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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2012
20 | www.probussouthpacific.org TRAVEL INTERNATIONAL The weather changed again; we sped through pretty villages and saw gentle hills grow into mountains in front of us. engineering that originated from the specialised talent of the country as industrialisation flourished. Highland fling We did have some glorious spring days when the countryside glistened as gold in the sunshine. Magnificent swathes of canola shone bright yellow from the fields, and we drove past crazy-faced Heeland coos (Highland cows) – shaggy creatures with faces only mothers could love. On a quick stop at St Andrews we left our golf-tragic companions to stroll the holy ground in wind that sliced sideways across the courses, while we ducked into a hotel tearoom. The weather changed again; we sped through pretty villages and saw gentle hills grow into mountains in front of us. Patches of snow still defied the coming summer and clung to the top of the mountains. Inverness was the second city stop. There, we climbed the Royal Highland Hotel’s elegant stairway, copied from the ill-fated Titanic, and unpacked our bags for the night. As we travelled further north over hills and dales we were regaled with historical tales, most ending with stories of skirmishes leading to full- scale massacres. Clan against clan and Scots against English; so much of the country seems scarred and bloodstained by wounds of the past. Moody cobalt skies covered the lochs as we crossed to the Isle of Skye, where the ‘wee bonny boat like a bird the wing’ sped to carry the man born to be king, Bonnie Prince Charlie, immortalised in song. Not so his achievements, especially as it all went so wrong at Culloden for 1200 soldiers in a lost battle that was the death knell of the Highland clans. Make yourself at home Much of Scotland is familiar, even to the newcomer. Many castles, bridges, lochs and villages have featured in print, on cards, in movies and television series. One of the most charming and sweet little castles you could photograph is Eilean Donan Castle, a little gem that has featured in films such as Highlander and Made of Honour – and the castle outshone both efforts. We went on to view Loch Ness and saw neither hide nor hair of the monster, except for the plaster, concrete and papier mache horrors of ‘Nessie’ dotted along the roadside around the lake. We headed towards the tour’s last city, Glasgow, and enjoyed a city revitalised with gleaming golden sandstone buildings on show. Easy to get around and with much to see, Glasgow has lifted its game and is playing with the smart kids these days. In the Highlands we came close to understanding the magnitude of the place – beautiful, thick with ancient foliage, bare in places, haunted by the past and proud of its heritage, and all the while retaining a powerful spirit which is not just the Highlands, but Scotland itself. From the comfort of a coach, meandering through this amazing part of the world, we came to the countryside and saw that, despite castles and old walls clinging to the past, they were never going to win the battle – nature wins over civilisation every time. •• GREAT SCOTS! Scotland’s exports include inventors, writers, athletes, adventurers and politicians. Did you know that the following greats are Scottish? John Logie Baird (1888–1946), first person to demonstrate a working television, 1926. RM Ballantyne (1825–1894), author of more than 80 boys own adventures including The Coral Island, published in 1857. Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922), inventor of the telephone at age 29, 1876. Tony Blair (born 1953), longest serving Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1997-2007. Gordon Brown (born 1951), former Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Britain’s longest serving modern chancellor. Sir Dugald Clerk (1854–1932), inventor of the Clerk cycle two-stroke internal combustion engine. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850– 1894), novelist, poet and travel writer. The author of Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson spent the last, tubercular years of his life with his family in Western Samoa. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), author of the Sherlock Holmes detective novels. A physician by training, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned his first novels between patients at his very quiet medical practice and modelled Holmes on a university lecturer.
Active Retirees Oct-Nov
Active Retirees Feb-March 2012