Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hats off to Clans & Castles!

Just arrived...

"We just completed an extraordinary 10-day family vacation in Scotland based on a customized itinerary developed with the expert services of Scottish Clans & Castles. The trip was a mix of city and country with a terrific blend of classic and modern hotels, as well as two top-notch B&B’s, namely Brough House (Elgin) and Ethie Castle (Arbroath). The arrangements were flawless, the accommodations perfect and it appeared to us that they were able to secure the rooms with the best views, every single time. To us, this was an unexpected benefit of dealing with a local expert and a reflection of the intimate knowledge of their recommendations. Dealing with Alastair and his team in planning this memorable trip was a wonderful experience and we are looking forward to returning, hopefully sooner than later. Hats off to Clans & Castles!"

I hate self congratulatory blogs! But the above is a nice (unedited) word of appreciation. Now and again it is good to wave a flag. We are in business after all!

We enjoyed looking after the VanderPlaat family from Canada since we had a clear brief which included accommodating the requirements of two children, seeing round the privately-owned Dunderave Castle (above) and also visiting the Perthshire estate from which Jane VanderPlaat's family had emigrated three generations ago. It all seemed to work very well.

Many thanks to all our excellent hotels and B&Bs.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dunollie Castle. In need of a Little TLC.

Camouflaged in the intense green scenery of Oban Bay is Dunollie Castle, seat of the MacDougalls, senior branch of the sons of Somerled, but one that opposed Robert the Bruce and suffered grievously for it. I was in Oban on Tuesday for a meeting of Scotland's Tourism Innovation Group; and as you can see, the weather was sensational.

They lost a lot, but the MacDougalls kept hold of Dunollie and the island of Kerrera from which this photo was taken; they also kept hold of the Brooch of Lorne, famously snatched from King Robert at Dalrigh, and still in the possession of the clan.

Dunollie, a place of pilgrimage for the clan, is badly in need of restoration. And the Brooch of Lorne, a clan icon for 700 years, is playing its part in raising funds as the talisman of a play 'The Hidden Jewel' to be performed at the castle 17 to 23 July 2009. Tickets and more detail here.

Another MacDougall initiative is the Hope MacDougall Collection, a remarkable collection of artefacts reflecting domestic and working life in the Highlands and Islands over the past 200 years. A selection is currently on display in a shop on George Street. More here.

Dunollie badly needs help; and happily the MacDougalls have some impressive form in the field of restoring castles. In May 2006 remote Gylen Castle (below), on the southern tip of Kerrera and ruinous since 1647, was opened to the public. Let's hope they can pull it off again.

It was alsoat Gylen that the Brooch of Lorne was stolen by the Campbells of Lochawe. But that is another story...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Gathering of the Clans

In seven weeks time The Gathering of the Clans 2009 will be over: the first such event since George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822 - and set the kilt on its road to recovery after its banning following Culloden. In seven weeks the last caber will have been tossed, the last piobaireachd played; the March up the Royal Mile and the Clan Pageant at Edinburgh Castle will be a mass of colourful and inspiring photographs dominating the Sunday newspapers and, in due course, Scottish magazines worldwide.

You can still be there if you would like! Just drop us a line and we'll fix it for you.