Monday, July 26, 2010

The Scottish Loft

The kids were at Grandma's for a week so the DH and I headed back to Niagara Falls, Canada again for a long weekend. As I stated in my prior post, if you haven't been there--go!

We traveled to Niagara-on-the-Lake (short driving distance from Niagara Falls) to the quaint little shops on Queen Street. They never disappoint. I found a Christmas shop with a TON of unique ornaments and my credit card was smokin'! Pulling myself out of that shop--well, the DH was pulling me out, I found a shop that was 100% Ireland. We shopped around and it was very nice. I told the DH, "It's too bad they don't have a shop that's 100% Scotland."

Of course the DH replies, "Thankfully, no. I'd never be able to get you out."

As we meander down the street, I see the Rampart Lion flag blowing in the wind and a sign that reads The Scottish Loft.  Could it be true? Could it be a store devoted to all-things Scotland? The DH moans and rolls his eyes. I run in the front door and turn to the DH. "You can wait here!"

He sighs. "I don't think so! You'll be buying everything in the store."

I turn and smile. "Just hold the basket then."

I was like a giddy school girl. They had kilts, sporrans, flashes, kilt hose, sgian dubh, cuff links, ghillie brogues, ghillie shirts, kilt pins, tartans, tartan caps, ties, clan crest badges, clocks, magnets, coasters, wall plaques, wall shields, mugs, glasses, calendars, books on Scotland and clan heritage, key chains, tableware, herbs, belt buckles, flags, hats, music... I had died and gone to Scotland. *happy sigh*

If you travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake, be sure to stop in at The Scottish Loft or click on the link I provided to check out their website. Mòran taing to The Scottish Loft for a nice visit and rest assured, this lover of Scotland will be back!

As we leave the store, the DH shakes his head and whispers, "You're not even Scottish."

To which I lean in and whisper back, "You don't have to be Scottish to have a love for everything Scotland."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hopetoun House

Hopetoun House is surrounded by a large park on the South bank of the Firth of Forth, just a few miles out of Edinburgh. It was originally built by Sir William Bruce, the architect of Holyrood Palace, for the 1st Earl of Hopetoun, Charles Hope. The estate had been acquired in 1678 by his father, John Hope, even though John was was never able to live on the property. He died in a shipwreck accompanying the Duke of York, the future James VII of Scotland (James II of England).

Work on the house began in 1699 with the construction of the central body that was extended in 1712 by William Adam. Following his death in 1748, his three sons, John, Robert and James, were responsible for the interior decorating between 1752 and 1767. Inside the house, the staircases and the wooden paneling with inlaid flowers and fruits are by Bruce, while the salons with their stuccoed and gilded ceilings display touches of Adam.

On August 29, 1822, Sir John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun, welcomed George IV to his home during his visit to Scotland, the first sovereign to set foot in the country after Charles II.

The Hope family created a charitable trust in 1974 to ensure the preservation of Hopetoun House, opening the main rooms to the public and reserving a wing of the house for themselves.

Hey, there is no harm in dreaming!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Canada eh?

Recently, we took a family trip to Niagara Falls, Canada. I had not been there since I was a little girl. I have to admit, I was not too sure about this family vacation so I only booked it for three nights. When I was there some time ago, there was nothing but the falls. Needless to say, it was a little boring. I was immediately impressed with how much it has grown since then.

The gardens and landscaping were beautiful.

One of the first tourist attractions we did was Maid of the Mist. This was a completely up front and personal view of the falls. We really enjoyed it.

After getting soaked on a bright, sunny day, we scampered off to Clifton Hill. The Sky Wheel offered spectacular views of Niagara Falls. Every night at 10p.m. fireworks dazzled the sky. The place to be was on the Sky Wheel during that time. It was so romantic. In fact, a man proposed to his girlfriend the same night we were there. I think he was a keeper!

Marineland offered the kids an experience similar to Sea World.

If you're not afraid of heights, the Aero Car is for you. Riding several hundred feet about the whirlpool, breathtaking views greeted us. The Car glides over to the New York side where New Yorker's stand on the top of a cliff, looking down the cliff at you. It was quite amusing when a guy on the Car held up his hands and yelled, "Help me! I want to come back to America!"

A short drive away was Niagara on the Lake. The DH took us on a horse-drawn carriage ride through the small town that has plenty of scenic gardens to enjoy. Not to mention, quaint little shops and a ton of wineries. We definitely did not spend enough time here.

At the end of the vacation, both of my kids said in unison, "This was the best vacation ever!"

That could be because we also stayed at an indoor waterpark ;)

Have you done anything fun this summer?