Monday, October 31, 2016

City of the Dead, Edinburgh, Scotland

City of the Dead - Double Dead Tour - was amazing!  I love stuff like this.  Anna found this tour while researching things to do.  She bought us tickets months ago (thanks Anna).  I'm so happy she did!  Here is the link to their page:

The tour we were on, Double Dead Walking Tour, included the South Bridge Vaults and the Covenanter's Prison in Greyfriar's Graveyard.  Yes, it was a full moon!  This added to the anticipation and intense stories we heard as we walked the streets and underground of Edinburgh, Scotland.

I'm not going to lie...I was afraid...I may or may not have grabbed several strangers while walking in the dark and screamed in their was everything the reviews say. 

"Most haunted place on earth"
"One of the best documented and most conclusive paranormal cases in history." 
"Best haunted tour in the UK" 

We were told that many have seen things, been grabbed, scratched, fainted (whole group), left with bruising and physically became sick during the tour.  Yet, we still went.

While underground, in the South Bridge Vaults, the guide told us the history of this horrible place.  The bridge vaults were built like the mid 1700's to store dry goods for the merchants above ground.  Well, Scotland is wet - underground was not a good place to store dry goods.  So the shop keepers moved their storage above ground and moved the poorest of the poor down below.  We were in a tiny room, maybe 10' x 12' and it is said 12-16 people lived in there.  The violence was horrible as no police would go underground.  Infant life expectancy was only 6 months.  Could you imagine being a young child down here - rape, molestation - I can't even think about it!  

It was with that history, our tour guide told us of a ghost that many on the tour saw.  It is a little boy, who happens to like her and often times is seen standing next to her.  Another was what the tour calls "The Watch Man" as stories are told of a man who would walk these valuts at night checking on and protecting the weak.  He still is doing this even as a ghost.  However, the scariest story and one that stopped the tour guide from even coming in one of the rooms we were in, was something she personally experienced.  When the tour first started, children were allowed to participate.  She however, tried to convince a mother NOT to take her young daughter on the tour.  The mother was insistent and she reluctantly took them.  As they came to the vault, we were in, her candle blew out.  As she fumbled to find a flashlight and match, the woman was talking to her daughter, "it's all right, yes, hang on to my hand...yes, tighter, that's o.k."  Well, when the candle was re lit, there was no one holding the mother's fact, her daughter was standing way in the corner of the room.  When they asked the little girl why she was over there...she said "someone pulled me over here."  They ended the tour.   I will admit, that room was the coldest by temperature and how I felt spiritually - it was scary.

This tour is the only one in Edinburgh with keys to the Covenanter's Prision.  This prison was placed in Greyfriar's Graveyard.  In 1679 over 1,000 supporters of National Covenant who were defeated by the government forces were housed here.  For over 4 cold months, these men were left without shelter and barely any food.  Many died, many shipped to America (most died in a ship wreck) and some were left here only to be executed by Sir. George Mackenzie.  He received the nickname was Bloody Mackenzie after his relentless and inhumane persecution of these covenanters.  Those that died here, ironically share their final resting place with Bloody George Mackenzie.  For 300 years, both victims and the tormentor rested just feet from each other.  

One dark stormy night in 1998, a homeless man, possibly seeking shelter or looking for something valuable to steal, broke into the "Black Mausoleum" of "Bloody Mackenzie."  Our guide said that as this homeless man ransacked the tomb, a large hole opened in the floor and he fell dropping into the chamber below.  This pit was filled with the remains of plague victims.  She told us that during the plague, mass graves/pits, were dug and now sit under the this graveyard.  Well, that's nice to fact, this is why Edinburgh is called "City of the Dead."  Since that night in 1998 and the actions of this homeless man, numerous accounts of activity have been reported.  The city actually closed the portion of the graveyard that has seen the most activity.  This is the area, our tour had the key to open.  As she stood outside the gate, she asked if anyone wanted to family did.  As we walked through the gate, she locked it behind us.  She told us to go into this mausoleum and began to tell us some of the actions of what is called "The Mackenzie Poltergeist."  At this point, she sets a timer for 10 minutes, as violent activity against tour goers have happened after that length of time.  She continues with numerous stories - at this point, I'm actually grabbing on to some was spooky!  

It was an excellent tour filled with anticipation and fear.  I actually learned so much about this city.  On our earlier day tour, we found out about this:

the very spot where many were hung or executed for being witches.  As we passed this spot, now a small park, Richard our guide, said he would never sit on one of those benches.  He too said that this area is full of paranormal activity.  This is just a block or so away from the graveyard.  

If you are a Harry Potter fan, the graveyard we were in, Greyfriar's, was where J.K. Rowling got the names of several characters in her books.  

Greyfriar's Graveyard also has the tomb of Greyfriar's Bobby.  This is the story of a little dog.  The dog's master died and is buried here as well.  The legend says that every day for 14 years, this little dog would go and lay on his dead master's burial site.  Walt Disney made a movie of it that I need to watch.  This monument is across the street from the execution site and just around the corner to the graveyard.

I actually loved this city.  It was full of amazing history, both good and bad.  As we were on our vacation - I did take some pictures of graves as I knew I wanted to do this Halloween post.  

Should you ever be able to go to Edinburgh, Scotland make sure to go on the City of the Dead tour, you won't be disappointed.  

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Loch Ness Monster

I told you so...

These little images were on the windows of the boat.  So, I guess we all saw Nessie!

My fascination with all things "unexplainable" was a gift from my mom.  Her spooky, fairy, "Stella" story telling, Big Foot believin' self - made me this way!  It was 1970 something, and my mom took me to a movie called Mysterious Monsters (and many others like this...) it was because of this movie that I started believing in Nessie.  Well, maybe not believing in, rather believing in the possibility of a Nessie.  When we were planning our trip, going to Loch Ness was a must!

I wanted to stand on the deck to watch - I didn't want to miss anything.  The tour guide talked about the history of Loch Ness and Nessie.  For my friends in Hatley and Ringle - this loch and land surrounding has origins with the Clan Fraaza.  

Mystery and intrigue as well as "evidence" for the creatures existence date back as early as the sixth century.   Skeptics question the narrative's reliability, noting that water-beast stories were extremely common in medieval hagiographies (the term used to refer to the biography of a saint or highly developed spiritual being often canonized by the Catholic church).  Irregardless, the legend lives on.  

Loch Ness is the second largest fresh water loch in Scotland with a surface area of 22 square miles.   It is 755 feet deep and have had measurements of up to 889 feet at it's deepest point being reported.  This makes it the largest loch by volume in all the British Isles.   The sides are a complete drop off and a wall of rock.   How can one argue that with water that deep, the possibility of something living there that we haven't "discovered" yet, couldn't exist.  There have been sightings of something for centuries by many generations.  The most recent sighting was just on September 16, 2016.  It was called "the most convincing to date."  Link here: 

The very northern tip of Loch Ness is at the edge of the North Sea.  Who's to say, that some creature didn't end up locked in this loch and thrived in it's abundant deep waters.  I left the tour more convinced of the possibility of this than not.  Does Nessie live?  For me, the idea of it surely does!

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Story of Glen Coe - Highlands of Scotland

The story of the Clan MacDonald and the notorious Campbell Massacre hit a cord with me.   What happened in this valley, the story behind it, is one of tragedy.  I found an interesting article that explains the whole history, I am sharing it here for those who want to read it:

As we approached the valley, Regina played this song...

I will share my interpretation of this story.  I am not qualified to speak historically, however, I will share emotionally.  This massacre reminded me of how Native Americans were treated - my paternal heritage.  It also touched me because I know my maternal heritage has roots in this land and history.

My grandpa Kincaid was Scotch/Irish.  His family immigrated to the hills of Kentucky.  I have vivid memories of his "arguing" politics, he loved our country, but didn't trust the government or the Pope.  As a child, I didn't understand why, but, after this trip I have my guesses.   

I come from a line of very independent people - from both sides.  Therefore,  I find myself sympathetic to the underdog, the rebel and independent thinker.  So, this story is retold by me with that perspective.  Here goes....

The Clan MacDonald was the last clan to pledge an alliance and loyalty with the King.  An order was given, that by a certain date, every Highlander was to pledge an alliance.  The senior member of the clan left his family, set out to do this very thing.  But, he fell upon some difficulties and was unable to reach the given city by the deadline.  He was 3 days late.  However, he was assured it was all fine and no action would be taken against his family.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be an untruth.  The King wanted to set an example of their lack of enthusiasm of his rule by ordering the Campbell's to kill every last one of the Clan MacDonald.  The Campbell's arrived in the winter at Glen Coe and the MacDonald's extended them all manner of hospitality.  After a few weeks of their indulgences, the Campbell's set out on King's order to massacre every last MacDonald.  Many were killed in their beds.  Many fled to hide and their homes were burned.  The weather was bad and with no shelter they died in the snow.   

I know every generation and every country has their own mistakes.  It's just sad that these things happened and sadly continue to happen (ISIS).  There will always be someone or something that wants to be in control, it's true.  I can't change that and neither can you.  What we can do, is BE the change in our own little world - wherever that might be.  

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.      

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond

We had fabulous CIE tour guides!  They each were a wealth of information and they shared that history with us.  For the majority of our Scotland portion our guide was Regina.  

We set out for the Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Lock Lomond.  I've sung those words, but I didn't know what the song was about.  Regina explained it to us, in her beautiful accent - I can't remember the whole story, but, Wikipedia knows...


There are many theories about the meaning of the song, most of which are connected to the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. One interpretation based on the lyrics is that the song is sung by the lover of a captured Jacobite rebel set to be executed in London following a show trial. The heads of the executed rebels were then set upon pikes and exhibited in all of the towns between London and Edinburgh in a procession along the "high road" (the most important road), while the relatives of the rebels walked back along the "low road" (the ordinary road travelled by peasants and commoners).[3]
Another interpretation of the "Low Road" is that it refers to the traditional underground route taken by the "fairies" or "little people" who were reputed to transport the soul of a dead Scot who died in a foreign land—in this case, England—back to his homeland to rest in peace.[3][4]
Another similar interpretation also attributes it to a Jacobite Highlander captured after the 1745 rising. The Hanoverian British victors were known to play cruel games on the captured Jacobites, and would supposedly find a pair of either brothers or friends and tell them one could live and the other would be executed, and it was up to the pair to decide. Thus the interpretation here is that the song is sung by the brother or friend who chose or was chosen to die. He is therefore telling his friend that they will both go back to Scotland, but he will go on the "low road", his body being paraded along the main road controlled by the Duke of Cumberland's forces, whereas his friend will have to head for the hilltops, taking longer to get back. Another supporting feature of this is that he states he will never meet his love again in the temporal world, on Loch Lomond. Some believe that this version is written entirely to a lover who lived near the loch.

Scottish history is one of many uprisings and hardships.  Coming from a Native American background - I could relate.  More on that in an upcoming post.

Loch Lomond is a freshwater loch on the boundary between the highlands and lowlands.  We happen to arrive on a misty morning - I would expect nothing less.  It was breathtakingly beautiful!

The highlands of Scotland are amazing!  The colors of fall surrounded us, the grasses, the heather and the crisp air - made this experience all the more enjoyable.  

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconisn.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Haberdashery, happens to be my new favorite word.  My nephew sent me this - now just image the word being spoken by Sean his Scottish accent...

Maybe you've heard of this where you live, but I can assure you, here in Wisconsin, I had not.  My friend, Kathy, collects buttons and she asked me to pick her up one from Scotland.  So, I asked Anna, our family tour guide, to look up button shops in Glasgow.  She called me and said "mom, they call buttons and sewing notions 'hab something'."  So, this lead to our search for a Haberdashery shop.  

Oh, how I wanted to buy yardage.  The wool was incredible and reasonable!  It was hard for me NOT to buy, but I am going to check the shop for on-line purchases.  On to my story....

Since returning, I've researched the history of Haberdashery.  The word is believed to come from the Anglo-Norman word, hapertas, which means small wares.  The word "haberdasher" did appear in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to describe peddlers who sold such items as needles, buttons and so on.  This dates back to the 14th century and could be equivalent of a "Medieval Five & Dime" store.   (I borrowed that one, I'm not that clever).  I love it!

We discovered this little shop on a stop in Ireland.  I love the addition of "& Vintage Gifts."  It is the vision and direction I had when I started the Hobby Farm here at the farm.  

In fact, here is a post from my facebook page back on July 22, 2015:  Plans are to have a retail space available hopefully by the upcoming semester. At every class, I am asked to sell additional supplies and I have. Now, I plan to have a retail area where you can purchase new and vintage items for your crafting pleasure. Vintage fabric, notions, wool, roving, buttons, ephemera and lots of misc. for repurposing.

Truthfully, I've been a "haberdasher" for years.  When you buy out estates there are always these types of items and I've sold them.  Now, it just seems sexier...especially in Sean Connery's say, "I'm a haberdasher, come visit my haberdashery!" 

I have been spinning an idea about a "Haberdashery Happenstance" possibly early 2017.  Keep watching for details.  

So, today I have plans to mark inventory for my booths - however, I will save the haberdashery for my happenstance sale.  

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow, Scotland

Anna was our family "tour guide" as she researched places to go during our "free" time in each city.  Thanks Anna!  She found The Willow Tea Rooms and we started following them on Instagram weeks before.   

The Willow Tea Rooms
217 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, Scotland

Delightful, delicious and darling atmosphere!  2 thumbs up, 5 stars - excellent - a must if you go to Glasgow!

I had the traditional Scottish Breakfast - it was delicious!

I loved the potato cake.  That was my first taste of black pudding - it was better than I thought...(smile)...and probably the best we had in comparison to any at our hotel stays in Scotland.  Their sausages are really tasty too.  I don't know why, but Scots eat beans for breakfast - you know what they say..."beans, beans, the musical fruit..."

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconisn.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Window's View of Scotland & Ireland

I've just returned from an amazing trip to Scotland and Ireland.  I was blessed to be able to share this experience with my daughters Justine and Anna.  I will have several individual posts about our adventures, but wanted to share this "teaser post" with you...

Come follow along over the next several posts and view Scotland and Ireland through my lense and stories.  

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.    

Linked to: