Monday, 12 June 2017

Scotland #6 - Nairn


We chose to stay in Nairn rather than in much more populous Inverness on the advice of one of Jeanette’s Scottish cousins. Nairn is a charming small, old town on the sea. It was a good point from which to visit two sites on our list.

On the first day we went to Cawdor Castle. This is a lovely, somewhat smaller castle than others we have seen in Scotland. It is still lived in by Lady Cawdor except for the 4 months a year (Spring to Fall) she opens it to the public and lives in a house down the road. It is clearly a home, not a museum for all that it has a drawbridge over the evidence of an old moat, priceless tapestries on the walls and antique 
Cawdor Castle Interior

furniture everywhere. There are two kitchens, a “New” one which is already perhaps 30 years old, and an old one, dating back perhaps 600 years. The old one has a huge brick fireplace with arms that swing in and over the fire, and a wonderful spit for cooking the roast. The fireplace heat causes the roast to turn as it cooks. When her ladyship informed her cook of her plans to install a modern kitchen in 1970, the cook gave notice on the spot.


Outside there are extensive and beautiful gardens that include a boxwood maze. Cawdor
Cawdor Castle Gardens
Castle is Shakespeare’s setting for Macbeth, although it is curious he should choose such a beautiful setting for surely one of the gloomiest of his plays.

The next day was brilliant, warm and sunny. Hardly the day for the excursion we planned... a visit to the bloodiest battlefield in all of Scotland, the scene of Scotland’s last fruitless quest to replace the Protestant Hanoverian King George with a Catholic Scottish Stuart one, King James II.

Culloden Battlefield
We went to Culloden, the scene of the battle that changed Scotland forever. Culloden Field is just that, the field where a horrendous battle took place, with occasional rough stone markers where men fell. But the information center is a marvel. With absolute impartiality, both sides of the conflict are presented in both written and pictorial form. Red for the British side, blue for the Jacobite Scottish side. It took us more than an hour and a half to see the exhibits and read the information. It took us longer to read the exhibits than it did the British troops, well fed and rested and armed with cannons, to defeat the exhausted, hungry Scots, armed with swords and knives. The battle lasted an hour.

Bonnie Prince Charlie seems to have been the only one who escaped...dressed as Flora MacDonald’s maid.

Moray Firth with tankers in the distance
That evening, we walked down the beach from our hotel to a wonderful seafood
restaurant, the Sun Dancer, where we had the best meal since coming to Scotland.
Like our Hotel, it overlooks the Moray Firth, a large body of water that leads out to the North Sea. We watched as an oil tanker and a cruise ship both headed out towards the North Sea.

Nairn Beach




It was still bright and sunny at seven p.m. and we watched in some disbelief as children and dogs romped in and out of the waves. We were both dressed in winter coats and I had my hood up against the cold north wind. Hardy folk these Scots.

Tomorrow we head across to the west coast of Scotland and to the Isle of Skye.





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Watch for Blair's newest thriller, Fatal Charm 

Coming in 2017

 Fatal Charm by Blair McDowell
A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.


With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?



Praise for Fatal Charm:


"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris, ReadingReality.net

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B, Eyes2creviews.blogspot.ca

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson, Doodlesinkspot.blogspot.ca

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