Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Becky and Toby's Trip Highlights

Hi there, long time no blog! I've been busy!!
We are so blessed to have our family and friends come and visit us all the way in Scotland. Kasey came last August and Faye and her mom, Donna, visited last October. Our first set of visitors of this year were Ryan's parents. We were so excited for them to come because we knew how much they would love the country side and how they would appreciate the break from the Texas heat.

One thing with visitors is you get a chance to appreciate everything you've mindlessly taken for granted. Becky couldn't get over how green it was and they both loved the beautiful hills, two things we see everyday. Sometimes we forget how breathtaking the country we live in truly is until we see it with someone 'new'. I love this about having visitors because even though the scenery, mild climate and outdoor lifestyle is what I love about Scotland, it's always good to be reminded and see an 'outsider' enjoy it too.

Toby and Becky landed early and didn't get much sleep on the plane so after a bite to eat for lunch and a cat nap, we hit the ground running for the next 8 days.

Here are the highlights of their trip from my point of view. I should have Becky guest post about their trip! :-) (My pictures are limited since I let Becky do most of the picture taking).

1. Dunnottar Castle- it's mystical no matter what time of year and no matter what the weather. You can stay here and admire it for hours whether it be on the castle grounds or looking at it from afar. It's one of those things that I never get tired of taking visitors too. With the ever changing Scottish weather, your pictures  are different every time.

2. Loch Ness Cruise/Urquhart Castle- Friday morning we headed out on a little road trip making stops along the way with our final destination being Aviemore. Our first significant stop was at Loch Ness for a river cruise to look for Nessie (loch ness monster) and for a great view of Urquhart castle. 

3. Cairngorm Reindeer- On Saturday we headed up the mountain in search of reindeer. It was a short but lovely little hill walk to see the herd that visits this part of the mountain. We were able to pet and feed them. Definitely fun for everyone at any time of year but how cool would it be to do this at Christmas when there is likely to be snow on the ground!

5. Cairngorm Mountain- after seeing the reindeer, we headed up the mountain on the funicular to have an amazing vantage point of the mountain range and loch. Ryan and I are already talking about getting back there and doing some hiking!

4. Sheep dogs- this is something I was really looking forward to. Dogs in general hold a special place for me and I am always mesmerized by the working breeds who actually work. It's incredible they know exactly what to do with just a whistle. It was so neat to see Shepard Neil 'talk' to his dogs and show us what they do. It's a must if when you go to Aviemore!

I wanted to take the puppies home so bad. At just 20 days they already start learning the commands and understanding them. Incredible!

6. Falconry Centre- on our way back to Aberdeen on Sunday we stopped in Huntly at the Falconry Centre. It was not the highlight of our weekend, it's kind of hard to top reindeer and working sheep dogs, but I'm glad we stopped. We didn't get to see the bigger birds (eagles) in action (they were scheduled for the next show) but was still pretty neat to see. And if you're not sure exactly what faloncry is, click here.
Angus the red stag

8. Blair Atholl/Pitlochry- Thursday we headed to the cute little town of Pitlochry. We enjoyed a short little walk to see the Solider's Leap. Remember, I was here in December and it was pouring and the visibility was almost zero. What a difference 6 months makes! After our walk we had lunch and then headed to my favorite (and first) castle, Blair Atholl. Since I had toured it before, I let my in-laws loose while I enjoyed my book on the lawn while listening to a bagpiper play Amazing Grace.

9. Balmoral Safari Tour- last but certainly not least we headed out to the Queen's estate for a safari tour. I use the work safari loosely, this is what they advertise the tour as but should really just be called an estate tour. It was great, regardless of the name, especially for anyone who as a limited time to see Royal Deeside. It's a great way to see the beautiful Scotland landscapes while learning the history of the estate(for you Aberdeen readers, Robert Gordon owned this land first) and family and to see a few animals along the way.

It was such a great week and between all of the activities, Becky and I managed to hang on to our title of best 42 and Shoot the Moon (domino games) team! The guys stood no chance. Thank you, Toby and Becky, for coming to see us!!


  1. Yay! I was so glad to see a post from you this morning. I didn't know you got to see the reindeer and working dogs. Very cool! Looks like a great itinerary and I might borrow some of it for our upcoming road trip.

  2. Lots of cutie pie animals but the puppies are the cutest!!!