Tag Archives: Scottish Highlands

A Bit of Scotland Coming to NYC

tartan-parade

 

Until I saw this article in an online Scottish newspaper, I had never heard of Tartan Week in NYC.  This year, we’ll be going for part of it anyway!

http://www.scotland.org/whats-on/scotland-week/tartan-day-parade/

Tartan Day Parade 2016

The annual Tartan Day Parade takes place on 6th Avenue on April 9 and is the stalwart of the Scotland Week calendar.

Led by a Grand Marshal, the parade will bring together pipers and drummers from all over the world in a celebration of the contribution made to the USA by the Scots. Past marshals have include Sir Sean Connery, Scots-born actors Brian Cox, Kevin McKidd and Alan Cumming and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. This year’s Grand Marshal is Outlander star Sam Heughan.

Tartan Day has been celebrated since 1998. Over the years it has been expanded into a week-long programme of events promoting Scotland in North America.

The official parade tartan has been designed by the Scottish Tartans Authority, funded by the Scottish Registers of Tartan and its registration donated by the National Records of Scotland. Its colours and pattern represent aspects of Scottish and American culture such as the blue and white of the Saltire and the green of the trees bordering 6th Avenue where the parade takes place.

 

From http://nyctartanweek.org/the-origins-of-new-yorks-tartan-day/

The Origins of New York’s Tartan Day Parade

In 1999, the first Tartan Day Parade, consisting of two pipe bands and a small but spirited group of Scottish Americans, including Grand Marshall Cliff Robertson, walked from the British Consulate to the United Nations. Since then it has flourished to include many bands and thousands of participants.

In 2002, the Parade was brought to Sixth Avenue for the first time. This Parade attracted a record number of pipe bands from all over the world and was led by Sir Sean Connery and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The National Tartan Day New York Committee was founded by three New York-based Scottish-American organizations: the Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, founded in 1756; the New York Caledonian Club, 1856; and the American-Scottish Foundation®, 1956. Since 2002, the Committee has grown to include Clan Campbell. The NTDNYC, which has non-profit 501(c)(3) status, is charged with maintaining and perpetuating the New York Tartan Day Parade and coordinating the events that complement it.

Poor DH may be “pipered out”, if that’s at all possible, since we went to the Edinburgh Tattoo last summer, we’ll be going again this August and we’ll be going to the Virginia International Tattoo two weeks after the Tartan Day Parade. As far as I’m concerned, there can never be too many bagpipes 🙂

It’s funny how I found the Virginia Tattoo.  I’d never heard of them, even though we live in Virginia.  When I was writing up the blog posts for last summer’s Edinburgh Tattoo, I looked up info about the Top Secret Drum Corps which I’d loved.  Turns out, they’re going to be at the Virginia version this year – so we’re going, too!

 

The Parade starts at 2.00pm at West 45th Street and marches up 6th Avenue to 55th Street.

Once again, we’ll be using Airbnb since it worked out so well for us last time we went to NYC.  We have arranged to use Airbnbs for our next 2 trips, too.


Just throwing in this video because I love it, it has piano – and pipers!  This took place in the fantastic Eilean Donan Castle.

From the wonderful Piano Guys, This is Your Fight Song.  I have seen this countless times and I am always so moved for the beauty of the Highlands countryside, the piano, cello, bagpipes, drums, the intertwining of Amazing Grace and Scotland The Brave with the original Fight Song.

 

They wrote in the notes:

When we first heard Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” we were inspired by its message. In a world where we too often talk about our differences, we have at least one thing in common. We all struggle. Not in the same way, nor at the same level, but we all want a fighting chance. And we all share in one gift: The will to make the most of our lives. To take what we’ve been given and turn it into something better could be considered the sentient measuring stick of success. But to do so seldom is simple and more often requires we fight. Not against each other. But against the current threatening to drown the ambition in us.

There is tremendous purpose in struggle. It is when the struggle becomes so fierce that we must fight to swim or sink. John Newton, who penned “Amazing Grace,” worked on a slave trader ship and condoned inhuman atrocities. As his ship was on the verge of being torn apart in a violent storm he called out for Grace. Once his feet were again planted on firm soil he determined to change. His covenant was written into these words,

“I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.”

Grace is the defining moment when we face and fight a monster poised to define us or destroy us.

This song and video for us was a struggle, but a beautifully defining one. We chose the Scottish culture to depict the dichotomy between Grace and struggle. Who else is tough enough and yet delicate enough to don a kilt in battle? And the Scottish pipe and drum are the ultimate conveyors of melody and cadence. One represents Grace, the other the indomitable fight. Our dream was to film one of the most iconic castles on the Earth, Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie, Scotland.

Grace somehow made this video possible. We had to postpone our trip to Scotland several times, and when we could no longer postpone we had to leap in faith because just before we left everything had fallen through. It wasn’t until we were in the moment and had to let go of our pride and anxiety when everything Gracefully came together.

We recognize that this video is far less important than a fight for one’s life. We hope this music will serve as an anthem for those that are in the fight of their lives. We have people close to us who inspire us every day with their grace in the face of such a struggle. This video is dedicated to them: The superheroes in our lives that don’t wear capes, but wear a smile under villainous pressure — those that have been through so many defining moments that they are intimately acquainted with Grace and know it to be close cousins with hope. We pray “Grace will bring them safely through.”

 

Love you, Grandpa!

Love you, Grandpa!

Scotland: The Cairngorms National Park

cairngorm-funicular

 

I woke up about 7 because it was very sunny, with the sun streaming through the bedroom windows. I was able to get back to sleep until 10:30. Then, at 11:30 it was cloudy and it began to rain.

We stopped at the Aviemore post office to change dollars to pounds since no one here is interested in American money.

cairngorm

 

Then, we went on to Cairn Gorm Mountain through Rothiemurchus Forest with a reindeer center, a sled dog center, clay pigeons shooting and Segways.  Stretching from the River Spey to the high mountain plateau, Rothiemurchus sits within the Cairngorms National Park.

We also went by Loch Murlich (Scottish Gaelic, Loch Mhùrlaig), a freshwater loch in the Badenoch and Strathspey area of Highland, Scotland near Aviemore. The loch is home to a watersports center with kayaking, sailing and windsurfing among the activities available. There is also a yacht club and cycling routes around the loch. The loch is at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains, just a few miles from Aviemore and were planning to go back another day but we didn’t make it.

Cairn Gorm (Cairngorm) (Gaelic: An Càrn Gorm, meaning Blue or Green Hill) is a mountain in the Scottish Highlands overlooking Strathspey and the town of Aviemore. At 1245 metres (4084 ft) it is the sixth highest mountain in the United Kingdom. It has given its name to the whole range, although these hills are properly known as Am Monadh Ruadh (the Red Hills) rather than the Cairngorms. Cairn Gorm is the most prominent of the Cairngorm mountains in the view from Speyside, but it is not the highest.

The mountain road was quite twisty and we had to go through a few snow gates but we got to the parking area – and it started raining.

We took funicular up, as far as it would let us go.  In the winter, skiers can go higher.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairngorm_Mountain_Railway

The funicular railway operates by ‘hauling’ up one carriage using electric motors to pull the haul rope as the other carriage descends at the same time. The system is powered by two stationary in series 500 kW electric motors, a gear box and a ‘soft start-soft stop’ control system which can increase the electrical frequency and vary the current and voltage to control the carriage speeds as they approach or leave a station. An hydraulically operated ‘counter’ rope is connected to both carriages to maintain haul rope tension. The two carriages are permanently connected by the haul rope and the counter rope and can never operate independently.

The funicular railway system is normally operated from a manned control room within the Ptarmigan building but can also be operated from the Base station control room or from each railway carriage. There are dedicated sophisticated computer control, instrumentation, communication and safety systems for the railway which have a range of back up systems and there are also standby generators and manual back up systems for moving the carriages.

At the top, they had a very nice display, including a replica of the funicular car – complete with working horn, which children delighted in honking over and over.

There was a short video and information about a huge snowstorm which had covered the funicular and the first floor of the station.

We also learned about the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui.

From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Am_Fear_Liath_Mòr

Am Fear Liath Mòr (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [əm fɛɾ ʎiə moːɾ]; also known as the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui or simply the Greyman) is the name of a presence or creature which is said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Scotland (and also in the British Isles).

It has been described as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain. Evidence of the existence of this creature is limited to various sightings and a few photographs of unusual footprints.

It is traditionally seen as a supernatural being, but Am Fear Liath Mòr has been compared to the Yeti of the Himalaya and the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of North America. References to wild ‘Greymen’ in Scotland and similar creatures elsewhere in Europe, sometimes called Wudewas or ‘Wood Men’, date back to the 13th century, and are believed by some to represent relict hominids.

 

We went through the giftshop – of course.  You always have to go through the giftshop to enter or leave anywhere that tourists might be.

We had lunch at the The Ptarmigan Restaurant, which is the highest restaurant in the UK.  The Ptarmigan offers great panoramic views down to Loch Morlich and across to Ben Nevis (Ben Nevis is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name “Beinn Nibheis”. “Beinn” is the most common Gaelic word for “mountain”) and Ben Hope (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Hòb).

I had Mac and cheese with slices of tomato and chips (fries) and Tom had chili over rice.  The TV was showing Benedict Cumberbatch complaining about fans taking cellphone pictures while he was acting in Hamlet.

The TV also showed stories on milk prices, nightclub owners complaining about losing business to festivals, the  Ferguson shooting.

We went to the observation deck.  It was still raining but I went out, anyway.

We had to go back through the restaurant to get to the funicular and ran into the waiter from yesterday. What are the odds of that?

We took the Funicular down instead of walking, since it was raining so hard.  Just before we got to the bottom station, we stopped.  The operator said it was because the other car wasn’t at the top yet, which is when I learned that funiculars could be operated by a counterweight.

 

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cushingshelp/23UW59
From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funicular

A funicular (/fjʉˈnɪkjʉlər/), also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. Funiculars of one sort or another have existed for hundreds of years and continue to be used for moving both passengers and goods. Its name derives from the latin, funiculus, diminutive of funis, meaning “rope”.

 

We drove back through the pouring rain and it was nap time!

We woke up about  7pm and went to reception for to report that the  sunroom heater stopped heating, then off to Tesco for groceries.  This time, we took bags since they weren’t eager to give us any yesterday.

Then, back to reception to find out about where the laundry facilities were.

Our dinner was soup and potato salad since we’d had peanut butter sandwiches earlier.

On TV – same Benedict story as we’d see on the mountain, followed by tattoo fixers.

I’d planned on going to bed but then there was David Attenborough showing us the animals he’d take if he had an ark.  We’d talked about him earlier since he had been prominently featured in a brochure onRothiemurchus and here he was on tv.

Then, there was a show on hormones, including Dr. Harvey Cushing, then a show on tower (bell) ringing. Aach.

I finally got to bed at 1:30am

All pictures

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cushingshelp/6C79E1

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