Kirkwall, Orkney

Skara Brae is older than the Great Pyramids. It is a neolithic village that they have uncovered. It was fascinating.

Julia noted that the people there did not keep kosher.


Portrush, Northern Ireland 

It’s raining! Who cares! We’re at a beach town in Northern Ireland!

This morning I had muesli with Cris Williamson. Well, to be more specific, I stood next to her at the buffet when I got muesli. I said to her, “I can’t believe I am having muesli with Cris Williamson.”

She said, “YOU are having muesli. I’m not.”

“I am having muesli near Cris Williamson. I’m set for life.”

“You’re sweet,” she said.

Now we are best friends.

Portrush is a pretty town:

Pretty beach:

Oh: when we set sail the first day, it was raining and just as the yacht started sailing, the rain stopped and there was an enormous rainbow! What better way to begin a lesbian cruise? 

Food is interesting and delish, mostly. Here was last night’s amuse-bouche:

Watermelon square with feta, cracked pepper and flower petals. Our bouches were amoozed.


Back on the ship and we have wifi because we are close to land. Yay! 

I have started a scarf for Ricky using yarn from each place we visit. The first bit was from Dublin. The second was from the Isle of Man. At Cregneash they have unusual 4-horned sheep and the yarn is in the natural undyed state and is spun right there.

There is virtually no yarn spun in Northern Ireland. In a little souvenir shop I found yarn from Turkey. Not for this scarf, thank you. Online I saw there was a shop in Londonderry, which was like half a centimeter away, but that translated into an hour each way. 

We went to Andy Brown’s Taxi and the dispatcher spent about 20 minutes calling different shops, calling his mother in-law to find of where she gets HER yarn. He was amazing. He found a shop much closer in a town called Portstewart. Our Glaswegian driver was a sweetheart who waited for us and drove us back to the port. I am now a Glasgow Rangers fan, since he is. They are the protestant team, so he gets on well in Northern Ireland.  I am talking about soccer here, if you were wondering.

Here is the scarf so far:

Full Irish

A hearty beginning to our first day in Dublin. 

Carol and Pat sat with us and advised us on how to plan our day. When I asked Carol if she knits (as I wanted a yarn shop recommendation) she said, ” I have knit. But I stopped finishing things and developed a name for myself.” 

We’re off for our bus tour and then whatever catches our fancy.

Later that day…

Julia, waiting for the city bus. (You didn’t know this would be so exciting, did you?)

Julia in the front seat of the double-decker bus.

A cool sign. Dublin’s gay pride march is coming up. Rainbow flags abound.

This sign in every crosswalk kept me alive.

These two lovely women served us scones with cream and jam at The Cathedral Cafe, which is down the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

This is the “Scone Deal” we had. The tea was so restorative, as only tea can be after a lot of walking.

We were watched over by a pope and several Marys and Jesuses.

The bus tour was a lot of fun and quite informative. We sat outside on the top and got unexpectedly sunburnt. Sunburnt on a mostly cloudy Irish day? Rookie mistake.

Sat in the park by St. Patrick’s and watched pigeons and toddlers. Not nearly as many gingers here as I was expecting, but maybe all the Irish people are on vacation and I have been watching foreign tourists.

We went to a yarn shop called The Constant Knitter and I got a small fix. The shop owner has a sister living in Brooklyn. Everyone we meet seems to have a sibling in Brooklyn.

We were the only visitors in the Irish Writers’ Museum. (There were approximately a gajillion people outside the Guiness Brewery Tour when our bus passed it, by way of comparison.) I think my favorite thing in it was James Joyce’s piano.

We had dinner at a pub called The Celt that had been recommended by our cab driver last night. She may have been foul-mouthed and run red lights (they call that “breaking red lights” and she assured us “it’s okay around here”) but she knows her pubs. The food was amazing and there was live music that brought Julia to tears with its beauty. The beers might have helped.

Delicious seafood chowder with brown bread and butter.

Tomorrow we sail!

In Dublin’s Fair City

We cannot believe how easy it all was! This is Julia, already at home only moments after our arrival!

Our flight attendant was named Wendy and that seemed like a good omen.

Signs are in Gaelic and English.

Our cabdriver from the airport was a lady whose every second word was “feckin’.”  Apparently all the other drivers on the road tonight were “feckin’ eejits” and she had quite a time getting us to our B & B. She told us we are staying in the posh part of town.

Carol and Pat, our hosts, could not have been lovelier. Full Irish breakfast is between 8 and 9. We are so excited to be here, though, that we can’t stop grinning. Who needs sleep?

Scottish Genealogy

Image - Statue of King Robert the Bruce, Bannockburn

Robert the Bruce, Bannockburn, Stirling City, Scotland, UK. At the Borestone, where he raised his standard before the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Sculpted by Pilkington Jackson. Property of the National Trust for Scotland.

It all began with Robert the Bruce, though I don’t see much of a familial resemblance.

‘Twas the night before Scotland…

Actually, our first stop is Dublin.  As my 50th year draws to a close, Julia and I are headed for our first cruise, to be followed by adventures in Edinburgh.

We will begin by sailing from Dublin, Ireland to Edinburgh, Scotland on this yacht:

Wind Surf
Olivia Cruises: Windstar Wind Surf

Our cruise itinerary is as follows:

Day Description Arrive Depart
July 4, 2016 –
Dublin, Ireland
July 5, 2016 – Douglas, Isle of Man
July 6, 2016 – Portrush, Northern Ireland
July 7, 2016 – Tobermory, UK
July 8, 2016 – Stornoway, UK
July 9, 2016 – Kirkwall, UK
July 10, 2016 – Invergordon, Scotland
July 11, 2016 – At Sea
July 12, 2016 – Edinburgh/Leith, Scotland

After arriving in Edinburgh, we will stay for an additional week, exploring the city and taking day trips, including a full-day tour of Outlander sites.

The Outlander tour itinerary:

We will start our journey in the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Linlithgow. We will see Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and Outlander filming site for Wentworth Prison.


During the drive to our next destination, Doune, we will pass the Kelpies, Scotland’s latest tourist attraction. Doune is home of the 14th Century castle used in as the Outlander filming site for Castle Leoch, the home of The MacKenzie Clan.


Castle Leoch

From here we go on to Falkland, where we can see where Jamie’s ghost appeared and see Mrs Baird’s B&B too. We will stop for lunch here just near where Claire looked at that blue vase.


On to Culross, a perfectly preserved example of a 17th century town. This is the setting for the fictional town of Cranesmuir. Many of the buildings are featured in the show: the witch trial takes place at the Mercat Cross, and Claire’s herb garden is the beautiful stepped garden behind Culross Palace.

We will visit Lallybroch, also known as Midhope Castle.


Our final stop, Blackness Castle is a formidable fortress sitting on the banks of the River Forth and is the filming site for Fort William, the stronghold of the infamous Black Jack Randall.