Jacobite Middle Earth

“I picked up The Hobbit. And I began to read. I was swept off to a green, green Shire in a far, far land, and my soul has never returned. I suppose it never will.”

-Steve Bivans

As with everywhere else Kristen and I visited, I could write so much more on the adventures we encountered in Inverness. Considering how long it’s already taken me to tell this story, however, I think it’s best to move on.

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On to the Wilds of the Highlands

My final parting thought about Inverness would be my remaining confusion surrounding the fact that we didn’t visit the fields of Cullodan while there – tantalizingly close as they were. Instead we took a bus out to a small village of no repute and traipsed up to some anonymous farmer’s field for a picnic and reading session in the grass.

I’ve spent a surprising amount of time in the intervening almost two years thinking about why I didn’t insist on a visit. Finally, two Outlander books later, I think I know why. It’s going to sound strange, maybe even ludicrous to some, but here goes. Continue reading “Jacobite Middle Earth”

From hence to Inverness

“But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine

On all deservers. – From hence to Inverness

And bind us further to you.

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1.4.47-49)

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The Scottish Highlands – Wild, Untamed, Extraordinary

Summer hiatuses from routine are almost mandatory for Canadians. When half the year is filled with bitterly-cold winter and all you feel like doing is curling up with a mug of tea and writing the long, dark night away…the late summer nights heavy with Ottawa’s saturated humidity are meant to be spent out-of-doors, soaking as much of the heat in as possible – however suffocating it can sometimes seem.

Now that September has suddenly begun, and in anticipation of a late-October early-November trip to France which I will undoubtedly wish to write about, I’m going to try and finish chronicling the tales of the Great Gurski UK and Ireland Trip of 2014 as soon as possible.

Continue reading “From hence to Inverness”

In the Hour before Sunset

 “In the hour before sunset, when the rays of the sun lie across the English fields, the old patterns of the earth rise up and the land seems to return to its origins.”

Peter Ackroyd, Foundation

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Actually taken years ago in Oxford, England. But it demonstrates Ackroyd’s point well, does it not?

Travelling is always exciting. Whether you’re going a town over or halfway across the world; for a weekend or a month; for work or for play…there’s nothing quite like it. A chance to leave your day-to-day existence and see what else is out there. Spoiler Alert: What’s out there is usually even more incredible than you think it’s going to be, if you know where to look.

Continue reading “In the Hour before Sunset”

Fare Thee Well, York

“They say it is the first step that costs the effort. I do not find it so. I am sure I could write unlimited ‘first chapters’. I have indeed written many.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

Wow, I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. I agree with Tolkien… Beginnings are easy, endings on the other hand? And so, for the past few weeks, I’ve written us out of York 5 or 6 times. None of them felt appropriate.

I’ve finally settled on something – it’s a little different from the novellas that were the last few posts. But, well, here goes.

5 Reasons Why 1 Day in York was Worth 3 Posts

Continue reading “Fare Thee Well, York”

Unfinished Business

“Do we live to abolish death? No – we live to fear it and then again to love it, and just for death’s sake it is that our spark of life glows for an hour now and then so brightly.”

-Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

Or, less elegantly, there’s nothing like a good ghost story to chill your blood and make you appreciate like never before the fact that it is still flowing through your veins.

Guess what. This post is not about walls. You’re welcome.

Continue reading “Unfinished Business”

A Stroll Between Living History and Ghosts of the Past

“Veni, vidi, vici”     

“I came, I saw, I conquered”

– Latin phrase commonly attributed to Julius Caesar

Photo Credit: Kristen

Well, it took about two months longer to get here than it did in reality but finally…Kristen and I reached the York City Walls.

And a glorious sight they were.

One of the incredible things about the UK, and most of Europe come to think of it, is how extraordinarily interactive their large-scale historical attractions are.

Unless you’re visiting an art museum in which most of the works of art are in constant danger of being damaged beyond repair, the historical enthusiasts and authorities alike across-the-pond are remarkably supportive of proactive exploration.

Continue reading “A Stroll Between Living History and Ghosts of the Past”

History Continues to Trump Exhaustion

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”

-Jack Handey

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My writing desk at home…Where these posts are drafted!

It’s a funny thing, writing. You can do it for days and days at a time and enjoy every minute of it and yet at some point you need to leave the comfort of your literary reveries – often just for a couple of hours – to take a deep, rejuvenating breath of real life’s fresh air.

Admittedly, I spent much of the holidays taking deep, frequent, even greedy breaths of the free air and I’ve been rather reluctant to dive back in to the chasm – both wondrous and intimidating – of the writer’s mind. But I am back. Truly. These posts should become much more frequent.

I may have to work on my breathing.

Continue reading “History Continues to Trump Exhaustion”

History Trumps Exhaustion – Part The First

“The history of York is the history of England.”

-George VI

To satisfy what I am sure is burning curiosity, dear internet, the unexpected but highly welcome train breakfast was first-rate. And, more importantly, the coffee was spectacular.   

Continue reading “History Trumps Exhaustion – Part The First”

A Wizard is Never Late

 “A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.”

– Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring

Does waking up in a bed that is not your own ever lose its disconcerting effect?

Add 13+ hours of sleep and a time change and you’re pretty much guaranteed a healthy dose of discombobulation. 

Waking up in the hostel in London, I definitely had to shake my head a few times before I regained full use of my faculties. Well, to be honest, I’ve never had full use of my faculties.

But I digress.

Continue reading “A Wizard is Never Late”

The Longest Day – The Longest Post

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”

-Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

By design, Kristen and I only had one day in the hectic, fast-paced, distracted and distracting metropolis that is London, England. Neither of us are huge fans of big cities and we were anxious to get out into the glorious English countryside.

As we stepped out of the dimly lit tube station into the afternoon light we blinked in surprise at how green it was. This was London right? The big, cold city we had been determined to spend as little time in as possible?

Continue reading “The Longest Day – The Longest Post”