May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
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MIPTC's Travel Series: The Inverness Edition, Part III

It seems almost every Scot learns their national history, and our Inverness driver and guide "George" is no exception.  Having just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary, he's certainly deserving of the mantle of wisdom he so willingly and ever-so-properly dispenses, with his grey, double-breasted suit, tie and driving gloves (he casually let slip that he was a five-time rally champion as he "pushed on" while driving the Highland roads). 


Guide George Thomson (no "P" in his Scot name, he's quick to tell you) of JA Johnstone Chauffeur Drive deftly recommends a visit to fairy-tale Dunrobin Castle and its sport-of-kings falconry demonstration.  A turreted, monstrously big castle seated on the edge of the North Sea about a hour outside of Inverness, it is still occupied by the Countess of Sutherland, one of a long-lined generation of Sutherlands who first occupied the castle in 1194. 


Our day trip with "Whatever-you-need-just-tell-George" also included Inverness Castle in the downtown central area.  The high-up-on-a-small-hill Castle now serves as the law court for the area.  George's connections got us escorted in to view a trial presided over by a white-wigged, black-robed Lord who looked remarkably like MIPTC's namesake judge pictured above. 


As if we hadn't seen enough castles, we considered ourselves lucky to be invited by a dear friend to the members-only Skibo Castle of Andrew Carnegie fame.  Mr. Carnegie originally purchased some 87,000 acres along with a large, manor-style castle that comes with a pool building, spa, full conservatory-greenhouse, walled garden, several small lochs designed for salmon fishing, a thrilling 18-hole golf course and miles and miles of horse trails and pastures. 


As we arrived at the unobtrusive, almost unnamed gate and drove down the long, tree-lined drive flanked by two small lochs, Skibo castle appeared in the distance as it apparently had sat for a century or two or so, supposedly first occupied as a Norse garrison when the Vikings were the scourge of all things South and West.  Later occupied by a Bishop, Carnegie bought it in the mid- to late-1800's after his success in the Americas.  He wanted a family home in his beloved Scottish birthplace to return to from the Americas, but it is much more than that now:  a swank, private club with all the eccentricities of Carnegie himself.


Stay tuned for more on Inverness.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, April 09, 2006 at 12:00 Comments (0)


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