Scotland 2010

Sorry for the delay. It’s hard to slog through 400+ pictures, and choose the top few that epitomize our trip. And once I’d finally done all that, and uploaded them to the blog, they wanted to display in reverse order. So I’ve now painstakingly added them, one by one, for your viewing pleasure. APPRECIATE!!

This year’s trip took us to Tomintoul, in the Cairngorms of Scotland, rather than to our usual home-away-from-home of Fort Augustus.  It was nice to try a new spot and get a change of scenery.  The setting was absolutely spectacular.  We did a lot of geo-caching, which the boys call treasure hunting.  When you’re traveling with a six year old and a not-quite three year old, museums and castles give way to exploring the countryside.  It was a nice, peaceful time, although by the end we were all more than ready to get home.

I’d give you a play-by-play to accompany the pictures, about the sites we saw and the trips highs and lows, but I’ve battled with WordPress and this post for as long as I can stand it.

The boys enjoyed the trip over.  I did not.  I pretty much puked from one side of the North Sea to the other.  You're welcome.

The boys enjoyed the trip over. I did not. I pretty much puked from one side of the North Sea to the other. You're welcome.

The guys on the way to our first cache.

The guys on the way to our first cache.

Remains of Drumin Castle.

Remains of Drumin Castle.

Liam and Harry spent lots of time conquering this rock pile outside the cottage.

Liam and Harry spent lots of time conquering this rock pile outside the cottage.

Liam *mountain climbing*, getting in touch with his Highlander roots.

Liam *mountain climbing*, getting in touch with his Highlander roots.

Had a lovely lunch in this hotel in Grantown-on-Spey.

Had a lovely lunch in this hotel in Grantown-on-Spey.

Site of another cache, an old lum.

Site of another cache, an old lum.

The resemblance is uncanny.  As is there determination not to smile and look directly at the camera.

The resemblance is uncanny. As is there determination not to smile and look directly at the camera.

Harry loved these oven mitts!  He'd put them on and run around being a butterfly.

Harry loved these oven mitts! He'd put them on and run around being a butterfly.

Highlight for the boys: the steam train trip!

Highlight for the boys: the steam train trip!

Leaving Broomhill for Boat of Garten.

Leaving Broomhill for Boat of Garten.

Rebuilding of an authentic blackhouse at the folk museum.

Rebuilding of an authentic blackhouse at the folk museum.

On the playground at the folklore museum.

On the playground at the folklore museum.

Harry's plunder at our final cache.

Harry's plunder at our final cache.

Chives in the cottage garden.

Chives in the cottage garden.

The remains of Lecht House, on the half mile drive from the road to our cottage.

The remains of Lecht House, on the half mile drive from the road to our cottage.

By the end of the trip, this is how we all felt

By the end of the trip, this is how we all felt

Renaissance man

Yeah, that’s me.  Two topics of interest that illustrate my claim.

First, is how I shave.  Daily.  I have been using a Gillette Atra razor since I started shaving in, I don’t know, roughly in 1979.  It uses a pivoting twin blade cartridge that, in later years, was available with a lubricating strip across the top of the cartridge (for whatever good it did).   Here’s what the handle looks like:

Gilette Atra

The one on the left has spent its life in my mobility kit, and then in my travel bag.  The one on the right I’ve used for some 25 years.

I realize now that we fell victim to clever marketing in 1979 in buying this razor when the standard double edge safety razor that dad used was just as effective, if not more so, and the blades were very much cheaper.  This was Gillette’s genius.  As were the standard double edge safety razor blades, for that matter.  But, who’s got the time to use a straight razor to shave every day?  I have one, mind you, but it needs honing, and I don’t want to spend the money to equip myself to do that job.  So, back the the double edge safety razor…

There is a company in Solingen, Germany called Merkur that still manufactures new safety razors.  Beautiful things, they are.  I bought a Futur, in chrome finish.  (Update:  I just found out the Futur is made of Zamac, a German acronym for what we in North America call pot metal, or white metal.  Couldn’t even use brass…)

Merkur Futur

It takes a bit more technique than the cartridges require.  The result is worth the time to learn how.  See Badger and Blade for more than you ever thought possible to know about shaving.

For lather, I long ago ditched the canned stuff  (when I bought my straight razor) for lather made with a nice badger hair brush.  Here’s mine:

Col Conk Pure Badger

I suppose I should descale it from time to time…

I just got what is reported to be the holy grail of double edge razors, the Pils stainless steel razor, also from Germany.  $250.  Which sounds ridiculous, and it probably is.  But, if it is better than the Futur, I’ll sell the Futur.

Pils Rasur

P1000420

Pils Rasur

Pils Rasur

Truly a thing of beauty and precision.  The proof will be in the shaving, though.  That will be another entry.

Next item on the agenda, watches.

When I retired from the US Air Force, I bought an Omega X-33 chronograph to mark the occasion.  I’d wanted a Speedmaster for years, and this one seemed a better choice than the mechanical Speedmasters.  Here it is, just before I sold it:

Omega X-33

What’s to say about an Omega watch?  They are stupid expensive, and do nothing better than a decent watch a tenth their price.  I’d already had mine repaired once for $400 when the crown collapsed, a failing common to that model.  Just before we went on holiday last month, the original bracelet came apart, hence the cheapo leather band (which looks better, I think).  This one had an insanely loud alarm, which I will miss.  Aside from that, I am glad I replaced it.

With this, the Marathon GSAR:

Marathon GSAR

Marathon GSAR

Marathon GSAR on my wrist

Marathon stainless steel bracelet

No easy trick taking pictures of your own wrist, the geometry is off.

This watch is an automatic winding mechanical watch.  Waterproof down to 300 meters (at which depth I will be long dead).  It has tritium capsules for the hour hand, minute hand, and hour markers, which glow from radioactive decay of H3 tritium, which releases beta particles that excite the phosphor on the inside walls of the capsules.  Very cool indeed.

There are no batteries.  Just need to have it serviced every few years.  I expect one day that very massive steel bracelet will eventually fail, and I will probably replace it with a nylon or leather strap for a fraction of the cost.  I kept the rubber strap it came with, of course.

Old fashioned razors.  Mechanical watch.  They go well with my slide rules and mechanical typewriter.

A true renaissance man (he posts on the internet).