Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Part 10 In Search of Lallybroch

Part 10 In Search of Lallybroch 

"It was larger than I had expected; a handsome three-story manor of harled white stone, windows outlined in the natural grey stone, a high slate roof with multiple chimneys, and several smaller whitewashed building clustered about it."
Claire's impression - Outlander

"The big white-harled farmhouse sat serenely in the middle of pale green fields of oats and barley, its windows and chimney edged in gray stone, the walled kailyard and the numerous outbuildings clustering around it like chicks round a big white hen."
Brianna's impression - Drums of Autumn

I probably drove my friend nuts trying to search for Lallybroch. I was on the hunt the minute we left Edinburgh and headed north. It was not uncommon for me to shout to her to pull over so I could get a picture. Without further ado, here is my collection of potential Lallybrochs. 

Lally 1

Lally 2

I couldn't resist with this one even though you can't really see the white house very well. Check out the name on the fence gate!

Lally 3 

Lally 4

Lally 5
Lally 5 was actually the Pineapple B&B we stayed in. 

Lally 6

Lally 7 

In each of the Lallybrochs I had to have a mountain close by because Jamie's cave needed to be near by. 
What do you think of my collection? Any potentials at all? 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Part 9 Visiting Moray Firth

Visiting the Moray Firth

You may recall In Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn, Brianna and Lizzie sailed out of the Moray Firth heading off to the Colonies in search of her parents Jamie and Claire Fraser. 
It was also along one the Moray Firth ports that Roger overhead that heartbreaking conversation by a sea captain and a destitute family informing them that would have to sell off their young daughters. 

Chanonry Point

I was able to visit both sides of the Moray Firth. On the north side we stopped at Chanonry Point and also across the channel on the south side, Nairn. Both were beautiful of course. 

Chanonry Point

Chanonry Point
Granted, it was a very windy day and there was no site of the dolphins that we had come to search out. 


Can you not just picture huge tall ships bound for the Indies, France or the Colonies sailing out of Moray Firth? 
My imagination ran wild as it did every single day while in Scotland. 

Part 8 - Standing Stones

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Part 8 Standing Stones

Part 8 Standing Stones

My visit to Clava Cairns in Scotland. 

Now granted, the stones at Clava Cairns are not as impressive as the standing stones one would find at Stonehenge or on Orkney Island in Scotland but prehistoric none the less. Using the Outlander series as my inspiration, I am reaching through the cleft stone to get to Jamie Fraser. 

The stones around Clava Cairns. 

The other set of standing stones we visited was a site called Corrimony Cairns. These stones are much smaller. These cairns are not visited very much and when we got there, we got to have fun and goof around a bit. The picture above shows my desperation to get to Jamie Fraser. 

It is amazing that these stones and cairns are estimated to be from the 3rd millenim BC and yet were intact. It is mind numbing to think of the history as you visit these sites. Very ancient indeed. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Part 7 Culloden Visit with Outlander on my Mind

Part 7 Culloden Visit

I don't think as a tourist to Scotland and an avid Outlander series reader, any fan would miss the chance to visit Culloden. Culloden Battlefield was a must see. A. Must. See. 
It is hard to be excited while visiting the moor. It is rather somber for a tourist attraction, yet I would not have traded the visit for anything. 

It is said that the moor's condition strongly resembles just as it did back in April 1746. These blue flags represent the line where the Highlanders stood. The path has been stamped down with crunching hard gravel but one step off the path, it is spongy wet weeds. 

Me with the Clan Fraser burial stone. 

A view of the clan burial stones. 

The cottage where Diana Gabaldon wrote that Jamie Fraser and various Jacobite soldiers hid after the disastrous battle. 

It was an incredible visit. Very worth while. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Part 6 Beauly Priory from Dragonfly in Amber

Part 6 Beauly Priory from Dragonfly in Amber

Quote from Dragonfly in Amber, Chapter 41
"There was a small chapel in Beaufort Castle, to serve the devotional uses of the Earl and his family, but Beauly Priory, ruined as it was, remained the burying place of the Lovats, and the floor of the open-roofed chancel was paved thick with the flat tombstones of those who lay under them."

With a continuation of my recent UK trip blog posts, here are a few pictures that once again match some of my favourite book settings. Today's pictures are taken from one of the settings in Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber. If you recall Claire visited the ruins where she talked with the Fraser's seer.  

Fraser tombstones peppered throughout Beauly Priory's stone floor just as Diana Gabaldon described. 

View walking up to the Priory from the front gate. I just loved visiting the various ruins around Scotland...and there are a lot. Of course we chose Beauly Priory because of the Outlander books so my friend and I made a special effort to seek out this particular ruin. My imagination always runs wild thinking about the history behind these ruins. 

The above tombstone gave us shivers. We didn't see any tombstones with "James Fraser and a beloved wife Claire" engraved and this was the closest we saw. Regardless, it was impactful to an Outlander fan.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Part 5 Edinburgh Outlander Stops

Edinburgh "Outlander" Stops

One of my "must see" stops while vacationing on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh was a visit at The World's End pub. Outlander fans will fondly remember that this ancient pub was the tavern that Jamie and Claire dashed out into the pouring rain to pick up the drunken Mr. Willoughby. It is a small wee pub on the inside and I ate my first UK Fish & Chips meal here. It was great! 

The above picture is the view right across the street from The World's End. I wanted to take that picture because it is mentioned in Voyager that Carfax Close (where Jamie's print shop stood) was only 100 yards away. 

Here is a bit of quote from Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, when Jamie and Claire were paused under the arch of Carfax Close. 
"Where are we going?"
"To The World's End."
Without further speech, Jamie took me by the elbow to help me across the cobbles, and we plunged down the steep incline of the Royal Mile.
Luckily, the tavern called The World's End was no more than a hundred yards away."

What exactly is a close you ask? Well now that I've seen them, I understand better. In between the buildings there are alleyways that lead to other buildings, merchants and even other streets. They are covered pathways and a person not familiar with their way could easily get lost among the maze of closes. 

Another quote from Voyager regarding Jamie's Carfax Close. 
"It was longish, winding close, and the printshop was at the foot. There were thriving businesses and tenements on either side, but I had no attention to spare for anything beyond the neat white sign that hung by the door."

After walking through a close, there is usually a small courtyard like above. In Outlander, Carfax Close is fictional and since that particular close doesn't really exist, I had to use my imagination. There were other closes that we ventured down and instead of a large courtyard with a few different exits like above, there were some that were just a small simple courtyard and the only way out was the entrance or up. Up to apartments.  

Above is another picture to demonstrate an alleyway/roadway just off the Royal Mile. As you can see it is steep, narrow and hilly. In fact, the entire Royal Mile is one huge slope. 

It was so fun to imagine the fictional Jamie and Claire Fraser winding their way around Edinburgh. The Royal Mile is a real treat and heavily catered to the tourists. I would have gladly spent a bit more time there. Perhaps next time I can scout out a building that could have doubled as brothel where the Fraser's union took place. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Part 4 The Thames River in London

The Thames River in London
Part 4

Today's post is about the Thames River in London. I've read plenty of historical romances that have made mention of this famous river. While in London, visiting the Thames was another landmark that I really wanted to experience. 

The Thames was a busy river bustling with tourist cruise boats. A far cry from the tall ships that I've read about in my romance novels. It also smelled remarkably cleaner than I've read about. In fact the surrounding areas that we visited were a far cry from the decrepit docks or the fish scented stench that are mentioned. Today it is rather picturesque and hard to imagine how it has been described.    

I boarded one of those packed tourist cruises and we motored down the Thames from The Tower of London to Westminster Abbey. It was interesting to see London from the view of Thames. I would have liked to had a chance to tour a reconstructed tall ship. Maybe next time? 

Here is an interesting view of The Thames. This would be Traitor's Gate located inside The Tower of London. Years ago the river sloshed right up to the Tower of London's outer wall. Looking at the first picture I posted up above with London Bridge behind me, you can see now how far away the river is from the wall it today. With years of dredging the river and growth of the city the Thames is a good deal narrower. All in all, it was lovely. 

Trip to UK 
Part 1- Historical Library and Hyde Park
Part 2 - St James's Street

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Part 3 Historical Balls and Party Houses

Balls and Parties
My trip to the UK Part 3

While reading historical romances, there are often references to the various dramatic staircases and hidden alcoves. I was really pleased that the boutique hotel that my friend and I stayed in while visiting London held many of these impressive features. I loved this staircase. It was wide, wooden and creaky. I could easily picture a lady dashing down the steps wearing her slippers. Or better yet, a Lord wearing his heavy Hessian boots climbing while trying to sneak into his bedchamber late in the evening/early morning. 

It took everything for me not to untangle the curtain and stand in the alcove off the stair landing. Oh come on you would want to as well. 

Just look at that majestic mansion! A lot of these beautiful former mansions have been converted into boutique hotels. One of the items on my "to do" list while visiting London was to seek out these beautiful homes that used to host all those parties and balls attended by the ton. I wanted to see what they look like today.  

What I learned was that the real estate costs in London are one of the most expensive in the entire world. As such, the beautiful homes that used to be a wealthy family's residence have been converted from a one family home to a building that house many expensive apartments. From the outside they look like one big building but if you peak in the front door, you will see that there are many mailboxes. 

Additionally, the absolutely breathtaking homes in Mayfair along Grosvenor Street seemed to have been converted from imposing peerage homes to now various embassies for many different countries. Even the Canadian Embassy is nestled there along Grosvenor St. The tour bus we were riding on zoomed by this area so fast that I couldn't even get one picture. There were no stops to "hop off" the bus and the security in this particular area is top notch. The tour guide also mentioned that some celebrities still take up residence in the area but it is not like Hollywood where peddlers sell maps to stars homes. I have no idea who's home I could have passed by. The area is still beautiful, very white in colour and very clean. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Part 2 St James's Street on My Trip to England

St James's Street
Part 2

Just around the corner from The Mall, is St. James's Street. This street was one of the roads I wanted to visit while on my visit to London, England. It seems as though many of the historical romance books I have read over the years included a carriage shopping trip to St James's Street or a visit to a Gentlemen Club one time or another. I was very curious as to what this street looked like now and what it looked like then.  

Interestingly enough I think very little has changed. Well perhaps the roads are paved and the types of stores have switched from merchants that would have sold Hessian Boots and instead today offer more modern styles. There seemed to be a number of private clubs still.  

I loved that London really maintained the charm of the past and seemed to strive to preserve the original buildings. It was a really lovely walk up the road to be immersed in all that history. Once again my mind wondered back to all of those historical romance novels. 

The above picture is the famous "White's Gentlemen Club". White's is mentioned in almost every single historical romance novel based around London. A Duke, Earl, Marquess, Lords and even rakes and rogues always seem to stop by for gambling, placing wagers or just to relax with a cigar and drinks. 
White's was one of the buildings that I had on my list to visit. The only reason we were able to find it was to watch the addresses on the surrounding buildings. White's had no address on the front and all the windows were blocked off so I couldn't peak in. Oh how I was wanting to knock on the door and visit. I am dying to know what it looks like inside. How much have they kept original? What do the carpets look like? Do they have a prominent staircase or an elevator now? The building is in impeccable condition and once again I wondered where all the carriages used to go while the footmen patiently waited for their masters. 

I was surprised St. James's Street was quite wide. It was a great walk up the street and I loved seeing all the boutique shops. I didn't buy anything along the way as the items were very pricey but it was worth the visit. 

Part 1 - Historical Library and Hyde Park