Day 10 - Tea at Balmoral - the long road home!

It's Friday, July 28 -- the ferry arrives in Aberdeen and after an early breakfast -- we were able to disembark at 7:00 am.

Originally, our flight was going to leave Aberdeen at 11:00 am to London -- plenty of time! But this flight was cancelled, so the only other morning flight was 9:05 -- I thought this might be too tight and had opted for the late afternoon flight - 5:30.

What's a couple of wild and crazy Canucks to do with a day in Aberdeen you say? Well, as Canadians we're part of the realm so to speak, so we went to have tea with the Queen at Balmoral.

We hired a cab for the day, and off we went. It was a pleasant journey - we had time to spare because Balmoral doesn't open until 10:00 -- we weren't expected, so we didn't want to be early!

At one point we stopped for photos......

I love highland cows. They are so gentle. Yet can look so ferocious!

We also stopped in Ballater - the village closest to Balmoral. Here, shop keepers proudly present their Royal Warrants -- that means that they provide service to the Queen. We popped into a lovely dress shop there -- and the woman behind the counter confirmed that Camilla shopped there quite regularly! Imagine!

On the way to the Castle, we had to stop and see Craithie Kirk. This is where you see the Royal Family going to church on Christmas morning on tellie!
They have a stand for selling items to raise money for the church -- and we were told that anyone could come to church there - visitors were welcome. Apparently a group of tourists came in one Sunday, were disappointed that they couldn't see the Royal family (they sit off to the side near the front so can only be seen by the first half of the pews in the church) -- so anyway, they got up and left in the middle of the service! Imagine! There are the most beautiful stained-glass windows in this small church.

Balmoral Castle -- the Scottish home of the Royal family.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were shopping around for a summer home. They were staying in a castle on the West coast -- turns out it is the house that they use in the British series "Monarch of the Glen". Anyway, the weather was so miserable, they couldn't wait to leave -- and a friend told them that Balmoral was available as the owner had died (he choked on a fish bone). So, they rented it for a while, fell in love with it and bought the castle as a retreat. It seems that Prince Albert made a lot of changes and upgrades, and he and Queen Victoria were very happy here. When he died, this is where Queen Victoria came and stayed in her grief. One of the Gillies, "Mr. Smith" encouraged her to come out of mourning -- it was a scandal at the time -- and she again was unlucky in love when he died at a relatively early age from pneumonia.

Anyway, the current Royals love it -- and they spent the month of August here. The gardens are designed to be at their best in August -- it was glorious!

A couple of large greenhouses full of flowers in bloom!

An immaculately kept vegetable garden (pride of Prince Charles it seems). Terry dared to go into it and pick a pea pod'

Of course it has a traditional English Rose garden.

The last stop on the tour (you guide yourself with hand held recorders) -- is the Ballroom of the castle -- full of paintings and exhibits of outfits worn to events at Balmoral.

I really enjoyed this -- it was the icing on the cake of our trip!

I won't bore you with the tedious details of our return -- suffice it to say we caught our plane in Aberdeen, had a few hours before our London-Toronto flight (which we spent in the Star Alliance lounge) and then there was the long flight home to Toronto -- arriving at 5 minutes to midnight! Tired and grumpy, we were picked up and taken home to our beds -- ahhhh, bliss!!

End of the Shetland Escape -- next.....the difference between the two Shetland yarn companies!


  1. Anne- Just think- history was changed because of a fish bone! I've seen documentaries where the Queen rides her horses, in her Balmoral Tartan and headscarf!
    What a great tour it's been.

  2. Oh, I'm so sad your trip had to end! I've enjoyed your posts SO much and cannot wait to go myself someday (maybe 2008, if they go again then). Thank you for taking the time to share with us all!

  3. It's been a wonderful escape with you! Thanks! And, looking forward to the next (promised) post!

  4. I loved every minute of your tour...but Wait, did you have tea with the Queen? do tell.


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