Friday, June 1, 2012

Unbelievable, It Happened Again!

Map picture

When I last wrote, Lisa and I had just experienced a truly incredible morning as the only two people on the Zodiac tour of the Island of Staffa, Scotland, which is one of the Hebrides Islands. We got our first Puffin pictures, and saw some beautiful sights.

In the afternoon, we were set to visit the nearby island of Iona where 48 of the Kings of Scotland are buried and which today is home to the beautifully restored Iona Abbey, one of Scotland’s most sacred and historical sites. DSC00899BUT, would you believe that I fell on my left shoulder once again, and just to add insult to injury, Lisa fell on top of me and injured both her knees. Honestly- it was not our fault this time, but the result was the same. We were boarding our Zodiac for the trip ashore, but the waters were choppy. Lisa boarded the Zodiac first and sat down; I was next, but just as I put one foot on the boat, it jumped up and hit the side of our docking station quite hard. In spite of the fact that three people were holding me as I boarded the Zodiac, it threw me rolling onto the floor of the Zodiac. Mere seconds later there was another severe jolt, and even though Lisa was seated properly, it literally threw her on top of me. The crew quickly sorted things out, and we managed to enjoy our visit to the island, but upon our return, we each were asking for bags of ice for our new injuries. It seems that we just cannot win for losing!

The island of Iona has only a small community, and from the dock, it was perhaps a twenty minute walk to the Abbey itself.DSC00871 Along the way, I took some interesting pictures and also some good shots of the Abbey. Alongside the Abbey was a small Chapel and attached graveyard, which both of us found very moving; not much else to tell. DSC00918Some of our guests took a taxi to a nearby distillery and stayed in town for lunch, however, we both wanted to go back and “lick our wounds.”

On our next day, the ship anchored off the Isle of Arran in Scotland. Here is the famous Brodick Castle and accompanying County Park. DSC00987Historians have determined that fortifications have been on this location since the 13th century. The current Castle has been added to many times but it was renovated in the 1800’s, and was the home to the Duke of Hamilton, the most important person of nobility in Scotland. Eventually the Castle fell to the 12th Duke of Hamilton, and upon his death, it passed to his only daughter, the Lady Mary Hamilton. When she died, estate taxes were levied at 80%, and it became necessary for her heirs to negotiate with The National Trust to receive the property in payment for the tax levy. What is most unique about the property is that it was left exactly as it was on the day that Lady Mary died. It is rare to see an 1800’s home completely intact and just as the owner left it. In visiting the house, you can almost feel that the owner stepped outside, and that you are getting a peak of what the real interior looked like.

After touring the home, we visited its World Famous Gardens. DSC00954We are just a little early in the season for many of the plants, but it you will look at the photographs you will see what a beautiful garden it is.

And so overnight our ship will sail to Glasgow, where this current cruise ends. Therefore tonight most people are getting packed and ready to depart; however, there are 29 people, who, like ourselves, will be continuing on the next segment.

I can say that this has been a wonderful and activity packed adventure – note, I did not use the word “cruise” since this experience is so much more than an ordinary “cruise.” This trip was labeled “Blooming Gardens & Medieval Castles,” and it met that criterion nicely.

I will try to get some pictures posted a little later and finish the formal blog, but for now I wish everyone well, and hope you will join us on our next adventure which begins tomorrow.


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