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Carolyn’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2008

Location: Edinburgh and Killin, Scotland

MapHey peeps! I've been to Scotland.

After 4 months of London life, with little more than a random trip out to Leighton Buzzard and a day in Oxford, I finally decided to make the treck up to Scotland to see my cousin Dennis and his wife Kat. Being a McNabb and all you can probably understand that I was super excited to see where my clan had come from and couldn't wait to get there. So, on Saturday, we all got up and made our way to Killin for the day. Being Scotland it rained for most of the morning, but we had a pretty sweet drive there anyway. I'm going to skip the part about the hotel and the drive and just go straight to the part where the MacNabs wiped out an entire clan (I think it's a bit juicier that way).

About half an hour away from Killin (Loch Tay) is Lock Earn. Back in the 1600s the MacNabs and the MacNeishes were at war. As it happened, the MacNabs absolutely destroyed the MacNeishes, forcing them to retreit to a small island (we're talking the size of a small house here) on Lock Earn, now known as Neish Island. The MacNeishes managed to commendeer all the boats on Loch Earn and would pillage all the surrounding clans, stealing their supplies and retreating back to their little island where they would be safe from all harm. One day in 1612 (around Christmas) the MacNeishes managed to ambush supplies heading for the MacNab castle back in Killin. The servant escaped and ran back to tell the MacNab chief about "those bastards" the MacNeishes. The MacNab chief was FURIOUS, especially seeing as he now had no whisky (and McNabbs don't usually have Christmas without alcohol) and called for his sons. Smooth John was the eldest (I think he was called 'smooth' because he was a quick executioner, either that or because he was hairy - the stories differ a bit) and the leader of the gang. The chief looked John hard in the face and said "The night is the night, if the lads were the lads." The boys, not wanting to disappoint their father, set out in the freezing snow (apparently there was a blizzard that night too) and, carrying a boat all the way from Loch Tay, headed for Neish Island. When they got to Loch Earn, they rowed across to the island and sunk all the MacNeish's boats. They then headed for MacNeish castle and banged on the door. All fell silent inside until the MacNeish chief yelled out for the boys to address themselves. Smooth John just yelled back "who would you least like it to be?" and then they broke the door down and proceeded to execute every member of the MacNeish clan (except for a little boy and a little girl who ran away and swam to shore). As the MacNab boys returned to Loch Tay and the MacNab castle, Smooth John yelled to his father "let fear be far from all (dread naught)". The chief came to the door and looked at John, who swiftly told him, "The night was the night, and the lads were the lads." When the chief asked to see what was in the sack that John had been carrying, john pulled the sac from his shoulder and let 7 heads fall from it, replying "balls for the bairns."

And so the story goes, that any MacNeish that lives today is decended from the small boy that escaped the wrath of the MacNabs. Cool story aye?

Anyway... after we went and visited Neish Island, we made our way to Killin and to the island where all the MacNab chiefs are buried. We also went and found where our castle used to be and then went and had haggis at a restaurant right next to the island. I know... I had haggis! It was actually just like eating black pudding, only that it had barley in it (so mum I guess you wouldn't like it). I thought it was pretty nice, but I've had a really sore stomach ever since so maybe it's not that great after all.

Saturday night was as interesting as they come. I can't really describe how funny it was, but we went to a Scottish dance thing and there was this long greasy-haired Polish guy in a quilt and sneakers who was just takng the whole thing WAY too seriously. Kat and I spent the whole night laughing at him as he tried to lock eyes with every girl as he turned them way too fast and they lost their balance. We eventually figured out that if we went the same direction as him we never had to dance with him, so we did actually end up doing a few of the dances after all. A midnight trip to the supermarket on a hunt for doughnuts and we were off to bed, ready for another exciting day in Scotland.

Sunday, I felt like crap! Not surprising considering how much I drank, but still.... We spent most of the morning getting over whatever ailments we had acquired from the night before and then headed up to Arthur's seat at the top of the hill in Edinburgh. It's so cool up there, kinda like Mount Eden, only in Scotland. After being blown away by gale-force winds we headed back down to the city and went up to the castle and the royal mile. We couldn't decide what to do with the last couple of hours before my train left, so we ended up going to the 'Camera Obscura' at the top of the mile. It's a sort of illusion gallery, where there are holographs and mirrors and all sorts of great stuff that make you forget about how much your head is hurting. I've put some sweet pics up so you can see a couple of the things in there (I'm sure you'll be super jealous).

And that pretty much sums up Scotland... Sorry I don't have more but it was only 2 days. Makes me tired just thinking about it really. Hopefully I'll get my arse into gear and go on another trip really soon (maybe St Patricks day?) so I can give you some more updates. Until then though, take care my pretties and don't forget to leave some messages.

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