Sunday, September 26, 2010

Glenisla, Dunottar Castle and Aberdeen

From Perth we drove to Aberdeen but we took some country roads so we could see Glenisla, where Marijke has some ancestors.  We found some headstones at the church that look like they might be her relatives.  Unfortunately the headstone that looked most promising was fenced off, we could see the name “William Robertson” but the headstone was so worn out we couldn’t read the birth and death dates and couldn’t make a rubbing.  If we could have gone a little closer we probably would have been able to make them out.  We went to ask some people in a pub if they knew anything about the names we were looking for and a guy there (top row) said he was pretty sure the original deed papers for his home (house on middle row) have the name we were looking for.  He said he would check later and email us what he finds out.

After Glenisla, we went to Dunottar Castle.  It was in a really unique and beautiful location on a piece of land that was almost and island.  It was on high cliffs overlooking the sea.  You had to hike down a steep path then back up to reach the castle gate.  One thing that was particularly unique was that it had a Lion's den where they kept one lion to watch and guard the castle.

In Aberdeen Richard doesn’t know as many people so we had to stay at a hotel.  The hotel happened to be next to the LDS chapel in Aberdeen, but we didn’t realize it until we drove up (Richard served in the other ward/other building).  The fridge in our room was unplugged and things were situated in a way that we couldn’t plug it back in.  We called reception and they couldn’t fix it so they upgraded us to a suite twice the size and with a kitchenette (unfortunately it wasn’t of any use to us).  Aberdeen is nicknamed the “Granite City” and has a really unique look.  All the houses and city buildings were made of grey granite.  Richard said it sparkles and looks nice in the sun, but unfortunately it was rainy while we were there.


We didn’t stay the night in St. Andrews; instead we went to Perth, which was Richard’s first area.  In Perth we met with Mary Harding, who Richard had met very early in his mission.  Mary is a lot of fun and she told us all about her life; we ended up talking to her for about 3 hours.  

In Perth, we stayed with the Tom and Anne Crook, who live in a beautiful, well-preserved (over 100 years old) home.  Tom and Anne joined the church in the early '60s and they have been the backbone for the LDS community in Perth ever since. 

With Mary Harding on the top left and right.  We had a lovely time having dinner with her and visiting with her.  Richard's apartment is in the middle on the top.  Their house, built c. 1900, had a beautiful terraced backyard and lovely vintage interior.

St. Andrews

After Alloa we went to St. Andrews.  St. Andrews is a seaside town with a great castle, a ruinous cathedral and is home to one of the oldest golf courses in the world.

St. Andrews Castle, Cathedral and Old Golf Course.  The Cathedral took so long to build, you can see the change in architecture.  The photo in the center on the left shows some of the tombs.  On the right, Richard is inside a mine/counter-mine dug during one of the invasions.  They started 3 counter-mines before they got the right place.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scotland Part 1 - Alloa and Stirling

        Richard served his LDS mission in Scotland so there were a lot of people and places we wanted to see.

After our brief stop in Edinburgh (we returned later) we went to Alloa [Pro: Al-oh-uh] and visited with some of the people Richard knew while he was there.  Alloa was the third area Richard was assigned to and he spent 3 months there.  First we went to see Sandy (nickname in Scotland for Alexander) and Isabelle Watt who were really nice to Richard when he was here.  They are Scottish but joined the church down in South Africa.  Next we went to see George and Jean Stewart.  George had been the Bishop of the Alloa Ward when Richard was there and Richard really respected and admired him.  The Stewarts offered to have us stay with them and as much as we didn’t want to impose we couldn’t refuse the offer.  We talked with them into the night about their mission to Perth, Australia and about life in Alloa.  The Stewarts are really nice and are really fun to talk to.
click to view larger--Douglas on bottom left, Watsons in the middle (bottom), Stewarts top right, Watts mid-left

The next night we stayed with the Watsons (also in Alloa).  Mike Watson was the Stake President of the Edinburgh Stake while Richard was in Scotland.  Mike’s wife, Mandy, was a great help to the missionaries while Richard was living in Alloa.  Staying with the Watsons was a lot of fun because they are currently working to restore a house (a mansion, really) from the 1800s.  Mandy is doing most of the work herself and it has been a massive project.  There are a few rooms in the house that are near completion and they look beautiful.  The Watsons also fed us breakfast and lunch and gave us some tips for traveling around Scotland that have saved us time and money.
        We were able to go and see Douglas Machray, a very kind man that Richard taught the gospel to.  Douglas was baptized a few weeks after first hearing the missionary lessons and still attends church every week and has a calling. 
        When we were staying in Alloa we were able to see the nearby castle in Stirling.  Stirling Castle, according to our zealous tour guide, was the political capitol of Scotland for a very long time.  The castle was fun but it started raining really hard while we were there, we had to hide in the gift shop to get out of the downpour.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Preston LDS Temple

I forgot to add this one earlier so it's out of order.  Here are some photos of the Preston Temple and the English countryside. The Bridge is the site of the first Latter-Day Saint baptisms in the United Kingdom.  The picture of the room is in the temple accommodations.  We had to sleep in bunk beds, which was sad, but it was worth the cheap price.  We had fun having a slumber party together, ha ha.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Alnwick and Berrick-Upon-Tweed

The outside of Alnwick Castle was used as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films.

Middleton-in-Teesdale and West Auckland

The church on the bottom right is 900 years old!

The Lake District and a Castle in Ruin

The buildings were really unique and made from green stone

Sheffield with the Martins

Sheffield and the Chaswick house.  The bust is of Darcy used in the Pride and Prejudice movie.  The stairs in the photo on the bottom are the stairs they kiss on and the scene at the end of the movie.  The steeple on the left is twisted because the wood was not properly prepared before that built it and has warped in the weather.


The drawing is what the church looked like when my family lived there.  The font on the right would have been the one they were baptised in.  The building on the bottom right in the cute little Osmaston Post Office.

Izaak Watson in Ashbourne at the mouth of the Peak District

Cream of Cauliflower Soup and Vegetable Kiev at the Shoulder of Mutton Pub


Here is a collage of some photos of beautiful Cambridge (click photo to view larger).  The University is broken into various colleges each with beautiful and unique architecture.  The round church in the top row is one of only a few round churches left. It was interesting, but quite small and simple.  The goblin in the corner was inside the church.  The two photos of the frame on the bottom row are of a piece of art at the archaeology museum.  If you view it from the front you see a body, but from the side, it's shapes that go across the room.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Since you last heard from us...

We haven't had access to the internet for most of our travels but we're currently at a McDonalds restaurant in Scotland because they offer free WiFi. Seems silly to come all this way to go to McDonalds, but we've gotta do what we've gotta do. This will be a quick post without photos, but we'll add some later.

Since our last update we've been to the following places;

Cambridge - Saw the university and quickly strolled through a few museums. Very impressive town and we would have liked to have more time and money to take some tours or take a boat along the river.

Osmaston - You've probably never heard of this place, but Marijke's Draper ancestors were from here so we went. It was a really nice, small village featuring thatched-roofed houses, a pub and a village church. We looked over the graves in the churchyard for some of Marijke's ancestors names but we couldn't find any. We talked to a lady who volunteered for the church and she told us to go and talk to an old man who was born and raised in Osmaston. Neither of them knew about Marijke's family but they told us where we could most likely find the records.

We took a walk around a pretty, wooded area called Osmaston Park. About half a mile into the park there is a beautiful sawmill and man-made waterfall. The sawmill is no longer operating but it would have been when Marijke's forbears were here.

We ate dinner at The Shoulder of Mutton pub which has been operating without interruption since the time of the American Revolution (meaning Marijke's ancestors likely would have eaten here). We felt like idiots navigating the pub dining model, it's different enough from an American-style restaurant that we had no idea what to do. The staff was really nice and they walked us through the process. Just an FYI - tips are not expected by the staff at a pub, which made us feel awkward but everyone has assured us this is the way it is.

We spent the night at the Izaak Watson Hotel, which is at the mouth of England's Peak District. The room was exactly what you would imagine an English B&B to be like. Parts of the hotel have been around since the early 17th century. There were sheep and cows surrounding the hotel and we were startled aroused from our sleep a few times by mooing cows. The ceilings in this hotel were really low and kind of awkward; as a result Richard hit his head and blacked out which made him fall down (that had never happened to him before). It was really sad!

Sheffield - Sheffield isn't the most touristy destination (sort of like Pittsburgh) but our hosts really provided us with a great experience. We stayed with Rachel and Alistair Martin and had a great time. Alistair was Richard's companion in Scotland for 11 months of his 24-month mission and they got to know each other well. They took us to the Chatsworth House and had a picnic. The Martins had prepared the picnic and they paid for our entrance fee (this was the first of many charitable acts on their part). The Chatsworth House was a really nice place and we never would have known to go there if it weren't for the Martins. The Duke of Derbyshire lived/lives there and parts of the most recent Pride and Prejudice adaptation were filmed here (Mr. Darcy's house). That night the Martins took us to a carvery restaurant which is kind of like a restaurant most Americans would be familiar with combined with elements of a buffet. It was a fun, traditional English experience. The next day the Martins also provided Marijke with her first ever fish and chips lunch (of course she doesn't eat fish, so it was basically just chips and vinegar). Alistair took Richard to a pitch and putt golf course then showed him around where he grew up and Richard was able to meet Al's family. We had a great time and hope to see them again (either in the U.S. or in England).

Preston Temple and England MTC - We spent Friday night at the Preston Temple accommodations. We were able to go to the spot on the River Ribble where the first Latter-day Saints were baptized in the UK. On Saturday morning we attended a session at the temple and got to see a wedding happening at the chapel situated next-door (in the UK the couple has to get married in a public place before they can be sealed in the temple). The grounds are beautiful and this is where Richard lived for 2 weeks while he trained as a missionary.

Drive through the Lake District - This was a really scenic drive but we didn't have time to stop in the towns (they all look really touristy, expensive and crowded). This is the area William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter (among others) are from.

West Auckland/Middleton-in-Teesdale - Marijke has ancestors buried in West Auckland and family from Middleton. Middelton-in-Teesdale was located in a lovely section of the countryside whereas West Auckland was a little run down and kind of depressing. We went to the graveyard where Marijke's ancestors are most likely buried but the vicar told us they would only have a headstone if they were wealthy, and almost no one would have had a headstone before the 1830s. The vicar told us you can tell how old a graveyard is by how high the grass is above street-level.  Because the churchyards are so small, they have to add to the top of the graveyard making them deeper and deeper over the years.  That's also why you have paths to the church doors on street level while the grassy parts are up high on either side.  This graveyard was about 4 feet high and the church was 900 years old.

Newcastle - We've heard wonderful things about Newcastle (or White Castle as Marijke calls it) but we were just there to stay the night. Unfortunately our room at the Douglas Vaults Hotel was on top of the Douglas Vaults pub (not mentioned online or over the phone). Saturday in England means you go to the pub, even if you're in your 50s or 60s. The pub beneath our room was full of baby-boomers belting out karaoke (singing Lady Gaga and Backstreet Boys). The internet at this hotel didn't work even though that was the sales-point that caused us to get a room here. The hotel manager seemed really inconvenienced by our inconveniences and didn't really offer to help or compensate in any way.

Edinburgh - In the morning we drove up to Edinburgh where Richard previously lived. On the way we passed Alnwick (fairly cool) and Berwick-upon-Tweed (really cool). Both locations are really old and well-preserved sea-side towns.  Berwick is a great walled city and had amazing bridges and viaducts all around it. We wish we could have spent more time in these places. In Edinburgh we met many of the people Richard knew while he was a missionary there, but the ward had changed so much. Joe McKay, an 18 year old in the Edinburgh ward, took us home to his house and made us a meal all by himself. We were really impressed and had a lot of fun talking to Joe about how the ward had changed. We went to a park in Edinburgh to see a firework show closing the Edinburgh Festival. The fireworks were set off right in front of the Edinburgh Castle and were synchronized with live orchestral music.

p.s. Justin Bieber is playing right now at the McDonalds. There is no escaping Bieber.