Scotland

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom (UK) The land actually borders England, which is located to the south of Scotland.

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We flew from Reykevik, Iceland  to the capital city of Edinburgh, Scotland on a short 3 hour flight.

 The Edinburgh Castle. This is a very famous castle. when I first saw it  reminded me of the Pantheon we saw in Rome, Italy (see my blog post).  The Edinburgh Castle has  a circular shape at the entrance..  But the Pantheon is much smaller then this. The castle is located in the old part of the city.  A tour came free woth our ticket and the tour guide talked WAY too fast and it was hard to understand all the facts he rattled off.  For me the Scottish acent is really hard to understand. Even though they are speaking English.

Back in its hey day this Castle used to be a village inside the walls. I got to see the kichen, the armory, the canons and more.  There was  a lot of little museums here. I got to see the oldest soccer (called football)  medal in the world which was cool because I love soccer. IMG_4362 One of the museum exibits had  Knight Armor displayed on a manican.  Its really weird to think that’s what the Army people had to wear in battle.   It looks really heavy.  I don’t see how they could fight in those things!  There were lots of cannons in the castle and cannon balls too. I got to hold one that was only 6 inches but was so heavy!  I can definitely see how that could kill a person.

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FUN FACT- Cannon balls were very expensive so after a battle, all the men would have to go back into the fields and retrieve the cannon balls and bring them back to the castle for next time.

FUN FACT: At one o’clock each day a cannon is fired from the castle. This is an old tradition that has been going on for a long time.  It started because the sailors (on the river below) needed to know what time it was.  The reason they chose 1 o’ clock is because it was 12 pounds cheaper to pay the tax than if they chose noon.

We enjoyed walking around the castle area and spent many hours here.  Lots of cobblestones and very old structures. Wonder how many kids played here thousands of years ago?

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We visited a ” World of Illusions ” museum located right near the Edinburgh castle. Sawyer and I had so much fun here. They had a mirror maze and we bumped into the mirrors a lot trying to find our way out. They had spinning tunnels, lazers, illusion art and other stuff.  I learned how the illusions are a trick on our sight.  We went through each thing a few times and we learned about the camera’s on the roof of the building that can focus on anywhere in the city. We zoomed in on some people walking around the streets below.IMG_4320 IMG_4310

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We visited the Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh also.  This is where the Queen of England and the Royal Family stay when the visit Scotland.  There were many paintings and structures with old fashioned décor. We saw old apartments where Mary, Queen of Scotts lived for  while.  I learned a lot about her life.  The gardens, the courtyard the drawing rooms and the room where they greet people, talk and relax.  The Royal family still uses this room today.  Just think, I was walking in the same rooms and courtyards as past Royal Kings and Queens and the present Royal family of Queen Elizabeth and her grandson, Prince William and his wife Kate.  Also their 2 little children. I could just picture them running around here.  We saw their pictures on the walls.   The Scottish crown jewels are here on display. We watched a documentary on Queen Elizabeth and her life. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about her.  As of this month…April 2016, the Queen will be 90 years old.IMG_7181

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Fun Fact:  Standing at the end of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, this fine palace is the home of Scottish royal history. At the Palace of Holyrood visitors can explore 14 magnificent historic and State Apartments, the romantic ruins of the 12th-century Holyrood Abbey and remarkable royal gardens, all with a complimentary audio tour. Best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, the Palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in her short reign.

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We rented a car and drove all around the countryside of Scotland, especially the highlands. Image result for scottish highlands images

FUN FACT:  We are of Scottish heritage. We found out that the “Meckley Clan” is from the highlands of Scotland.  Too bad we don’t know where any of our clan is located or we would pop in for a quick visit.

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Loch Ness: Look!  Sawyer and I are searching for clues of the Loch Ness Monster.IMG_7255

 

IMG_4368                     Of course we had to visit LOCH NESS.  Most people have heard of the LOCH NESS MONSTER but don’t know it is from here in the highlands on a lake.  “Loch” means lake!  The lake or loch itself is very long and narrow and dark.  Water from the ocean used to flow in the lake before it was dammed up. Before I go on let me just say that we learned a lot from the Loch Ness Museum…which is a fun place to go for a few hours  and learn about the history of this area and why it is so famous.  Scientists have not proven or disproven many of the theories of the Monster of Loch Ness.  We learned why so many have “seen” the monster and also why certain photo’s were proven to be found as fraud!  Sometimes an Elk was mistaken for the monster, sometimes logs, floating garbage, ripples from the various tides and shallow waters, reindeer, horses, etc.  Fog contributes to the “visions” of Loch Ness Monster. Millions of Dollars have been spent going deep into its waters to search for old fish creatures.  There are still parts of the lake that they can not get to the bottom of for whatever reason (wonder what is lurking down there???) We saw the mini submarines that were used.  It is a fun museum and I highly recommend it. Here are some old photos of the Loch Ness Monster later proven fake.   The lake is pretty and the Urquhart Castle sits right on the hill overlooking the lake. 

 

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Urquart Castle:

The castle looks small from a distance but very large once you walk around it. I saw a gigantic catapult that shot cannon balls over the walls of the castle and destroyed the structures inside it.  I learned the history of the castle and how many different families lived here, who invaded it, why they invaded, which family took revenge and finally the most interesting thing of all…..why it was destroyed and who destroyed it.  Built in 1200 it has seen a lot of battle.

Fun Fact: Seems the last owners were fighting a battle lasting many years and did not want the castle to be taken over, so they stored tons of gun powder in several of the buildings and blew it up themselves so NO ONE could live there anymore.  The family and servants moved on to another location and the villagers pillaged what ever they could after the explosion.  Even most stones were removed too.  What is left is what we see now.

We walked everywhere here, first in sunny weather then it started to rain. We saw a great video documentary in the visitors center about the Urquhart Castle.

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Look!!!! We are searching for the Loch Ness Monster.

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We continued our drive to other parts of Scotland.
The Stirling Castle was a nice visit.  I know, you are probably thinking “there are so many castles in Scotland” yes, you are correct.  We purchased a special pass that got us into all the castles and museums for a great family price.

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Fun Fact: There have been well over two thousand castles in Scotland, although many are known only through historical records. They are found in all parts of the country 

Stirling Castle is located on top of a hill.  The castle is one of my favorite castles we have seen so far.  It is more like a community within its walls because so much goes on there. There was a magnificent view from the top all around the walls. The rain kept going on and off all day and we got to see a beautiful rainbow.  IMG_7224 My favorite part about the tour through the castle area was learning about what went on in each building.  We saw a tapestry demonstration and learned the history of why tapestries are so famous in Scotland and the history of the “unicorn” that is on the Scottish crest and most flags.  We saw the Unicorn tapestries that each took 2 years to complete. A tapestry is a carpet that hangs from the walls. They were used in the castle to keep room warm because  the moist air from the stone walls would make it very damp and dark.  After learning about the work involved in the tapestry making and seeing it, I have a new appreciation for them.  

We viewed the kitchen areas where men and boys prepared the food for hundreds of people (the kitchens were NO place for a woman back then). The butchering and hot open fires and  skinning animals.

We also saw the very large armory where the ammunition was stored for the city and the prison area and the old church.

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We started our driving journey in Edinburgh, then headed North to the Highlands, Loch Ness, and Inverness.  Then we headed south again to Stirling Castle and Glasgow, another popular city. We visited the Glasgow Science Center and spent the day learning about Science.  It was an awesome Science learning day!!!  IMG_4420IMG_4421The Planetarium was amazing. We viewed the night sky constellations, learned about the North Star and planets, and how there are about 400 stars in our galaxy. We saw a close up of Mars and Saturn. It reminded me of the time we spent with an Astronomer in the Outback in Australia, how he showed us the planets and we used the powerful telescopes to see the galaxies and stars and moon.

Fun Fact: Saturn’s rings are not “solid” they are made up of chunks of ice, large and small that only appear to be one solid mass.

We also saw a show about the water cycle with cool demonstrations. We did some DNA building, learned about geo-thermal energy  (which I just learned about from being in Iceland). They even had pictures and showed how Iceland is a country that uses Geo-thermal energy to the fullest. We took part in a solar panel demonstration and learned about the Human Body.   We spent a lot of time in this museum and had lunch here too. I love learning about Science so much. I want to be an Earth Scientist or Space Scientist some day.

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All in all Scotland is great. My famliy and I enjoyed our time here and I learned a lot!  My brother and I also played a lot of soccer here too.  I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com   If you have any questions of comments feel free to email me and I promise I will get back to you.

look for my next post on England!