that are not familiar to me. And yet, it seemed enough to take in beauty and the sweet scents from a variety of flowering plants and bask in the warm Scottish sunshine…and just be.

My sister and I were simply the Lauderdale girls, walking through the garden, sweaty from the sun, wind blown and incredible happy to be in Scotland. The experience at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was perfect…and worth waiting five years for.

Lauderdale Girls

 

In the sun….and windblown….and look how happy we are!

Check out these fun finds, for your visit to Edinburgh!

 


 

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At Home on Thistle Street

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One difference, on this trip to Scotland, was using Edinburgh as home base. Rather than traveling around the country and staying in various accommodations, we stayed in the Braid Apartments in Edinburgh for the duration of our visit. We took several day trips into the Borders, however we returned to Edinburgh each evening.

Thistle Street, in the New Town section of Edinburgh, became home for 10 glorious days.

At Home on Thistle Street Title Meme

In the Heart of Edinburgh

When we planned this trip to Scotland, my sister Debbie and I gave our travel agent, Ken, very specific requests about accommodations. We hoped for a central location close to Old Town and within walking distance of Charlotte Square in New Town. When Clan Maitland activities began, we’d need to catch the bus in Charlotte Square.

Ken’s choice of the Braid Apartments on Thistle Street served us so well. We found ourselves located minutes from Princes Street, the Royal Mile, the hop on/hop off buses and Charlotte Square. In addition, we discovered nearby vegan restaurants and cafes, a grocery store and we easily located the specified meeting places for Maitland family teas and dinners. The location proved to be perfect!

Thistle Street ViewThe cobblestoned Thistle Street.

The History of Thistle Street

New Town, in Edinburgh, is not new by most standards! At more than 200 years old, it is only new in comparison with Old Town, which is considerably older.

New Town, created during the reign of King George III, is set up in a grid pattern with streets named after the king. There is a George Street and one named Princes, Queen Street and Hanover.

Two smaller streets in New Town represent the union of Scotland and England. Rose Street is named after England’s flower emblem, while Thistle Street represents Scotland’s national flower.

Thistle Street is a small commercial lane, filled with tiny shops, pubs, cafes, boutique hotels and apartments. The building that currently houses the Braid Apartments served as a hub for offices previously. The interior underwent a renovation two years ago, creating 20 modern apartments for short term leases, while retaining the charming exterior.

Braid Apartments Thistle Street

Window View on Thistle StreetView from the living room window.

At Home on Thistle Street

The cozy apartment on Thistle Street housed us well during our stay in Edinburgh. Large windows offer spectacular views of the city as it ambles down to the Firth of Forth.

The spacious rooms provide homey comfort and plenty of storage space. I loved unpacking and putting clothes away, rather than living out of a suitcase for 10 days. Apartment amenities include two large screen tvs, an ironing board and iron, a blow dryer, toiletries, use of a free cell phone, towels and robes and daily cleaning service.

My favorite room in the apartment was the large fully functional kitchen. The refrigerator, stove (called a hob in Scotland) and microwave meant we could cook at home. We shopped for groceries our first evening in Edinburgh and prepared healthy, wholesome meals during our stay, for a fraction of the cost of eating out. I enjoy cooking. And cooking in Edinburgh? Precious.

Cooking on Thistle Street

All the Conveniences of Home

The apartment also provides a dishwasher and all the kitchen essentials such as pots and pans, cutting knives, silverware, plates, cups and glasses. Braid Apartments stocked the kitchen with a large assortment of teas, a loaf of bread, milk, juice, jelly and butter. I loved the electric tea pot. It made creating cups of hot tea a snap.

A washer/dryer unit in the kitchen allowed us to do laundry, which was a great help. How wonderful to pack clean clothes for the trip home.

And due to the recent renovation, the bedroom has a wall air conditioning unit. Most buildings, homes, hotels, restaurants and businesses in Edinburgh do not have air conditioning, since Scotland is so cool, even in summer. However, during our visit a rare occurrence happened. All of Europe, including Scotland, experienced unusually hot temperatures, creating a host of heat related problems. Debbie and I felt gratitude for that air conditioner unit! We slept comfortably with it running. Thankfully the extreme heat only lasted a few days before more typical Scottish weather returned.

Apartments on Thistle StreetCute apartments across the street. I love the different colors on the doors.

Grateful for Thistle Street

During our stay, I became quite fond of our little apartment on Thistle Street. We spent most of our time out exploring Edinburgh or traveling with our Maitland/Lauderdale family members throughout the Borders. But as the days wound down and the light softened toward dusk, our steps always led us back to that quiet cobbled lane.

The Thistle Street apartment was many things during our visit: convenience, sanctuary, pit stop, shelter, personal café…and for 10 days, it was home. It’s where we dwelled in peace and comfort, rested tired feet, refreshed ourselves with healthy meals, pots of tea and hot showers, and set out on new adventures.

We felt sad, locking the door of the apartment for the last time, and yet grateful for all that it provided. I highly recommend the Braid Apartments at 27 Thistle Street, Edinburgh. I hope to stay there again…soon.

Check out this Guide to Edinburgh:

 


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Seeds for the Soul Vegan Restaurant

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Thank you to Seeds for the Soul Vegan Restaurant for providing complimentary lunches. All opinions are my own.

 

On this fine summer day in Edinburgh, my sister Debbie and I hopped in a cab, excited to experience lunch at Seeds for the Soul Vegan Restaurant. Living in a city in the Midwest, USA, my vegan restaurant options are limited. It is a real treat to enjoy all that Edinburgh has to offer for plant based dining.

Seeds for the Soul Title Meme

Seeds for the Soul

After a short cab ride, we arrived at our destination in a part of Edinburgh we’ve not visited before.

Seeds for the Soul, located at 167 Bruntsfield Place, delighted me the moment we walked through the door.

Before I even spoke to Katie, the manager, I spied a table with a little chalkboard sign on it.

“Reserved from 12PM Cindy”

How’s that for a sweet welcome?

This 100% vegan restaurant provides intimate seating in a cozy area at the front of the restaurant and a larger room at the back. We enjoyed a table in the front, with views out the large window.

Seeds for the Soul front

Seeds for the Soul back

Changing the World, One Plate at a Time

Seeds for the Soul offers an impressive menu. From full vegan breakfasts to an assortment of hearty and healthy lunches and specialty drinks, this cafe believes in changing the world one plate, one meal at a time.

They make most of their food from scratch using organic and locally sourced produce. And they take to heart the words, “be the change you want to see in the world”, offering cruelty free meals, always.

We ordered Soul Bowls for lunch…the Middle Eastern one for me and the Asian one for Debbie. And of course, we requested a pot of tea to accompany our meal, Breakfast Tea this time.

Seeds for the Soul lunch bowls

Soul Bowls

How beautiful our meals were, when they arrived, visually pleasing as well as delicious.

The Asian Soul Bowl (top of photo) features seasoned tofu, rice noodles, avocado, lettuce, carrot, coriander and black sesame seeds with a ginger-garlic tamare dressing.

The Middle Eastern Soul Bowl (bottom of photo) is filled with falafel, hummus, roasted curried chick peas, spinach, cucumber, carrot, red cabbage and sesame seeds with a mango chutney.

We savored our incredible lunches. This is soul food indeed, real ingredients thoughtfully prepared and lovingly presented. Each bowl came topped with a perfect pansy, which is not just a lovely garnish. These pretty flowers are edible.

As we dined, Debbie and I enjoyed people watching out the window. We also appreciated the artwork on the wall, by local artist Samantha Fung. Her art is whimsical with important messages about treating all living creatures with kindness. Samantha happened to come into the restaurant while we were there, accompanied by her adorable dog.

Seeds for the Soul Artwork

Casting a Vision

I so appreciate the lunches provided by Seeds for the Soul. And even more importantly, I appreciate the mission and the vision the owners have.

They recognize that wholesome, clean food creates health and happiness. Therefore, they make it a priority to use the best ingredients available, free from preservatives, chemicals, refined sugar and all sorts of other nasties. Seeds for the Soul serves food that nurtures the body and the soul, that’s why it’s made with great love and care. 

And I LOVE that this company has the mission of reducing waste and pollution.  All takeaway boxes, bags, cups, cutlery, and napkins are 100% biodegradable. And all the waste that’s produced when preparing food is composted or recycled daily.

The owners’ vision is to plant ‘Seeds for the Soul’ in every city in Scotland.  Doing so would support and promote natural food and local organic producers. And they can educate people about the benefits of a vegan diet while keeping the planet healthy for future generations.

Seeds for the Soul intends to spread love and health to as many people as they possibly can.

I can wholeheartedly agree with that intention. Please visit this restaurant  in Edinburgh and be fed, on many levels. And watch for great and mighty things from this company.

Seeds for the Soul for Cindy

 

 

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Afternoon Tea at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe

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Our afternoon tea at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe was provided for us by the restaurant. All opinions however are my own.

My sister Debbie and I arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland yesterday, after 22 hours of travel. Originally scheduled to land in Edinburgh at 9:10 am, we actually arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon due to a five hour delay in New York City.

Tired but excited to be back in Edinburgh, we unpacked at the Braid Apartments by Mansley and headed out into the misty rain.

It was tea time. And we had an afternoon tea at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe waiting for us.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe

Being Vegan in Edinburgh

Maintaining a vegan or plant based lifestyle is easy in this busy city. There are many, many vegan restaurants to choose from. And, most regular restaurants have vegan options.

I researched many of the all-vegan cafes before the trip and reached out to several. In exchange for an afternoon tea or lunch, I offered a blog post feature and social media shares. There were two cafes in particular that caught my interest. Both responded positively.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe exterior

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe sign

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe & Wellness Centre

Beetroot Sauvage offers a vegan cafe plus wellness activities including yoga and meditation, holistic therapies and events for the community.

The cafe’s menu features plant based meals for breakfast, brunch and lunch. They also provide sweet treats that are vegan, with some desserts that are gluten free as well.

And, they offer a vegan afternoon tea.

During my first visit to Scotland in 2014, I adopted the practice of afternoon tea. I love that refreshing pause mid-afternoon. At home I enjoy an herbal tea and a simple treat such as a piece of fruit.

How exciting to experience my first vegan afternoon tea, in my favorite city in the world!

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe gardens

Outdoor seating in the back gardens at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe. Live music is offered on Sundays.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe Outdoor seating

Exploring the Cafe

Upon arrival cafe manager Diana greeted us kindly and directed us to a table. We selected an herbal tea called Strawberries and Cream. While our treat was prepared, Diana gave me permission to wander around and take photos.

The cafe is attractive, homey and pet friendly. Tired as we were, we felt the peace and joy that permeates the entire space.

The pretty back gardens provide outdoor seating in a natural environment. In fact, Sauvage is a French word meaning “wild” in a natural way. Beetroot Sauvage Cafe perfectly fits its name.

Upstairs I slipped into the empty yoga studio to snap a couple of photos. Natural light fills that large room due to an abundance of windows. Marie-Anne had graciously invited us to attend a 10:00 am yoga class that morning, however our plane did not arrive in time.

Yoga studio upstairs

Cafe interior

Vegan Afternoon Tea

Shortly after I rejoined Debbie at our table, a pot of tea arrived along with china cups and saucers.

As we exclaimed over the pretty teapot and cups, Diana carried out a three tiered serving stand, filled with treats both sweet and savory…and all vegan.

Sampling each delicious offering, one wouldn’t know they are plant based.

In the previous 30 hours, Debbie and I had only eaten airport or airline food. We limited our meals to simple vegetarian options as we flew. This magnificent afternoon tea completely wowed us and revived us.

More than a snack, the tea time meal satisfied our hunger, physically and soulfully. We didn’t eat again until this morning.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe

A Special Beginning to Our Time in Edinburgh

I deeply appreciate Marie-Anne, Diana and the staff at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe for their warm welcome and for the amazing vegan afternoon tea. The cafe and wellness centre is located at 33 – 41 Ratcliffe Terrace, Edinburgh.

I highly recommend Beetroot Sauvage Cafe for the food and for their dedication and commitment to feeding others in a way that nourishes the body and warms the heart while promoting healing for people and for the earth.

They kicked off our visit to Edinburgh in the most phenomenal way by showing that it’s possible to explore a city and eat in a healthy way at the same time. We are grateful.

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Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

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On the eve of my trip to Scotland, it seems a great time to share tips for traveling with a carry on. This is my third international trip in which I’ll live out of a carry on for 10 or more days. I learned on my first trip to Scotland in 2014 that lugging a large suitcase around was not the best idea. Vowing to do better, I discovered the benefits of traveling light.

If 10 days with a carry on seems impossible, read on!

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On Title meme

Plan, Practice, Pack

These are some of my favorite tips for traveling with a carry on, when preparing for an extended trip. I’ll be in Scotland for 11 days. I’m traveling with a carry on and a purse.

Plan

Planning for this trip began a year ago. I can’t speak highly enough of my travel agent, Ken, with GalaxSea Cruises & Tours. Ken and I sat down together last year and put together a phenomenal package that saved my sister Debbie and me money.

We are staying in an apartment in the center of Edinburgh, close to everything that we want to experience. The location is important as it is near the hotel where Debbie and I will meet with other members of Clan Maitland a few days after we arrive. An apartment is preferred over a hotel room because of its full kitchen. I can cook part of the time and prepare my own plant based meals.

Tips:

Whether planning your own trip or working with a travel agent, know what your needs are and prioritize them. High on my list…an apartment with a kitchen in a specified area.

Be aware of any events going on that might impact travel. We learned that an international rugby competition is going on in Edinburgh while we are there. The Fringe Festival begins August 1. These events draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Edinburgh, limiting accommodations in July and raising rates. That info prompted us to create travel plans much earlier than we normally would, ensuring a place to stay at a great rate.

Using a weather app, add your destination and begin watching the weather. This helps with packing appropriate clothing. Scotland is cool and rainy, even in summer. Today’s high was 65 degrees with a low of 52. Long sleeves and a jacket are essentials.

Create a list of all the items to pack in your carry on.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry OnI’m excited to try out these travel supplements, from Voke.

Practice

I find it helpful to do a practice run…or two…packing my carry on. I had to toss my last carry on, after an incident on an escalator. My daughter Elissa loaned me a hard-sided carry on to try out. I’m glad I practiced packing several days ago, because this carry on is very different from the soft-sided piece I owned before.

My first thought was “I can’t make this work!” This carry on seems much smaller due to the suitcase being divided into a clothing compartment and a laptop one. However, after a practice packing session, I found I could fill the computer side with clothes and other items, since I’m not traveling with my laptop.

Tips:

I’ve tried rolling clothes, and that worked well with my last carry on. With less depth in this carry on, I used Marie Kondo’s folding technique to create small, flat rectangles with my clothing. Success! Try both methods and see which works best for your carry on.

Eliminate clothes that you don’t need. Most people pack too many clothes. Practicing makes it real. You can see what’s most important to take and what’s nonessential. My practice pack helped me to cut down on the number of shirts, socks and underwear and settle on one jacket. Since we have a washer and dryer in the apartment, we can wash clothes while in Edinburgh. That helps greatly.

And try on ALL the clothes you intend to take. Make sure they still fit and that they are in good repair. If you don’t like an outfit for any reason, don’t waste space taking it. Create multiple outfits from a small capsule wardrobe to maximize space.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

Pack

Tonight I completed packing, for real. I only need to add a couple of toiletries in the morning, after getting ready. After my practice pack, tonight went smoothly and I feel confident about the clothes I’m taking.

Tips:

Fold or roll each article of clothing to make it as small as possible.

Don’t waste any space. I tuck underwear into shoes and fill in empty spots with socks and supplements. Fill pockets in the carry on with toiletries, small items such as jewelry and thin documents or books.

Speaking of supplements, I travel with vitamin B12, to keep my energy up. And I take along MSM and Cat’s Claw to keep inflammation at bay in my left knee. Be mindful of your health while you travel. Carry prescriptions in their bottles with your name and doctor’s name on them.

All containers of liquids and gels MUST be 3.4 ounces or smaller and MUST be in a clear quart size zip lock bag. Keep this bag in an easily accessed part of your carry on, as it is placed outside luggage as you go through security. You are allowed one zip lock bag. (See TSA rules for carry ons.)

Keep travel docs handy as well. I placed mine in a pocket in the laptop compartment. I used the airlines app to precheck and have an online boarding pass ready to go, on my phone.

Be sure to pack phone chargers, earbuds, sunglasses and a journal. I’m including a rechargeable battery pack so I can charge up my phone while out for the day.

Wear your bulkiest articles of clothing on the flight. Tomorrow I’ll be wearing jeans, a short sleeved shirt and boots. Smaller, easier to pack shoes and slacks are in the carry on. I save space by carrying a jacket over my arm and toting a large plaid wrap as well. The wrap will double as a blanket on the flight.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On Packed

Extra Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

If souvenirs are important, leave space for them in your carry on.

It’s okay to take an empty metal water bottle through security. Carry it rather than pack it. After passing through security you can fill the bottle for use on the plane.

Make sure family members have your travel itinerary. Keep your copy in your carry on.

Arrive at the airport approximately two hours before your flight boards.

Never leave your carry on unattended.

Keep your passport handy. I have mine in my purse, rather than in my carry on.

Make sure you’ve added an international phone plan and contact your bank prior to leaving, if you will be using a bank debit or credit card.

Most importantly, have fun! Travel is a wonderful way to expand the mind, heart and soul. Create memories. Try something new. Get lost at least once. Talk to people on the plane, the bus, the train, and at the café. Follow curiosity.

Do you have favorite tips for traveling with a carry on? I’d love to see them in the comments.

My next post will be from Edinburgh, Scotland! I can’t wait to share my trip with you.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

Travel Essentials from Amazon

 

 


 

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Wreck this Journal

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Have you heard of the Wreck this Journal book?

Me either, until my granddaughter Aubrey introduced me to it. This creative kid ordered the book for herself and couldn’t wait to show me this unique twist on journaling.

Not only did Aubrey want to share her journal-in-progress with me, she felt sure I’d enjoy owning such a book myself. I loved the idea of working through our journals together. To encourage our Yaya/grandchild adventure, Greg purchased the book for me!

Aubrey is right. This is not your typical journal. It breaks the rules and pushes us beyond our comfort zones in the process. And, it is extraordinarily fun!

Wreck This Journal Title Meme

About Wreck this Journal

Created by conceptual artist and author Keri Smith, this paperback book is part journal, part sketch pad and part scrapbook. On each page a suggestion offers ideas on how to use the book.

“Document your dinner. Rub, smear, splatter your food. Use this page as a napkin.”

“Poke holes in this page, using a pencil.”

“Write or draw with your left hand.”

“Hide this page in your neighbor’s yard.”

“Tear this page out. Put it in your pocket. Put it through the wash. Stick it back in.”

The idea is to free up creativity by doing things that may at first induce a bit of discomfort, especially for adults. As children, we are not taught to wreck books, and of course this journal is not teaching disrespect. Instead, it encourages free thinking, expressiveness and outside the box activities.

Wreck This Journal Dinner Page

Wreck This Journal Dirt Page

Wreck This Journal, Express Creativity

There are pages in the Wreck This Journal book for doodling and drawing. Colored pencils, markers, crayons and watercolor paints are perfect for completing these pages. One page encourages the use of lots of tape. Many pages come with instructions to tear out the page or rip or poke or cut through the paper. Others urge the owner to get messy….with food, liquids or dirt.

Beyond the simple instructions on each page, the book owner is free to carry out the mission in any way that she or he chooses. Part of the fun of this journal is letting the imagination run wild and being clever in completing the activities.

If you need inspiration there are a ton of YouTube videos and photos online in which journal owners share their own creative ideas. Aubrey and I enjoy doing some pages together and having FaceTime chats on our phones where we show each other what pages we’ve completed that day. We discuss ideas too or come up with some outrageous way to accomplish a wacky activity.

Wreck This Journal Stickers

Wrecfk This Journal Pressed Page

Wreck This Journal and Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

I love that Wreck This Journal teaches the idea of going beyond, on several levels.

It encourages creativity, trying new experiences and getting out of our comfort zones. I know, from personal experience, that doing those three things opens up perspectives and broadens the mind. Expressing creativity is an invitation for inspiration to show up, with a continual stream of fresh ideas.

This journal delights me because as one who has always treated books with the upmost care, it’s very freeing to toss this one around and deliberately mess it up. I welcome activities that shake up old beliefs and ways of doing things. I’m enjoying the process of messy creation.

My intention is to carry Wreck This Journal to Scotland with me next week…and see what adventures I can have with it there.

My favorite thing about the journal, however, is that my granddaughter knows me so well that she knew I’d be intrigued with this book. Although I’m sure the author had kids and pre-teens in mind when she created the book, the journal is actually suitable for all creatives of all ages. I love the cleverness of it, and Aubrey knew that I would.

Wreck this Journal Aubreys Page 1

 Aubreys Page 2

Pick Up a Copy of Wreck This Journal

I’m grateful for my granddaughter’s recommendation and for the fun we’ve already had, sharing this experience of wrecking a journal, together. Looking for a unique gift for a creative child, teen or adult? Or are you feeling the urge to express creativity in fresh new ways? Aubrey and I highly recommend Wreck This Journal.


Order your copy of Wreck This Journal by clicking on photo above. And enjoy!

Looking for a great inspirational read for this summer? Check out We Carry Kevan.

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.

More fun books by Keri Smith: