Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland

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Fourth in the Movies That Inspire Travel series, these are the movies that inspire a trip to Scotland. I’ve greatly enjoyed writing this series of travel related posts. Check out the movie inspirations from Italy, Ireland and England too.

If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that Scotland is dear to me. I grew up with an intense longing to explore this gorgeous country, after I learned about my Scottish roots as a young child. My dreams became reality in 2014, with my first trip to Scotland. I returned in 2017 and 2019. Truthfully, I think about my ancestral homeland daily. Scotland calls to me continually. I feel more myself, more at home there, than I do anywhere else in the world.

This collection of movies inspired me through the years, while I yet dreamed of visiting Scotland. And today they stir fond memories and ease…a tiny bit…the ache to return home.

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland title meme

The Three Lives of Thomasina 1963

This early Disney live action drama stars Patrick McGoohan, Susan Hampshire, Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice.

In this fantasy meets reality film, a young Scottish girl’s cat, Thomasina, helps bring a family together through her mysterious death and magical resurrection. Set in 1912 Scotland, this tender movie enchants both children and adults.

Fun fact: As is usual in films featuring animals, several cats played the role of Thomasina. One of the felines held up filming for two days by absolutely refusing to perform a stunt she had trained for.

Purchase The Three Lives of Thomasina

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland the three lives of thomasina
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – The Three Lives of Thomasina

Local Hero 1983

This comedy drama stars Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Peter Capaldi and Denis Lawson.

An oil billionaire sends his representative to a remote Scottish village, to secure property rights for a proposed refinery. While the villagers initially seem excited by the prospect of a cash windfall, the eccentric local hermit doesn’t share in the enthusiasm. He refuses to sell his portion of the beach where he lives. This is the story of a materialistic man who discovers the incredible beauty of a simpler life.

Fun fact: After the movie released in 1983, many people came looking for the quaint village featured in the film. The Scottish village is Pennan on the Moray Coast.

Rent Local Hero on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland local hero
Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland – Local Hero

Rob Roy 1995

Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt and Tim Roth star in this historical drama.

In the Highlands of Scotland, in 1713, Rob Roy McGregor attempts to better the lives of those dwelling in his small village. He borrows money from a nobleman to purchase cattle to herd to market. When the money is stolen, Rob Roy becomes a Scottish Robin Hood to defend his family and his honor.

Fun fact: Actor Tim Roth feared losing the role because he played Archibald Cunningham as too eccentric. He even asked his agent to start looking for another part for him. Instead, the director encouraged Roth, asking him to up the level of eccentricity. Roth later received an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Rent Rob Roy on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland rob roy
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Rob Roy

Braveheart 1995

Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohand and Angus Macfadyen star in this historical drama.

Scottish rebel William Wallace leads an uprising against the English king, Edward Longshanks, who covets the crown of Scotland. With the assistance of Robert the Bruce and the clansmen of the Highlands, Wallace seeks freedom for all of Scotland.

Fun fact: When asked by a Scotsman why the Battle of Stirling Bridge was filmed on an open plain, Gibson answered, “The bridge got in the way”. “Aye,” the local responded, “that’s what the English found too.”

Watch for free on Starz or rent Braveheart on Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland braveheart
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Braveheart

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 2001

This fantasy adventure stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith and Richard Harris….plus a huge ensemble cast.

Harry Potter, an orphaned boy, discovers the truth about himself at the magical Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Famous for an incident that happened shortly after birth, Harry learns that the wizarding world is more dangerous than he ever imagined.

Although Hogwarts attracts students from across Europe, the school is located in the Scottish Highlands.

Fun fact: Author JK Rowling hand picked Alan Rickman to play the role of Snape. Rickman privately received special instructions about the character from Rowling that shaped the actor’s portrayal. Those details about Snape’s backstory were not revealed until the final novel and film.

Rent the Harry Potter films on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland - Harry Potter
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Harry Potter

Dear Frankie 2004

Gerard Butler, Emily Mortimer and Jack McElhone star in this romantic drama.

Nine year old Frankie and his mum Lizzie continually move from place to place. Their most recent stopping spot is a small seaside Scottish village. Wanting to protect her deaf son from the truth about his father, Lizzie creates a false story. She writes Frankie letters that the boy believes are from his father, who is supposedly away at sea. When Frankie discovers the ship his “father” is on is due to dock in his town, Lizzie chooses to hire a stranger to play Frankie’s dad, rather than tell him the truth.

Fun fact: The actor who plays Frankie is not deaf. However, he worked with a speech coach so that his one spoken line sounded correct.

Watch Dear Frankie on CBS All Access or rent on Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland dear frankie
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Dear Frankie

Stone of Destiny 2008

Charlie Cox, Stephen Cole, Ciaron Kelly, Kate Mara and Billy Boyd star in this comedy adventure based on a true story.

The films tells the fascinating and true story of four young Glaswegian students who, in 1951, successfully take back Scotland’s stone of destiny.  The 300 pound sandstone block is the stone that the kings of Scotland sat upon for their coronations. It was taken to Westminster Abbey in England as a spoil of war in 1296. Centuries later, these students outwit British authorities to return Scotland’s pride to its rightful place.

Fun fact: One of the real life students, Ian Hamilton, makes a cameo in the film, as an “older sour faced Englishman”. Ian passes the actor portraying him as he gets out or a car, shortly before he enters Westminster Abbey.

Watch Stone of Destiny free on IMDb TV

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland stone of destiny
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Stone of Destiny

Brave 2012

This animated film features the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd and Julie Waters.

Determined to make her own way in life, Scottish princess Merida defies long held traditions, bringing chaos to her family and kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a curse.

Fun fact: Kevin McKidd, who voices Young MacGuffin, enjoyed working on this film. It was the first time in years that he used his natural Scottish accent in a movie.

Rent Brave on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland brave
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Brave

Macbeth 2015

Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jack Madigan star in this drama inspired by Shakespeare.

Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches. They claim that one day, he will become King of Scotland. Spurred on by ambition and his wife, Macbeth murders the king and takes the throne for himself.

Fun fact: During filming on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, visibility became so poor that Marion Cotillard strayed into a bog and disappeared from view. It took two crew members to free her from the mud that sucked at her feet.

Watch Macbeth free with a Prime membership

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland macbeth
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Macbeth

Outlaw King 2018

Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane and Rebecca Robin star in this historical drama.

After receiving the declaration of “outlaw” by the English, Robert the Bruce raises an army of Scottish warriors in rebellion. He uses cunning and bravery to defeat the much larger and better equipped English army occupying Scottish soil.

Fun fact: After a screening of the film, the director cut 20 minutes from the movie. Included in the edits…a scene with an encounter between Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.

Watch Outlaw King on Netflix

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland outlaw king
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Outlaw King

When You Can’t Travel, Watch a Movie

The Three Lives of Thomasina, which I watched many times as a child, ignited a desire within my heart to visit Scotland. The other films, and more like them, kept that fire stoked. Even after my trips to Scotland, watching a film set in that amazing country creates a deep longing to return.

I am willing to feel the homesickness, as I watch movies that capture the rugged mountains and narrow glens of Scotland. And I willingly allow tears to fill my eyes when I hear bagpipes or that delightful Scottish brogue. These are invitations to return, from a land I consider home. When travel restrictions ease, I intend to answer that call.

How many of these films have you seen? And have you visited Scotland yet?

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland eilean donan castle
I am home.

 

 

 

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Fun Scottish Expressions and What They Mean

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Ah, Scotland. For me, the most beautiful country in the world. And Edinburgh, the capital city, is my favorite place to explore. The bagpipes, the castles, the green, green hills covered with heather in the summer and the language all pierce my heart. If you’ve ever watched the popular series Outlander, you’ve perhaps appreciated listening to the soft Scottish brogue too.

It takes me about 24 hours, in the country, to begin to understand that wonderful Scottish accent. And the phrases and slang are both endearing and amusing. Sit in a pub and listen to the locals talking to each other and you’ll understand why it’s one of my favorite things to do while touring the country.

These fun Scottish expressions and what they mean will help you decipher what’s said.

Fun Scottish Expressions title meme

Fun Scottish Expressions and What They Mean

Although the Scots speak English, their language is influenced by Gaelic, an older language that harkens back to the 13th century. Like other countries, there are different dialects present, from the northern Highlands to the southern Borders. However, all Scots are experts at turning a phrase, from humorous slang to hilarious cutting insults.

Lang may yer lum leek

While this phrase may sound inappropriate, it literally means “long may your chimney smoke”. It’s used as a toast to health, wishing one a long and healthy life.

Failing means yer playin’

An encouraging expression that means “at least you are trying”.

Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye

This expression translates to “what’s for you will no go by you”, meaning what’s meant to be, will be. I love this one.

Haste ye back

Used as a farewell, this one means “come back with speed” or “hurry back”.

Ah dinnae ken

Heard frequently in Scotland and on the series Outlander, this expression means “I don’t/didn’t know”. I use ah dinnae ken often when I’m speaking aloud to myself.

Fun Scottish Expressions Highlands
Fun Scottish Expressions – Ah dinnae ken how beautiful the Highlands are, until I traveled through them.

We’re a Jock Tamson’s bairns

This one means we are all God’s children. No one is better than anyone else. We are all equals.

Noo jist haud on

No, just hold on, meaning wait a minute, take your time or you are speaking too fast.

Is the cat deid?

This unusual expression means, “your trousers are too short”. Why, ah dinnae ken!

Haud yer wheesht

If you hear this expression, you need to shut up!

Och, it’s a dreich day

A reference to the weather, this means it’s a cold, wet, gloomy day. Scotland definitely has it’s share of dreich days.

Fun Scottish Expressions Glasgow
Fun Scottish Expressions – a dreich day in Glasgow

I’m fair puckled

I’m out of breath. Try this phrase next time you climb flights of stairs!

Gonnae no’ da that

Don’t do that!

Yer bum’s oot the windae

Literally, “your butt is out the window”. This one makes me laugh because I get such a visual image. It means you are lying or exaggerating.

Ma heid’s mince

“My head is mince”, meaning I’m a bit confused or mixed up.

Mony a mickle maks a muckle

I love this phrase too. Say it fast several times. It translates to “small amounts of savings soon build up to large amounts.” What a great saying to write on a travel savings jar!

Fun Scottish Expressions lass
Fun Scottish Expressions – this lass believes in mony a mickle maks a muckle. My heart longs to return to Scotland.

Aye mate, nae bother

Yes, friend, no problem. I absolutely love the Scottish “aye”.

That’s pure boggin

When something is boggin, it’s disgusting. That’s pure boggin means “that’s really disgusting”.

She’s a bonnie lass

You might know this one, as we use bonnie somewhat in the US. It means “she’s a beautiful woman”.

Dinnae be a wee clipe

This one means “don’t be a tattle tell”.

Yer oot yer face

Another one that makes me laugh, this one means “you are extremely drunk”.

Fun Scottish Expressions cheers
Fun Scottish Expressions – we dinnae get oot our faces in Edinburgh!

Mad wae it

This means “drunk”, as in Ian wiz so mad wae it.

Och, yer talking oot yer arse

You might guess this one! It means you are talking nonsense or making something up.

Peely-wally

This expression is used when someone doesn’t look 100% his best or seems out of sorts. Yer lookin’ a bit peely-wally.

Wur tearin’ the tartan

When enjoying a riveting, gossipy conversation, people are tearin’ the tartan.

Dinnae fash yerself

Outlander fans are familiar with this phrase. Jamie utters it to Claire frequently. It means “don’t worry yourself” as in, don’t get stressed or annoyed over a situation. Jamie calls Claire Sasanach. In case you wonder, that word translates to “English born” or it can refer to someone born in the Scottish lowlands or borders as opposed to the Highlands.

Fun Scottish Expressions Eilean Donan Castle
Fun Scottish Expressions – dinnae fash yerself when you visit Scotland

Which of the Fun Scottish Expressions is Your Favorite?

Did you pick out a favorite expressions? Truthfully, I love all of them and use several, privately. I enjoy Scottish films. The background scenery, the city shots and especially hearing the language all tug me energetically back toward Scotland.

Reading these expressions as I typed the words, I could mentally “hear” them spoken with a Scottish accent. It makes me feel homesick. I trust travel restrictions will ease someday and I’ll get back there.

I’ll leave you with one more fun phrase.

Better tae bust oot than rust oot.

Translation: Live every moment of life to the absolute fullest before you die.

Aye!

Fun Scottish Expressions flags

Other fun posts in this series:

English expressions

Irish expressions

 

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Rent Outlander on Amazon or start a FREE 7 day trial of Starz and watch the whole series.

 


 

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The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny

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I first toured Edinburgh Castle in 2014, with my cousins Mindy and William. On that dreich day in August, we stood huddled around our tour guide Jonathan as he spoke passionately about Scotland’s Stone of Destiny, housed nearby in a room of the castle.

With his long red hair blowing in the wind and fire in his fierce blue eyes, Jonathan epitomized the proud Scots warrior, ready to defend his beloved country. I shivered as he spoke in his heavy Scottish brogue and it had nothing to do with the cold. He shared how the stone left Scotland for a time…a very long time…and eventually returned home where, he declared vehemently, it will remain.

And he intrigued me with a tale of the infamous theft of the Stone of Destiny.

When my cousins opted to leave the castle complex to attend a whiskey tasting, I chose to stay behind and see this Stone of Destiny that stirred such passion in our guide.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny title meme

The Stone of Destiny Backstory

The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone and in England, the Coronation Stone, is an oblong block of red sandstone. This rather ordinary looking block of stone served for centuries as the coronation stone for the monarchs of Scotland.

The Scone Abbey near Perth, Scotland originally housed the artifact. Historian Walter Hemingford described the stone as “hollowed out as a chair on which future kings were placed for their coronation, according to custom.”

The stone measures 26 inches by 16.7 inches by 10.5 inches. A roughly etched cross decorates one surface while embedded iron rings aid with transport. It weighs 335 pounds.

In 1296 the English king Edward I took the stone as spoils of war and moved it to Westminster Abbey. A special wooden coronation chair became the stone’s resting place. Edward sought to claim status as the “Lord Paramount” of Scotland with the right to oversee its king.

All subsequent English monarchs sat in the chair, above the stone, when crowned. Queen Elizabeth II last used the coronation chair in 1953.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny coronation chair
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – illustration of the Coronation Chair with the Stone

A Daring Rescue Plan

In 1950, more than 650 years after the stone left Scotland, a group of Scottish college students concocted a bold plan…steal the Stone of Destiny and bring it home.

A law student at the University of Glasgow, Ian Hamilton joined with Alan Stuart, Kay Matheson and Gavin Vernon to break into Westminster Abbey and recover the stone.

Ian read everything he could find about the Abbey and scouted out the building several times. On one visit, he deliberately stayed past closing time, hiding near the Coronation Chair. A janitor discovered him and thinking the young man drunk, offered him a coin and let him out a side door.

During these surveillance trips, Ian found the side doors made of pine, making them easy to break into after hours.

On Christmas Eve, 1950, Ian and his companions drove to London in two separate cars. Arriving early on Christmas Day, the group parked near the Abbey. Kay remained in a running car, ready for a quick get away, while the boys stealthily entered the Abbey. That’s when the plan began to fall apart.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny top view
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – top view

Stealing the Stone of Destiny

The heavy stone rested in a chair made specifically for it. The young men found it difficult to remove the stone and ultimately broke part of the chair. Tugging the stone free at last, it fell to the floor, breaking toes on one of the men’s foot. More alarming to them, the stone broke in two.

Ian quickly grabbed the smaller piece and carried it to the car where Kay waited. He stashed the stone segment in the back seat. As he re-entered the Abbey, he heard a police officer approaching. Dashing back to Kay, Ian took her into his arms and kissed her. Questioned by the policeman, the pair claimed to be a couple searching for accommodations for the night.

Once the officer left, Kay drove off with the smaller stone segment hidden beneath a blanket. When Ian returned to the Abbey, he discovered the other men had fled. With great determination and ingenuity, the lad used his coat to laboriously drag the heavier stone segment out of the building.

As he heaved the stone into the trunk of the second car, his comrades returned. They all left together.

The theft discovered, roadblocks sprang up on all streets out of London. Kay did not draw suspicion, as a single girl driving a car. She made it through and crossed the border, taking her part of the stone to her family’s farm in Scotland.

The young men chose to hide the larger segment in England, fearing they could not make it across the closed border. They buried the stone in an empty field in Kent. Eventually they returned for the stone and successfully transported it to Scotland.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny side view
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – side view

Back to England

With the help of the Scottish National Party leader, the courageous college students had the stone repaired by a stone master. The theft made international headlines and brought a united sense of joy to the Scottish people.

As the investigation into the theft of the Destiny Stone came closer and closer to the perpetrators, the four decided that they had accomplished their purpose. By stealing the Stone of Destiny and bringing it home they raised awareness of Scotland’s subordination to England.

The four contacted two Arbroath town councilors and turned over the stone.

On April 11, 1951, the councilors helped the college students set up the stone on an altar in the abandoned Arbroath Abbey and called the authorities. The English got the stone back and returned it to the Coronation Chair. The students disbanded and never met again. Ian completed his studies and became a criminal lawyer.

The way was paved, however, for the stone to return to its rightful place in Scotland. In 1996 the English handed over the Stone of Destiny, on the condition that they may “borrow” it for any future coronations.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny Robert the Bruce
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – statue of Robert the Bruce

Viewing the Stone of Destiny

Twice I’ve viewed the Stone of Destiny in Edinburgh Castle. Both times I felt deeply moved.

The stone rests within a plexiglass case along with the Crown Jewels of Scotland. I can’t touch it yet I feel the hum of sacred energy that flows from it. My Scottish DNA responds, causing my eyes to fill with tears and my heart to beat faster. Photographs are not allowed so I spent several long minutes studying the stone, searing its image into my mind and soul.

What an amazing history this stone possesses. I love the courage and resourcefulness of the four young adults who accomplished what no one else dared. They took back what was rightfully theirs. That feat ultimately resulted in a permanent return of the stone and the Scottish are extremely protective of it now.

As an older adult, Ian said:

“When I lifted the stone in Westminster Abbey, I felt Scotland’s soul was in my hands.”

What a marvelous representation of Scotland’s hardy, warrior soul is the Stone of Destiny. Long may it remain in Edinburgh.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny group photo
Group photo at Edinburgh Castle, September 2017

Want to watch a fun depiction of this true story? Check out the Stone of Destiny film, available through Amazon Prime. Click on photo to rent.

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Movie Review: Outlaw King

The Scotsman Robert the Bruce, also known as the Outlaw King, began his reign in 1306 as a fugitive. This historical man is the subject of a new Netflix film, which released Friday on the network.

As one with Scottish ancestry, and a deep love for the country, I couldn’t wait to watch this biographical drama.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Outlaw King

Outlaw King stars Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane, Billy Howle, Tony Curran, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh and Josie O’Brien. David Mackenzie directed the film, which carries an R rating, for violence, language and brief nudity. Outlaw King has a run time of 2 hours and 1 minute.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Oppression and Civil Skirmishes

This story takes place immediately after William Wallace’s efforts to thwart the English by uniting the Scottish nobles against them. King Edward I (Dillane) of England seeks to control the Scots, and any desire to place a king of their own on the throne, by demanding taxation, pressing men into armed service, and creating alliances with nobility.

During this time of unrest and uncertainty, Wallace is killed by the English, inciting rage throughout Scotland.

Robert the Bruce (Pine), a descendant of Scotland’s King David, decides to challenge Edward I. First he eliminates a powerful rival for the throne, then he has himself declared king, becoming Robert I.

Robert the Bruce and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh (Pugh) are inaugurated King and Queen of Scots at Scone on March 25, 1306.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Fugitive King

The news immediately sends a ripple through Scotland and England. King Edward sends his son, Edward (Howle), Prince of Wales, to handle the upstart. Most of the Scottish nobility don’t recognize Bruce as king and fail to support him.

Robert the Bruce narrowly escapes capture when an English army attacks during the Battle of Methven. He sends his wife and daughter Marjorie (O’Brien) to safety while he becomes a fugitive. Not only is Robert trying to establish an independent Scotland, he’s also facing a civil war.

Surrounded by a small group of men led by his friend Angus Macdonald (Curran) and wild man James Douglas (Taylor-Johnson), the outlaw king strategizes. As they seek to draw more men to their side, for the battles that will come, the group seizes one castle after another. The Bruce makes the decision that every castle he takes is to be destroyed because for King Edward to win Scotland, he must garrison Scotland. And he can’t do that unless he has castles to seize.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Fight With Me

As more of Scotland’s people rally to the new king, England’s Prince of Wales closes in. King Edward I dies en route to battle the usurper. His son, whom many see as a weaker man, assumes leadership of the troops.

Robert I uses ingenious tactics to overthrow the superior military force that approaches. He arms hundreds of men with 20-foot-long spears that they hold, straight out in front of them. And he takes advantage of the boggy, marshy land that will become the battlefield. The Bruce deliberately chooses an area where the strength of the English troops can’t be brought into play. The English are knights in armor on horses, and the Scots are men on foot. They lead the unsuspecting English into the mire of the marshes where they become trapped.

Robert’s first victory as king comes in that place, on May 1307, at what is known as the Battle of Loudoun Hill.

Movie Review Outlaw King

My Thoughts on Outlaw King

I appreciate the attention to detail and the authenticity in this gritty action packed film. Fact checking is one of the things I do with historical movies and this one is extremely accurate in the telling of Bruce’s story.

I watched the unfolding of Outlaw King with teary eyes. This was a difficult time in Scotland’s history. Robert the Bruce sacrificed much to keep his country independent. The Scottish people suffered. As the English searched for the fugitive king, they ransacked and burned villages as they went, killing the men, sending the women and children to England.

Bruce’s wife and daughter were taken captive as well and sent out of the country. Fortunately they were recovered, unharmed, later. The King and Queen of Scotland raised a family together. Their descendant, James VI, later became king over both Scotland and England.

Movie Review Outlaw KingThe actor portraying James Douglas, who would become known as Black Douglas.

My Gratitudes

It’s easy to come up with five gratitudes, in connection with Outlaw King.

I’m grateful for this movie, which is in my favorite genre, historical drama. I especially appreciate its accuracy. My Scottish blood thrills to the fierceness of the people, and their desire to live in freedom. My own fierce independence is surely a result of my Scottish ancestry. And finally, seeing the mountains and rivers and lochs of Scotland pierces my heart and creates such a desire to “go home”.

Outlaw King drew from me hearty cheers for battles won, and a sigh of longing for Scotland. I’ll be there again soon. And when I next stand on Scottish soil I will pause to express gratitude for Robert the Bruce, who did so much to unite this beautiful country.

Movie Review Outlaw King

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

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I recently saw a simple quote, a list of words really, that so resonated with me.

Travel. Learn. Grow.

Those words brilliantly capture what I love about traveling and why my heart sings when I visit new places. As I pondered the quote I came up with six ways travel helps me grow.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

I had the opportunity in 2017 to visit four countries…Italy, Ireland, Scotland and England…during two separate trips. Those trips were so fun! Beyond enjoying travel, I experienced expansion and growth. This is what I learned.

Strangers can become family

I traveled to Italy in the company of my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. We joined with a group of other travelers from around the world. Not only did I learn new things as a result of the Italian culture, I learned from the people in the tour group. How amazing and enlightening to see Italy through my own eyes, and through the eyes of Australians, Iranians and a couple from India. Our diverse group very quickly formed strong family bonds.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Family can be strange

Just kidding! If we are strange, we consider that Divine. I traveled with a group on my second trip as well, all family members. I learned that it is very doable for five people to plan a trip that makes everyone happy. Ensuring each person has a say in the itinerary and gets to select favorite activities is important. We watched out for each other, listened, and made compromises if necessary. Above all, we looked for the adventure in each day.

Adventures appear in unexpected ways. Go with the flow.

Elissa, Dayan and I learned this truth immediately when storms in the Charlotte, North Carolina area caused our plane to reroute. As a result we missed our overseas flight. I had the choice of railing against what happened or staying open and watching for other opportunities. When we let go of expected outcomes and stayed open, miracles happened. We were among the few who flew out of Charlotte that night, thanks to the appearance of an angel named Jason who got us onboard a plane bound for London.

Getting lost can lead to finding what one is truly searching for.

In Scotland my brave sister Debbie drove us all over the country in a rental car. When the GPS system went awry, we ended up off our chosen route. And yet that’s when the magic happened and we encountered sights we did not expect to see. Because of our wandering, I got to cross several places and attractions off my wish list.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Embracing new experiences guarantees that more will arrive.

When traveling in a country for the first time, every sight, every experience is new. The food is different. The language requires concentration, even when it’s heavily accented English. And the culture is fresh whether it is ancient or constantly changing.

The less preconceived ideas I have about what I will experience, the more I learn and grow. In Italy I initially wasn’t excited about visiting the churches and cathedrals. These magnificent structures are the heart of every city and town, village and piazza. The architecture and the museum quality art within astonished and moved me. I would have missed incredible sights and opportunities if I had dismissed visiting those basilicas and chapels.

Travel enriches my life and expands my soul.

For me, nothing in this life is more expansive than seeing new places and meeting new people. The history, the magic, the mystery and noise and spirit of a place, all call to me. Each country that I visited has ancient stories, symbols, songs and art. It’s more than knowledge that I collect as I travel, it’s a knowing, a recognizing, and a greater awareness of the richness and diversity of life. I love watching people. And I love taking time for solitude and deep inner reflection.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Where to Travel to Next

For me, there are many reasons to travel. Learning and growing and becoming more expansive tops my list of why I travel and why I long to experience more. Wandering is in my blood, exploring in my DNA.

I am creating a life that allows my heart, soul and body to be untethered and free to roam about the planet. These six ways that travel helps me grow is just a beginning, as is the list of countries I intend to visit.

There are many places I want to explore and get to know. I have so much more to learn.


Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

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Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Memories on the Wall

I’m sharing a pictorial blog post tonight, as a follow up to creating travel art a few days ago. Using postcards and miniature watercolor prints from the countries I have visited this year, I captured memories within frames.

This evening, those memories went onto the walls.

If you can’t live longer, live deeper. Italian proverb

Italy…the first country I visited this year, accompanied by my daughter Elissa and my grandson Dayan. Or rather, Elissa and I accompanied Dayan, for this was his dream trip and his chosen destination. Italy was my graduation gift to Dayan, and how wonderful it was for his mom and I to experience it with him.

I love the vintage-look postcards from four of the cities we visited. What memories we collected in each place. The colorful square postcard is from Cinque Terre and reminds of the day the three of us stood with bare feet in the Mediterranean Sea. I made the framed print with a favorite Italian expression that we embraced…cogli l’attimo…pick up the moment…hold the moment. And the little ceramic bowl from San Gimignano was a gift from our fun and cheerful tour guide, Fabiola. I will always remember her graciousness and the joy she expressed as she lives her life.

Your feet will bring you where your heart is. Irish proverb

I failed, big time, in not bringing home postcards or art from Ireland. My kids and grandkids got souvenirs from the Emerald Isle. I returned with a silver Celtic knot ring, a scarf, a scarf pin…and a heart full of memories. My traveling companions for countries two, three and four were my mom, two sisters and niece. Rather than continue to beat myself up for my postcard oversight, I have instead remained open to creative ideas to remedy the situation.

I am excited to report that I’ve had a brilliant idea, a clever way to create art from something I did bring back from Ireland…photos. My idea involves a non traditional way to display them. Stay tuned for that creative project.

Listen to the silence. Be still and let your soul catch up. Scottish proverb

I’m quite pleased with my Scottish display. The vintage looking postcards hang above a teal table holding my wee collection of Scottish treasures. I picked up the Thirlestane Castle postcard on this trip. The Lauder tartan was a gift from my mom years ago. I purchased the silver heart-shaped votive holder on my first trip to Scotland, in 2014. And the small Scottish dirk, called a sgian dubh, was bought at a Renaissance Fair I attended.

The lion represents the one on the Clan Maitland crest with the Latin phrase Consilio Et Animis – by wisdom and courage. It reminds me that I have a “tribe”, a clan, that I am a card carrying member of. My clan, with its Scottish roots, is scattered around the globe. I just today connected with a woman via Facebook, who has Lauderdales in her family tree. She visited Thirlestane Castle in Lauder three weeks before I did. How wonderful to find each other and compare genealogies.

A joy that’s shared is a joy made double. English proverb

The watercolor miniatures from London, England found a place in the living room, near shadow boxes containing mementos from musicals I have attended. These iconic images remind me of the amazing energy and diversity we encountered in London. I hope to return someday, and experience this grand city’s artistic and theatrical side.

Looking at the watercolors transports me back to those days of wandering the city and hopping on and off the Tube, sharing in the adventure of it all with my mom, sisters and niece.

The last framed art piece that went up on the wall tonight did not travel back with me from abroad. It arrived this weekend, as a gift from my sister Debbie and niece Ashley. They had sent me a pic of the artwork and I was excited to receive their generous gift. What I didn’t realize was how big the art piece was!

It was difficult to tell from the photo they sent, however I was estimating something about 12″x14″, or even a bit smaller. It is huge…and gorgeous…this framed painting of Venice. I love it. That’s how Venice is…larger than life. And that’s what travel does for me, it enlarges my life, it makes me grow, it opens my heart so that I can receive more.

I am grateful for this reminder, this travel art, that triggers memories as surely as my photos and mementos do. I don’t know who said it, but I read a quote that captures my heart.

We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.

That’s what my travel art is. Return tickets…time portals…to beautiful memories of beautiful experiences. I want to collect memories from all over the world. I don’t want my home to look like a museum. I want it to look like the home of a woman with an expansive soul and a wanderer’s heart.

I have a good start.

Passing Through Glasgow

Our time in Glasgow was very brief. Most of our last full day in Scotland was spent traveling by car, from the Isle of Skye to Glasgow. We had hoped to catch a hop on/hop off bus and tour the city, but by the time we arrived and dropped off our luggage at the hotel, the day was quickly slipping away.

We barely had time to make it to the one place we all wanted to visit…the Glasgow Cathedral with the huge, Victorian cemetery behind it, known as the Necropolis. And yet, riding in taxis instead of on the bus allowed us to have fun conversations with several different colorful residents of Scotland’s biggest city. And the rain that continually fell didn’t deter us but rather made us appreciate the cozy atmosphere of the restaurant we chose for dinner. It was the right spot. Our young waiter was attentive and we enjoyed chatting with him about Scotland and the US.

Here are additional photos from our brief, but pleasant sojourn in Glasgow.

The glistening square outside the Glasgow Cathedral. In Scotland, you just accept that it is going to rain. We dressed accordingly, in warm layers, with hoodies to cover our heads when the rain fell steadily. When the sky lightened or that rare object, the sun, broke through the clouds, we would push the hoods off our heads and shed a wrap or two.

The sacred beauty of the cathedral.

Far from morbid, the Necropolis, perched high atop a hill, has a unique beauty of its own. The lateness of the day coupled with the rain allowed us to walk among the massive monuments mostly alone. The thing that struck me about this City of the Dead is that the tombstones and memorials list the names of the deceased, and their occupations. This is a burial place of the wealthy and well known in old Glasgow. What the person did in life seemed to be as important as who they were. Even so, in the end, all their empty shells returned to the dust, death being the great equalizer among men.

We wondered if we should be concerned about this sight!

Such a variety of monuments and memorials.

What a gorgeous monument, with its black weathered door.

Outside the gates of the Necropolis is one of the few remaining blue police boxes in the UK. Fans of the long running British show, Doctor Who, will understand why a pic with the blue box was a must!

And that was all we had time for in Glasgow. Another short taxi ride to Buchanan Street, to people watch and find a place to eat, gave us another opportunity for a lively conversation. The next morning, we boarded a train, London bound.

British actor Darren Boyd says about this friendly city:

“For me, Glasgow is all about the people and the spirit of the place.”

I agree. I love Edinburgh. And if it feels like home to me, then Glasgow feels like the fun city I visit on holiday. The people are friendly here. They laugh heartily and share their stories easily. There is a lively energy in Glasgow that courses through the city, encouraging me to return, to explore and see what else I can discover.

I accept that invitation. Glasgow, I will return.

In the Borders

On one of our most magical days in Scotland, full of delightful surprises off the beaten path, we visited the ancestral home of Clan Maitland. Located in the region south of Edinburgh known as the Borders, Thirlestane Castle sits just outside the village of Lauder.

My maiden name is Lauderdale. The surname originates from this area, as the long line of Maitlands, earls and one duke, used the name as part of their title. The current Maitland Clan chieftain, Ian, who resides in London, is the 18th Earl of Lauderdale. Edward Maitland-Carew and his family are the current owners, and occupants, of Thirlestane Castle. During the summer months, the castle is open to visitors.

I am so glad that it is. This was my second visit to Thirlestane, and my niece’s second as well, while my sisters and mom saw it for the first time. Photographs were not allowed the first time I toured this 16th century castle. However, to my amazement, the signs now say no flash photography permitted. After asking permission, to be sure, my family and I started over in the first room open to the public, and happily snapped pics with our phones.

Welcome to Thirlestane Castle.

A parlor, with dark wood paneling.

An old wheelchair

Old photographs and awards from an early amateur photographer.

The recessed window alcoves show how thick the walls are. Castles are more than residences, they are fortresses, places of protection.

The billiard room.

The small library

The Duke of Lauderdale’s bedroom

The Duke of Lauderdale, a powerful man in Scotland and England.

A guest bedroom that was specifically reserved for Bonnie Prince Charles of England.

Formal sitting rooms, with ornate plaster ceilings.

The grand dining room.

The nurseries, with an impressive collection of vintage toys.

One of many staircases in the castle.

We so enjoyed our visit to Thirlestane Castle. There are 150 rooms in the castle, and although only a fraction of those are open to the public, it is easy to gain an appreciation for this gorgeous historic home and soak up the atmosphere. The energy within these thick walls is interesting to me, as I can imagine being accompanied by a host of past inhabitants as I wander room to room.

Are they as curious about me, as I am about them? Do they feel the connection of kinship that I feel?

The Borders is an apt name for this region in Scotland, as it lies between Edinburgh and Glasgow and England. A borderland is defined as an overlapping area between two things.

It is an apt description for me as well. I live my life in the borders, embracing reality and imagination, the natural world and the spirit world, and my Scottish/Irish/English heritage while also being American.

My borders are not sharply defined, the edges blurring together, shifting and enlarging, as I grow and flow through life and landscapes and regions. No wonder I feel like I belong in Scotland.

My heart has found its way home.

High Atop Castle Rock

Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of this historic city. Located atop an extinct volcano, in the heart of Old Town, the fortress stands as a stark reminder Scotland’s more turbulent times, when wars were fought between countries and even between clans.

Touted as Scotland’s most visited landmark, Edinburgh Castle draws in more than a million visitors a year. We made our way to the top of the Royal Mile to explore this ancient castle and learn about its place in Scottish history.

Here are additional photos from our time

within the castle compound.

Looking toward the Firth of Forth, east of Edinburgh.

There has been a royal castle on this rock since the reign of King David I, in the 12th century. Most of the castle’s original structures were destroyed in the 16th century during the Lang Siege, due to artillery bombardment, with the exception of Saint Margaret’s Chapel, the Royal Palace and the Great Hall.

Stained glass window and huge painting in the Great Hall.

We spent time wandering in the castle prisons, where the somber energy was heightened by dark shadows and the interesting play of light in stone passageways and long, dormitory style rooms. There was a sacredness present there, that told of survival rather than captivity, and life rather than death. Some of my favorite photos of the castle were taken in the prison.

Hammocks strung above narrow cots.

I love the light finding its way through these shuttered windows. It symbolizes hope to me.

Although the prisons could be considered depressing, I found a resilient beauty in them. The stone chambers would have provided unyielding barriers to the men within, however, their souls were not contained. We viewed etchings and carvings the prisoners made on wooden doors and upon the stone walls themselves. The creative pictures were vital reminders of home and life and hope.

The One O’Clock Gun is fired every day, except Sunday, at precisely 1:00. It is a time signal, fired for the ships in the harbor, since 1861.

There is a castle tea house in the compound, where I enjoyed a cup of hot lemon grass and ginger tea.

We enjoyed our time on Castle Rock. The views of the city are amazing. I stood peering over the battlements, and imagined what Edinburgh looked like in the centuries past. Remove the cars and buses, and much of it probably looked the same as it currently does. I felt the solidness and permanence of this stronghold and my Scottish blood rejoiced.

The statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace were added to the gatehouse entrance in 1929. They stand as silent sentinels, defenders of Scotland’s freedoms. I feel the castle itself is a sentinel, watching over the city from atop its stony perch, a grounding force for Edinburgh’s residents and visitors. Long may it stand.

Irish Memories

When I set off on adventures, my daily blog becomes a travel blog, capturing the highlights of each day. Because the days are full and long, these posts are necessarily brief so that I can get to bed and catch a few hours of sleep before the start of the next exciting day. It has become my custom to share additional thoughts, stories and photos in the days after the conclusion of the trip.

Today’s post focuses on memories from the first two days of our girls’ trip, in Dublin, Ireland.

Ireland was the only country, out of the three we visited during this trip, that none of us had seen before. My mom, sisters, niece and I all have Irish, Scottish and English heritage. We were excited about the opportunity to visit Dublin, Ireland and connect more deeply with our Irish roots.

Additional photos and thoughts from our Dublin stay:

Gorgeous architecture…

We walked around the streets of Dublin, gawking and gazing upward at the beautiful old buildings. Our primary mode of transportation in this city was the hop on/hop off bus, which we made excellent use of.

Green parks and soothing rivers and lakes…

I loved St Stephens Green, a large park in central Dublin. However, there were other parks, some surrounding monuments and memorials, and there was a zoo. We rode past the zoo many times but did not stop. I appreciated the dedicated green spaces in Dublin where people could walk or stretch out on the grass. And like other European cities, many residents create their own miniature gardens in hanging baskets, window boxes and on roof tops.

Friendly people…

As much as we enjoyed touring the city and admiring the buildings and sampling the food, it was the people of Dublin that we fell in love with. The first thing we adored was their charming Irish accent. I’ve heard Irish actors speak on talk shows and in movies. However, this was my first time to be immersed in the culture and hear many people speaking in the same lilting cadence.

We looked forward to the tour bus drivers’ narratives, especially when they said, “The next stop will be stop number thirty-three…” The Irish don’t pronounce the “th” sound like Americans do. So thirty-three sounds to our ears like “turty tree”. And “with you” sounds like “wit choo”. We smiled every time. My sister Linda pointed out that our sister Debbie, who is my mom’s third daughter, was the “turd daughter”, which became a little family joke!

While in Dublin, we picked up the slang word feckin’. Let me just say it’s a colorful word, similar to an American word that begins with the same letter. The Irish version sounds more playful and less crude and found its way into our vocabulary over the next 11 days.

The Irish people we met were happy, light hearted, fun and gracious. Of the three countries we visited, Ireland’s citizens were the most humorous and by a slight margin, the friendliest.

I enjoyed this first glimpse of Ireland. Our stay there was short and unfortunately we didn’t have time to venture out into the countryside, which for me warrants another visit in the near future. The five of us embraced our Irish roots to become Celtic women while we were there. Ireland called to my Irish blood and awakened my poetic soul, kindling the desire to learn more about this part of my heritage.

I’ve been told I have Irish feet. It was explained to me that Irish feet is a way of saying I have an inborn desire to travel and move about. I understand that better now.

Ireland, I will be back. You are a part of me, and I of you.