Kelliefish13's Blog

Travel writing, Poems and Stories

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HIghlands of Scotland part 0.5

Whoops since going through my photos it turn out I missed out a whole heap of our trip. Well at least two main things anyway.
Before heading to John O’Groats we stopped at Culloden Battle field just out of Inverness. We walked around the battle field looking at the flags showing where each side had lined up (and noticed how well back the leaders both were), it was windy and cold and the ground was wet and boggy. It must have been hard work just to move towards each other without getting their feet stuck. A very sad place, lots of markers showing where the clans were buried.


The other part I forgot was the visit to Robbie’s family castle. Though its not entirely sure that it once was owned by the MacKays but there is a story that goes with it about him hiding in a cave nearby.The Castle Either way we walked up and had a look, giving Robbie lots of shit for his tiny falling down Castle, not minding that the non of the rest of us had one at all, details details.

In the Castle

Plus it had a really cool view.


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The Highlands of Scotland part 1

As explained in previous post we have a mission to go to as many counties in the UK as we can and drink a pint of locally brewed ale there (or in my case just visit them and watch the others drink ale). the Highlands of Scotland seemed perfect for our next trip as while we had all made it to Edinburgh I was the only one to have done much more but still hadn’t made it to the highlands. However we made a slight rule change if there was a specialty alcoholic beverage made in that area that could count too, i.e. WHISKEY! distilleries here we come.
We took the train to Glasgow where we stayed a night then collected a rental car the next morning, and yet again had fun trying to fit all our gear and us into it, eventually we all piled in and headed off for Loch Ness. We stopped often on the way as the scenery was amazing, and we needed to stretch out legs.
We came across a spectacular mountain with steep rocky side and of course a path going up the side but I think you would need some serious mountaineering stuff to manage it.
We were planning on wild camping that night so as it started to get dark we started looking for a place to set up our tents (this is what I did when I went to ) turns out its harder to find campsite when in a car compared to walking. We kept stopping in all the passing bays/look out points on side of the road and looking for paths that lead somewhere. We found one, it looked pretty cool but it was a bit rocky and another couple were following us down so we decided to keep looking for a bit. We then found another gorgeous place covered with pink flowering heather that was soft and squishy to lie on and a great look out over Loch Ness.

Campsite at Loch Ness

Unfortunately when we tried to set up out tents we found they were on too much of a slope and we might be rolling off the cliff into the water in the middle of the night so we headed back to the first place we found and found it empty and much better than we remembered. With a gorgeous view out over the Loch and a small path down to the water (which was actually slightly better than the one from the car to our tents which we all slipped on a few times bring our stuff down) and lots of space for our tents it was perfect. After setting up we headed off for a meal at the local pub, very yummy food and ticked off the ales as well.
The next morning while I was cooking breakfast Troy and Robbie decided they needed to go swimming with Nessie (The Loch Ness monster), I decided it looked rocky and slippery and most of all freezing and took photos while poaching the eggs.

Just a little crisp

It was freezing but refreshing they assured me, though the looks on their faces after they had gone under were priceless. No sign of Nessie though. packed up then off to Inverness for coffee for the addicts and clothes for Laura (she had just come back the day we left from Chad later than expected so needed a few clean items).
Then off to John ‘O’Groats it was where the wind was blowing so hard it was hard to stand up and the rain was going in every direction including upwards. We of course made the most of it, jumping up to see how far the wind would take us (about a foot) and running around in it.
Just a wee bit windy From there we headed to Thurso planning to camp but by the time we got half way there it was raining so hard we decided that a hostel for the night wouldn’t be so bad, with warm showers and comfy beds we thought we were living in luxury. When we went in search of a pub for dinner and Ale the waves were crashing over the barriers and into the carpark it was so windy. Many people who were planning on going to or from Orkney we stuck on either side, we had thought about going over the next day but there was no chance of getting a space on the ferry). The next day we headed off along the coast stopping at almost every view point only the way.
My favourite place was Durness which had gorgeous beaches one of which we spent ages walking over and going into the caves (which had amazing red rocks that with the water trickling down looked like they were bleeding) when we first arrived at the beach it was cloudy and overcast but just as we were walking back across it to the car the sun suddenly came out and made everything much more beautiful, more photos all around. Durness also had a very cute collection of shops and cafes. We stopped in a second hand book shop which was also a cafe, so having ordered our food we then wandered around browsing the books, best idea ever. After that we went for dessert in the chocolate shop opposite where Troy and Robbie had mochas filled with melted chocolate so much so it was dripping over the side, I had to help Robbie with his. I got a yummy box of their chocolates which Troy and Robbie helped me eat (Laura was lost to her new book care of the bookshop).

I shall have to leave you there and write the rest of the trip in another post. What was your favourite stopping point on the way somewhere? Why?

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The rest of Cornwall.

Wow for a short trip Cornwall had ended up with lots of posts. Oh well the last one may have something to do with how much I miss the beach, just maybe.
The next day we headed to the St Ives Tate art gallery while Troy and Anna went off for a surf, to which I was throwing a minor tantrum as my midwife had specifically banded surfing (and rock climbing) and I wanted to go surfing dammit! Not helped by being kept awake half the night by sea gulls squawking and now feeling nauseous and light headed (two of the reasons my midwife gave for not letting me go surfing or rock climbing).
We headed up the stairs to the Tate and could see from the entrance what looked like a room filled with balloons, with people playing in it! My mood changed dramatically!
The balloon room was amazing, filled with huge white balloons to my shoulder height it was easy to get buried. Best art exhibition ever!

Balloon room!

Then we headed off to Lands end, it was a long slow drive through lots of narrow windy roads and the weather was getting slowly worse, no more beautiful sunshine cold damp and misty instead. I was feeling much worse. We finaly made it to the car park which looked like the entrance to a small crappy theme park not the beautiful cliffs and rough sea I had pictured. Luckily past the fast food stands, games arcade, and helicopter on a stand the beautiful landscape did exist, but to get right to the end there was a rather long looking walk and of course to the end we must go. It was gorgeous, in the damp misty grey green way of England.

Giants and Hobbits live side by side at Lands End

Next was off to Mount St Michael, oh wait, I mean St Michael’s Mount, a little island with a small castle on it that you can walk to in low tide. Walking there wasn’t a problem as there was a stone walk way on the way back however the tide had come in and the walk way was rapidly disapeering. Now we could have taken the ferry but we decided that we hadn’t done enough stupid stuff (walking in the steps on the pier that said danger keep off didn’t count) so we rolled up or took off anything that went below our knees and set off. Anna was too short and wearing tight jeans so had to be carried across the deep bits. But it was refreshing and fun, just what we needed. as the weather was getting worse we headed back to St Ives, them to the pub, me to my bed.

The Next day we were off to Devon to stay with Laura’s friends parents in their very cool old house in the country side (aka middle of no where). It was one of those houses that are hundreds of years old, with exposed huge timber beams running across the ceiling, rooms that join together in a maze like way, with doors so low I had to stoop to get through plus an Aga instead of an oven (which we had fun cooking our toast on in the morning.
On the way we stopped at King Arthurs Castle (well according to some legends anyway) with Merlins cave on the beach at the bottom of the cliffs. It was spectacular to say the least built on the top of the cliffs with the sea crashing down at the bottom it was the perfect place to stay in the case of the zombie apocalypse (another thing we have spent waaaaay to long discussing). All the buildings were crumbling away merging back into the rocks which they came from. We took millions of photos.Merlins cave behind me

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The next day was beach day, and the weather was perfect. We spent the day on the beach entertaining ourselves by
-Playing with poi and teaching Laura and Troy who both kept hitting themselves much to our amusement and Troy looked hilarious with my bright pink fluffy pair.

Troy looking manly with pink fluffy poi.

– Racing down to the water and diving in, then getting out shortly afterwards. Turns out the water really doesn’t warm up and the British aren’t just wimps.

Racing to the water

-Eating ice cream, there was a fantastic place that had sooo many yummy different flavours. So we had to make 2 trips there. I think my favourite flavour was rhubarb and custard, with the rhubarb not frozen and all gooey instead.

-Making a giant pool in the sand that captured the water as the waves came in. Going to the beach without playing in the sand just isn’t as fun.Our private spa

That evening we meet up with two of our friends and had fish and chips on the pier, which we had to guard closely from the seagulls that were trying to steal them. It didn’t help that the boys had attracted them buy throwing the chips up into the air for them to catch, which was funny until they started swooping at us!

As we headed off to walk down to the end we saw a group of people all looking intently at the water so I raced off to see what they were looking at. In the beautiful clear water below us floated two seals staring right back at us, I think they thought we were as amusing as we found them. We watched them for ages as the floated lazily about, watching all the people take photos of them, they really do look like huge sea puppies. Eventually another seal arrived and then all three slowly made their way back around the pier and off in the distance.


The sun went down with a beautiful sunset over the town, it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

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County Ale Challenge and Cornwall

A while ago, while sitting in a pub a with few friends we came up with the idea of a UK county ale challenge. The Challenge being to have a locally brewed ale in as many UK counties as we could, rules were invented along with a facebook page and a checklist to tick them all off. One of the aims of this challenge was to make us see more of the UK and drink more ale (actually I think we already had that one covered but oh well). We have had quite a bit of fun trying to tick off the nearby places with train, bus and bike rides (including one where we cycled over a gigantic hill when we were trying to be clever and get two on bordering counties, which worked and the view was amazing).
But we needed a plan to go further and seeing it was almost summer Cornwall seemed like an excellent plan, which it turned out to be (apart from the summer bit, that was a we bit misleading). There was one small hitch in the plan, I had recently found out that I was pregnant but I was still determined to go. I was NOT going to miss out on going to the beach, even if I had to sit around and watch the others drink.
So having planned out trip the three of us got in the car and headed off to pick up Troy on the way…
Eventually we got there after some spectacular and confusing roundabouts, no Swindon putting 5 round abouts together does not make for a better intersections, it makes ones head explode when approaching it, we managed to collect him. Then for the 4 hour journey down, in a tiny car pack as always with too much stuff (I blame Robbie). Luckily I had packed sandwiches and crisps, which provided great entertainment when Laura realised that the Marmite sandwich contained NZ marmite not British.
On making it to St Ives at about 11.30 we discovered the joys of narrow one way streets (built in a maze that we kept getting stuck in) half of which were on the edge of a VERY steep hill to make matters worse our backpackers did not seem to exist on the road that the websites address told us it was. Eventually we found it, the back of the building was on that street but the entrance was on the street that ran parallel. Out we piled only to find no one answering the door bell, luckily some people turned up, who happened to be the manager who let us in but couldn’t remember our booking or talking to me on the phone (which he had done about 3 times as I failed to change the booking). Upon looking at the books however he found my name and gave us beds and I stopped stressing. Once finished dumping our stuff I was ready for bed, the others however had noticed that there was a pub across the road that was still open and the idea drinking ale and ticking off another county gleamed in their eyes, so off we went. It was packed and band still playing, they had a couple of pints squeezed and variously places then decided it was time for bed, as it was beach day tomorrow.

The rest will be in the next post.
What random challenges have you and your friends thought up and carried out, what happened???

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Robbie and I spent 4 days in Belgium, 2 in Brugge and 2 in Brussels. We went over for the jazz fest in Brussels.

Canals everywhere.

Brugge was fantastic and reminded us a lot of Venice, Small, old, full of weird nooks, lots of canals… same yucky smell coming from them. Though the yucky smell wasn’t as bad as it was in Venice. Seriously people sewage system! Everyone must do it or its just yucky.

Belgium Chocolate.. YUM!

Lots of chocolate shops, at one point Robbie told me No more chocolate shops! though the next day he was pulling me back in them under the excuse that he had to bring something back for his work mates. We bought quite a lot and still have quite a bit of it. They were really pretty with lots of unique designs, some of the flavours were great but most were just the usual flavours you get every where which was a little disappointing but fun to test them out any way. Though in saying that we still have lots left even after sharing some with our flatmates.

Our hotel in Brugge was really cute with really good use of the tiny space, however the toilet door could have been a lot thicker!

The Basilica of the holy blood was amazing, from the outside it looks like a tiny weird old building, but then you discover that’s just the stairs and the actually Basilica is to the side. the walls were all painted and the pulpit looked like it had come from a fantasy movie. I thought it was far more impressive than the Sistine chapel.

Jazz Fest stage

Brussels was fun but I think it would be a bit boring with nothing on. We really enjoyed the jazz fest but were a bit disappointed that most of the stuff was only on in the evenings so we couldn’t see as many different bands as they were often all playing at the same time. However this did give us some more time to explore the city and find many of the cartoon walls spread out around the city which turned into quite a fun game and we even found a geo cache along the way.


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Rome – We are getting the hang of this.

Our next stop was Rome where we had learnt our lessons and where much more organised (or at least Robbie was). We made a list of things that we wanted to see and sorted them into musts and coulds, plotted them on a map and found that mostly they grouped together nicely, yay go us! Our hotel was really really close to the train station which was a massive bonus, though I had planned it that way when booking but didn’t realise how useful it was. It meant when we arrived it was easy to find and a short walk. It also had a metro station so when ever we wanted t go somewhere it was really easy to get too, and to get back to our beds once we were tired and on our way home again.
So turns out Rome is massive, which for some reason came as a big surprise for me. But it is well set up for tourists, they had 3 day tourist passes for all public transport, which makes it much cheaper and easier. Which you can get on its own or in a Roma pass which gets you in 2 historic things free and the rest discounted, we really should have got one of these but had a little trouble working out what was included so weren’t sure if we needed one. Would have been good but oh well.
We had a blast going around and seeing the amazing old things, I was blown away by how big most of them are, especially considering how old they are.
I kept getting scared by crossing the road, the cars seem to go so fast and don’t stop for you at a crossing unless you start walking out onto the road, a few times I had my eyes close for the first part as Robbie lead me across and we went on a few odd route so we could use the crossings with lights on them, I think you could get used to them it would just take me awhile.
We learnt that in the evening lots of the fountains (I loved the Trevi fountain)and monuments are full of tourists but in the day you can actually get to see them.One of the other fountains
We were glad we went to Vatican City and saw the Sistine Chapel but didn’t actually enjoy it that much since it took such a long time of going through different rooms (all filled with amazing art) were we were jammed in with hundreds of other people we had had enough by the time we got there and just wanted to escape. The Chapel definitely lost its appeal when there was standing room only everyone was talking and taking photos(even though there are signs everywhere saying no photos, silence), so the guards kept yelling at them. We finally found a little corner with seats against the wall to tuck ourselves into for a little while so we could look at the art and I started to enjoy it again but was still disappointed as that was something I had been looking forward to seeing for a long time.
However the next day was Easter Sunday and we got to see the Pope give the service(?) from the front of St Peters Basilica which although we were miles away, and I’m not at all religious, I really enjoyed. Even more so after I had found a toilet. We found all over Italy water is easy to find there are lots of places to fill up water bottles for free, toilets on the other hand are hard to find and often expensive (I promise never to moan about London prices again.
Other we loved were
-Colosseum huge, amazing history and currently full of cats.

Feeling a wee bit small in the Colosseum

-The Roman Forum also huge, covering lots and lots of space but with a huge range of different things. Bring food though we didn’t and didn’t have any idea how big it was so were really really hungry and missed a few things at the end. We could have spent most of the day there.

Chillin out in the Roman Forum

-Castel Sant’Angelo, was even cooler afterwards when watching Angels and Demons on a rainy day and going I have been there! Plus it has a cool bridge leading up to it.
-The really big park we went to and wandered around, green space needed plus we saw turtles.
And to finish off the Gelato was amazing, Robbie couldn’t handle his chilli chocolate scoop though, turns out ice cream can burn