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Scottish Wedding Ceilidh


So after much anticipation our Scottish wedding ceilidh has been and gone allowing all of my family to celebrate with Andy and myself since the actual wedding is far away in Australia. While we might not have done it the traditional way, it meant I was able to get pictures with my nearest and dearest in my beautiful Vietnamese tailor-made wedding gown!

Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us and we hope you had as much fun as Andy and I did! Also thanks to my parents for arranging the whole thing!! We had a blast!

Here are some of the snaps from the night.

Home to Scotland for a visit 2014


Arriving back in Scotland after our Euro trip it was safe to say we were both utterly exhausted!! We had decided to postpone Vietnam for extra week giving us time to catch up with family and friends… and give my mum time to prepare a Christmas dinner!!!

 

Top of Ben An'n

Top of Ben An’n

Mum and dad took us up to New Lanark, home to a world heritage site and where the start of the River Clyde is located. You can also walk around the old cotton mills and take a walk up to see if you can spot some peregrine falcons which come to nest here. It is a really beautiful location, and one that I don’t ever remember visiting, we were also really lucky and were able to get a glimpse of a peregrine falcon in its nest. You might have to look closely at the picture but it is there!!

We took a trip up to Elie to try our hand at the Elie chain walk one of Scotland’s best kept secrets! The day we had decided to go up the mist and fog was crazy, I have never seen anything like it… all the way from Glasgow right up to St Andrews the fog was so think you could only see about 20 meters in front of you! We arrived in Elie and walked across the golf course to the beach where the start of the chain walk was, only to realize when we were closer that it was high tide and a bit too dangerous to go on it with so much water crashing into the rocks.

A bit too much water at high tide!

A bit too much water at high tide!

We decided instead to head for St Andrews and have a go on the Himalayas,

Champions!

Champions!

which was over taken by grannies last time! For those who don’t know St Andrews is home to the world-famous golf course… however off to the side is a putting green full of hills (hence the name) and is a McKie family tradition to have a good old bit of competition!

Great conditions.....

Great conditions…..

This time we decided to play boys against girls…. A fair competition since Andy and I can’t hit a ball to save ourselves… it was also nice not to be the one that people fight over NOT to have in their team!! It was unbelievably cold and foggy with a nice wind to make things even harder to put. However in the end the best team won and mum and I walked away victorious!!

After a spot of lunch and a coffee we headed back to Eile in hope that the tide was now out and slightly less of a death trap!  Luckily for us it was and we were able to have a go but not before some sun bathing on the beach of course!!

Scottish sunbathing!

Scottish sunbathing!

The Eile chain walk is actually a bit deceiving as it is not actually a ‘walk’ more of a scramble with a few climbs! The first part was actually slightly dodgy as the rock below was covered in slimy seaweed and my mum was so afraid I would fall down into the sea that she kept a strong grip on my trousers resulting in the biggest wedgie ever… thanks mum!!! The chain walk is great fun and involved massive chains bolted into the volcanic rock with foot holds in place so you can keep your grip and not fall into the freezing sea below. Parts of the chain you have to side step along the rock, while other parts involve you pulling yourself up or climbing down!  We both had a great time despite the cold!

One of the things I had asked my mum to do before we got home was to get some food ready for us… the kind of food you could not get while I have been away including the two most important meals… Haggis and Christmas dinner! (I had not had Christmas dinner with my family for three years!) It may sound silly however it is the little things like home cooked meals that you miss while you live away especially my mums amazing Christmas dinner!! We had roast beef, turkey, roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, Yorkshire puddings and all the veggies to go with it! My mum had even gone the extra mile and kept her Christmas table-cloth and crackers … even better than I thought it would be!!

While we were home we although thought it would be the best time to have a mini engagement party since we really would not get one as we were moving away again the next week!! It was also a chance to catch up with the whole family, parents, granny, aunts and uncles! All of them!! It was a great night and was a really nice way to end our adventure back home!! Thank you to every one who made it!!!

With a very short trip home, which I even managed to fit in a concert to the Backstreet boys with Hannah in (I know embarrassing!!) It was time to move on once again!!

Bags packed we set off for the airport to our 5th country to call home… Vietnam!

Moving on… again


So 10 months on we have finished up in korea and looking for our next adventure!

Korea might not have happened by choice, however it couldn’t have worked out better! We were incredibly lucky with our school and landed  a really sweet gig at Tree House with an awesome team and school. Korea gave us the chance to save some money, travel again and try some crazy things however 10 months was enough for us and despite being able to save so much money we have decided to go on one last big adventure and move to my 5th country (4th for Andy) before heading back  to Australia!

Before we make one last big move we have decided on a Europe trip to break things up…

It should go as follows…. ITALY– Rome, Naples, Pisa, Venice-  FRANCE– Paris- SPAIN– Barcelona and Madrid followed by 1/2 weeks in my home Scotland.

Although I have been to all bar 3 locations I am looking forward to exploring them with Andy who has never been before! Have to say Madrid is where I am most looking forward to as I get to see my brother again after 3 years apart and meet his lovely girlfriend for the first time.

I will be writing up as I go but will not be posting until I get home as I only have my tablet (Which can’t connect to my camera!) However you can see snippts in the instagram pictures to the right!

If you have any suggestions for the above cities please feel free to email me… Preferably off the tourist track!!!

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Looking back on the year 2013


So it’s that time of year again when we start to reflect on the year that has been and 2013 was SOME year.

It might have started out not quite the best between a major back injury, stress related illness, sponsorship problems and eventually being kicked out of Australia! However as Andy told me over and over (and over!) again… ‘It all works out in the end’ and I can honestly say that this year is going to be really hard to beat. So my top 14 of 2013 (because picking 10 was to hard!)….

1. Shark diving in Busan. This was insane! Actually was incredible being in a tank with sharks swimming around you close enough to touch! Also gave me my first taste of scuba diving… I like!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/09/22/diving-with-sharks/

Shark Diving

Shark Diving

2. Skiing in Gangwon-do. As beginner skiers I was surprised how quickly we picked this up. Skiing from the top of a mountain right to the base, it was awesome!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/12/21/skiing-in-gangwon-do/

Skiing in Gangwon-Do

Skiing in Gangwon-Do

3. Bungee Jumping. Always wanted to do it and finally did it… and it was terrifying and took me ages to leap off the bridge!!My knees have never shaken so much!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/09/06/bungee-in-south-korea/

Ready, steady, jump!

Ready, steady, jump!

4. Going home after 2 years away to be reunited with my friends and family who I had missed so much during the last two years and realizing that true friends will always be waiting for you with a drink in hand!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/05/31/scotland-tour-through-the-eyes-of-an-aussie-pt-1/

Reunited with best friends

Reunited with best friends

5. Finally showing Andy my home, my Scotland after going on and on a bit about it! He even got treated to snow, mountains, and parts of Scotland I had not visited since I was a kid!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/06/09/scottish-highlands-through-the-eyes-of-an-aussie-pt-2/

Andy playing in snow in Scotland

Andy playing in snow in Scotland

6. Moving to Korea. Can’t not mention our move to Korea! May have been slightly forced however turned out to be an awesome move, giving us more travel time, a different teaching experience and great opportunities. Not to mention experiencing a culture so different to our own!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/07/28/only-in-korea/

The D.M.Z, South Korea

The D.M.Z, South Korea

7. Zombie Run. We both have loving a good scare and a good zombie movie so to be able to do a 5km run avoiding zombies was RIGHT up our street, was a great laugh, introduced us to Daejeon and all the money raised was for a good cause! https://teacherjennie.com/2013/12/29/in-case-of-zombies-runor-walk-slowly/

Zombie Run!

Zombie Run!

8.  The Ultimate Cave Tour– After taking my parents on a small tour of this is Australia we went back and did the ultimate tour which involved climbing through small spaces and going deep deep down!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/04/04/the-ultimate-ngilgi-cave-tour/

Nigilgi Caves

Nigilgi Caves

9. Jinju Lantern Festival. It might be similar to Loi Krathong in Thailand without the magic but it was still beautiful and a highlight of the year. https://teacherjennie.com/2013/10/13/jinju-lantern-festival/

'Tunnel of Wish Lanterns'

‘Tunnel of Wish Lanterns’

10. Canyoneering– Although it almost killed us with the cold of the Scottish water…. it’s been a great story to tell and will not be something we forget soon!!

Smiles before another 'near death' experience

Smiles before another ‘near death’ experience

11. Dog Cafe. You can’t come to Korea and not try one of the ‘theme cafe’s’ and I LOVED this!!!! Playing with all sorts of dogs while taking a rest from the heat outside! Was great fun!! If you don’t dogs then you can try a cat cafe… don’t like animals? There are game cafe’s, ones you can dress up as a bride you name it!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/10/06/dog-cafe/

My favourite!

My favourite!

12. Discovering the wonder of the Korean baths or ‘Jjimjilbang’ Being naked in front of a room full of strangers might not be up everyone’s street but any time we are in Busan this has now become a MUST. So relaxing and a great way to let some steam off!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/08/13/jjimjilbang-the-naked-truth/

Andy and I at Spa Land

Andy and I at Spa Land

13. Breaking a Guinness World Record! So might not have been just me and in fact 2090 other people… however I still can say I have broken a Guinness World Record… For what you ask?? For being part of the largest group floating in the sea whilst on a giant inflatable thong (or flip-flop!) All while celebrating Australia Day!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/03/08/australia-day-fireworks-giant-thongs-and-a-guinness-world-record/

World Record Attempt- We did it!

World Record Attempt- We did it!

14.Halloween and Fireworks. The International fireworks display on Halloween in Busan was incredible and it was followed up by an awesome (very drunken) night out in a onesie. It’s the simple things in life!!
https://teacherjennie.com/2013/10/30/1310/

Andy and I

Andy and I

Fireworks

Fireworks

So with 2013 coming to a close we are trying to think of how to beat it although with a trip to Japan booked in for January 1st, another Ski trip planned in February as well as heading home in March  before starting a second year in Korea… 2014 looks like it could be just as interesting!

Thanks to everyone who helped us over the last year! Happy New Year when it comes!!

Scottish Highlands through the Eyes of an Aussie… Pt 2


Part 2… The Highlands

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Jennie and I at 'The 3 Sistes'

Jennie and I at ‘The 3 Sistes’

The next stage of our “All around Scotland Tour” was to go all around Scotland in the Stuart-mobile. We packed the car full of all our luggage, every warm jacket I had and snacks from Sheena till the car was at bursting point and set off for the Highlands. I quietly was in hope that I would be able to see some snow for the 2nd time in my life and boy did I see some. Stuart was charmingly offering jokes on to be careful what I wished for but I was blissfully unaware for the reality of highlands.

Our trip took us quickly out of the city and into the countryside where I was able to see old barns and little villages that would have had heritage listed in Australia for how old they were.

Ben Nevis in the background

Ben Nevis in the background

We soon left the farms and fields behind as the lands slowly rolled up in the start of the hills. And what hills they were. Not the small gently rolling hills that I’m accustomed to back in Australia. No no these where giant snow cover rock giants which surrounded us on all sides as we drove our little car windingly in-between their feet. The hills quickly grew into mountains which were covered in heather and grasses which gives them a purple and light brown tinge to their sides. Add to this the dark rocks and the white snow and it an impressive site from the car.

Opening the car door for the first time and venturing off my heated seat cocoon to the fridged outside world was an eye opener for sure. The winds were arctic as they whipped between the mountains and tore the heat from my body so I decided to retire back to heated seat and complain like a whinging pom about

Dont Fall!

Dont Fall!

the weather. Our next stop on the journey was the hidden meadow and the steel falls. We got out from the car to be greeted in the car park with sign warning if our timing and imminent death- this place was starting to remind me of Australia. With several explanations that we wouldn’t die but others have because they were ‘eejits’ ringing in our ears we set off to for our first hike. We quietly didn’t mention that Jennie is prone to her own personal little earthquakes and has the balance of drunken duck as we set off up the track which was picturesque and beautiful.

As we found our way up the rocky path following the side of a river which would become the Steel falls Stuart entertained me with horror stories how people climb the frozen waterfall in winter- but then die. Are you starting to sense a pattern of death here? Sounds very similar to the story where people fall in the lochs in winter- and then die. Their new advertising campaign should be “Scotland- Beautiful till the end of your life!”

As we emerged from the short walk in to the valley we found a gorgeous little

Rope Bridge

Rope Bridge

meadow. Fun fact on the Scotland/Hollywood tour of the stars. Did you know a Harry Potter dragon scene was filmed here? Once we made our way past the camera crews we found a great little water fall and a steel cable climbing bridge. Stuart assured me that I had a good chance of making it back to the car and not dying of hypothermia if I fell into the water. Such a reassuring man. In an attempt to prove my bravery to the family I conquered my extreme fear of heights and bravely made it across the bridge which was a full 3m! above the water. Even under fear of imminent death I managed to make it back over the bridge despite the serious rocking my new sweetie filled stomach caused to the bridge.

Steel FallsWhile we were waiting for our turn on the steel bridge Stuart struck a conversation with the university tour guide.  The conversation quickly turned to death again as they both looked at the looming giant in the background- Ben Nevis (tallest mountain in UK). The guide told Stuart of his plans to take the group up the mountains soon even though it was advised people take climbing gear and safety equipment. Unfortunately for that group their guide didn’t think he needed all that malarkey about them. I’m surprised Stuart didn’t lose his tongue with the effort he was taking to bite it and not educate this poor fella. Such is life, and as we left the steel falls and our soon to be dead brethren I could only wish that I had a dragon to ride through this valley.

stuart

Highland Cow

Highland Cow

On the way back from the hidden valley we were lucky enough to find some Highland cows. Now Highland cows look like normal cows but they need to get a haircut and get a real job. Honestly I really enjoyed giving these cows a good rub behind the ears and they were super friendly although they did not respond to perfect cow calls.

After my time bonding with the locals we went to discover my ancestral lands that have been in the Batten family since Jennie bought them for my birthday a whole week before. Since I have land in Scotland I am entitled to call myself ‘Lord Batten’ or as the Scottish say it ‘Laird Batten’. As we traveled to my land I

My land

My land

inquired whether or not my land would be suitable to build my manor on. After the laughter had died down I was told that the land purchased for House Batten was 1 square foot in size. So I had to either build a very creative stilted house or choose to just leave a symbol of the new Laird in town. When we arrived in Glencoe I was not met with cheers from the locals of their new Laird but on the positive side they didn’t have pitchforks and brands either. Unfortunately we couldn’t work the GPS to exactly find my land so we found the nearest road to some vacant hill side where I proudly planted my Australian flag and declared this square foot of land property of Australia.

Namesake castle

Namesake castle

Next stop on the tour was Urquhart castle on the banks of Loch Ness. Now for those of us not from Scotland, Loch is not some magical pixie stream it is the Scottish pronunciation of “Lake”. So while travelling along the side of Lake Ness I gathered a few facts while looking for the monster. Did you know that in winter the waters of the Lochs get so cold that if you fall out of your boat you will go into shock and surly die from drowning? Also did you know that Loch Ness is the second deepest body of water in the British Isles at 230m deep? After we drove the banks for a while we happened across the ruins of Urquhart castle. Now this is particularly special to two of our party as this ruin is the middle name of Miss Jennifer Urquhart McKie and Sheena. After a quick photo stop we headed off to our base camp for the next few days, Aviemore.

Cairngorm mountains

Cairngorm mountains

We pulled into Aviemore late in the evening around 9 o’clock. For those not familiar with the highlands it was quite strange for me because it was still light at this time. We were lucky enough to have the use of a small bungalow from Jennie’s Aunt and Uncle which formed our base for the snow part of the tour. The next morning we woke up to a massive range of mountains with snow capped tops with snow filled crevasses.

Snow!

Snow!

We decided that it we would go up the funicular (snow lift) to the café at the top. From here on there was 400m climb up to the summit. Walking up was hard for two reasons. First it’s quiet steep and second it the ice on the ground is very slippery. Not to mention that it was cold. Now I mean really, really cold. Like my man bits have journeyed inwards cold!

Despite having all amounts of jackets and hats the strong winds were still getting in. The wind was so strong and cold that when we exited the funicular that it was almost able to hold my weight while I leaned into the wind.

Really strong wind!!!

Really strong wind!!!

Despite my early onset of hypothermia we decided to try and climb to the

Icicles stuck to the posts

Icicles stuck to the posts

summit of the mountain. Again we were reassured that even though three people had died here recently we would be fine. Stuart pulled out his handy compass as a way of rallying the team and we started the walk. Up we went on the ice and snow between two set of poles a meter out of the ground that showed the path up to the summit. The poles told their own story. They had icicles stuck to them but they were going horizontal as a tribute to the speed and coldness of the winds at night on the mountain. About half way up the wind started to pick up and the with Jennie’s dodgy back and the slippery ice the girls decided to go back down because, if the wind really picked up they wouldn’t get off the mountain quick enough. The girls retired to the cafe and the let the young brave explores kick on to the top.

Brave adventurer Laird Andrew James Batten!

Brave adventurer Laird Andrew James Batten!

As I tramped my way to the top I found out how unfit I was and how hard walking up snow and ice is! I felt like I was taking a hard jog despite the fact that I was just walking. Stuart on the other hand looked like a nimble mountain goat jumping to and fro while waiting for me to catch up. When we reached the end of the guiding poles Stuart took a compass bearing, just to be safe, he said with a laugh as we headed up over the plateau to the weather station at the top which symbolized the top.

Snow storm on the horizon!

Snow storm on the horizon!

As we kept walking on wards I started to notice that the snow was starting to come in sideways and it was starting to sting my face like sandblasting. The forceful winds we experienced at the cafe were starting to become serious winds indeed. As I looked around I asked Stuart if that was snow coming in and the uneasy look on his face told me that we might have bitten of a bit more off than we could chew. Within the space of a minute I was in cased in my first white out blizzard. Stuart told me later that the temperature was close to minus 20 and the wind speeds were around 40 to 60 miles per hour. As Stuart gave me the “time to quit” signal I was reminded how that signal looks very similar to the “dead/cutthroat” symbol. He yelled in my ear that we needed to get off the mountain NOW.

Snow storm... worst time to take a picture?

Snow storm… worst time to take a picture?

I was really surprised how worried he seemed and the speed with which the snow was reducing visibility. After a quick photo opportunity of an unaware tourist by a flabbergasted Scotsman we started our decent. I don’t think anyone has been so happy for their compass before as when we turned around to go back down we could see no more than 5 or 10 meters. This was a problem because if you come off the mountain at the wrong place it’s a bit of a drop to the bottom!!

The snow and wind was really starting to pick up now and I myself was starting to feel scared as Stuart led the way down. After a few minutes we found the marker poles and I think we both relieved to see them. However now instead of them being 1 meter poles they were half sunk in snow. The ice path had been blown over and filled in fresh snow. Still the wind and the snow increased in ferocity as we started to walk off the mountain. As I looked up from the path I noticed that Stuart was now taking big jogging steps and the then turning around every now and then for me to catch up. I got the signal and also broke into a jog. Soon I noticed that my legs were starting to feel a bit wet and numb on one side as my jeans had been soaked through by the horizontal snow. I was now quiet worried but lucky we legged the last of the track and the cafe came in to view.

Snowball fight before the white out

Snowball fight before the white out

We hurried through the shop and I was surprised how my eyes couldn’t focus so well and how I was seeing stars a little. Stuart told me that it was the start of a bit of snow blindness caused by the freezing temperatures. As I walked through the gift shop I was a little alarmed of how red and strained my face looked in a passing mirror. However we made it back to the cafe and met the girls with the bunch of kittens they had had while waiting and worrying for us to come back down.  I think off all the experiences I had in Scotland this one, while being the most dangerous, is the one that I will remember with fondness the most.

Smiles before another 'near death' experience

Smiles before another ‘near death’ experience

After we recovered from our experiences on the mountains and our tales grew with each telling we had a nice dinner and a few drinks. The next morning we checked into our next death sport. We had selected to canyoning. Canyoning is defined as an outdoor activity which includes walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling and swimming. Now why we decided to do this on the edge of the longest Scottish winter in 20 years I will never know. Maybe the McKie clans were trying to show me a really good time or maybe they had taken an insurance policy out on me I will never know!

Just as well for the 2 wet suits... eh Stuart?!

Just as well for the 2 wet suits… eh Stuart?!

Anyway we loaded up in the minivan after putting on 2 wet suits, a jacket, helmet and boots. In casual conversation we found out on the way here that we were the first visitors this year and no one had been up here in 6 months. How long had the guide been working here? Only one season. His experience here we guessed= None. Good start to the day. Anyway we walked to the top off the water falls as we watched the minibus drive off. The water was cold and I mean your hands go numb within a minute cold. This was the water that had been snow the night before! We climbed into the water a waded and swam our way to the first slide. Seemed simple enough. Go down the rock slide and swim over to the guide. Jennie volunteered to go first after the guide. After a few moments under the water after getting sucked under the waterfall she popped out and the guide signaled for Sheena to come down. She slide down the waterfall and bobbed back up like a cork then was spun back under in reverse. Then she popped up again and went again! Stuart and I were quiet worried now as the guide didn’t seem to have any idea she was stuck in a washing machine water trap. Sheena unfortunately went under 5 times before  (mainly) Jennie and the guide got her free of the trap. Sheena came up spluttering and ghostly white. She had had a very nasty experience on the first step and had come close to drowning. This kind of wrecked the experience for everyone as the guide had no idea what had happened, did not even check to see if Sheena was okay or how to run this kind of trip.

All smiles after despite the near hypothermia

All smiles after despite the near hypothermia

 

Unfortunately the rest of the experience wasn’t as enjoyable as it should have been for anyone as the whole experience was mismanaged and unprofessional. After we emerged from the water which was the second highest category you could do, it was our first time; we had to wait for 40 minutes for the bus to return in wet suits filled with freezing water. Much of this could have been avoided if the company had just checked the route they took us on BEFORE they let us go to check that it was at least safe. Ie. The last slide was missing a major rope and if you went to far you could go right over a big waterfall!! Our guide said he wouldn’t do it but we can if we want?! Nether the less it was a great day because of the company however there was much complaining done over the dinner’s meal and drinks. Well that was then end of the Avimore leg of the trip.

Goodbye beautiful Aviemore!

Goodbye beautiful Aviemore!

On the way back to Glasgow we stopped off at the home of Golf – St Andrews. Here we got to see the old course and the classic beach. Did you know that the famous Chariots of Fire scene was filmed there? I was horrified to hear how expensive the game and hotels were here. We were to play a game of mini golf where I was destined to dominate the game. Unfortunately a horde of grannies had hired out the whole complex and we had to leave the matter of who was the best for another time.

St Andrews

St Andrews

A few more hours driving and we were back in good ole Bishopbriggs. That was the end of our great Highlands tour and it was much appreciated by me for the great effort that Stuart and Sheena put in for us (despite trying to kill me off!!)

 

Thank you!

.

Scotland Tour Through the Eyes of an Aussie Pt 1


Well Jennie has asked me to become a special guest blogger for our time that we spent in Scotland together. We let me first state that getting to Scotland is no easy task from my penal colony back in Australia. After the guards let me out is was nearly 24 hrs of traveling time till I was safely tucked away in Stuarts and Sheena’s house enjoying a tea and a sweetie. The first of many my waist line would come to find out.

George Square

George Square

After a day or so to recover from the jet-lag it was decided an open top bus tour might be the best way to see the sights of my temporary home Glasgow. Unfortunately Glasgow’s magnificent weather didn’t get the memo about sunny skies from Andy and we took shelter at the bottom of the bus from the cold, grey and wet skies. However coming from such a young country as Australia I was surprised to see all the old buildings and architecture of the good old days. A hundred year old building in Australia is a rarity.The red bus took us to such sites at the George square, (Did you know: World War Z was filmed there!) Glasgow cathedral, the necropolis, the oldest house, the science centre and lastly the transport museum.

Glasgow Cathedral

Wellington Statue with the famous cone on its headTransport Museum

Our next adventure was over to the evil twin of Glasgow – Edinburgh. After travelling by train we walked up the hill to be greeted by the massive structure that is the royal mile and Edinburgh castle. I must say from down in the valley the castle does look quiet intimidating. Our first stop on the Edinburgh tour was the dungeons. I wasn’t familiar with this type of tour and I found it very entertaining. It’s like a cross between a guided tour, a haunted house and a horror stage show. You had period dressed actors walking or running around and moving you through the dungeons with little macabre shows along the way. They did their very best to jump out or scare you but I stood tall behind Jennie and had no problem. Highlights included being enticed into a Scottish cannibal’s family killing cave, body snatching and exhuming and experiencing being hanged on a drop ride.

Edinburgh Dungeon

Edinburgh Dungeon

Edinburgh Dungeon

Edinburgh Dungeon

After I had changed into some fresh underwear we proceeded to walk the Edinburgh Royal mile which as it states is the mile up to the castle entrance. Here was street full of traditional Scottish souvenir shops restored to how they would have been hundreds of years ago. I couldn’t help myself and did the tourist thing and got my photo with the bagpiper. We had a quick look around the castle but decided not to go in as we were booked in for Stirling castle later in the trip.

A Piper on The Royal Mile

A Piper on The Royal Mile

My next adventure was to be set free with Jennie’s friends, avoiding NEDS (Non educated delinquents) and their local watering holes for an education on drinking Scottish style. Now as I considered myself a man who enjoys a drink or too by the end of this night I found myself re-educated on just how ‘blootered’ I could get thanks to certain key members of our party. After visiting several quaint little pubs we found ourselves in the infamous drinking establishment called “The garage.” As the next photo illustrates I found myself quiet done in and after several more drinks we headed for some Chinese food and a taxi home.

Out on the 'ran-dan'

 

Out on the 'ran-dan'

To be continued…. Part 2- The Highlands!

Fremantle Prison Tour


Mum and I on a windy Cottesloe pier

Mum and I on a windy Cottesloe pier

With my parents time drawing to a close we had a busy weekend of trying to cram in everything that we had missed. As it was mum’s birthday we had got her an extra surprise gift which remained a surprise right up until the Friday night. (Quite a feat if you ask me!)

Our plan was to go whale watching on the Saturday morning, however the weather was not playing nice and with storms forecast for the Saturday we had to come clean and tell them about the trip on the Friday night in fear it would get cancelled.

As predicted this was the case! Disaster!

We took a detour to Cottesloe beach which is usually a beautiful beach, however with the bad weather it was freezing, wet and very windy!! Not the kind of weather you want to be out in!

Mum and Dad going down the ladder

Mum and Dad going down the ladder

Luckily the tour was able to shift us to the Sunday (very lucky considering my parents flight was early Monday morning!!) Not wanting to waste a day we headed down to Fremantle and visited the markets as well as the town which is quite different to anywhere else in Perth, the weather blew over and it actually turned out to be a nice day! We headed into Fremantle so we could take a trip to the Fremantle Prison, which is located right in the middle of Fremantle. Andy and I had wanted to take the tour’s for a while however knowing that my parents were coming over we held off so we could do it as a family. The prison was built by convicts sent here from England and became a lifeline for the people of Fremantle as they supplied the town with their clean water.

The prison is massive and had long been closed to prisoners, however to think that they got the prisoners to build the very walls which would keep them locked in is quite impressive!! The prison has tunnels running underneath which were dug out to use as a source of water. The prisoners had to work in horrible conditions and the work was never-ending. The prisoners built tunnels to hold enough water to supply the prison and once finished it was then decided that the prison could supply the whole town which lead to the prisoners heading back down to the tunnels to build even more tunnels to fit the needs of the growing town. Now, with the prison closed they conduct tours in the prison and down through the long winding tunnels telling of the dark history and why the prison was so vital for the survival of the town.

Me and Andy all kitted up

Me and Andy all kited up

There are many different tours to pick from and as the prison is so big it would take a full day to get round all parts of it. We chose to do the tunnel tour and were led through the prison to the entrance of the tunnels where we got all kited up and safety gear strapped on. This was my only complaint about the tour…. the safety brief lasted WAY too long and you were left in a harness for AGES… this wouldn’t have bothered me if you were using it for the entire length of the tour however the harness was just for ONE ladder to get down into the tunnels . Felt slightly disappointing after the massive build up as it felt as though you were going to going on an insane adrenaline adventure! (I don’t think we even got the much of a safety brief when we went up the Via Feratta’s in Italy and THAT would have been justified!!) I know that this is probably compulsory with the health and safety laws however it just went on and on and on… and on!

Finally ready to go we went down in pairs clipping the harness on as we went and then changing the clip when you got to a new section, once down in the tunnels we were taken through all the different parts and you could really see how bad the conditions would have been to work in. You are unable to stand up straight (Unless you are my mum of course!) and being cramped over can get quite uncomfortable after a while…. and to think these people spent days on end like that!!! There was one corner ‘stand up corner’ where prisoners could, well…. stand up for a moment! If you listened hard enough you could also hear the traffic directly above you, would have been hard to hear if you were stuck down the tunnels building your way out knowing that you were actually technically outside the prison. However the prisoners rarely tried to escape as the punishments were severe, their legs would be shackled and heavy padlocks would be placed on the shackles. If you imagine having to move like this whilst your feet were underwater you can begin to understand why this was a punishment!!

 

Fooling around

Fooling around

Another part of the tour was on a boat going through the tunnels, this was actually very funny as they were not the easiest to steer and with Andy and Chris trying to splash each other… I ended up very wet!! The boat tour took us through the parts of the tunnels that were filled with water and stained from a diesel leak which eventually lead to the tunnels being closed down. However it was quite interesting to see how mold actually ate away some of the diesel to clear the place up and just how vast the tunnel system was!

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

Unfortunately you are not allowed to take any camera’s down into the tunnels so to try to describe the scene is quite difficult. I would defiantly recommend it, it is a great day out for a family and is a ‘wee’ bit of adventure in there for everyone not to mention quite a few good laughs that came out of the suits!!

With one full day left of my parents trip our big surprise was finally here (even if the surprise  part was ruined thanks to the weather!) However after keeping it a secret for weeks even I was excited!!

Next stop Whale watching off the coast of Australia!!

Mum, Dad, Andy, Chris and myself

Mum, Dad, Andy, Chris and myself