Day 4: Driving through the lochs in Scotland


 

Saturday morning, we decided to go on a long drive. Initially we thought let’s go up to Loch Lomond and then see…. but eventually we ended up driving through these five gorgeous lochs. The winter sky was nice and clear and we had amazing views of the sunkissed snowcapped mountains. Much as I loved the lochs – I have realised fully that my heart lies in the majestic mountains! Sharing with you all some of the views

 

 

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This is the view from the Duck Bay – located at the start of Loch Lomond – restaurant where we stopped for lunch… we even saw a floatplane take off from the loch!
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The photos aren’t good enough for the view – after a point I stopped clicking and started soaking in the views!
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This is the view from The Drovers Inn – located at the top of Loch Lomond.

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Driving back it was almost dark but we had the almost full moon for company. ūüôā

5 things for Valentine’s Day


I have always been a closet romantic. I have secretly wondered and fantasized about all the typical girly things you read in books or see in movies. However on actually encountering a romantic situation, I cringe and squirm and don’t know how to deal with it. Come to think about it, I would be downright clumsy. No wonder I dread Valentine’s day!

Source: http://www.cute-wallpaper.com

On top of that, advertising and media has commercialised this day to the extent that there is no charm left in it anymore.

I am not a sucker for flowers and gifts but then I am currently living in the West with nothing to do and as you know an empty mind is the devil’s workshop, in my case the Cupid’s workshop. So here are 5 things that I would like hubby to do for me on Valentine’s day!

1. Go cycling

Source: http://visitbritainnordic.wordpress.com

I have always admired nature and it would do me very well if I can get my lazy bum out of this couch and on to a cycle. Pedaling our way through this beautiful city would be a unique experience and we could explore the spectacular scenery this city offers. In fact, Scotland has one of the UK’s best cycling routes. We can get to explore the small details we otherwise miss.

2. Go on a balloon ride/ helicopter ride

Source: http://www.wallpaper1080hd.com

I have had this attraction of viewing a city from above ever since I saw Darr and then again Dil Chahta Hai. This is definitely a way to get a new perspective on sight-seeing. Hot air balloon would definitely be more romantic with the wind blowing on our faces. How exciting is that??

3. Book us on a spa for the day

Source: http://blog.getaway.co.za

This is perhaps the most romantic of my wishes. Nothing like a relaxing spa to pamper ourselves. Unwinding with a glass of Champagne. Wine will do too. Am not that fussy.

4. Book a cottage/villa/mansion for the weekend

Source: http://www.centuryfarmcottages.com/

You get the idea?

You can extend your celebrations of Valentine’s day for a couple of days. Who’s stopping you? So a cottage, villa, mansion, hell, I wouldn’t mind a small castle for as long as am fantasizing. Scotland has so many amazing villas, cottages, castles at the most stunning locations. A weekend getaway in a cottage by the woods thrills me to no end. To beautify my dream further I would also like it if it had a small swimming pool. It should also be supplemented with a full-time cook who would dish out all of our favourite meals. We would go on walks. Maybe we would reach this cottage on our cycling route!

Source: http://www.cool-wallpapers.us

5. Go sailing

Source: http://thegazettescotland.co.uk/sailing-around-scotland/

This again has been on my wish list for quite some years now. I have been on a boat before, cruise in fact, twice so far. But sailing is different. It is personal, private and at your pace. Another different perspective to view the scenery, cliffs and wildlife.

These small wishes need not be restricted to Valentine’s day only. There are other special days. Or then why wait for special days. Just get on with it.

Hubby, are you reading???

Back to reality


More rants from the NRI…

For more than a year now, we have been living in a city with no illness. Two days after coming to Mumbai,¬†diarrhea¬†struck kiddo. After living abroad it is now ingrained on my mind that kiddo needs to build his immunity and no medical attention is required for such infections. However, after a day of no relief, we finally took him to the doc. The anti-bacterial medicine didn’t help and we had to put him on antibiotics. This is the first time we gave him antibiotics. He has not completely recovered from dysentery but it is down to a couple of times a day.

While in Edinburgh, he never suffered from dysentery or diarrhoea. Ever. In the past one and a quarter year. We went out a lot on day trips and holidays, gave him outside food, juices and drinks but never once did it upset his stomach. Is it any wonder then, that I am bad mouthing Mumbai, its weather, pollution, water, milk, everything!

Kiddo has always been thin. Like me. He has never been the chubby cheeks baby. Neither was I. I had a secret hope that when I come back to Mumbai, he will get proper ghar ka khana from his grandmothers and that might help him put on some weight. Now I seriously doubt that. He will taste a variety of delicious food here but am not sure whether that will help him put on any more weight.

It is not even one week since I arrived in Mumbai and I am already eager to take him back to Scotland, feed him some brandy in the chilly winters when I reach there.

A snowy weekend


After much anticipation, it finally snowed this weekend. My first snowfall, Shantanu’s first snowfall. Though I wonder if he will remember any of it. And for that, we have the video camera.

Parking lot

It started on Friday evening. A soft drizzle at first and then a heavy downpour. The sky was such a slight pink. It was the colour of my son when he was just born. After some time when the snow had accumulated, it reflected a beautiful yellowish pink and it was all bright in the middle of the night. We all stayed up till midnight, taking turns rushing to the windows for different views. We even dared to open the windows for a better shot. The commentary in the videos shoots contains sounds of our teeth chattering and that’s when we shut the windows.

The snowman near the frozen fountain

Shantanu was all excited. I could make it out as he kept flapping his hands all the time trying to imitate the snow-falling-action. It snowed all over the weekend, disrupting transport and traffic. Schools here have shut down with weather warnings issued and these are the extreme temperatures observed in November in many years. In short, all fun and frolic for children. This resulted in 3 snowmen standing proudly with their carroty-nose and cucumber-eyes with a stole around their necks. A family even built an igloo which we still have to go explore.

Ground below our building

The seasons are fantastic. You can actually notice the change in nature. The leaves changing their colours, the migrating¬†birds, the subtle winds; I have already experienced summer and autumn and am now freezing in the cold and snow.¬†Every night, when I wake up in between, I look outside the window¬†and watch the snowfall. It is so serene just ¬†like watching the rain minus the noise. Rain has its own beauty but am beginning to like the snowfall too. ūüôā

Aberfoyle and The Lake of Menteith


So we decided to go to Loch Lomond last weekend. However, due to our lack of knowledge of the roads, inexperience of driving in a foreign country and incorrect inputs into the GPS system, we reached Aberfoyle. If only had we relied on Googlebaba before venturing on our virgin drive in Scotland.   

¬†Above was the route that we finally took. But it wasn’t all that easy. Let me begin at the beginning. We rented a seven seater car with a child seat from Enterprise Cars¬†a day before. We needed to pick our car from the Airport. The beauty of this facility is that you avoid driving through the city and can take an out and out route directly from the airport to the destined location.¬†¬†¬†

We reached the airport by 10:30 am. Among the 6 of us, we had 4 four bags for a day’s journey. Packed with snacks, cold drinks, Shantanu’s¬†4 meals, plates and cups and Shantanu’s pram.¬†¬†¬†¬†

We got our car at around 11 am. From there started our predicament. We had to get the child seat changed since it was small for Shantanu. Then we asked for help and around 45 minutes later we finally fixed it onto the seat. Meanwhile hubby’s colleague tried to feed the route and destination into the GPS system.¬†¬†¬†

At 11:45 am we collectively let out a sigh of relief on fixing the car seat and working out the GPS system. We were all set to go only to realise, to our dismay, that hubby couldn’t put the car into reverse to take it out of the parking lot. After trying for 5 minutes, we asked the security. He told us that we had to lift the gear and then shift it into position to put it in reverse. Now then, did I imagine him giving us a funny look saying, “desi log, can’t fix the child seat, can’t put the reverse gear and are thinking of driving all the way to Loch Lomond, ha ha ha!”¬†¬†¬†¬†

Eventually, we did start our journey at 12:05 pm chanting “Ganpati¬†bappa¬†morya”. I even imagined Ganpati¬†bappa¬†smirking. As you can imagine, all of us were talking non-stop, laughing at ourselves and discussing our stupidity that we couldn’t hear the GPS instructions. We missed out on our exists, took wrong turns, drove into a wrong lane once, got honked on. Had I been in hubby’s place, I would have snapped and barked out at everyone to stop talking. But the wonderful hubby, bore our irritating talks and drove on. The only sane person apart from hubby was Shantanu, who sat quietly in his seat. I had feared whether he would sit as he has never sat in one. But he took an instant liking to it and looked smug and happy. Maybe he was happy that he had finally got his seat.¬†¬†¬†

After around an hour of wrong turns, we found ourselves on the correct lanes, right roads and right turns. And then we started enjoying the sights around us. Soon we were enjoying the smooth roads, the disciplined driving, minimum to no overtaking, no honking, and finally finally no traffic. The scenary around was incredible. The white and grey clouds casted beautiful shadows on the mountains, the lush green farms were scattered with big fat sheeps, DDLJ like cows and hay rolls.    

   

 

The sheep were on a balanced diet and we were not allowed to feed them anything apart from the food purchased from their shops.

 

The clouds were just breathtaking. I have never seen more stunning clouds ever.  

   

Trail by the river

 

     

 

¬†We reached Aberfoyle¬†¬†at around 2 pm. Aberfoyle¬†is situated at the base of Craigmore. It is a base point from where you can visit the different lochs¬†and trossachs. It is also a part of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The Trossachs are also known as “Scotland in miniature” because of its stunning scenary. You can take many foot trails from here or visit the different lochs around the place. After a quick lunch, we took a small trail by the river. Then we decided but could never reach Loch Lomond. Instead we went to the Lake of Menteith . Shantanu went crazy on seeing the water and wanted to run right into it.¬†¬†

The Lake of Menteith

 

 By the time we got comfortable with the GPS and the roads, it was time to return. This time it was no to difficult, we only had rains.

The Edinburgh Tattoo


From Wikipedia:

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of Military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International military bands and display teams in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. The event takes place annually throughout August, as part of the wider Edinburgh Festival (a collective name for many independent festivals and events in Edinburgh in August).

The word “Tattoo” is derived from “Doe den tap toe”, or just “tap toe” (“toe” is pronounced “too”), the Dutch for “Last orders”. Translated literally, it means: “put the tap to”, or “close or turn off the tap”. The term “Tap-toe” was first encountered by the British Army when stationed in Flanders during the War of the Austrian Succession.

The British adopted the practice and it became a signal, played by a regiment’s Corps of Drums or Pipes and Drums each night to tavern owners to turn off the taps of their ale kegs so that the soldiers would retire to their billeted lodgings at a reasonable hour. With the establishment of modern barracks and full Military bands later in the 18th century, the term Tattoo was used to describe not only the last duty call of the day, but also a ceremonial form of evening entertainment performed by Military musicians.

Although the first Tattoo in Edinburgh, entitled “Something About a Soldier”, took place at the Ross Bandstand at Princes Street Gardens in 1949, the first official Edinburgh Military Tattoo began in 1950 with just eight items in the programme. It drew some 6000 spectators seated in simple bench and scaffold structures around the north, south and east sides of the Edinburgh Castle esplanade. In 1952, the capacity of the stands was increased to accommodate a nightly audience of 7700, allowing 160,000 to watch live performances each year.

In the glowering twilight, Edinburgh Castle slumbers, resting, waiting for nightfall and for the footlights that will transform it into a dazzling stage set for the world’s most spectacular show. Down Castlehill, along the Lawnmarket, around the cathedral church of St Giles, through the closes of the Royal Mile¬†and the narrow streets whose setts ring with history, people gather in the dusk of a late summer evening.

Climbing the final rise towards the Castle Esplanade, walking companionably together,¬†eager old hands who come every year but never lose the thrill of a Tattoo ahead, and new folk, many on holiday from other proud nations a world away (like us), who are about to witness the show they will never forget…

We settle into our seats, the fresh clear air exhilarating, the sky above the Castle deepening first to heather-colours of lilac and purple before darkness slips down and the floodlit castle draws all eyes.

The commentator – the Voice of the Castle – brings the audience together, cheering individually for their countries but united in an international fraternity.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the world’s most spectacular shows. The breathtaking performances of the Massed Pipes and Drums, the poignant Lone Piper, the iconic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and the stunning spectacle of international music, ceremony, entertainment and theatre.

2010 marked the Diamond Jubilee Year of Edinburgh’s celebrated Royal Military Tattoo which takes place over the period 6-28 August with performances on Monday to Friday at 9.00pm and on Saturday at 7.30pm and 10.30pm. We were lucky to be part of the audience this year and luckier since the BBC was shooting it all the night we attended.

A hush falls and darkness deepens, the great oak gates of the Castle sweep open and the swell of the pipes and drums cracks through the night sky. As the massed bands march out in their hundreds across the drawbridge, flanked by effigies of William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, emotions run high: this matchless spectacle unfailingly enthrals, symbolising the Scotland that everyone holds dear in their heart.

Against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the world’s most spectacular Tattoo hosts a celebration of talent from four continents including pipers, gymnasts, singers, dancers and an amazing motorcycle display team. The emphasis is again very much on music with the event that delights an international crowd with its rich variety.

The exciting programme included probably its two most popular items – the music of the Massed Pipes and Drums and that of the Massed Military Bands. Among the many bands that took part were those of South African Irish Regiment along with the South Australian Pipes and Drums and the prestigious Military Band of the Coldstream Guards.

The Citadel Band from Charleston, South Carolina, United States¬†presented an inspiring musical display while the Imps Motorcycle Display Team from London’s Docklands – celebrating their 40th anniversary – displayed a thrilling daredevil of motorcycle prowess performed at breathtaking speed. Antipodean attractions were also on parade in the form of a military contingent from New Zealand, an Army band renowned for their talent, diversity and humour. During the parade, they broke out into a dance which very much relaxed the audience.

And above all else the awesome presence of the Castle, great flaring torches lighting its venerable walls and creating mysterious shadow plays on the honey coloured stone.

Here’s the link to the event’s highlights.

From its early days, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been an international favourite. Performers from over 40 countries have presented here, and around 35 per cent of the 217,000 audience each year are from overseas. In addition, the Tattoo has been televised in 30 countries. An annual television audience of 100 million watches the coverage worldwide. The international flavour of the Tattoo has been deliberately developed as a key element in its capacity to entertain a huge, cosmopolitan audience. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is regarded as the most popular event in Edinburgh’s summer festival.

The Tattoo Fact File

Asking for it. Not Ever.


I couldn’t help but promote this ad after reading this.

Much has been written about rapes and sexual assaults and women are blamed for it. The various reasons with which¬†women are blamed are¬†‚ÄĒ she had been drinking,¬†she had worn something revealing,¬†she had engaged in some other kind of sexual contact with the rapist, etc. ‚ÄĒ which is not very surprising given the mentality of the society.

It seems like someone in the Scottish government decided to do something about it. Rape Crisis Scotland has launched the ‚ÄúNot Ever‚ÄĚ campaign ‚ÄĒ the title referring to when, exactly, a rape victim is actually to blame for a rape.

The television ad focuses on the rape myth that women who dress a certain way are asking for it.

PS: If you can’t watch the video, here’s the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h95-IL3C-Z8

Transcript:

A scene of a party. A pale blond woman in her 20s stands talking to two men, one pale and one with darker skin. She wears a black top and sparkly blue skirt, and all parties hold drinks in their hands and appear to be having a good time.
Woman: (laughing playfully) You’re terrible! (laughs) You’re so bad! Shut up!

Cut to two presumably white men across the room.

Man One: (looks at woman, sucks in air between his teeth) Check out the skirt! She’s asking for it.
Man Two: (laughs)

Cut to scene of the same woman in a department store. She pulls two skirts off the rack, one the sparkly blue skirt she wears at the party, and takes turns holding up each one to her hips. A sales assistant, a pale middle-aged woman, walks up to her.

Sales Assistant: Can I help?
Woman: Yeah, thanks. I’m going out tonight and I want to get raped. (smiles) I need a skirt that will encourage a guy to have sex with me against my will. (holds up each skirt again)
Sales Assistant: (smiles eagerly and folds arms across chest) The blue one. Definitely the blue.
Woman: (nods and smiles)

Woman turns and directly faces camera, with a sarcastic look on her face.

Woman: As if.

Male Voiceover: Nobody asks to be raped. Ever.