State of the Savage: January 2015

January 28, 2015 by Keith Savage
Faces of the Royal Mile

The new year has arrived and with it comes my first State of the Savage post of 2015. These posts always go outside of the norm here on Traveling Savage – they’re generally not about places in Scotland, per se – and give me a chance to update you on the state of my various projects. It’s also a good excuse for me to push back from the laptop, draw a deep breath, and take a high-level look at where things are going. The past couple of months have been busy with all projects ramping up. Things are moving ahead. And mostly, I feel good about the prospects of 2015.

Ok, enough jibber jabber.
What’s new?

Jedburgh Abbey, Masterpiece of the Augustinians

January 21, 2015 by Keith Savage
Jedburgh Abbey, Jedburgh, Scottish Borders, Scotland

There was no way I was leaving the Scottish Borders without visiting all four of the great Border Abbeys. If you’ve been following along, I’ve already written about Dryburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey (twice), and a little about Kelso Abbey. All that remains to complete my quartet is a visit to the magnificent Jedburgh Abbey, whose views rival even Melrose’s. As you might expect, Jedburgh Abbey is found in the center of Jedburgh, the largest town on the A68 between Edinburgh and Newcastle upon Tyne, and its ruins, perched on a small hill, dominate the sky. The town itself is a pretty, archetypal example of Borders towns and well worth a stroll around the Wishing Well and over to the Mary, Queen of Scots Visitors Centre. Read more...

On the Kelso Town Trail

January 14, 2015 by Keith Savage
Kelso Town Trail

The Scottish Borders is home to many pretty, pastoral towns with squares reminiscent of yesteryear, cobblestone streets, and stout buildings centuries old. Quaint shops, atmospheric pubs, and hearty restaurants intermingle with the cool smell of the River Tweed and the pleasant aromas of farm and field. The “heart” of the Borders is a special area, a triangle of land with the towns of Melrose, Kelso, and Jedburgh at the points, that exemplifies all that the Borders have to offer visitors, which is to say — A LOT.

To my mind, the heart of the Borders is southern Scotland’s equivalent of that picture-perfect stretch between Aberlour, Craigellachie, and Dufftown in Speyside. Read more...

Creating a Memory at Roulotte Retreat

January 7, 2015 by Keith Savage
Gitana, my roulotte at the Roulotte Retreat, Scottish Borders

There are many amazing places to stay in Scotland. Mind you, it doesn’t hurt to have titanic natural splendor capable of turning the viewer into a gibbering lunatic as the backdrop for these places, but there are accommodations that bewilder in their own right and would fetch rave reviews even if located in the center of an abattoir. The trick is in finding them, and, I have to say, finding them is one of my greatest pleasures while traveling around Scotland.

All of this preamble is to say that I’ve found another one, a really special one, in the heart of the Borders: The Roulotte Retreat. Read more...

Picture This: Wild Ponies Atop Traprain Law

December 24, 2014 by Keith Savage
Wild Ponies Atop Traprain Law

Traprain Law rises like an earthen whale from the pastoral East Lothian countryside, compelling fishermen to utter its ancient name of Dunpelder under their breath as they pass round the Bass Rock. A thin dirt trail winds up the side of the hill and through the centuries into the capital of ancient Gododdin. There is a haze and a stiff sea breeze in the air as I crest the final slope, but there is no force of nature that can disperse the sense of history peeling from the turf and sun-bleached stones.

The law does not give up its secrets lightly. Curie and Cree cut a hoard of Roman silver from the stone like mad surgeons seeking memories from the demented by the scalpel’s blade.