After Dublin, Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands Will and I decided to stop over in the Medieval town of York en route to London. We boarded the train in Glasgow and spent one night at the historic 1898 Principal Hotel at the train station.
York is super cute and full of personality and charm. My favorite area was the famous Shambles Street used as a location in the Harry Potter movies as Driagon Alley.
Roaming the Medieval Town I walk around a corner and see this higglety-pigglety street of leaning buildings and cobblestone streets and I was overwhelmed with adventure. Transported back to a time and place.
York was founded by pre-Roman Britons and originally named “Eborakon” meaning ‘place of yew trees.’ Romans made it their capital in 71AD. Built as a fort between rivers Ouse and Foss. Ouse River is a continuation of River Ure and the longest river in the United Kingdom.
The Roman Walls around the city were erected at that time. Walking along the Roman Walls you get a chance to peer over yards and gardens and see vista views of the famous Minster.
York Minster is a Cathedral and Metro-political Church of Saint Peter and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.
After Romans departed York was abandoned and fell to ruins. In 866 Vikings conquered northern England and York became the capital of a new Viking kingdom.
In the Middle Ages during the 16th and 17th centuries York was the most important town in Northern England. Less important in the 18th century. York was a market town of craftsmen, butchers, brewers, bakers, tailors, shoemakers, coppers, comb-makers, jewelers, and pie makers.
Shambles is a Medieval street of timber-framed shops originally occupied by butchers. Some shops still have outdoor shelves and meat hooks. Now they’re all souvenir shops.
There’s a big wonderful world out there and when you step out of your comfort zone and open yourself up to new experiences, new people and new cultures something magical happens deep inside. A profound shifting of energy that revitalizes and readjusts all that was stuck and stagnant and uninspiring.
In many ways my bucket list birthday trip to Ireland and Scotland was all about experiencing the Scottish Highlands.
Our tour guide, David, had an itinerary and I had no clue what we were going to see or what to expect short of a list of castle hot spots. The minute he met me and my 16 year old nephew Will, David tossed out the plan and improvised. Everything unfolded beautifully. Best guide ever!
Once we left Edinburgh, we immediately hit up our first castle.
LINLITHGOW PALACE is where they shot Wentworth Prison in my favorite show “Outlander.” How did David even know I was an “Outlander” fan? Most of the other castles and palaces we visited were also locations for the TV show so of course I was in heaven (check out my other blog on Outlander locations.) Still in tact was the fountain built by James V in 1538. Fed by an underground water supply, water once fell from the crown. When Bonnie Prince Charlie visited in 1745 the fountain was made to flow with wine. Restored in 2007 to its former glory of fanciful bas-relief statues of mythical beasts and human heads.
Scottish castles and palaces were not the luxury dwellings I had thought or imagined from visiting France, England or even India. These were stone fortresses meant to keep invaders out and provided very little space or comfort for royal families inside.
Storming Doune Castle, I immediately recognized the grounds where they staged Castle Leoch in “Outlander.” In ruins, there wasn’t much to see inside. The exterior courtyard is where all the energy remains. As an intuitive I felt the castle was happy to have “Outlander” film there. The castle was able to revive the spirit of its inhabitants through the action of actors in period costumes camped out for months recreating the world that once was.
Lunch at the Potted Shed Cafe Bistro on the grounds of the Roman Camp Hotel in Callander was one of our favorites. Built in 1625 the Roman Camp was the hotel for the Dukes of Perth. It has 3 ghosts. The cute pink hotel was very classy and everything I dreamed a quaint Scottish Manor House would be. Even the slightly creepy front desk manager who told me he “liked my vibe.” Maybe it was my blue hair!
Scottish Speak: Dreich is Scottish for rainy weather Drookit is the word for being soaking wet Crabbit is ‘bad mood’ and our guide David told us no one is allowed to be Crabbit on this trip! Of course, we never were.
Stopping for the classic photo of breath-taking famous 3 Sisters Mountain range in Glen Coe, it was the same view as the opening credits from “Outlander.” The valley was once used by Clan MacDonald to hide their livestock from raiders during the Jacobite uprising.
We also saw the Harry Potter train passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This train runs an 84 mile round trip that passes Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. The Jacobite Steam Train was featured as the fictional Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.
When my trusted travel agent booked us at a creepy Victorian hunting lodge on Lochy Loch, I was shocked at first. Then after a few days the place grew on me and in fact Will and I left with a few tall tales of our own about the place and lots to giggle about. It was our favorite strange experience. Nightly over dinner as we looked out at the dramatic scenery and 10pm sunset the theme from “Outlander” played over the speakers. The famous Scottish folk tune called “Skye Boat Song” transported me to the romance of hunky Jamie Fraser and his true love Claire. The song looped every 30 minutes.
Eilean Donan Castle is quite spectacular. Located on a a small tidal, which is land where 3 sea lochs meet: Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alshin in the Western Highlands. The picturesque castle dominates the island. Founded in the 13th c – a stronghold of Clan Mackenzie and allies Clan MacRae. Partially destroyed during the Jacobite uprising in 1719, a footbridge was added in the early 20th c.
I wanted a fairy experience so we crossed the bridge to have lunch on Isle of Skye located in the Atlantic Ocean. We hadn’t planned on any special isle of Skye outings and now I realize that was a mistake. Next trip I want to hike the Isle of Skye and visit the fairy lake, the fairy waterfalls, fairy everything! The fairy world on Isle of Skye is a magical experience and thankfully we got to dip our toe in the fairy pool.
As we were crossing the the bridge to the isle, my phone alerted me to a MAGIC HOUR. Now this is something I have on my phone in my special calendar but I have never had a phone alert. I believe the fairy energy was alerting me to place my back to the hourly direction and send out my prayers. So, in the parking lot of the Red Skye School House, our driver David and my nephew Will and myself stood with our backs to the Magic Hour direction and tapped into the magic of Isle of Skye. It was truly a spiritual experience. David and Will thought I was slightly nuts. I want to go back!
Of course, no trip to the Scottish Highlands is complete without a visit to the Colloden Battle Field. They have an amazing visitor’s center worth a few hours of attention. Then there’s the quaint town of Pitlochry where it must have been senior hour. As we arrived 2 buses filled with senior citizens mostly in motorized wheel chairs on oxygen tanks roamed the souvenir stores. Urauhart Castle was destroyed but he ruins and movie about its history playing in the gift shop was super interesting. Rainy and misty drive around Loch Ness we could not see the famous sea monster, but Will bought a Nessy stuffed doll for his little cousin (another nephew.) Finally wrapped up the 5 day tour at Scone Palace. The grounds are spectacular and worthy of a few hours dodging peacocks.
A real treat and super special was an overnight stay at the poshy posh Fife Arms in Braemar. Until Swiss art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth took it over and made it their love project displaying over 14,000 works of art, the Fife Arms was apparently a dump. Owned by the Duke of Fife (1889-1912), the Inn is now an art masterpiece and everything you imagine a Scottish Highlands experience to be – it is.
One of my favorite shopping for nirvana purchases was the Duke of Fife tartan scarf. Re-created from his original tartan design, a tartan is a woolen cloth woven in plaid associated with a Scottish clan.
The Scottish Highlands is superstition mixed with daily life.
Tea is a way of connecting. Drinking tea is one of my favorite rituals.
You might call me a “tea snob” because I have come to love tea and am pretty picky about it too. It wasn’t always this way. Years ago I attended a tea event at my friend’s chic tea import store on La Brea in Los Angeles. Owner Gail Baral was my guide to all-things tea. How to make it, what to eat with it, and which countries did it come from. I got hooked. Drinking tea all day works for me because the buzz from tea is a smooth uplifting constant as opposed to coffee which can be a roller coaster of ups and downs. At least, that was how Gail explained it to me many years ago.
I learned to brew loose leaf tea. I studied different tea regions like Darjeeling in India and Ceylon in Sri Lanka. I enjoy a strong black Aasam tea during the day and calming Chinese green tea in the evening. More importantly I experienced tea rituals through global travels.
In Europe, it is common to add milk. This came about because in the early days of tea arriving from the East India Trading Company it was low quality so milk made it taste better. The highest quality was super expensive and saved only for the rich. Today in India adding milk is the norm. Usually it is a hot steamed milk or even ground spices are added calling it masala tea. BTW did you know that the word chai means tea, so when you ask for a chai tea, you are asking for tea tea?
What really took me over the edge understanding tea was when my friend in London, Pete Hendricks, suggested I read one of his favorite books, “For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History” by Sarah Rose. Based on journal notes and historic events of Scottish botanist Robert Fortune who was sent to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India, it reads like adventure fiction. The odyssey of this tall Scottish man who went undercover in 1848 pretending to be from Northern China (because Northern Chinese are taller) is a fascinating read. One of my favorite books.
The art of negotiating always takes on a tea component throughout Asia, especially in Bali. Traveling to the small craft town Tenganan in East Bali with my friend Robert in 2000 I witnessed a master class. Tenganan is famous for beautiful baskets handmade according to ancient techniques with a smokey scent. They are said to be so sturdy they last a hundred years. Robert was there to purchase baskets for a client in Sweden. When we reached the village I stood back to watch him work his magic. Like the ancient art of tea, the ancient art of shopping has important lessons too. Don’t talk business before making friends and sharing a cup of tea. Bicker about the price then have another cup of tea. Finally, meet in the middle so everybody walks away happy. And then of course there’s a final cup of tea to seal the deal.
If you are already a tea drinker, enjoy. If not, maybe you will give it a try. I have found tea to be so much more than a hot drink and it’s always “tea time!” My favorite new find is Steven Smith Tea from Portland. Their flavor combinations is superb whether loose leaf or sachets. Try Mao Feng Shui or Portland Breakfast! Cheers!
Yin and Yang represents the cosmic dance between polar opposites. Yin is passive female. Yang is active male. Yin is dark and quiet. Yang is bright and loud. You need both to live a balanced healthy life. If you look closely you can see that within Yang there is a dot of Yin and within Yin there is a dash of Yang.
How to recognize Yin?
Yin is found in cave-like rooms, low ceilings, decorative patterns and lots of collectibles. Yin can be cozy and comfy, but too much can be stale and stuck like granny’s house.
How to recognize Yang?
Yang is found in large spacious rooms with high ceilings and massive picture windows. Bright sunlight streaming in and vast sweeping staircases can be sexy like a bachelor pad, but can also be icy, cold and overwhelming.
Two of everything is much better than one, which is why every Yin has its Yang!
Magical Candles are no ordinary candles. They are working candles that raise your vibration to manifest your goals. True Magical Candles are made by spiritual practitioners during specific moon phases (waxing and waning) with strong intent using color and scent to align with magical intentions.
How do Magical Candles work?
Let’s say you want to listen to Led Zepplin, but are tuned into a country music station. You will never hear rock music unless you change the channel. Sound frequencies cannot be seen, yet they do exist. Spiritual frequencies work the same way. You must be tuned into the proper vibration to match your goals. That is why it is important to pick the correct candle for what you are trying to manifest.
Every religion and spiritual practice uses candle magic in ceremonies and celebrations. The element of fire is mysterious. The flame is powerful, but not every candle is magical. Commerical and mass-produced candles promising to add good Feng Shui to your home or bring wealth because they are green and come with an I Ching coin will not do the trick. Just because a candle is red and shaped like a heart does not mean it attracts love.
Color Guide – each color resonates with a specific purpose:
Red – courage, sexual love and lust Pink – friendship and sweet love Orange – attraction Gold – financial gain Yellow – protection, focus and healing Green – abundance Light Blue – health, patience and calming Purple – ambition and power Brown – grounding Black – banishment White – purity