Monday, 15 September 2014

28. Sleep in a castle

After the trauma of sleeping in a tent for two nights and climbing Ben Nevis my reward was to sleep in a castle, a much deserved belated birthday treat. The castle of choice was Tulloch Castle just outside a town called Dingwell in the Highlands. 

The view from the road.
Before becoming a hotel and conference centre the castle believed to date from the mid 16th century served as a (not too shabby) family home for members of the Bain family and Clan Davidson, as a hospital after the evacuation of Dunkirk, and as a hostel for the local education authority.

Can you spot me on our rooms balcony?

Putting my stamp on the castle
I would say the three main features for a castle are a turret, a dungeon and a moat. Now this castle didn't have a moat but it was placed on top of a massive hill as a strategic defence and you can see the turret in the above picture and after a wee bit of exploring we found the dungeon!

My favourite part about the castle was that the d├ęcor inside was in keeping with its heritage, very medieval esq, a lot of wood and rich colours and quite frankly somewhere that could be used as a set for Game of Thrones.

Could see this in King's Landing.

Me trying to fit in the surroundings.

I would not be cold here in the winter with that bad ass fire!

A dining area reserved for private functions.

A door in to the grounds.

Sooo much better than a tent!

And this is my ABSOLUTE favourite thing in the castle, who thought to put a crown on a deer trophy head pure genius!

Bambi rocking the bling


Thursday, 4 September 2014

23. Go on a camping holiday

I hate camping and the reasons are three fold;
1.       It’s cold, even in Kenya!
2.       It’s damp, probably even in the Kalahari
3.       Your sleeping is dictated by the sun

Why would anyone want to call this their home for the evening?

You could be camping anywhere is the world and in any kind of tent and the above would still apply.

I was lucky enough as a child to not be subjected to camping holidays (caravans all the way for the Wilson gang) and in my adult life I have tried to avoid it as much as possible apart from a few select occasions which include;
-          My Duke of Edinburgh bronze award
-          Archaeology fieldwork in Scotland and France
-          Our trip to Kenya
-          And going away with the scouts

On all occasions my three reasons to hate camping applied unless there was pre bedtime drinking involved. However I decided to give it another go on our ‘holiday’ to Fort William to climb Ben Nevis (in this instance I’m classing any leisurely trip away from home as a holiday). In hindsight I should have put climb a mountain on my list because it is something I have never done but would give me a sense of achievement. But this is what I LOVE about life it throws up all sorts of opportunities that you just need to grab with both hands. 

How bad ass in Ben!

This is where my blog entry will completely deviate from the camping because I have decided that I hate it and never want to subject my body to it ever again and concentrate on the positive that I CLIMBED THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN THE UK! And I did it with zero preparation and on 4 hours sleep – a result of camping, and a slight injury to the lateral ligament in my right knee.

Here's my story in pictures of my journey up the mountain (unfortunately I did not mange to get a picture of the miniature dachshund that made it up or the Chav attempting it in a leopard print onesie and UGG boots).

Can you see the fear in my eyes at the prospect of going to sleep in a tent!

Everyone is all smiles before we set off.

Stunning views!

Banana breakdown point

Keep smiling!
Really stunning views

Everyone appreciated a wee nip at the top!
She made it and is still smiling!

We had to scramble through snow to get there
I think it was here I realised what I had achieved
Post mountain pint!

Massive thanks to Sandra Bayly for organising the trip and Chris Wharton, Ciaran Mallon, Lucy Mo, Vicky and Nick Jary for getting me up there (Vicky you were on that mountain in spirit!)

7. 5 hours to climb 1,344 metres. I said afterwards I would never climb a mountain again...bring on Snowdon next year! I can say that now my legs and lungs have recovered :)