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scotland highlands

    Roadtripping through the Scottish Highlands

    If you are undecided about road tripping through the Scottish Highlands, just go. Simply get in a car, add a bottle or two of wine for an evening, a couple of snacks, good company and a GPS. 

    Where to go in Scotland - Skye Road Trip

    That’s all you need for an amazing journey of awe-inspiring landscapes, curious beauty and quirky discoveries.

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    My Dream UK Roadtrip | Sponsored by Bailey of Bristol

    You know how you have Travel Dreams (those ones complete with capital letters) that you keep tucked away in your heart of hearts? Well, although we’re currently on lockdown in the UK and unable to take a trip at the moment, there’s nothing to stop us from planning and dreaming about getting out on the open road when the time is right. Disclosure: This post was commissioned by Bailey of Bristol who have been manufacturing caravans and motorhomes in Bristol since 1948.

    UK Roadtrip

    Use a little downtime to open that box of Jaffa cakes and an enormous map and start following those B-roads in your mind to create the UK roadtrip of dreams.
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    Glenskirlie House and Castle Hotel – Snoozing in a Scottish Castle

    Weddings are magical – and even more so when they are held in a castle that’s nestled in the peaceful Scottish countryside. Glenskirlie House and Castle was the venue for a good friend’s wedding recently – and we celebrated the joining of their two families in an age-old handfasting that went on into the wee hours.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (In total honesty I didn’t last all the way into the wee hours when the shots were broken out, an early hour flight from Heathrow, our ridiculously comfortable bed and the dangerous ‘I’m just going to rest my eyes’ after the fulsome wedding dinner put paid to that!)

    Jumping into a cab from Glasgow airport (it’s about a 35-minute drive from both Glasgow airport or Edinburgh airport), the 4-star Glenskirlie House and Castle would make for a perfect stop off when road tripping into the stunning scenery of the highlands – or perhaps the last night of a weekend break in either city, especially if you were driving.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Glenskirlie House was established in 1982 as a small, family-run restaurant with an emphasis on quality food and first-class service. In 2007, Scotland’s first newly built castle of the 21st century opened, extending the facilities and offering plush hotel accommodation.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Borrowed from the hotel website – when we had colonised the castle, it was filled with laughter and people.

    We were graciously allowed to check-in early before the wedding ceremony started, giving us enough time to shake off the flight and polish our faces.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Each of the rooms – sweetly named after rose varieties – are individually designed with their own unique charm. Stylish, luxurious and elegant, the rooms combine traditional charm with modern design and contemporary comforts, including flat-screen TVs and DVD players.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The bathroom was comfortably appointed, including a rain shower that was very much appreciated and Molton Brown goodies.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Having gone for a wander before the ceremony, I was pounced on in the corridors and invited up to the honeymoon suite for a cheeky glass of pre-game champagne with the bride and her entourage – we giggled our way through the process, scooting out before we got too much in the way of the flower girl excitedly opening her pressies.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It was utterly delightful. Fun, relaxed and full of mischief – perfectly attuned to the bride and groom.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The views over the local valley aren’t too shabby either…

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Between posing as the lady of the manor, there’s loads to do in nearby Glasgow. Afternoon tea in the art nouveau Willow tea rooms, parading through time at the Glasgow Transport Museum (highly recommended), visiting the Kelpie Heads and Falkirk Wheel or simply enjoying the epic brunch offerings in this compact city.

    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Or, you could explore Edinburgh which is a half an hour drive away.

    And then there is the beautiful west coast to explore: in this realm of faerie-stories, kilted clansmen and bagpipes, we knew that visiting the Scottish highlands we were going to see beautiful scenery, but we weren’t quite prepared for the variety of stunning vistas that seemed to appear every time we turned a corner. It’s still one of our best road trips ever

    What is your favourite thing about Scotland?

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    Scottish Hotel near Glasgow Glenskirlie House and Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    Glasgow, the Art Nouveau Movement and Cake

    Over the years that we’ve travelled up to Scotland, every time we’d planned to pop over to Glasgow, something got in the way. Christmas snowstorms, temptation by way of Peebles Fish and chips, lazy weekend afternoons, a rampant fire through Glasgow School of Arts and sheer unbridled disorganization.

    Willow Tea Rooms Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

    But, we finally made it to Glasgow. We intentionally planned a couple of days there to relax after an intensive road trip into the breathtaking landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. It was somewhere that I’d always wanted to visit – mostly spurned by my love of architectural details and a burgeoning fascination for Art Deco and Art Nouveau (you know who you are).

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    The 10 best castles in the world (IMHO)

    My inner princess never thought this was possible. My own country has a history of around 150 settled human years, so the magic of walking through thousands of years of Euopean history never quite loses the unique frisson of delight. This selection is my top 10 of the best castles in the world (well, in my honest opinion anyway!)

    Suits of armour that tell tales of bravery and hardship, kitchen hearths that fed hundreds of (in)famous dignitaries and hard-working servants, windows that saw enemy arches living up their longbows and sighing maidens dreaming of their loves, moats that were filled with all sorts of exotic contents and drafty castles walls that witnessed history that changed the lives of nations.

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Yeah, I’ve got the castle wandering bug bad. If there is a castle or palace near where we are (and by near I mean within 2 hours train ride) you can guarantee that I’ll be making my way there, scheming how to get closer or researching ways to sleep there (Prince Harry, watch out).

    Buckingham Palace, London, England
    Known by locals as ‘Buck House’ the home of our Commonwealth Queen was everything thing I thought it would be – ostentatious, sumptuous and amazing. Just what a Palace should be. As important to the British psyche as Tea, wellies and apologising for other people bumping into you, the Royal family is an institution. Britain (/England/the United Kingdom/whatever) simply wouldn’t be the same without the bastion of the eccentric royal family: the Queen’s imperious waves, Prince Philips gaffes, Charles & Camilla’s love affair and Kate and Williams rock-star icon just adds such a soupcon to the mystique of Britain.

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pena Palace, Sintra Portugal
    Quirkily gorgeous, the Palacio Nacional da Pena is one of the finest tourist attractions of Portugal and exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture with a twist of sheer imagination. The curiously crenellated collection of beautiful rooms crest a collection of beautiful palaces in the town of Sintra.

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany.
    On our visit, leaving behind the crowds in the busy parking lot (there are a couple of family castles that can also be visited) we walked up the hill towards Neuschwanstein. Leaving Mr Kiwi to enjoy the fresh mountain air, I took in the guided tour through the unique rooms created solely for Ludwig’s use – even the servants had separate hallways running alongside. From an ornately carved bedroom to a man-made cave and private theatre room, the castle that inspire Walt Disney’s cartoon glory was curious to say the least…

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey), Highclere, England
    They say never meet your heroes as you’ll only be disappointed when their humanity is revealed, but I say ignore that entirely. Sometimes you have to. Sometimes you have to get on that train, walk through those gates and simply revel in the crazy amazingness that is England. Case in point – Downton Abbey. Wait, I mean Highclere Castle…

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Winchester Castle, Winchester, England
    Housing the Arthurian Round Table of myth and legend (though sadly actually slightly more modern in construction – only commissioned by King Henry in the 13th Century, rather than 6th as they originally thought) Winchester Cathedral is well worth a wander – especially in winter…

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Strawberry Hill House, Richmond, London
    Hidden in the opulent suburb of Twickenham, (aka Surrey) a gothic castle of dreamy spires quietly rests. Each new room seemed like walking into a fairytale princess’ room – in fact my friend struggled the whole way round to choose just the one she would have as her bedroom…

    Eilean Donan, Highlands, Scotland
    You can name almost any of the residences of royal kilt wearers (a personal favourite is Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh), but the most famous in the Highlands is the beautiful and mysterious Eilean Donan, which means ‘Island of Donnan’. Found on a a small tidal island located in the western Highlands of Scotland, the castle was first founded in the 13th century and after extensive 20th Century work now features in a litany of movies and TV shows (including a Monty Python cameo).

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Kidwelly Castle/Castell Cydwell, Carmanthenshire, Wales
    Known best for featuring in the establishing shot of Monty Python’s Search For The Holy Grail (aka one of the best comic films ever) this castle is a treasure of the Welsh countryside.

    Eltham Palace, Eltham, England
    First mentioned in the Doomsday book, Eltham Estate was presented to King Edward II in 1305 and developed into one of the most favoured royal palaces with 1,000 acres of deer park on its doorstep. #swoon

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland
    Quite simply, that’s how Mr Kiwi and I came to find ourselves being pushed (by some bloke) over a parapet, backwards, whilst holding on to a couple of sturdy steel supports. Kissing the Blarney Stone was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments that blew my tiny little mind, and it was well worth the journey. (Will I ever become vaguely eloquent? Probably not, and I’m ok with that.)

    The 10 best castles in the world Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What would make your top 10 castles in the world list? (Real or fiction…) 

     (PS. pin me!)

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