Tea, Dives & Zombie Attacks…Doug does Scotland

Dear Journal,

It’s me again, Doug, and you’ll never guess where my adventures have taken me next! I am up in Boonie Scotland! It all started with a mysterious phone call..

You see when the Queen calls you it doesn’t just come up on your caller ID as “The Queen”. Instead it is a very round about and complicated procedure involving lots of personal questions to verify your identity before she actually gets on the phone. Do you think she has to go through all of that just to call up Prince Charles? Anyway, I was on the train heading north from London when my phone rang. It seems her majesty is up at her summer home in Scotland and was wondering if I would like to stop by for tea. Having no previous plans I figure why not (as if I would have actually turned down the Queen!). So I ended up at the Palace at Holyrood sitting in the gardens with old Lizzie herself. It was quite an exquisite place! We then joined a procession up the Royal Mile and were treated to a tour of the Edinburgh Castle!
20110828-083120.jpg
I stayed up on Castle Hill and that night, on Her Royal Majesty’s recommendation, I took in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Their performances count as one of the 4 events that make up Edinburgh Festival. I didn’t realize this was such a big thing, but they set up a giant grandstand right in front of the castle and over 200,000 people come to see them during this one week!
20110828-083647.jpg
The show was awesome, featuring marching and music, a lone bagpiper on the castle walls and a firework show at the end!
20110828-083135.jpg

Inverness seemed like the place to go next. I’ve always wanted to see the Scottish Highlands and the famous Loch Ness. One of the main sites of the area, other than the Loch itself, is the Urquhart Castle ruins. They were a neat place to explore! While perched on a crumbling old wall having a rest something in the water caught me eye. It could have been a wave. It could have been a duck. It could have been nothing at all! But there was this overwhelming suspicion building in my gut that it had been so much more!
20110828-083425.jpg
I hired a boat to take me to the deepest part of the lake but soon discovered that sitting on the surface would get me nowhere. It was surprisingly easy to find a dive suit in the Loch Ness area…building one my size doesn’t take much material. Once back on the water with my air hose hooked up I plunged into the deep on a quest for answers. Periodically is sent out sonar waves, watching for any irregularities. And boy did I start to get some big ones! A little more exploring revealed a cave. And in that cave…Nessie! Imagine, the Loch Ness Monster hiding out in a cave for all these years! Much to my surprise I seem to be able to speak Monster. Nessie told me how she likes the life of mystery but allows glimpses of herself because she likes the attention. It can get kind of lonely in the bottom of the largest lake in the UK! I told her I have a friend back home names Plesio and I thought they’d get along well. She liked the sound of that and I think I will bring him along on my next visit.
20110828-094627.jpg
(That was Plesio last summer when we visited Jurassic Forest.)

I thought I’d round out my visit with a trip to Glasgow. Now Glasgow’s sites are a bit more wide spread than some of the other cities I’ve been to so I decided to use one of the Sightseeing Tour Buses as a means to get around. One of the stops of the tour had to be moved because George Square, right in the center of town, was closed. Apparently there is a movie being filmed there! I found myself thinking “Wouldn’t it be cool to see a real movie being filmed!” so I hopped off my Hop On/Hop Off bus and headed into the square.
20110828-083634.jpg
Now the next part was kind of a blur but almost as soon as I reached the barricade holding the fans back from a crazy warlike wreckage of cars someone was over telling me I was perfect. Perfect for what? I barely had time to register that I was to replace a sick extra before I was rushed through hair and makeup and wardrobe and thrust onto a real live set! They told me to act like zombies were attacking…so I went a little bizzurck. I worried it had been a little overdramatic but Brad didn’t think so. Who is Brad you might ask? No not Brad Kummer but Brad Pitt! The heartthrob himself! He complimented my work and gave me a few pointers to use in future scenes. The moral of the story? Look for me in World War Z!

Well that’s all from Scotland. Until next time, here’s a hint of where I’m going next:
20110828-083444.jpg

Keep Smiling,
Doug

Time to Get Interactive!!!

20110826-085750.jpg
Yesterday our research told you that Loch Ness is the largest lake in the UK…now it’s time for you to do some research of your own! We want a list of the 5 largest lakes in the world (by volume not by area…Justine is gettin’ all specific up in here)!

But here’s the catch, you can only name 2 lakes and only get points for lakes that haven’t been names so far! Make sure you follow this rule of you will get no points! Name 2 of the 5 largest lakes in the world and get 2 points…name 1 and get one point…name 3 or more and get Zero points! This gives someone other than the first person awake a chance to get some points. Got it? Good!

Ready…Set…List!

Whoa Nessie!

Trains are really awesome. No, we mean it. It’s amazing how you can get anywhere you want over here via trains! This morning we hoped on the train in Edinburgh and 3 hours later emerged in Inverness. Too cool!

Our hostel was only 2 blocks from the train station. When we got there the guy seemed to be having trouble finding our booking. Then he pulled something up on his computer and told us our reservation had been for the night before and they had actually been waiting for us to show up last night. Kristin was having none of that as she had triple checked her dates before she had booked anything. She was able to provide a copy of her original confirmation clearly stating that she was booking 2 beds, arriving on August 25th and leaving August 26th. With this proof the man had no choice to admit it was their fault. But the problem was there was only one bed left in the entire hostel for tonight… In the end they refunded us our deposit and found us two beds at another hostel just 5 or 6 blocks away. Our new hostel is nice and was the same price so we’re happy.

We took a bus from Inverness to Loch Ness. We both agreed that this is not a road we would want to drive! It’s not just the driving on the other side of the road, although that wouldn’t help, it was that this road was so twisty & turny with no shoulders and the narrowest lanes we’d ever seen. Very frightening!
As side note, Justine kind of laughed at Kristin when she said her family would want pictures of our food, but Kelsey’s comment has proved it. So Justine took the task seriously…she took a picture of her snack on the bus:
20110825-074522.jpg

We arrived in the small town of Drumnadrochit (try pronouncing that word!) and took a walk down to the ruins. The ruins of Urquhart Castle sits beside Loch Ness. This castle, originally build in the 1200’s was destroyed during the one of the Scottish Wars of Independence. It was rebuilt only to be blown up during the Jacobite Rebellions in the 1600’s. Kingsmwere very into “if I cant have it no one can” so they would destroy andy castle they couldnt man. Remaining today are the ruins from this time. Really neat, and unlike the other castles we’ve been to before, this castle is like a giant playground. You are allowed to climb the towers and the walls explore how you’d like. We found people lazing on the grass or playing cards propped up against an ancient delapitated wall.The castle provided us with great views of the lake. We can definitely see why they built a castle here all those years ago. We would totally live in this spot!
20110825-081153.jpg
The Loch is pretty impressive. It’s nestled into the Scottish highlands where you’d least likely expect a giant lake. Loch Ness is the largest lake in the United Kingdom. We were told that you could fit every person in the world within the lake three times. Its also absolutely Gorgeous (and yes thats with a capital G). The surrounding area is so green and lush and the water is glassy calm…it deems repeating: Gorgeous! Of course the lake is most famous for the Loch Ness Monster, hidden amongst it depths. Unfortunately, but not unexpected, we did not spot Nessie. But as Alexa likes to tell us: just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
20110825-081434.jpg

Further proof of her nonexistence (sorry Lex) came with our trip to the Loch Ness Experience Center. This Center wanted us to be Naturalists, Detectives, Judges and Jury on the existence of this legendary creature. The experience was set up through a series of videos taking you through the history of the lake and the early stories of Nessie up to the present day and the research being conducted on the lake. It was very educational (maybe bit too much like a biology class Justine has taken before) and very interesting. Above anything, the videos took all of the proof of Nessie’s existence and disproved it. However, our parting words left things up in the air. Nessie may exist or may just be a mirror of our imagination…
20110825-082939.jpg 20110825-082950.jpg

Once back in Inverness we set out in search of supper. We passed a group of Highland dancers on the street raising money for their dance school. We want to see Brooklyn doing that in Leduc. First we tried a place we had found in the Inverness Food & Drink Brochure (Justine likes to pick up tourist brochures) but it didn’t seem to exist anymore. We could see the restaurants that should have been on either side, but there was nothing in the middle! In the end we found a pub. Although before we could enter we noticed a band of bagpipers walking down the street followed by a procession of people in what looked like convocation gowns. We would have thought it a graduation except they were all at least 40 years old…we’ll just have to look for it in the paper tomorrow… And we know Kelsey is waiting on baited breath for the food picture, so here’s our supper:
20110825-074421.jpg
Fish & Chips…classic! And we made sure to get the pints in there too for Bradley…we are having a pint from to time to time!

And now an update of Justine’s injury:
We bought some frozen vegetables last night and I iced my foot and ankle for a few hours. Last night I put my backpack at the foot of my bed and tried to elevate it all night, I think I accomplished this fairly well. This morning we had a 3 hour train ride and I had my foot propped up only bag which was on the seat beside me the entire time. I’m sure it looked quite odd for everyone else on the train. I haven’t done too much walking today so it hasn’t hurt to much yet. Hopefully that’s a good sign! I’ll take more drugs and repeat everything I did last night again tonight!

Random Observations:
– Justine is obsessed with her compass app

What we Learned Today:
– You can fit every person in the world in Loch Ness 3 times!

Highlights of the Day:
1. The views from Urquhart Castle…it was seriously so so so pretty!

Love, Luck & Loch Ness Monsters,
K&J
20110825-081741.jpg