Reflection

“I don’t want to live to live… I want to live to see this world.”

Woke up this morning, my first morning back from an amazing trip visiting Croatia. The first thought that came into my head was food and the above mentioned quote. I am unaware if it has already been blurred out by someone before, but it is my first thought of the day. Waiting at the airport in Dubrovnik to catch a flight back to Zagreb, I met this wonderful Australian woman and we hit it off. She was 55 years old and was visiting Croatia to take a little break from her cycling trip around Europe. She was heading back to England to continue her journey over to France and beyond… her partner was undertaking a cycling trip from England to Australia and was meeting up with her in the UK. They were to ride together till march after which she was flying back to Australia and would only be seeing her man after a year.

Talking to her made me realize that dreams will only remain dreams unless we get up and make them a reality. Thinking and acting on that thought has never been something that I’m good at. It works better for me when I get to do something and later on in the tranquility of my house can reflect on my actions – often a very pleasant memory. People we meet on our journey living this life, inspire us, motivate us and enthrall us in the most fascinating way. Giving us that drive to do what we can only dream of.

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Go fish Moondog !

Moon dog came over! Her visit was the highlight of my month, because you know, her presence = F U N

Our time together was long overdue. It always happens spontaneously, and that’s what makes it so memorable.

Plans were being hatched as to what we could do in the short time we had together. The weather was supposed to be decent except it wasn’t. Rain and thunder was on our tail and we couldn’t let anything dampen our spirits. After dropping the bags at home and changing into comfortable gear we decided to hit the road, not knowing where we were going and what we were doing. Then suddenly, she blurs out

JAS, I WANT TO GO FISHING!

What? Fishing?? OK! Swung the car in the parking lot of a shopping area and we were on our phones looking for a place to go fishing. BURDS FAMILY FISHING got 4.6 stars and 30+ reviews suggested that there is no place like Burds. It was 45 mins away and well, we had nothing better to do than to explore. WE were on our way. What followed next is an experience I will forever remember as that day I murdered and stabbed my favourite worm and yanked out fish that tasted so good.

We were greeted by Anthony (moon confirm the name plz!) who was a young man in his early 20’s and was the only employee available that day and was not expecting to see anyone come over in the middle of a weekday to fish. He was kind enough to give us a cup full of worms, free of cost, along with 2 fishing rods. We were only charged for 1. It was our lucky day.  A quick run down of how to use the rods and reminder that this is a fish and keep farm, we were on our way over to the pond to fish for our supper. Anthony gave us gloves to handle the worms in case we were not comfortable handling them with our bare hands. I wasn’t comfortable handling anything with my bare hands and had the gloves on the whole time.

This was the most daunting task. Moon was sitting there breaking her long earthworms in two, stabbing them and hooking them on and was ready to cast her bait. I on the other hand was dry heaving and cringing at the mere thought of breaking my earthworm in two. Ever since I was little I have a soft spot for earthworms. It didn’t always start off being like that. This myth that I had heard when I was younger, and of course I had to try it out, said that if you throw salt on earthworm, it melts. Earthworms are highly sensitive to salt, they breath through their skin and being exposed to high concentration of salt causes mortality as it destroys their skin. Ever since that myth was confirmed the feeling of guilt for killing these harmless creatures was so strong that till date if I see an earthworm struggling to make its way into the soil or after rain is lying helplessly on the concrete, I will pick i up and leave it in a safe area.

Knowing that I now had to tear this worm into two and hook it so I can catch a fish was a bit overwhelming but I came around it. After pleading numerous times to moon, asking her to give me her broken worm, it was finally my turn to toughen up and tear the worm. It was done. Over and over again.

It took forever to get the hang of fling and release so that the line could be cast. Finally after seeing the pro in action (moon of course) it sunk in and we were both on our way to catching our first fish of the day. Moondog caught her fish first. The excitement and the screams that followed were something out of a horror flick. This fish was huge and heavy and needed the support of both hands to reel it in. As it was hanging on the line, Anthony after hearing our screams of excitement and horror came running to our aid. He pulled the flapping fish off the hook and handed it out to moon so she could pose with our dinner.

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moon with her fish

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yes, it is yucky!

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I caught my first fish

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My dinner and me

Next was my turn. This was the moment I had been dreading after I got over the initial shock of splitting and stabbing earthworms. 10 minutes after moon caught her fish I had mine bite my bait and run off with it. The little thief left me nothing on my hook and after securing another worm, we were back to reeling a fine catch in. It was HEAVY. My spindly arms were tugging on that rod and fingers were fast turning the handle. There emerged a flapping silvery cold blooded aquatic sea creature, looking more like a monster to me. He was secure on my rod. As I pulled him in, its flapping body was following me all over, rightfully so. He was still attached to my fishing rod.

Unlike moondog, I was not brave enough to hold my fish still alive in my hands. Anthony came over and after pulling the trout off the line he slammed its little head against the rock and knocked him out stone cold. What followed were more shrieks and gagging, though it doesn’t seem so in the pictures.  After securing our fish we made our way over to Anthony where he scaled them and beheaded the poor thing and ripped its heart out. Getting it ready for us to cook later that evening.

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Moon staring at the fish heart

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fish heart

He placed the beating heart on the table and moon proceeded to give it CPR with her little finger. The heart beats on being touched and that went on for a good 45 seconds or so. Who would have known that this day would have ended up being so brutally educative. We thanked Anthony for bearing up and being so kind to us. In our hands we left with 3 trouts that we devoured later that evening and memories of the day we shall never forget for a long time to come. Never a dull moment when moon is in town.

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Come back again, your room is ready XOXO

He shot me, so I shot him! Hope he knows he is famous now.

There is something relaxing about blogging. As we all know, the trend that I follow is nothing short of random but there is still something comforting about typing out whatever random thought enters my mind.

The title of today’s blog suggests something sinister and intriguing at the same time. It all started when I decided to make my way over to the small walled market town of Conwy in Wales. It is around 1h50 minutes by train from Manchester Piccadilly station to Llandudno Junction from where you can walk over to this beautiful town not even at a distance of 20 mins. The walk over is pleasant and along the way if you are a fan of antique furniture then do make a stop at Collinge Antiques. The gentleman who owns the place is very pleasant and even if you are there to browse, you won’t feel rushed or unaccepted. The store is open 7 days a week and is worth checking out.

As you approach Conwy, this imposing 13th century castle stands majestically overlooking the Conwy River. Interestingly the people born in Conwy are called jackdaws – bird in the crow family. I remember taking care of an injured one when I was a teenager. A very intelligent bird, and a very predominant feature strutting the walls of Conwy castle. The entrance fee to the castle is under £6.00 and is well worth visiting to take in the awe-inspiring views of the mountains and the sea. It was here that the incident occured. As I made my way over to the top of one of its 8 massive towers, the only one that wasn’t full of tourists, I was able to take this stunning picture.
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Standing there taking the view in and literally blocking the entrance from others getting to the top, I was enjoying my moment of solitude when this nasty seagull decided to excrement on me. It matched well with my maroon trench and white silk scarf. Couldn’t even tell what hit me till I felt it’s warmth trickle down my hand and then a reaction so ghastly that it caught his attention. Well this smart arse on the other tower captured everything on his camera. When i turned around I was met by this cheeky grin so I had to return the favor! So I shot him back!
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Voilà, that’s the story behind the title. Carrying forward, the rest of the day was quite uneventful. A stroll down the town center took me to this most delicious gluten free fish and chips place that I’ve ever tasted. The batter was perfect, the place equally pleasant called The Archway. Not far is the Elizabethan townhouse in Conwy from the 16th Century. It’s best to buy a combined ticket for the castle and the Plas Mawr, ends up being of better value. The house is very well preserved and you are truly transported back in time. The gardens are amazing though flowers were not yet in full bloom but the view from the stairs to the attic are quite breathtaking, don’t forget to close the windows when you have finished.

 

Another historic building, though 3.05 metres x 1.8 metres in dimensions is the Smallest house in Britain. The line up outside is long but if you have the time to pop in, it’s quite quaint and won’t take an hour to complete the tour. The entrance fee is £1 and you have to see it to appreciate how living there could work. The house is still owned by the descendants of Robert Jones, a 6ft tall fisherman who had to abandon his abode on issues of hygiene.
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And finally the first thing you see entering into Conwy is the magnificent Suspension bridge, an engineering marvel from where you can capture pictures of the harbor and the river.
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View of the Suspension Bridge from one of the Castle Towers.
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The day was well spent exploring this wonderful little gem in Wales. On my way back as I gave a last glace to what I had experienced, nature thanked me in it’s own way. I heart(ed) my visit and Conwy heart(ed) me

 

It’s time to press it!

When in Manchester…

Right, that’s how i wanted to start this post. I have no excuses at all for disappearing like i did, i call this ” life happens”. From being so productive in writing down random thoughts to being so non-productive in the last few months, but then again, who says I have been non-productive? Things have been rolling in the right direction and that’s all there is to it. As i sit in my bed with a head cold and clogged up sinuses, a cup of green tea on my bed side, I am here to talk about my past few months.

I attended my first Symphony Orchestra in the month of May, thanks to a colleague who mentioned that he was going. Something that I wanted to see for such a long time and finally had the chance to, in Manchester UK. The whole experience was a bit emotional and I am not necessarily someone who understands symphony. However, that being said- the stings of my heart were definitely plucked opening the flood gates only because it was simply so beautiful. An experience worth remembering.

Manchester always keeps me entertained. There is tons to see and do around the city that doesn’t cost money and is culturally enriching. If you are laying over in MAN for more than 48 hrs, be sure to visit the Manchester Art Galley. Not even a stones throw from the crew hotel is this fantastic art gallery that is a host to over 10,000 paintings and is a perfect place to spend your day admiring art and photography.

Another one of my favourites is the Chetham’s Library. Not many know this but believe it or not I do have a degree in Library Information Sciences. Who would have thought?! This is one of the oldest public libraries, situated in the city center providing access  to a huge collection of books FREE OF COST. You will find rare and antique books and even if you are not a book lover, just visiting this library will make you one. It’s one of Manchester’s hidden gems and definitely merits you sitting in one of the library’s reading rooms taking in all the knowledge you can. Knowledge is heavy so make sure you use both your hands in lifting it off the shelves.

This one probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but Manchester has this amazing Donkey Sanctuary. I got hooked on to donkey’s ever since i realized my handsome husband had a soft spot for this animal. It’s not an  animal not many think about, an animal that is abused and ill-treated and not given the respect it deserves for being head strong ,stubborn and sure of itself. Well, after visiting my first Donkey Sanctuary in the south of Spain, I have made it my mission to visit every donkey sanctuary I can, and it just so happens there is one – a very good one- in Manchester. This place has ended up being one of the most successful international charities today, providing donkey assisted therapy to children across the UK and internationally. Animal therapy is long used in providing vulnerable people with opportunities for emotional connection, social interaction, communication and confidence-building and I am glad to say that this charity has achieved this and much more. A must visit for all those who love and care about animals.

Then of course there is always the train that can take to Wales… that’s for another time. This post has been sitting on my laptop for over 9 hours, it’s time that i press it.

Beautiful villages in Andalusia

Talk about neglect! It has been over 5 months and i have not posted on my blog site. My apologies to my readers ( if there are any!). Not to say that I have not been busy, on the contrary, the new years resolution was to travel every month and that has been achieved so far. It is hard not to achieve that one when you work in the travel industry.

Every year I take a trip with my creator. We went back and forth deciding where to go. Pacific coastal drive was on our agenda till Trump messed up our plans by simply “being”. Right now I am sitting in my favourite place in the world, my living room, looking out at the pouring rain, drinking a cup of original and pure Kangra tea and gearing up to put my thoughts in words.

This trip was simply AMAZING and wouldn’t have been as easy as it ended up being if it were not for my loving in-laws. They were kind enough to set us up and lend us their lovely home in Nerja. Now, nothing was planned… I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, the rest depended on how well my mum would take to cities. Turns out, I realized very soon, that tourists infested towns/cities and clicking pic of the same old touristic joints wasn’t something that mum was interested in. It made it way simpler for me to hence plan out our itinerary and see the beautiful villages of Andalusia and share them with someone I dearly love.

First stop : Nerja and Frigliana

Nerja, pronounced – Ner-kha NOT Ner-ha but ‘kha’ ( k and h are pronounced together, if that makes sense.) 68 kms east of Malaga lies this amazing little  resort town of Nerja. This was our starting point for all the subsequent trips we took. There are plenty of places and areas of interest in Nerja itself, that I’ll leave for you to explore. The Balcon De Europa is a must if you are visiting Nerja. The views are incredible and it gives you a great sense of where you are and what King Franco experienced. We decided to go pay the – cueva de nerja ( caves of Nerja) a quick visit. Cueva de Nerja, a nearby cavern with unusual stalactites and stalagmites, hosts popular summertime concerts. It’s also known for its paleolithic paintings, viewable by guided tour. The entry fee was €10 per head. Since the tourist season is yet to start, there was no problem as far as gaining access to the caves was concerned. No flocking of eager tourists, no rush in any way.
The afternoon was spent exploring the beautiful little village of Frigliana or ” the white village” which is at a distance of less than 20 km from Nerja. The quarter is made up of steep cobbled alleyways winding past white houses resplendent with flowers.

Capileira


Capileira is the  highest of the 3 villages in the Poqueira Valley with the back drop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Only at a distance of 80 km from Nerja, a must visit for those who are in love with nature and hiking. Known as the Santorini of Spain, this place is the perfect spot to visit if you wish to be taken aback by the dramatic setting and fascinated by the beautiful labyrinth of narrow whitewashed streets, splashed with colour by geraniums, and wide open to spectacular views down the gorge and up to the snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada.

Alora and Ronda

111 km west of Nerja lies the quaint little hilly town of Alora. Easily accessible by hourly train service from the city center in  Malaga ( only 40 kms west of it), this makes for a good day trip for all my Flight Attendant friends who wish to explore a new place, and get their dose of daily exercise in. The climb into the village is pretty steep and the walk up to the Alora castle is beautiful. From the castle you’ll be able to admire the beauty of village with the mountains in the back drop.


The cliff hanging footpath Camino de Rey  is located at El Chorro in the municipal district of Alora.  Continue another 75 km and you will reach the birthplace of modern bullfighting and the oldest town in Spain- Ronda. The most conspicuous feature of Ronda is its location on a big sandstone hill that is cut in two by the El Tajo gorge, in which the  Guadalevin rivers runs some 120 m below. The views of the gorge and the surrounding countryside are breathtaking, and worth the visit in itself. Hiking down into the gorge is very much possible, make sure to have the right gear and right camera equipment.

Iznajar and Almodovar del Rio

140 km North of Nerja likes the lakeside gem of Iznajar. Meandering streets of this flowery village will lead you to its 8th century castle next to its 16th century church. On your walk up to the castle you can stop by the Patio de las Comedias and enjoy a cup of cafe frappe while over looking the picturesque landscapes below. What was really enthralling was the orange trees lining the streets in all these little villages that we visited. Not only did they add colour and character to the beauty of these villages, but also provided a weary traveler some much-needed Vit C along the way.

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Further north of Iznajar, some 125 km away, past the historic and the touristy town of Cordoba lies this round castle of Muslim origin in the town of Almodovar del Rio. Built by the Arabs in the 8th century, this castle underwent a lot of wear and tear and finally was restored to its current condition ( while maintaining its original integrity and look) under the architectural direction of Adolfo Fernandes Casanova. The only reason I remember his name is due to the mention of Adolf(o) and Casanova together, bridged by good ol’ Fernandes. The entry fee to the Castillo is €8, giving you access to the priceless view of the town below.

Baeza and Udeba ( 10 km distance between the two towns)

227 km to the north of Nerja, in the Jaen province of Spain lies the “Olive oil capital” town of Baeza (UNESCO). We happened to be there on the day of the celebration of Semana Santa. The Holy Week of Baeza was declared Fiesta of Tourist Interest in 1980 and of National Tourist Interest of Andalusia in 1997. We were lucky to arrive right on time to witness this first hand, and to capture the inspiration behind the garb made popular by the KKK ( for all the wrong reasons!). The Cathedral of Baeza is also an essential attraction as is the Town Hall, which was declared a national monument. Both these towns reflect Renaissance style that visitors could believe they are somewhere in Italy.

Out of the 8 provinces of Andalusia, we were able to explore and drive around 4, covering the provinces of Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Jaen and I have to attest that not only were we smitten by the varied landscapes of these regions we drove through, but the most that stood out was the hospitality of its people and their friendly approach and openness, making it one of my favourite places to visit over and over again. This love affair isn’t over, it just started 🙂
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Peter Piper of Edinburgh

Lets start this post on a fantastic few notes. Click on the link below and get blown away, this man is pure talent.

Now ask yourself this —-:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?


When I think about Edinburgh, the first thing that comes to my mind is – Camera Obscura and the world of Illusions! The mad fun I had in this tower of attractions, I can flood this page with pictures galore. The camera obscura gives a full view of the city from the roof top. The lower floors hold the world of illusions, highlighting different aspects of optical illusion. You could easily end up spending a whole day lost in this world of holograms, light, colours, vortex tunnel and more. A definite visit.
Standard Adult admission charges : £14.50 and you walk out with way more than you spend 🙂

For the book lovers, who would like to pay their own special little tribute to Sir Walter Scott, this place is just for you. By the Waverley train station is the Sir Walter Scott monument, with 68 figurative statues on the monument  (excluding Scott and his dog). Climb up the 287 steps and you will get a breathtaking view of the beautiful city.Make sure you drop that last piece of cake before attempting to climb up the narrow staircase as those love handles will have a hard time hugging you over to the top-level! Those who succeed between 8 October and 8 December 2016 will be entered into a prize draw to win a package of exclusive experiences, including Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party tickets with private access to the Scott Monument for the best fireworks views in the city. Hurry and get moving!!
Admission is £5, for both adults and children. Payment is by cash only.


Standing atop a massive extinct volcano is the beautiful Edinburgh Castle. Rumor has it that during the late Bronze age people lived on top of Castle rock. No one knows this for certain, but what is documented is that this castle was used as an arsenal during the 15th century and then as a prison in the 18th and 19th century and during the first World War. Pretty interesting site to explore, again well worth keeping a good 4-5 hours just to get into the history of this place and to admire its different historical facets.
Adult entry fee : £16.50

Trip around the city would not be complete without visiting the High Kirk of Edinburgh, it is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism and contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle,where The Goodman rests—> the guy in red is the good man for the day, so a short stop over to St Giles Cathedral was a  must!
Free entry


Another interesting place to visit is the Museum on the Mound
which is open all year around
there is no entry fee
and you can take a fresh look at mo—ney.
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There is so much more to explore around Edinburgh but these are my top picks. The capital is small enough to get lost in and emerge out with amazing stories and fantastic pictures to remember your experience with.

 

 

Glasgow explored

One of my favourite destinations is Glasgow, not only because of the friendly crowd but more so because of the flight time from Toronto. A short and sweet hop over and you will find yourself in the lap of nature ( of course, that is in case you decide to venture out of the city!).
The city itself has a lot to offer, almost free entry to points of interest, something that is so rare nowadays. Here is a compilation of places you can visit on a short trip over, this itself can be stretched over a period of 3 days which is what I did, explored the heck out of it.
Before you hit the road walking in your comfy gear and a back-pack, it is imperative you fill your tummy with some food and grab a bottle of water and don’t forget your umbrella, even if it sunny outside, it WILL rain at some point during the day. Here is all that I covered in a day.

Time spent walking ——–> 9 am to 11 pm
$ spent on visiting places of interest—> 0
Experience gained——-> priceless

Buchanan Street : One of the main shopping street, lined with shops/cafes/ tea houses. Glasgow queen street station is east of Buchanan street, it’s good to know for when you decide to venture out and visit Fort William ;). The famous Willow Tea Rooms is on Buchanan street, well worth a visit. Afternoon tea is only for £12.50, quite affordable for a place that has been open since 1903 and has a fantastic reputation, designed by renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The Lighthouse:Contrary to what the name suggests, this building designed by Charles Mackintosh is a centre for design and architecture and hosts his works. Make sure to visit the Mackintosh tower, to gain uninterrupted view of Glasgow city. If you are feeling brave and have not squeezed in your morning run then head to the 3rd floor of the building to climb the 130+ steps to the tower but if you are lazy and short on time then feel free to take the lift from the 6th floor to the tower to be greeted by a very nice man playing you some very nice tunes on the piano upstairs.

GOMA: or the Gallery of Modern art. You cannot miss this building, it is obviously located in the center of Glasgow, a little north-east to the lighthouse but it’s distinct feature is a Statue of Duke of Wellington wearing a traffic cone. The traffic cone is the city’s addition to the structure, it has been removed several times by the authorities only to re-appear again. I doubt they even try to remove it anymore, what’s the point? The duke looks more respectable with a cone on his head if you ask me! GOMA hosts exhibitions and I was lucky to catch John Samsung’s work ( Scottish film-maker, didn’t know of him before that day) Dressing for Pleasure (1977) which explores the subject of fetishism in clothing. The film, which, despite its subject matter, remains playful and light, features cameos from Malcolm McLaren and punk icon Jordan, as well as a host of other curious characters.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: It is one of the most visited art museums in the world – ranks at 60 globally, and the entry is FREE. Amazing. It is situated close to the main campus of the University of Glasgow. I am not really an art enthusiast, in the sense that I have not studied art but definitely do admire it in every form. I know a few people who will be thrilled to visit this rare gem. It has one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world and a vast natural history collection. The art collection includes many outstanding European artworks, including works by the Old Masters – Rembrandt, Jozef Israel,Renoir,Monet, Van Gogh and more. The walk over to Kelvingrove gallery through the Kelvinegrove park is beautiful. It’s not more than 30 minutes walk from the city centre.


The Necropolis : My area of interest, the graveyards! On any tour, anywhere in the world, if there is a graveyard, I am sure to visit it. It is amazing to see the respect shown towards our dead and the disrespect and hate towards those who are living.  The Necropolis, however is one of the most beautiful graveyards with an equally impressive ornate entrance gate. A perfect place to enjoy the setting sun as the cemetery’s paths meander uphill towards the summit, where many of the larger monuments stand, clustered around the John Knox ( the founder of the Presbyterian church of Scotland)  Monument . The cemetery, as most early Victorian cemeteries, is laid out as an informal park, lacking the formal grid layouts of later cemeteries. This layout is further enhanced by the complex topography.

The Glasgow Cathedral: located north of High Street and east of Cathedral Street, The building itself is in the ownership of the Crown ( :-O), is maintained by Historic Scotland, and is a popular destination for tourists. Technically, the building is no longer a cathedral, since it has not been the seat of a bishop since 1690. However, like many other pre-Reformation cathedrals in Scotland, it is still a place of active Christian worship, hosting a Church of Scotland congregation.

Scotland, remains one of my favourite destinations to visit. In my next post I will discuss its capital – Edinburgh and how to get the most of it in a single day. In 2015 we camped around Scotland, for those of you interested in exploring more of this wonderful country, here is the link

https://mirthspot.wordpress.com/2015/06/