In the footsteps of Emperor Hadrian……

Today I fulfilled a long held ambition to explore some of Hadrian’s Wall which was constructed by the Romans in 120AD, taking around 8 years to complete. When in use it was effectively the northern limit of the Roman Empire.73 miles long, or 80 Roman miles!

Location of Hadrian's Wall

Location of Hadrian’s Wall. (Image from Wikipedia)

The displays we saw today brought home the fact that not many of the invading army were actually born in Rome, rather they were men from captured lands, regions now known as Syria, Netherlands, Belgium and France.

There are many, many sites to visit along the length of the wall and you can indeed walk on sections, although you are encouraged to walk on the adjacent path to help preserve the wall. With the time we had we chose to visit the excellent Roman Museum to gain an overview and then the Vindolanda site just ten minutes further east. Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort and it is noted for the Vindolanda tablets, among the most important finds of military and private correspondence,written on wooden tablets, found anywhere in the Roman Empire.

We were totally blown away by the size of this site and the excavations, which are still going on today and will for some time, so extensive is the site.

Excavations at Vindolanda

Excavations at Vindolanda

Roman road at Vindolanda

Roman road at Vindolanda

Vindolanda

Vindolanda

This is a ‘live’ archaeological site and you can apply to be a volunteer on their annual excavations – check out their website – Vindolanda . I am VERY tempted!!

There is a totally absorbing museum at Vindolanda which houses displays of the thousands of items which have been excavated to date. These really bring the site to life and the detail and craftsmanship in the shoes, jewelry, pottery and weapons which have been found are simply stunning and so well preserved due to the environmental conditions on the site. I was so engrossed that I forgot to take all but this single photograph in the museum -sorry!

Displays of Roman finds at Vindolanda

Displays at Vindolanda

It is rather humbling to stand on these sites and imagine the people who lived there almost 2000 years ago now and who lived, laughed, loved and died here,leaving behind little fragments of their lives for us to discover all this time later.

Who loves Autumn?

Well I certainly do! I welcome the change which each season brings but I think that Autumn is probably my favourite. I love wrapping up warm in cosy layers and going for a walk, scuffing through the fallen leaves and picking up items of interest.

Autumn Leaf

Autumn Leaf

I love picking Blackberries and squirrelling them away in the freezer for fruit crumbles later in the year.

Blackberries

Blackberries

I love the vivid sunsets which we seem to have more of at this time of year and I like to shut out the darkness and light scented candles to make the room cosy and inviting.

Scottish Sunset

Scottish Sunset

It is the best opportunity for stargazing and the time to plant bulbs to bring the first colourin the garden next year.

Autumn bulbs

Autumn bulbs

I’ve just been reading about the concept of Hygge. The Danish word, pronounced “hoo-ga”, is usually translated into English as “cosiness”. But it’s much more than that, say its followers – an entire attitude to life that helps Denmark to vie with Switzerland and Iceland to be the world’s happiest country. I’m signing up for this idea (who wouldn’t) and now following the blog http://hellohygge.com

Montrose, a trip down Memory Lane.

As a child we always had holidays in Montrose on the east coast of Scotland. My father’s family came from this area so it holds special memories for me. I was pleased to find that it hasn’t changed too much or been spoiled, it remains a rather traditional seaside town. The town has a view of a two-mile square tidal lagoon, Montrose Basin, which is considered a nature reserve of international importance. It is the largest inland salt water basin in the UK, and an important habitat for the mute swan.

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Montrose Basin

Montrose Basin. Source: Wikipedia

We found my grandparents old home in Panmure Terrace and enjoyed a coffee in nearby The Pavilion, a very friendly,quirky and dog welcoming establishment which we highly recommend.

The Pavilion, Montrose

The Pavilion, Montrose

Montrose was also famous for training Minesweepers during WW2  and there is a monument to them on the seafront.

Minesweeper monument in Montrose, Angus,Scotland.

Minesweeper monument, Montrose.

The beach, well the poor old beach once with magnificent high sand dunes is now facing problems of serious erosion and here I certainly did see a huge change. Tons of rock have been brought from Norway of all places to try and protect the dunes from the waves but it is clear that greater remedies need to be considered now.

On the way back to Stonehaven we stopped at the berry-oriented Charleton Fruit Farm for a delicious tea and strawberry tart – biggest I have ever seen – yum!

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

Stonehaven, NE Scotland.

Heading off for a short break, we chose Stonehaven just south of Aberdeen as the weather forecast looks good there. The site is excellent, right on the seafront and a very short walk into town. New site facilities make this a very comfortable place to stay. Nice.

Queen Elizabeth Caravan Site Stonehaen

Queen Elizabeth Caravan Site, Stonehaven

Dunnottar Castle is top of our list to visit here and can be walked to from the town. They allow dogs to visit too so that’s a bonus, Brodie will love it! Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval fortress perched upon a rocky headland. Very dramatic. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all visited here so we join an illustrious line of guests and troop in to explore and we love every moment.

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

Feeling hungry we head along to Castleton Shop and Cafe, which came highly recommended by a friend. We were not disappointed – yum! From there we headed south along the coast to the very beautiful St Cyrus beach, home to an RSPB reserve – St Cyrus National Nature Reserve . Well worth a visit, I loved the vast expanse of this beach and the long line of fascinating twisted driftwood. I collected a bucketload to take home to be turned into something magical.

St Cyrus beach

Chris, St Cyrus beach.

We even squeezed in a short visit to Steptoe’s Yard that day, a real Alladin’s Cave of a junkyard. We thought it a shame that they haven’t protected the majority of their items from the elements and the furniture indoors was stacked so high that you couldn’t really see things properly.

We returned to Lizzie, tired but happy and to top it all, the weather has been amazing today!

115 Steps

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

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Today’s Fact: for over 150 years Robert Stevenson and his descendants designed most of Scotland’s lighthouses ( his grandson was the author Robert Louis Stevenson). They have stood the test of time and the elements and no doubt saved the lives of countless seamen over the years so well done to the Stevenson family!! The one we visited today was built in 1830 and is Scotland’s southernmost lighthouse. We climbed all 115 steps and have the certificate to prove it, though I don’t really think the effort warrants one! The views were amazing and we thought we could see Ireland off to the west.

On the road again…..

It’s been well over a month since we have been out in Lizzie……strange I hear you say, why not spend every minute of the summer away in your motorhome? Well, we are very pleased to announce the birth of our first grandchild, Isaac arrived last week weighing in at 9lbs 3 oz and of course we wanted to be around for this very special occasion and were able to help out with dog-sitting until the new family got settled.

FAR too young to be grandparents I hear you say….yes we agree but we are embracing this stage of our lives with pleasure and joy and Isaac has already captured our hearts. Grandchild no.2 is due to arrive in November so this is turning out to be a very special year!

Meet the gorgeous Isaac

Meet the gorgeous Isaac

However, we spotted a window of opportunity to get away from the rain and headed south for a few days on the Mull of Galloway in South West Scotland.

Mull of Galloway, Scotland

The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point and rewards the visitor with stunning beaches, cliff top walks and amazing views across the water to Ireland. Pretty little harbours  and 6 top class gardens are other attractions.

We spent one day pottering around Stranraer, Portpatrick and finally Port Logan, which was our favourite.

Portpatrick, Mull of Gallowa, Scotland

Portpatrick

Port Logan, Mull of Galloway

Port Logan

Port Logan, Mull of Galloway

Port Logan

One beach produced an interesting haul of Beach Pottery and Sea Glass. I always wonder where these beautiful little works of art originated?

Beach Pottery and Sea Glass

Beach Pottery and Sea Glass