Tag Archives: Scotland

City [Island] Spotlight: Orkney Islands

10 Nov

I was lucky enough to spend some time recently in the lovely Orkney Islands about a week ago.  If you have any interest in the outdoors, it is definitely a place you should visit.  Orkney is a place where the sea and sky are so big (and so far north) you can just make out the curvature of the Earth in a way I’ve never seen before.

A pleasant walk along the sea cliffs at Marwick Head.

A lovely walk along the sea cliffs at Marwick Head and the Kitchener Memorial

Orkney has some of the oldest permanent human settlements in the world. (They’re from the Neolithic era- some 5,000 years old!)

Skara Brae- the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe

Skara Brae- the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe

The stones above are actually the walls of houses.  Pretty impressive for the Stone Age! Orkney also has an impressive array of standing stones (like the famous Stone Henge in Wiltshire, England), some of which pop out of farm fields and literally have fences around them to keep the sheep from leaning up against them.  In addition, there are  Neolithic tombs; one of which looks like a random grass hill (also in the middle of a field)-Maeshowe- and the other of which requires entry on your belly on a skateboard-like apparatus because the entrance is so low-Tomb of the Eagles.

Unnecessary sign near Tomb of the Eagles

Sign at cliff edge near Tomb of the Eagles

There is far more to do on this small set of islands than can be done in 4 days, but I highly recommend making the long trek north; it’s well worth it.

A reminder for those of you who are not familiar with Scottish weather- bring a waterproof jacket with a hood!! Orkney is SUPER windy and when it’s raining, an umbrella is no match for the high speed gusts.  We were told that you can always spot a tourist because they are the only people crazy enough to be carrying an umbrella.

Judgmental Cow

Judgmental Cow

This highly amusing, judgmental-looking cow we ran into near Marwick Head completes this Island Spotlight (because what would a City Spotlight section without a funny animal).

Have you ever been to Orkney? What was your experience?


The Secret Garden

7 Aug

This past week, I read the children’s novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a physical book I remember from childhood, but don’t remember actually reading. I think I have a hard back copy sitting on a shelf in my bedroom at home with a dark green, leafy pattern on the jacket.

Parts of Glasgow have, in a sense, become my own secret garden. Although they are far from secret, there is something that wakes up in me as I wander through green spaces with lovely flora and fauna. Now is the time in life to stop and smell the roses.




First Day of Summer

21 Jun

Happy summer boys and girls!  Today is the longest period of daylight I’ve ever experienced, sunrise was at 4:29 am and sunset at 10:05 pm.  Quite the turn around from the oh so dark days of winter.  I’m delighted to be in the warmest season of the year here in Glasgow.  Everything is so green, which is so odd to my SoCal senses. I keep expecting something close by to turn brown and catch on fire.  I love being surrounded (year round, in fact) by luscious greenery.  I don’t think it will ever get old.  The earth here just looks so healthy all the time.  This is not what I’m used to in the summer.

Kelvingrove Flowers

I mean, let’s be honest here.  Once it’s May in Southern California, it looks a lot more like this.


Perhaps a picture of the desert is a liiitttttle bit of an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.

One of my intended big undertakings this week was to bake a swiss roll cake, something that looks terrifying, not because of the actual baking, but because of the rolling of cake after the baking.  I’m especially nervous about this due to, well, the lack of grace in my favorite food blogger’s early attempts at this kind of cake.  I’ll go at it best tips in hand, but let me tell you, I’m afraid!  Of course, the reason I’m telling you about my nerves and not sharing this cake in any of its potential formations is because it didn’t  happen this week.  I had a presentation for my thesis, so all baking exploits were put on the back burner.  Soon my 20 followers, soon!