“Your Mother Was a Hamster”

Another day, another couple of castles. Because Scotland, known for Scotch whisky, has more castles than distilleries (disclaimer: that might be fake news, but it seems likely to me).

We started the day by picking up a rental car (more on that later). Our first stop was Midhope Castle, not far outside Edinburgh. For me, this was an exciting visit. Before I explain why, let’s see how many of you recognize it.

Yes, that’s right—it’s Lallybroch, home of Jamie Fraser in the TV series Outlander.

Scotland has been on our bucket list for a long time—for me, since college, when I fell in love with English and Scottish history and saw the movie Braveheart; and for both of us, since becoming acquainted with Scotch whisky at a pair of Macallan whisky tastings when we lived in NYC. But it was our recent consumption of this TV series, most of it shot at various locations in Scotland and showcasing the gorgeous scenery, that lit the spark and brought us here now.

Our second castle of the day also has a deep-rooted tradition in movies and TV: Doune Castle.

This was the only castle that the Monty Python troupe was able to secure for filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail (from which this posting’s titular quote is from), and thus the location was used for nearly all of the castle scenes in the movie. Doune also stood in for Winterfell in the Game of Thrones series, and Outlander fans will recognize it as Castle Leoch, home of the Mackenzie clan. It was also great fun to explore.

We also stopped in Falkirk to see the Kelpies, a giant art installation that we knew Molly would enjoy. Which she did indeed, even bringing her sketch pad to render their likenesses.

Another stop mainly geared for Molly was to see the Leault working sheep dogs in action at a sheep farm. It was quite impressive to see what these dogs are trained to do, and feeding lambs and meeting the puppies was an added bonus.

And now that we’re in the Highlands, we’re surrounded by scenic beauty. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to cull down the vast number of photos I’m sure to take in the coming days.

A parting note about our rental car. I’ve done a lot of things in my travels: I’ve lived abroad for several years of my life, I’ve visited nearly every continent, I’ve crossed the equator at sea multiple times… but I’ve never driven a car on the opposite side of the road. Today, I jumped right into the deep end by picking up our car in the heart of downtown Edinburgh. To say it was a white-knuckle drive out of the city might be an understatement. But we made it, and the more miles we’ve covered, the (slightly) easier it’s become. I will say, though, without the GPS navigation afforded by Google Maps on my phone, we’d still be circling around the heart of Edinburgh.

Tonight, we’re laying our heads down in a nice Airbnb flat in Nairn, just yards from the harbor and beach in the Firth of Moray. We have a couple of exciting days ahead, including Loch Ness, the battlefield of Culloden and the grand opening of the mega-million-dollar new Macallan distillery. I’ll try to keep up the blogging….

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