Friday, January 25, 2008

Steve and Kate's Christmas Visit: Dunnottar, Part 2

After making our detour to see the war memorial, we returned to the path leading to Dunnottar. I hadn't meant to wear my Inverness raincoat, and felt just a little bit too much like some kind of Scottish Groupie, but it was the only raincoat I'd brought, and, as always, I was impressed the design of the garment- and I kind of wish I could get away with wearing more often. (Bobbi thought my thermal head band made the look particularly fetching.)

Kate remarked that it was just not possible to take a bad picture as the sun rose over the cliffs and the ruins of the castle-
so we began to compete for the best "BBC shot" (Kate's term)- this is standard shot of a narrator standing in the kind of impossibly verdant craggy landscape that only public television can provide to Americans. I think Steve and Kate probably won this round. Meanwhile, Bobbi found a passage under the castle, and of course, our little spelunker had to go and check it out. By the time we got down there, Bobbi had passed under the foot of the mountain and come out on the other side...but I did get a pretty good shot of her standing in the mouth of the cave.
Emerging from the other side, we were also treated to some great "attacker" angle views of the castle- looking up at the battlements from the slope, it was quite easy to see why this fortress had withstood the assaults of Danish Vikings, Medieval Knights, and the Armies of Cromwell's English Republic during the English Civil war. I would not have wanted the job of scaling cliffs and walls, only to find a stronghold of angry Scots waiting at the top.
For the price of four pounds each, about eight bucks, we were able to spend as much time as we liked crawling around the ruins of this great keep. We took, of course, a ton of pictures. It was hard not to romanticize about the vanished occupants of the buildings, but at the same time- being there on a cold winter's day, it was sobering to think of what conditions might have been like here, surrounded by cold stone by the blustering sea. For the common people employed here, in particular, it must have been little better than living in a cave. We spent hours crawling around the castle- each of us going our own way, and exploring our own nooks and crawl spaces...happy when we met up with each other,exchanging observations and sharing what we'd seen, separating again to follow our own paths. Really, hard to find better vacation companions.

After about 3 hours, we finally posed for the obligatory group picture and then set out down the hill again...headed for the Ship's Inn- for a pint of stout, a plate of Steak and Guinness pie, and some of the best damn sticky toffee pudding the world has ever known.

Life is good.

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