Monday, April 24, 2006


Puffins taking off in the Farne Islands

On Saturday I went to the Farne Islands with Ken, Baz and Nita. We got a boat tour out to the islands which were teaming with wildlife. Puffins (cute birds, a cross between a penguin and a parrot to look at) flying like little torpedo flying penguins, grey seals lounging on rocky outcrops, and so many birds nesting on rock faces, including shags, guillemots, turns, eider ducks, and cormorants. It was great to see such amazing wildlife all around. I decided that was something that I've missed from my travels so far- lots of wildlife.
So many birds!

We went out dancing with the crew last night. Was so great! And today was spent wandering around town after dropping off Nita. I saw "The White Countess" at the movies, which was a great film, very subtle and beautiful, set in Shanghai before WWII.

Grey seals catching some sun

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Scottish Highlands

Here comes another post to tell you of my travels. This time I stayed in the UK, travelling to Edinburgh to join a Haggis tour of the Scottish highlands. My friend Ken joined me for the trip, which was great. He was the token English person on a bus of Aussies and Kiwis, most of whom are living in London (no surprise there). There were lots of great people on the trip. It was kind of strange for me to be hanging out with so many Aussies! It has been so long. Ken went to Scotland and discovered more about the Aussie culture than anything else. Quite bizarre for him.

So the trip was great. We covered quite a bit of ground.On the first day we travelled to the Falls of Bruar, Aviemoor, Culloden moor, and ending up at Dornoch beach, which was a lovely white sandy beach. Also passed the church where Madonna and Guy Richie were married (I seem to have a Madonna theme on recent trips- her nightclub in Miami and now the church where she was married? Weird).

That night we stayed in Carbisdale Castle, which is apparently haunted (I was having none of that though, much too sceptical for that :). It was a gorgeous night and we saw the full moon rising, and then reflected in a calm lake. We danced to a Ceilidh (pronounced caely, traditional music) band in the castle, which was great fun, and then went to the local pub at Invershin which was decorated with deer antlers and random film memorabilia, like a helmet from braveheart and highlander and a bow from Robin hood prince of thieves. Was a very cute little pub and I sampled some scottish whisky and beer and chatted to lots of Australians, and also a few locals, who were wondering what the hell 50 Aussies were doing invading their local in the middle of no where.

The next day we saw Loch Ness, Urquhart castle, the great glen, the stunning Eilean Donan castle, and ended up on the rugged Isle of Skye. Our tour guides were 2 Scottish lads, very funny guys who kept us very entertained on the whole tour. We stopped at this river on Skye, the Sligachan River, where we were told a faerie story, that basically ended with all of us having to dunk our heads in the ice-cold snow-melt river so we would be beautiful forever. I thought why the hell not, and it was lovely and refreshing, but as to the beauty thing, I'll have to wait and see.

That night it was everyone to Saucy Mary's, the pub next to our hostel for many whiskeys and beers. Had good chats with lots of Aussies.

Some thing very unfortunate happened that night. The house next to Saucy Mary's burnt down in the night, and a person was killed in the fire. A couple of guys off our bus were witnesses, and one was being questioned the next morning when we were supposed to be leaving. The Skye police wouldn't let our bus leave for 2 and a half hours, at which time they let us leave but the guy they were questioning had to stay behind. His mate was saying how they went to the back of the house when it was on fire cause they could hear people screaming, but he couldn't breathe in the smoke so he went away, but his friend was a bit more involved. Very odd.

Well we saw some beautiful sights that day, driving through the spectacular Glen Coe and the Trossachs. We even visited a Hairy Coo! (Cow in a Scottish accent). We got back to Edinburgh to find a police car waiting for the bus to pick up the other guy who had witnessed the fire. Very suspicious.

Ken and I had some yummy Thai for dinner in Edinburgh before catching a train back to Newcastle. I was sooo tired last night. All that whiskey and bus travel caught up on me.

Forgot to mention that the night before we stated the tour we stayed with Chris's Canadian mates from Busabout- Steph and Alex. They are great girls, very easy going and kind to let us crash at their flat in the heart of edinburgh. Went out for a few beers with them too (key to living in scotland and coping with the crap weather = drinking lots of beer it seems :)