Thursday, March 27, 2014

Doune Castle

Doune Caslte- Historic Scotland

"Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."

This was not our first visit to Doune Castle. Ian and I had previously been to this castle with my parents and sister, Delaney, while they were here two summers ago. It is, however, one of my favorite sites to visit. If anyone is a fan of Monty Python and the Holy Grail you may recognize this castle from the film. Brilliantly, this castle has taken advantage of this link to Hollywood and they have had Terry Jones narrate the audio tour. Not only does the audio tour incorporate some of our favorite scenes of Monty Python, but it also highlights the long history of this important castle.

Built in the late 14th/early15th century it has been used throughout its life as a royal residence, of the 1st Duke of Albany, a royal summer retreat to hide away in the summers and go hunting, and even a prison during the Jacobite Uprising.

The Lord's Hall

Kitchen Serving Hatches

Scratch Marks in Kitchen

 Many of the rooms still survive in rather good condition. The Lord's Hall, the Great Hall and the Kitchen tower and cellars all survive. The kitchen is, to me, the most fascinating of the rooms. I love the two serving hatches that link the kitchen to the hall. It is quite unusual to find something like this in castle of this period and the fact that they both still survive today amazes me. I also love the scratch marks in the stones around the windows. These marks were made by the cooks sharpening their knives on the stones.

Besides the great historical interest I have in this castle, I admit it wasn't the only reason we visited on this cold, rainy February day. About 12 years ago I started reading a series of books that took place in Scotland, Outlander. I guess that's when my love of everything Scottish began, but last year, they began filming the TV series Outlander here in Scotland. I had heard that while production was on break for the holidays, they had left some of their sets up at Doune. I wanted to go snoop around and see what was still there, and I admit, I wasn't disappointed. As soon as you enter the castle, their courtyard sets were still up. They had been roped off so we couldn't nosy around, but I still got to take lots of photos.

Outlander sets

All the hype surrounding the filming of this series in Scotland will be great for tourism over here. The day we went to Doune we saw only a family of 3 walking around. I know it was a rainy day but it quite strange to be the only people in such a big castle. I have just read an article saying that they have noticed quite a significant increase in the number of visitors to filming locations of Outlander, such as Doune, especially by American tourists. I think this new interest in historic sites is fantastic and we only have to look at the example of Rosslyn Chapel and the DaVinci Code to see what a benefit an increase in tourists has on a place like this. 

Dog-friendly?-  Dogs are not allowed within the castle, but there are many paths in the area surrounding the castle that make for perfect dog walking trails. There is a sculpture trail around the castle that they talk about in the audio guide. My only suggestions is to take a pair of wellies with you as the trails can be very muddy, especially in the winter months.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New blog!

Hello my dear family and friends!

Welcome to my new blog. I haven't decided if I actually like the name of the blog yet, so it may change in the future, but bear with me for the time being. Suggestions are always welcome for new names.

These last few months Ian and I have tried our best to get out of the house and do some exploring on the weekends. I need time away from thinking about my thesis writing, and we are always looking for new dog-friendly adventures. We are now the proud owners of passes for both Historic Scotland and the National Trust, giving us free entry to many historic sites all over Scotland and England (and Wales and Northern Ireland, too). As we have recently been visiting many of these sites, and taking the dog along with us on these adventures, Ian suggested I start a blog about these visits. We have decided it will be our goal to visit each of the places listed in the Historic Scotland guidebook over the next few years, with many visits to English Heritage, National Trust of Scotland, and National Trust of England visits thrown in for good measure. A big task, but one that we hope to complete however long it takes.

This goal to visit as many sites as possible, as well as recently acquiring a nice new camera, I though I would start blogging about these weekend trips. Not only do I intend to re-live our explorations of these priceless treasures of the UK, but I also want to use this blog as a place to share some of my photos.

 I also hope this blog can be of some help to dog owners traveling around the UK. Every weekend before we leave the house on our adventures we search through our guidebooks and on the internet to try to figure out if the sites we want to visit are dog-friendly. I have found that, while there are some helpful websites out there, it is quite difficult to establish whether a historic site is dog-friendly, or not. I will note in this blog what we have found in regards to this problem; whether dogs are allowed on site, only on the grounds, or not at all.

I hope that whoever should view this blog finds it entertaining and, perhaps, useful.

Now...let's start exploring!!