What the bleep is glamping?!

I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately, this ‘glamorous camping’. And by everywhere, that means on Pinterest. I can’t quite wrap my head around the concept, and why this is becoming/is so popular.

Here is my version of glamorous camping:

Glamorous! I even have my Kobo awaiting me on the picnic table!

Not so glamorous – after a wind storm. Bye bye tent.

Anyway, I don’t think my version of glamorous camping is the same version that everyone is talking about. Research time!

This luxury camper in the Highlands of Scotland has a shower, TV, microwave, kettle, fridge AND an electric heater AND is 200 metres from pubs and a grocery store. Don’t worry though, you have to rough it a bit – there is NO cutlery provided. Phew!

At least I can see a picnic table in this photo. Some of the next glamping experience do not have this camping staple at all! Shame, shame.

Wow – check out this one in Martis, Italy. There are tiny Christmas lights all over the ‘Emperor Bell Tent’.

Please read what this site provides for a wonderful glamping experience:

“No sleeping bags, hard floors, or ‘roughing it’ we provide everything you need for your glamping holiday.

Leave your cares behind and unwind. We provide everything,  just bring your heart and soul and romance. Honeymoon couples will be spoilt upon request!

Each Emperor tent has a separate private gas heated shower, vanity basin and eco toilet facility, you also have a private terrace with garden furniture and a little Cool Pool.”

WHAT?! Shouldn’t your private little terrace there be the edge of a cliff, situated along a valley with a meandering stream, speckled with grazing ___________ (bison, deer, antelope, bear….ANY wildlife).

This place has breakfast service, PRIVATE showers, a fridge and a freezer, even CUTLERY! Wow. Way to be closer to nature!

On Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania – your very own private island awaits your glamping experience. It starts off describing the bar and restaurant areas encourage guests to walk around barefoot, then walk out to your private beach, and later have a nice cool shower in the solar powered facilities.

And hey – while you are at it, go to the spa for a nice massage to help you relax just a bit more…

Finally, near Queenstown, New Zealand, I could take a helicopter into a very remote area (could I at least hike in there?! Is that too much to ask?!).

Here’s what’s in store in this glacial valley:

“Guests are hosted under canvas in luxuriously furnished tented suites complete with wall to wall sheepskin carpet, king beds, private deck set with its own hot tub, full en-suite with double vanity and endless hot showers.

On-site facilities include the ‘Mountain Kitchen’ with its well stocked library, dining room, living area, open fires, first class chef and on-site private guides.”

A LIBRARY?!?! A FIRST CLASS CHEF?! SHEEPSKIN CARPET!?!? Why is the word CAMPING even PART of this style of traveling?! This isn’t a type of glamourous camping, it’s a type of luxurious travel in very expensive but unique rooms with full amenities and beyond. I can’t even use the word ‘rustic’ for most of these examples.

Do I sound cynical? If I do, it’s because I am fighting very hard right now not to click on the reservation button on one of these options. Groan.

More glamping locations:

The Red Snowshoe in Slocan Valley, British Columbia – Canada

Forest Tree Houses, South Carolina – U.S.A.

Le Camp – South Western France

Surfing Beach – Santa Maria, Greece

Mmm I could do this one – are there sand flies?

The Loch Ness is Old!

On this day in history, the Loch Ness monster was spotted! Egads! I better go to Scotland to investigate this matter….

Run for your life! Oh wait, that's an elephant.

Although accounts of an aquatic beast living in Scotland’s Loch Ness date back 1,500 years, the modern legend of the Loch Ness Monster is born when a sighting makes local news on May 2, 1933. The newspaper Inverness Courier related an account of a local couple who claimed to have seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.” The story of the “monster” (a moniker chosen by the Courier editor) became a media phenomenon, with London newspapers sending correspondents to Scotland and a circus offering a 20,000 pound sterling reward for capture of the beast.

Loch Ness, located in the Scottish Highlands, has the largest volume of fresh water in Great Britain; the body of water reaches a depth of nearly 800 feet and a length of about 23 miles. Scholars of the Loch Ness Monster find a dozen references to “Nessie” in Scottish history, dating back to around A.D. 500, when local Picts carved a strange aquatic creature into standing stones near Loch Ness. The earliest written reference to a monster in Loch Ness is a 7th-century biography of Saint Columba, the Irish missionary who introduced Christianity to Scotland. In 565, according to the biographer, Columba was on his way to visit the king of the northern Picts near Inverness when he stopped at Loch Ness to confront a beast that had been killing people in the lake. Seeing a large beast about to attack another man, Columba intervened, invoking the name of God and commanding the creature to “go back with all speed.” The monster retreated and never killed another man.

In 1933, a new road was completed along Loch Ness’ shore, affording drivers a clear view of the loch. After an April 1933 sighting was reported in the local paper on May 2, interest steadily grew, especially after another couple claimed to have seen the beast on land, crossing the shore road. Several British newspapers sent reporters to Scotland, including London’s Daily Mail, which hired big-game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell to capture the beast. After a few days searching the loch, Wetherell reported finding footprints of a large four-legged animal. In response, the Daily Mail carried the dramatic headline: “MONSTER OF LOCH NESS IS NOT LEGEND BUT A FACT.” Scores of tourists descended on Loch Ness and sat in boats or decks chairs waiting for an appearance by the beast. Plaster casts of the footprints were sent to the British Natural History Museum, which reported that the tracks were that of a hippopotamus, specifically one hippopotamus foot, probably stuffed. The hoax temporarily deflated Loch Ness Monster mania, but stories of sightings continued.


A famous 1934 photograph seemed to show a dinosaur-like creature with a long neck emerging out of the murky waters, leading some to speculate that “Nessie” was a solitary survivor of the long-extinct plesiosaurs. The aquatic plesiosaurs were thought to have died off with the rest of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Loch Ness was frozen solid during the recent ice ages, however, so this creature would have had to have made its way up the River Ness from the sea in the past 10,000 years. And the plesiosaurs, believed to be cold-blooded, would not long survive in the frigid waters of Loch Ness. More likely, others suggested, it was an archeocyte, a primitive whale with a serpentine neck that is thought to have been extinct for 18 million years. Skeptics argued that what people were seeing in Loch Ness were “seiches”–oscillations in the water surface caused by the inflow of cold river water into the slightly warmer loch.

Amateur investigators kept an almost constant vigil, and in the 1960s several British universities launched expeditions to Loch Ness, using sonar to search the deep. Nothing conclusive was found, but in each expedition the sonar operators detected large, moving underwater objects they could not explain. In 1975, Boston’s Academy of Applied Science combined sonar and underwater photography in an expedition to Loch Ness. A photo resulted that, after enhancement, appeared to show the giant flipper of a plesiosaur-like creature. Further sonar expeditions in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in more tantalizing, if inconclusive, readings. Revelations in 1994 that the famous 1934 photo was a hoax hardly dampened the enthusiasm of tourists and professional and amateur investigators to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.

Savory Saturday from Scotland

Last week, my Fantasy Friday post was all about Edinburgh. This town fascinates me in the books by Ian Rankin!

Therefore, I shall dedicate my meal this evening to authentic Scottish cuisine:

Scotch Pie


Lard – 110g (4 oz), or dripping or butter
Hot water – 300 ml (½ pint)
Plain flour – 450g (1 lb)
Milk – a little, to glaze

Lean minced lamb – 450g (1 lb), free from fat, bone or gristle
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Ground mace or nutmeg – pinch
Worcestershire sauce – dash
Salt and pepper
Stock or gravy – 4 tbsp

Prepare the meat and onion, then add the spice and Worcestershire sauce, season it well and reserve. To make the pastry all the ingredients and the room should be warm.

Put the fat and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Sift the flour and salt into a basin, make a well in the centre and pour the hot liquid into this and mix quickly with a spatula until cool enough to handle, then form into a ball. This must be done quickly before the fat hardens.

Put on to a floured surface and pat flat. Divide it in four and keep the rest warm, then roll out three-quarters into a circle, putting a small jar about 7.5 cm (3 inches) across in the middle. Mould the pastry around the jar and when it stands well remove the jar and do the three others the same way. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out the lids.

Fill up the pastry cases with the meat mixture and add a little gravy or stock to each pie. Dampen the edges and put the lids on, making a small slit in the centre of each and brushing the top and sides with a little milk. Bake on a baking sheet at 130 °C / 250 °F / Gas ½ for about 45 minutes.


Looks a bit intimidating to make…but I’ll try!

Fantasy Friday – Edinburgh with an accent

Currently, Ian Rankin’s The Impossible Dead is occupying my bed table as my book of the moment.

His novels, which I am a big fan of (especially the Rebus series), are all based around Edinburgh, Scotland.

After a few hours of relaxing on the couch and reading last night , I turned to my boyfriend and set up to confess a very odd secret. Don’t judge me…

When I am reading the book, I assume a Scottish accent in my head.

Maybe I am trying to take it all in and really become one with the story?

Me thinks I am just a bit odd.

So, my boyfriend gave me a look. Not a “you-are-a-crazy-person” look, but a sheepish “I have something guilty to tell you” look. HE did it as well.

I guess we are both odd ducks. And maybe that’s why we work so well together.

Annnyway. Now I am daydreaming of the beautiful/haunted sounding Edinburgh.

Here is my imaginary hiking tour (from Visit Scotland):

Trail Map

Follow this trail around some of Scotland’s finest castles and ruins, to discover where Mary (Queen of Scots) lived, hid and died. While the trail highlights the range of attractions and things to see and do linked to her life, you may also want to check out our café stops along the way and travel options. In addition, discover more about the area she reigned and find out if you have Stewart ancestry.

1. Dumbarton Castle, Dumbarton – 4 star castle

Dumbarton Castle has the longest recorded history of any stronghold in the UK. It was the centre of the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde from the fifth century until 1018. Impressively situated on a volcanic rock overlooking the Firth of Clyde, Dumbarton was also an important royal refuge. The castle protected the infant Mary Queen of Scots for several months in 1548 before her safe removal to France.


2. Inchmahome Priory Lake Menteith, Nr Callander – 3 star historic attraction

Set on an island in the Lake of Menteith, Inchmahome Priory is an idyllically-situated Augustinian monastery dating from 1238.  Much of the 13th century building still remains intact. Mary, Queen of Scots was brought here as a young girl for her own safety after the battle of Pinkie in 1547. The area has also long been associated with fairy lore and legends.


3. Stirling Castle Ballengeich Pass, Stirling – 5 star castle

One of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture, Stirling Castle commands the countryside for many miles around and towers over some of the most important battlefields of Scotland’s past, including Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge. Mary, Queen of Scots was only 9 months old when she was crowned Queen of Scotland in the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle on September 9, 1543.


4. Callendar House Falkirk – 4 star historic house

Built in the style of a French chateau and set in the splendid grounds of Callendar Park, Callendar House has long played a major role in Scotland’s history. Mary, Queen of Scots spent much of her early life here.


5. Linlithgow Palace Linlithgow, West Lothian – 4 star historic attraction

Home to all the Stewart Kings and birthplace to one of the great tragic figures of history, Mary, Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace is one of the most atmospheric ruins in Scotland. The palace sits above a tranquil loch with fine views and it is easy to imagine how life was lived in such a fine building.


6. Loch Leven Castle Castle Island, Loch Leven – 4 star castle

Securely located on Castle Island in Loch Leven, this late 14th or early 15th century tower was the setting for the most traumatic year in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. It was here in 1567 that she was imprisoned and forced to abdicate the throne before her dramatic escape a year later.


7. Falkland Palace Falkland, Fife – 4 star visitor attraction

Falkland Palace is an impressive Renaissance building set in the heart of the town at the foot of the Lomond Hills. Built by James IV and James V between 1450 and 1541 the palace was a country residence of the Stuart monarchs of Scotland for over 200 years. Lush green lawns, colourful herbaceous borders and many unusual shrubs and trees complete the setting for this memorable property. Mary, Queen of Scots favoured this palace as a place of retreat and leisure.


8. Scottish National Portrait Gallery Queen Street, Edinburgh – 3 star visitor attraction

At the impressive Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which reopens in December, you can view an oil painting of Mary, Queen of Scots, done in the early 1600s.


9. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh – 5 star castle

A majestic landmark, which dominates the capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s long and colourful history, Edinburgh Castle is the best known and most visited of our historic buildings. Perched on an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle offers stunning views over the city and it is the city’s most popular tourist attraction, as well as part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. Surrounded by mystery, it is believed the body of Mary’s son, James VI was found here behind the panelling in the room she gave birth in.


10. Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Founded as a monastery in 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is closely associated with Scotland’s turbulent past. Mary, Queen of Scots spent most of her turbulent life in the Palace. She married two of her husbands in the Abbey and her private secretary, David Rizzio, was murdered in her personal rooms by a group led by her husband, Lord Darnley, who believed she was having an affair with Rizzio.


11. Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh – 4 star castle

Built around 1400, this well preserved medieval castle lies 3 miles south east of Edinburgh city centre. In 1566, Mary Queen of Scots sought the peace and quiet of Craigmillar after the murder of her private secretary. It was here in that same year that the famous “bond” was signed between the Earl of Bothwell and other noblemen, which led to the murder of Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley.


12. Newbattle Abbey, Edinburgh

Newbattle Abbey is a working college situated in the outskirts of Edinburgh on the banks of the River Esk. A stunning chapel houses a font which was used to baptise Mary, Queen of Scots, at Linlithgow Palace in 1542. The engravings are of people related to Mary and her time. They include: the Royal Arms of Scotland, Marie of Guise, second wife of James V and mother of Mary; and James Haswell, Abbot of Newbattle at the time of Mary’s baptism. The font was dug up in the grounds of nearby Mavisbank House in 1873.


Gorgeous architecture!

The accent that I imagine in my head can be heard at the end of this clip:


Finally – a word of advice from Lonely Planet:

“Do not talk football until the other person declares their team”