Category Archives: travel

Lisburn, Belfast

Friday, Belfast

We started off the day by visiting the Greer homestead. Brian’s great great grandfather lived in this house and his great grandfather was born there. The homestead is on Hungry House Lane in Lisburn, which is 15 min. drive from our hotel. The farmhouse was remodelled in 1990 after sitting empty for over 20 years. The house is over 200 years old and could be older but there are no records of when it was built. Brian’s first cousin, twice removed lives with his wife in the homestead, while his two children and their famies live close by. We had tea in the parlor, which was the room that Brian’s 80 year old cousin was born in. Amazing! We had tea and made our way to the church down the hill where the Greer family is buried. There were no names on the headstone but we were told that 6 Greers are buried there. Brian is now eager to research his family tree!

The afternoon was spent with the next generation of Greers, Brian’s second cousin once removed and his wife, in the fantastic ‘Titanic Belfast’ museum. Wow! This is a must see!!! The history of Belfast is very interesting and this museum covers the life of the people basically from the 15th century on.

We sat in a booth and had a pint of cider in the only National Trust owned pub in Ireland ‘The Crown Bar’ where we had some good ‘craic’, a local term for having an enjoyable time! This pub is beautiful with its hammered metal ceiling and wooden socializing booths to its large counter and stained glass windows. So, walk in, squeeze into a booth and enjoy some good craic!

We ended our evening with a tour around the wealthy district of Belfast and dinner at The Apartment, where the university students go to eat and enjoy old disco music! Fun!!!

It was a late night but a very important one for the Greer family!

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Glasgow, Edinburgh

Glasgow, Edinburgh

After a wonderful walk around the old city centre in Glasgow, we checked out of the Indigo Hotel at 11AM, loaded the luggage into the car and set out. We’re trying to get used to a mid-size Ford Mondeo after zipping around the narrow Irish roads in the much smaller Audi Q3. Fortunately, the roads in Scotland are wider, but for some reason Brian seems to be crowding the left hand side of the lane, which, unfortunately, is my side!
We set our destination on the GPS as Shotts, but we were sidetracked when we saw the first brown historical sign. And that’s when the fun started. We were delighted to visit New Lanark, a Mill town on the River Clyde which had been run by Robert Owen. In 1785, Robert wanted to change the living conditions of the millworker and create a utopian society. The mill (and community) were successful, and the mill didn’t close until 1969. New Lanark lay vacant for a few years but has been restored and is a world heritage site, well worth visiting. They still produce yarn using industrial revolution era milling machines.
Then, into the Clydesdale Hills, we found the ruins of Craignethan, the last medieval castle built in Scotland.
The castle was built in 1530 by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, who was a student of architecture and Master of Works for James V. Unfortunately, that relationship soon ended and in 1540 Sir James was executed by King James. The Hamiltons struggled with the English Crown for control of the castle for many years afterwards, and in 1575 most of the fortifications of the castle were demolished as a means of punishing the Hamiltons for assisting and harbouring Mary, Queen of Scots. We had a wonderful chat with Olivia who is not only running the gift shop and admissions, but is truly is its keeper. She lives alone in a house built in the 17th century by Andrew Hay, who had purchased the property in 1659 from the Hamilton descendants. The ticket and gift shop is in an attached building which once was the kitchen to Hay’s house.
We then tried to find a castle possibly related to the woman who raised my dad’s father, but after an hour of driving all over Motherwell, we gave up. We did speak to people who mentioned the Dalziel Estate, which they pronounced the way my maiden name, Deyelle, is pronounced. More research to be done before the next trip!
We finally made it to Shotts and had a delightful meal in The Station Hotel, in the old railway station. The owner was very friendly and suggested that we might be able to go to the library the next day and do some research on Brian’s great grandfather on his father’s mother’s side, who may have run a barber shop there. We had a wonderful time during our dinner chatting with the owner and the waiter. Again, more research to be done for the next trip.
We made it to our hotel in Edinburgh, the Apex Hotel on Waterloo, around 10 PM, and were in awe of the buildings, monuments, etc. in Edniburgh, completely different from Glasgow, and we’re situated right off the Royal Mile, which ends in Edinburgh Castle. Looking forward to the next two days in Edinburgh for departing very early on Friday!

Stirling Castle, Edinburgh

Stirling Castle

We started off the day with a fantastic breakfast at our hotel, The Apex Hotel which is 5 star all the way! The hotel is just around the corner from The Royal Mile and we can see Edinburgh Castle from here. Wow, this is a very old, very beautiful city! I was iching to start exploring here, but we decided to head back towards Glasgow to Sterling Castle.

it took us an hour to get to the city of Stirling. You could see the castle on the bluff for miles as it is beautifully situated. We were early and parked in front of the gates of The Old Gaol! Our first stop was to Cowane Hospital for coffee. This hospital was erected and largely provided by John Cowane Deane of Gild for the entertainment of decayed Gild breithr. 1639′.

We arrived at the castle in time for the 11:00 tour!

The Royal Palace at Stirling Castle was built in the late 1530s for King James V and his wife Mary of Guise but it had been used as a barracks for nearly 300 years. £12m was spent “putting the interiors of the palace to rights” and £2m alone was spent copying the Unicorn Tapestries in the Cloisters Museum. The Palace contains a Chapel Royal that was one of the first Protestant churches in Scotland and retains authentic 17th century murals. But, It was taken over by the army and became a dining hall, schoolroom and storehouses. The original Chapel Royal where Mary, Queen of Scots and her son, James VI were baptized was torn down to allow for this more grandeur chapel to baptize James VI’s son Henry. it was built in 7 months!

When the tour ended, we made our way through the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders Museum. The Museum traces the history of the 91st Argyllshire Highlanders and the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders. Stirling Castle has been the home of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise’s) since 1881 and through the years, many objects of regimental interest have been handed in, including: paintings, medals, silver, uniform and documents. It was not until 1988 that a museum was opened in the King’s Old Building of the Castle. I have taken 2 photos, one of a Highlander from the 93rd Battalion and a photo of a Vicars Machine Gun Scene 1939-1945.

We returned to Edinburgh, walked over to the Royal Mile and explored the area. We stopped for dinner at a Michelin restaurant ‘Angels and Bagpipes’. A glass of Merlot, watermelon, goats cheese, green apple, walnut salad to start, followed by a juicy breast of chicken over asparagus, and seashell pasta. Yum! Brian had fish and chips. yes, we both had dessert, and it was all fabulous!

After a bit more meandering I decided to take the Ghost Tour, after all it was a dark and cloudy evening and a good wind was blowing. Wondering what the witches were up to, I follow our guide into a very dark musty cellar and waited. Yes, I was scared, but the 7 year old girl beside me, who claims she sees ghosts, was not! I took a photo of the darkest corner of the cellar, do you see a ghost in my photo?

Edinburgh, our last day together!

Thursday – Edinburgh

Knowing it was our last day in Edinburgh, we made a list of things to do and off we went.

Mail my brochures home, check! Buy small carry-on for Brian to take home some of the clothes from my suitcase and lighten my load, since I’ll be traveling solo, check (John Lewis, a UK department store, had an awesome one). Report missing car park chit (which Brian left on the table at breakfast and was thrown in the rubbish by our server), check! Ok, now off to find Jackie’s pub! On the way over to Rose Street, we popped into the Scottish National Gallery and toured a few rooms, including the lower level which houses paintings of Scottish artists. We walked through a market on Castle Street, turned left on Rose St., and there we found Dirty Dick’s Pub, check. Our friends, Rob and Lorraine’s daughter Jackie worked there while she was traveling through Europe. So we stopped and had lunch and e-mailed photos to Rob (and as you can see by the photo, lunch was delicious), check.

After lunch we headed to The Royal Mile and straight up to Edinburgh Castle. We caught the guided tour, then looked at the Scottish Honours (Royal Jewels) and went through the Royal Apartment, including the room in which Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to her son. The ceiling in that room, painted with the Royal insignia, which Mary no doubt was looking at at the time, was still intact! We got out of the chilly and blustery wind and warmed up in The Red Coat Cafe with coffee and some fantastic shortbread.

We returned down the full Royal Mile, which contains dozens if not hundreds of tartan shops, to Holyrood Palace, where Her Majesty stays whilst in her Scottish domain. The Palace was closed, but at least the gift shop was open, so I picked up another Christmas tree ornament, this one a bear dressed as a Scottish Dragoon, check.

There still was one thing on our list, though, a gift for Echlin. We made it up a winding road back up to Princes St. and North Bridge Road, through a demonstration in support of the opposition to a British intervention in Syria, past some petitioners against the Bed Tax (whatever that is) and found some trendy shops on Georges Street, check!

Back to the hotel through the mist for dinner at Elliot’s to make use of our £10 coupon (both food and presentation were fabulous). Then to the front desk to arrange a bagged breakfast and a 4:30 AM cab to the airport for me, check!