Who would dare go to Scotland without engaging in the hunt for Nessie?  First we visited Urquhart Castle which was built on Loch Ness in the early 13th century.  Most know the castle for its role in the Scottish wars for Independence but to my boys it was the site of Scooby Doo and the Loch Ness Monster – a classic!  The castle is mostly in ruins but the site is beautiful and the weather was amazing.   They have a tea room for a slice of cake on your way out and a nice gift shop. I wish that we could have stayed and enjoyed it longer but we had to get to Nessieland before it closed.  What can be said about Nessieland?  Part gift shop, part movie, part large latex monster statues, throw in some movie posters, grainy photographs and snakes dangling from the ceiling, and you have Nessieland! …Continue Reading
We are off to Scotland! The weather has been lovely and we are hoping that it will hold out a little longer. On our way to the Highlands we stopped at Carlisle Castle and Hadrian’s Wall. Carlisle is a 900 year old castle on the border of England and Scotland. Some of the castle was actually built with stones from Hadrian’s wall. We drove up through Scotland to Killin, a village situated at the western head of Loch Tay in Stirlingshire, Scotland.  The west end of the village is built around the Falls of Dochart. It’s a beautiful place with a bridge connecting the Main Street over the falls. The boys loved hopping over the rocks. Behind our little rental house is a gorgeous path which leads over the river to a pasture full of sheep, horses and a stone circle. Rich and I can’t get enough of these Neolithic…Continue Reading
For the past 3 days we have stayed in the most wonderful place that we, as a family, have ever stayed.  It’s called Augill Castle and it is truly a special place. Augill Castle is in the Lake District of Cumbria near a small town called Kirkby Stephen.  Fifteen years ago, the current innkeepers purchased this country home, built in 1841 and restored it from disrepair to an amazing inn.  It’s everything an English Country Inn should be: it has cozy beds, and sherry in your room, and a drawing room, and high tea, and croquet on the lawn, and an honor bar where you can make your own drinks anytime. Our favorite part is that they completely cater to children!  They have tennis courts, a playground and fort.  They have boxes of toys, costumes and games.  A screening room with a projection TV, a great choice of movies and popcorn. …Continue Reading
Closeup of Whitby Abbey Facade
On an overcast but warm Saturday in September we drove across the Moors from York to see Whitby Abbey, perched over the coastal town of Whitby. It’s a popular weekend town in Yorkshire and families came from all around to enjoy the fresh air and the seafood.  We dined on fish and chips at a small diner and then strolled down to the pier. The kids were thrilled to see a fun house and a roller coaster for kids.  We rode on some rides, played some carnival games, and then hiked up the hill to Whitby Abbey for a breathtaking view of ocean and city. The first monastery was founded here in AD 657.  The future of the English church was decided here in 664, when the site was the venue for the Synod of Whitby, when King Oswiu convened a meeting to work out Celtic and Roman differences of religion.  Observance of Easter and…Continue Reading
The owner of a home we rented in York suggested that we take a day trip to an “amazing place”. It was a two-hour drive on beautiful but narrow farm roads and we got a little lost several times but it was so worth it!  It’s hard to describe The Forbidden Corner.  It’s really unlike anywhere we’ve been. The brochure says A labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created in a four-acre garden.  But it’s much more fun than that.  We got soaked, disoriented, lost, freaked out and laughed the entire time.  We ran through mazes, tunnels, and haunted chambers.  We entered a giant mouth, marveled at giant tree figures and got stuck in a gate.  We climbed up towers, down into dungeons and squeezed into caves.  It was a blast. We even had tea!  We saw giant rats eaten by an enormous cat, Roman guards, gravestones, ghosts, Pan,…Continue Reading
Jorvik Dig, York, England
As we headed north from London to the Isle of Skye, we stopped to stay at a cute little cabin in an orchard just a few miles from the walled city of York.  The yard is full of rabbits and has ample room for the boys to run around and explore.  The cabin is nice but the WiFi runs at slow cell phone speed, which is really frustrating!  After checking in, we went for dinner at the town pub.  It was a friendly place with good food and a playground in the beer garden. York has a long history that dates back to before the Romans occupied it in 71 AD.  Today York is a busy city with a lot of fun places to explore. First, we visited the Medieval Norman Castle known as Clifford’s Tower.  It was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 to take control of the Viking town in York.  The…Continue Reading
Near the pub, Warwick, England
Today we ventured out to Warwick Castle.  The castle is a national monument and is a kid paradise.  Originally built as a Saxon fortification in 914 to defend against the Danes, William the Conqueror started to turn it into a castle in 1068.  The Earls of Warwick owned it up until 1978.  The castle features prominently on the BBC show Merlin, which is a popular show in our house.  Naturally, the kids were thrilled. We explored the castle, complete with wax figures.  We climbed the 530 steps to the Guys Tower, which took so long that we missed the firing of the World’s Largest Trebuchet, measuring 18 meters high and weighing in at 22 tons.  But we did make it in time for the jousting tournament, which was a lot of fun.  Our 7-year-old twins tried their hands at archery and went to Knight’s school.  The boys toured the dungeons…Continue Reading