Monday, January 21, 2008

Crathes Castle

Imagine Toby walking up to a lady saying, "Excuse me, ma’am, could you tell us how to get to the beach?" Imagine his slow West Texas drawl. Then imagine the lady looking totally stumped. So, I repeated, "The beach." Oh yeah, she knew were that was. In some unfamiliar accent she told us to turn left and then back right. We made it to the beach. You think you are in a country where English is spoken, but sometimes that English is very different. Words and phrases are used differently, and Aberdeen is a growing, modern city with people from everywhere coming to live and work here.

Sunday’s adventure was a trip to Crathes Castle. When asking the hotel clerk about the Aberdeen bus schedule, she corrected our pronunciation of Crathes. We were pronouncing it with one syllable and a long "A" – kind of like "craves". Silly us! It has two syllables with the "A" more like the vowel sound in "got". I think my sister may be pronouncing her last name wrong. That was not the end of our pronunciation problems.

We caught the bus toward Banchory and were dropped off near the Crathes Castle gate and a nearby mill house. We had a wonderful walk through the woods past this wonderful pond. The grounds of the castle along with the garden were almost more impressive than the castle. At the tea room/gift shop, we paid our admission for a guided tour through the castle. The National Trust for Scotland runs many of the castles, and the ladies working the tours seemed very nice and helpful. Our tour consisted of us along with four people from Canada. Our tour guide was not one of the helpful ladies, but an older man who had been called in at the last minute and seemed a bit out of sorts (picture Tom Hanks as a 70 year old Scotsman). The first thing he said was that there would be no picture taking. Then he looked me right in the eye and with a very strong Scottish brogue said, "And if the detector goes off, I will immediately escort you off the premises." Although everyone in our group had a camera, mine was hanging around my neck. I was a bit taken back. I almost snapped a picture of him right then. The little lady with the NST giggled and reminded him that that never happens, but he gave her the what-for too. I just smiled and looked innocent. I’m sure Toby was relieved that he did not have to grab me by the collar and hold me down. He was probably more relived that I did not take any photos, but it was tough for me. Maybe I’m Scottish after all.

The old Scotsman got better as we went – maybe he got over his being "called in on a Sunday". He started off the tour telling us about the Laird who owned the castle and the property. He told us about the "Bonnets" and how anyone with names like Bernard (he named other names) was probably related to the clan Bonnet. I was totally confused. I had never heard of the Bonnets. It was not long before I realized he was saying "Burnett". Oh yeah, the Burnett Clan! Now it made sense. Later on, he began talking about the "baronets" of Nova Scotia and the "Burnetts" but I could barely distinguish between the two words. I wanted to laugh, but he was such a serious man. By the end of the 45-minute tour, which had gone over the time limit, he was much more relaxed and even joking with me. I just wish I could have understood the jokes.
The information on the Burnetts was very interesting. They have lots of ties to the US. The Burnetts may not live in the castle, but they still live on the property. The Burnetts supported Robert the Bruce and have a horn given to them by The Bruce which is part of their coat of arms. The family room had photos from past lairds to modern day lairds. One Burnett fought and died in WWII in North Africa leaving behind four sons and a movie-star beautiful wife. Google Clan Burnett or Crathes Castle for more info.
The garden and grounds around the castle were just gorgeous even in the dead of winter. From photos and postcards, it would be a beautiful place to visit in the spring or summer. I will let the photos tell the story. We were allowed two photos from the castle - both out small windows at the top of the castle overlooking the garden. Here they are. Spending the day in the country was great especially after walking all over Aberdeen on Saturday.


Mrs. Bear said...

Oh my GOSH how beautiful. Yes that castle and grounds would be beautiful in the spring. I am very proud of you for not snapping a picture of the tour guide. You did good to not snap!!! Although I would like to see a pic of the guy!!! Love the pictures!!! This is a fun trip for me!!!

inpassing said...

I was just wondering something since this castle seemed to be architecturally (sp?) different from the others that you've photographed. So does the different style of castle mean anything? Does the castle style reflect wealth, position in society, etc...or did they just hire a contractor and say "I'd like a Ranch Style castle, only two towers for damsels in distress, and plenty of fancy landscape...we're trying to keep up with the Burnett Family." :)

Buck said...

Once again: brilliant photos, Lou. I'm gonna run out of adjectives before you get home, ya know. I particularly like the pond photo. It must have been dead calm yesterday; the reflections in the pond are perfectly clear. The two "out the window" shots are good, too. Most impressive.

You really should have taken a picture of your guide...after the tour, of course! ;-)

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

I'd've bought you a six of Mackeson to have seen the look on his face in the pic you took of him RIGHT THEN! Of course, then Toby would've had to have knock him out for grabbing your camera and then you all woulda gotten heaved from the property, and we wouldn'tve gotten to see all the pretty pictures...but then the one priceless pic may have been worth it.

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

ha! just thought, its gonna be funny to hear how a west Texas drawl gets punished by a Gaelic brogue or vice versa. Anyway, it'll be interesting to hear the tweaks you've picked up in your everyday speech.

Dawn said...

I'm with Buck on the running out of adjectives, so I'm just gonna say WOW!