Monday, July 25, 2011

Castle Tioram

This may not be interesting to anyone else but me and my family, I hope, but I have really enjoyed looking into a bit of my family history. I am half German and half Scottish so I feel so blessed to be living in Germany and have the opportunity to travel to Scotland.

I mentioned earlier that I was in search of finding any ties to my maiden name while in Scotland. Traveling to Scotland I knew that I was part of Clan MacDonald of clanranald and that they had a castle near Moidart, Castle Tioram.

After talking with Nigel, our tour guide, we were able to set up an afternoon to search for our castle. I say our castle because my friends could not have been better cheerleaders as they all voted to make time for this task. It was also fun to hear, "Sara, let's find your castle."

Castle Tioram now lies in ruins on an inlet in Loch Moidart, just south of Mallaig. It is only accessible during low tide and luckily we arrived at the right time and walked right up to it. The castle was left by clan chief Allan of Clanranald when he left to go fight for the Jacobites and ordered for it to be burnt down so not to fall into enemy hands. When we arrived at the castle we talked with a family that was having a picnic on the beach with their children. They said that they were also from Clanranald and that it is now owned by a man who is trying to get Scotland to conserve the ruin. Unfortunately, Scotland has turned him down twice. This made me even more grateful to be able to see it while there is still something to see.

Our family castle

A look inside.


Getting up the courage to start climbing.

Phil was brave enough to climb all the way to the top.

Looking into the courtyard. Our guide told us that this is where merchants would gather in the mornings.

Bedrooms with fireplaces.

The oven in the kitchen.

The dining room with large fireplace.

After an hour of taking pictures and looking around it was time to get back in the car.

Definitely a highlight of our trip.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My heart was full in Scotland

I can not put into words how much I enjoyed our trip to Scotland. Maybe it was the fact that I was in search of finding my maiden name and clan at every turn. Maybe it was because there were Westies every ten feet. Maybe it is just because I love the sound of bag pipes but whatever it was I loved every minute of it. In hopes of not drawing this one trip out into seven posts, I will try to keep it simple with lots pictures. I will need to do a separate post on my family castle (or ruin, I should call it) but I will explain all of that later.

In the car and ready to explore. Phil and Nigel, our tour guide, are sitting up front.

St. Andrews Cathedral

The guys golfing at St. Andrew (the birthplace of golf) while the girls chat and take pictures.

New things to try

And old favorites

Eilean Donan Castle

Castle Urquart (where we saw beautiful views of Loch Ness)

Loch Ness. No sign of Nessie.

Kilt Rock on Isle of Skye

Enjoying Portree, the northern capitol of Isle of Skye.

Beautiful Isle of Skye

Close, but not quite.

We even took a small boat out to see the Grey Seals at Dunvegan.

Our last day and night in Edinburgh.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Running London

I am by no means a runner but I love running in races. I especially love running with others that are running for a cause. The Asics British 10k London Run represented over 1500 charities and was run by almost 40,000 people. I thought that I would be distracted by Big Ben and Buckingham Palace when what I really found myself distracted by was reading everyones t-shirts and finding out who and what they were running for. We were all so proud to be running in a beautiful city and surrounded by so much love and support.

So this love for charity races lead us to sign up for our next race this October in Munich. Can't wait! But for now, onto race pictures.

Our group (Billy, Hannah, Phil, Me, Barb and Jay) wearing our Areva shirts.

Trying to calm our nerves.

Waiting in line. We arrived at the starting line an hour early and still ended up waiting for about 45 minutes after the race started before we were able to start running. We did not mind. It gave us a chance to check out some of the interesting costumes people were wearing.

Jay was kind enough to snap pictures during the race. Unfortunately you wont see Phil in any of these since he finished a good 15 minutes before me. Nicely done (57:52)!

The finish line.
(that is not our time since we crossed the starting line 40 min late)

Everyone relaxing afterwards.

The race was a great success with everyone coming in under their goal times. London, you were so much fun!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Meeting London

London is everything that I hoped it would be. I traveled to London with pretty high expectations since several of my friends had raved about this city. One of my good friends even lived there for over a year and would tell me stories about this incredible place and all that it had to offer. I was ready and could not wait for our plane to touch down at Heathrow airport and start walking around. The six of us arrived late Friday night and we were determined to check in quickly to our B&B so that we could still grab a bite to eat before calling it a night.

We had booked a few nights at a B&B in Earls Court just around the corner from the underground. It was far from luxurious but the location was great and gave us a little extra money to spend on food and souvenirs.

As soon as we arrived I was so impressed with the architecture, history, food and how friendly the people were to us. Around every corner we found new and interesting shops, parks and gorgeous side streets. Since we had a race to run the day after we arrived we decided to get off our feet for a bit and take a double decker bus tour of the city.

In Trafalgar Square

Picking up our race packets for tomorrows race.

Meeting the Duke and Duchess

The delicious fish n' chips.

Pictures from the bus

Tower Bridge

Big Ben

Beautiful architecture

Riding the Piccadilly line.

The Markets were also another highlight. We underestimated how much time we would need to be able to see everything. Just one more reason to take another trip to London next year.

Our two and a half days in London went by very quickly. We really enjoyed our time there but all agree we will have to plan another trip in the future so that we can spend more time exploring London and catch a show.

Although London was wonderful the highlight was seeing it with 40,000 other people all running for a cause. Running post to follow.