108 - Day 4 - Chillingham (and other things)

Ah Halloween... when grown women can eat as much as they like, without shame...

This is Rosslyn Chapel. Most people know it from The DaVinci Code. Right now it's got all this scaffolding around it, which supports a cover over the roof... the purpose of which is to allow the roof to dry out so they can eventually make repairs. It's ugly, but it's necessary if the chapel is to survive.

Somehow, it doesn't completely destory the beauty of the place... because this is one beautiful place.

Close up of a statue

This was one of Craig's "wee surprises." It's not the one Harry and Ron flew over, but it is a viaduct just the same, and the scenery was amazing.

You can see my house from here... I wish... This is Scott's view, a place where Sir Walter Scott used to come and sit and write. The story goes that his funeral procession passed this way after he died, and the horse, used to coming here on a regular basis, automatically stopped here to let Scott have one last look at the place.

Scott's View straight ahead

This is a statue of William Wallace. It's huge. And intimidating. And you can see up his kilt. If I were standing at the bottom of the statue, I'd be a little under 1/2" tall. But I didn't like the look on my face in the photo, so I'm going to deprive you of that perspective, and you'll just have to trust me.

This is Melrose Abbey, another gorgeous ruin. And it's massive... The sun bathed everything in gold, and illuminated the trees and it was a beautiful place to sit and eat my macaroni pie.
Yes. Macaroni pie.
If you click on the picture to make it bigger, that window with the trees through it is AMAZING.

Here... let me zoom in on that for you... it's like stained glass

Jesus was looking down at me (from the ceiling). He checks up on me sometimes, just to see what kind of mischief I'm up to.

Melrose had a staircase that you could climb, it was one of those steep stone staircases that make me feel woozy, but that didn't stop me. Nor did the fact that I was wearing a long dress that I could trip on. Or heels. I'm unstoppable! Rawr!

This is why it was worth it to ignore my wooziness.

And this is why I got woozy...

A marker over the heart of Robert the Bruce. Poor man is in bits and pieces all over Scotland. His body is buried in one place, his finger bone is at St. Conan's Kirk, and his heart is here, at Melrose Abbey.

This is a pirate's grave.
I'm lying. It's not.
The skull and crossbones (right above the grass) actually represent mortality, not piracy, and this type of grave is from the 15th century. Doesn't look a day over 18th century does it?

I'm convinced that this is where Japanese horror movies got the idea for all those contorted bodies that crawl toward people and freak them out... Or maybe it's a dog.

I like the contrast of the grey of stone, the green of the moss, and the yellow of the leaves. It was purdy.

Craig was in a hurry to get us to Chillingham, so he shifted into warp speed.

Halloween and fireworks! My oh my!

We ended up waiting in a line of cars for 40 minutes, just to get to the castle gate. In the meantime, I took pictures. Jamie's eyes looked creepy, but more creepy is that green guy behind her.

I love this picture. Love it.

These are the woods surrounding Chillingham. Your voice should shake when you say that: Chill-ing-ha-ha-ham...

Oh. My. God. There are people in the glass... Yipes!

This is part of our suite (we were in the Tower Room). There was a kitchenette, a sitting room (with a sofa bed), a bathroom, and this room with two twin beds.

There were two little journals where people wrote their experiences, or lack thereof. Some of them were hilarious, because the explanations were pretty obvious... Not to be outdone, I contributed a story of my own: Was taking a picture through the window when I noticed a strange red glow followed by a flash of brilliant white light. When I reviewed the photo I saw a figure reflected in the glass... creepy -- it appeared to be a middle-aged woman in a dress similar to my own with a white light emanating from her chest. Is she a ghost or an angel? There was no one in the room but me... Pen wouldn't write in the journal, think it must be haunted because this one writes just fine. Strange growling sounds coming from living room where Brian and Laura slept... I fear for my life.
This picture, however, was a little strange. Apparently, this lamp shade always tilts. We did straighten it up and it did tilt again, but the kind of shade that it is... it's not anything paranormal... it just kinda balances on the bulb in a precarious way and a heavy footfall is enough to make it fall over. No... the weird thing is that shadow on the wall. Because if you enlarge the picture, it also goes across the doorframe. I thought maybe the flash reflected off of something on the wall behind me and cast that shadow, but there was nothing shaped like that. So I don't know what it is. I'm sure there is a logical explanation. But it's not the shape of the brick.

They're very welcoming at the castle.
This is a roasting cage. As if hanging there with your legs in those iron rings wasn't bad enough, they eventually lit a fire, and the metal would conduct the heat up your body and you roasted to death.
For the record, I am not a fan of torture... the fact that people actually came up with these ideas really creeps me out, and the fact that they put them into action turns my stomach. I can't believe people can be so cruel. This was just one of many instruments in the room. There was the rack, the chopping block (which was kind), the wringer, a barrel with spikes that they put people in and rolled down a hill and into the lake, a wheel that dunked people underneath the water in the moat, and of course.... the iron maiden (sans Bruce Dickinson).

After we sat in the line of cars, we told one of the parking attendants that we were staying in the castle and wanted to know where to go to get our room key. He said we should find a parking spot and get to the Estate Office, but we'd most likely have to wait in a long (no... more like looooooooooong) line to get there.
Smurf that. We paid too smurfin' much money to stay at the Castle... I ain't waitin' in no stinkin' line buddy.
So I accos... I mean, approached... another attendant and he was much more helpful. He led us into a side entrance to our room, and then he went to the Estate Office and got the key for us. Very nice of him. So we got to sit in our room for a bit, and we decided to skip the bonfire and the fireworks we'd been so excited about, because the mob outside was just ri-smurfin-diculous.
We had a gourmet meal of hot dogs, cheese rolls, and cupcakes, then we toured the torture chamber while we waited for the ghost tour to start.
Stake, anyone?

I ran into a little bit of trouble... luckily my cuz had my back

The moon is full, and all is quiet, vampires and werewolves rule the ni-yet... that's the beginning of the full moon poem my friend Kirk used to leave on my voicemail. Anything after that was always paraphrased, but full moons always remind me of Kirk...

Chinese dog in the banquet hall. We had plenty of time here. The guide got a little verbose.

Devil ram...! Run!

Horns of the great elk. Those suckers were huge! (all the hunters in the crowd are now drooling) Great elk are extinct now... apparently they weren't all that bright. Big antlers, tiny brain. A lot of them ended up trapping themselves in the forest because their horns got stuck in the trees and they died of starvation... or maybe something attacked them. I think. By this point I was a little sleepy, so my attention span was far shorter than the span of those antlers, and I may have my facts wrong.
You can just make out the little pigmy deer on the mantle. You know... for contrast.

Am I the only one who sees the face on this fireplace mantle?!?!?

After the tour we returned to our room and crawled into bed. There were some women outside our room, talking and giggling... and it annoyed me, because I was tired, and sound carries in the cold. I wanted to mess with their heads a little... and this is soooo something that my cousin Beth would do... I grabbed two Coke bottles, I crawled to the window, I put the bottles behind my head, and I slowly rose up in front of the window, then Jamie took a picture of me. I'm sure it was a horrifying sight to behold. Or maybe it just looked like a silly girl with soda bottles on her head. Oh well... I couldn't find any antlers on such short notice, and the great elk was too far away.
All silliness aside, the castle was cool and we enjoyed our stay. As overwhelmed as they were, they did go out of their way to accomodate us. Apparently they weren't expecting such a big turnout either. Only thing that was really scary... well... there were a couple of things...
(1) No phone in the room. Not normally scary -- in fact, if you watch a lot of horror movies, you know that anyone answering a phone is just asking for trouble, so in some cases it's better not to have one... or if you're like me, and you hate phones, their absence is actually cause for rejoicing -- but when you're locked in a room, and you can't get out... and there's no reception on your cell phone... a phone would be nice. Especially after reading all the literature on fire safety. I mean, there was a ridiculous amount of information on fire safety... in a horror movie it would have foreshadowed a horrible tragedy. Anyway, somehow the lock got stuck and it took a lot of manuevering on Brian's part to get it open... in the meantime things got a little tense.
(2) We didn't know that you were supposed to bring a flashlight (torch) on the ghost tour. The tour guide had an LED lantern, and a couple of others on the tour had them, but if you weren't in their vicinity... it was dark. Dark isn't bad... unless you're stumbling through the woods... in heels. Or climbing the stairs. In the dark. I'm surprised that no one fell and broke anything.
Oh... (3) The idiocy of girl in the group who kept asking questions. The guide told us that if the owner of the castle didn't like something you did, or if you were captured during a battle, you ended up hanging from one of the trees that towered over us... by your wrists or your ankles, or maybe your waist. Then he mentioned that every day, a group of monks walked down this same path and sometimes they gave water to the people on the trees, but the last thing you want if you're hanging on that tree is water, because water keeps you alive and prolongs your agony. So idiot-girl (there always has to be one), in her crisp Tiny Tim God-bless-us-every-one voice, asks, "...but if they were Chris-tyen, why did they hang them in the first place?" The monks didn't do it... "...but if they were Chris-tyen, why didn't they cut them down?" Because they would have ended up hanging on the tree next to them. "...but if they were Chris-tyen... how could they stand by and let that happen? Why didn't they feed them?" ARRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!! Shut up you stupid moron!!!! *breathe* I guess whoever she was with must have taken her aside and let her know how annoying she was... and how close she was to hanging from one of those trees herself... because she didn't make a peep for the rest of the tour.
And oh yeah... apparently I was possessed by a spirit while I slept. Both Laura and Brian claim that I got up in the middle of the night, opened the door, peeked out at them, giggled, and shut the door. I don't recall it (and I'm not a sleepwalker) and Jamie was sleeping so lightly that she says if I had, she would have remembered it. So maybe we did encounter a ghost after all...
Today I ran across the coolest name... Wendell Mendell. The way I see it, this guy needs to have a sign made. Follow me here, the "endell" part stays stationary. But then you put an M... or a W... on front of that... that rotates.
That would be awesome.
And I can't get this stupid phrase out of my head: I plan to be more spontaneous someday.


  1. Your pictures are so good! Seriously, it feels like I'm taking the trip with you!!

    It looks like you had lots of fun :)


  2. Again...wow. I cannot say this word enough!

    I have left you a blog award on my blog, go and pick it up and thank you for your awesomeness!