At the last minute we decided to go away for new years eve. After looking online we found a cute B&B in Strathyre, Scotland.

On the drive up, we stopped to see the Falkirk Wheel. It uses science (Archimedes principle of displacement) to be super efficient, using only the amount of energy needed to boil two kettles to move a boat from one part of the canal to the other! Unfortunately, the canal was frozen over and the boat lift wasn’t running so we didn’t get any action shots.

Since our plans of riding the wheel were dashed, we took advantage of our limited day light hours and stopped by Doune Castle, aka the castle where Monty Python’s Holy Grail was filmed!

That night being new year’s eve, we hit up the pub next door to our B&B and hung with some locals. We met a guy from North Carolina, had a drunk Irish man explain Samuel Beckett to us, and had drinks with Ian and Eleanor from Edinburgh and Tommy from Doune. There was even a bagpiper at midnight!

The next morning after a delicious breakfast (Randy had haggis with a poached egg on top), we drove to Balquhidder to see Rob Roy’s grave.

We then drove to Killin to see the falls of Dochart on our way to Pitlochry.

Pitlochry, as I’m sure you know, is the home of a fish ladder, so of course we had to stop and see it before we got too cold and it got too dark.

Day three started with snow, but cleared up so that we were able to drive to Loch Lomond (of “You take the high road and I’ll take the low road” fame). On the way, we stopped at Drovers Inn

The Drover’s Inn and lunch (yes that is haggis)

Loch Lomond was beautiful

We saw fuzzy cows throughout the trip, but on the way home we saw one that we could get close to

On the way home we also stopped in Stirling to see the castle. It was freezing, but the views were great.

The rest of the Scotland Photos

Happy Boxing Day!

We finally got our driveway cleared and to celebrate we drove to Follifoot for a walk. It was a beautiful winter day to be out.

Crimple Beck

image from

On Christmas Eve we took the train into York to see a carol service at York Minster. The cathedral is impressive and so was the choir. It was a little weird to sing the English versions of songs (I’m looking at you “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Away in a Manager”).

All the churchy people paraded in for the service. There were flags and giant crosses on sticks and candles and scepters and a bishop, complete with bishop hat!!

On the way home we passed a Christmas concert in the park near our house. A local high school band was performing in the band stand.

Merry Christmas!

We got our first snow of the season this week! Today BBC is predicting “Sunny Intervals” followed by more “Light Snow Showers” on Sunday and Monday. Maybe we’ll have a white christmas!

The Yorkshire Post’s take on the snow

Our Christmas tree is up and decorated. We got it from a farm down the road a bit. The cat will not leave it alone. Surprise, surprise.

This year we actually have a fireplace where we can hang our stockings. I would still recommend that Santa enter via the door, though, as I have no idea the last time the chimney was cleaned.

Today we took advantage of the not-raining weather and did our first walk from my book of walks. We walked from Spofforth Castle down through the village of Sicklinghall and back. Total walking distance: 4.6 miles.

Spofforth Castle

Sarah made a friend

We should have worn our wellies

Photo Album

Continuing on…

Thanksgiving morning we decided to take the train out of Barcelona and do a day trip to Montserrat. The train route took us to the bottom of the mountain, at which point we had to choose between a cog railway or a cable car ride up to the monastery at the top. We took the cable car, since it was supposed to have better views.

The cable car ride

Once at the top we had a picnic, then wandered around. In addition to the monastery, there are also several hotels, museums, cafes and lots of walking trails.

Inside the basilica

We went on a hike and had a lovely view looking back at the monastery complex.

Montserrat Photos

Our last night in Spain was spent in Girona (aka the city where RyanAir sends its “Barcelona” flights). Girona was a surprisingly fun town. It had a “down town” with lots of shops and restaurants in the very cool historic section of town. Unfortunately it got too dark and we don’t have many pictures of the narrow streets.

Girona Cathedral

We had a tasty meal where you picked little hors d’oeuvre sized food things on toothpicks and then they counted how many toothpicks you had at the end.

Girona Photos

Continuing from yesterday’s post

After driving to Barcelona from the castle, we ditched our rental car at the airport and took the train into town. Within minutes of arriving at the train station someone tried to pick Randy’s pocket! Luckily we had been warned that pickpockets were a problem in Barcelona and had taken the necessary precautions. Once we realized that Barcelona has both trains and a metro and we were looking at two separate maps we didn’t have any trouble navigating to our hotel.

Our hotel was located right on La Ramblas, a major pedestrian thoroughfare where one can purchase everything from tourist trinkets to live chickens.

click for video!

Right off of La Ramblas is a huge, very cool market called La Boqueria. Live seafood, mysterious unidentifiable fruits, skinned goat heads – they had everything.

We also did the Gaudí tour and saw lots of…interesting buildings.

Casa Battlo

Casa Mila (aka La Pedrera)

Gaudí used lots of mosaic tiles

We also walked around Park Güell and walked past Palau Güell.

Across La Ramblas from our hotel was the Barri Gòtic (old Gothic Quarter).

This was a very cool area to wander around. Lots of narrow alleys leading to hidden plaças (plazas), gorgeous buildings and cool shops. Shops in Spain open much later than we were used to (around 10:30 or 11:00 am) and in the smaller cities they also close between 2-4 pm. They are open much later than shops in England, though.

Barcelona Photos