Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh Scotland

Greyfriars Kirkyard


It’s Halloween, so of course my travel tale had to come from a graveyard!

Originally the question was… which one?

I visited quite a few graveyards while in Scotland. I’ve already shared about visiting the Necropolis in Glasgow. As luck would have it, while I was hunting some information on Flodden Wall for last week’s post, I stumbled upon some information that made me choose one.


Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Greyfriars Kirkyard is located on Candlemaker Row in Edinburgh. This is at the southern edge of Old Town. The Kirkyard is open 24 hours a day.

Greyfriars Bobby.

After we visited the National Museum of Scotland, my aunt decided to head back to the room where we would meet up for dinner.  My mother and I wanted to walk over and take some photographs of the statue of Bobby.

Have you heard the tale of Greyfriars Bobby?

He was Skye Terrier named Bobby. His owner, John Gray, was a night watchman with the Edinburgh Police Force and they walked the cobbled streets of Edinburgh together. Unfortunately, John Gray died of tuberculosis in 1858. John Gray was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard where, as the tale goes, Bobby watched over his grave, until his own death 14 years later.

This statue was erected opposite the kirkyard, in honor of his faithfulness, in November of 1873.



I knew that the Greyfriars Kirkyard was pretty well known so I decided that I would take brief stroll around it while my mother did a little shopping at some nearby stores.

The Kirk of the Greyfriars  was dedicated in 1620 on the site of the Franciscan Friary (1447-1560). The Kirkyard was established by Mary Queen of Scots in 1562.

I did not take a close-up photo of Bobby’s grave, but you can see the pink granite stone in front of the couple.

Bloody Mackenzie.

Now Bobby’s tale is one of love and faithfulness.

Not so spooky of a Halloween tale.

True, but that was not the information I stumbled upon.

I stumbled upon information about this mausoleum and realized that I had a photo of said mausoleum.

The mausoleum was designed by the architect, James Smith. The domed Italianate monument was modeled on the Tempietto di San Pietro.

This grave is home to Sir George Mackenzie, who was King Charles II’s Advocate. He earned the nickname “Bloody Mackenzie” for his persecution of the Scottish Presbyterian Covenanters. Many covenanters were imprisoned in Greyfriars Kirkyard, where Mackenzie delighted in their torture. He is said to be responsible for 18,000 of his own countryman’s deaths.


In 1998, a homeless man broke into the mausoleum and disturbed the remains…

…unleashing the Mackenzie poltergeist.

Since then, there have been documents of bruising and scratches by people and exorcisms have (unsuccessfully) been carried out twice at the location.

I had no idea about the poltergeist documentation when I visited the graveyard. In fact, I took a close-up of the inscription so I could look to see who had such an ornate resting place.

I’m not disappointed that I didn’t know his tale while visiting the kirkyard!



Lest we have nightmares from that information (I’m already feeling creeped out just writing about it…probably because I started watching Stranger Things last night), I’ll take you through a little more of my walk in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

You may recognize that spire in the distance from my Doors of Edinburgh post. It belongs to The Hub which, amongst other things, houses performance space for the Edinburgh International Festival.

George Heriot’s School.

As you pass through the archway of Flodden Wall, into that section of Greyfriars Kirkyard, you will see a magnificent building looming behind.

That is George Heriot’s School. Upon his death, George Heriot left about 25,000 Pound Scots (equivalent to several tens of millions) to found a “hospital” (which was the name for a charitable school) for poor, fatherless children.

In the 1880’s it began to charge fees. Also of note, according to our bus tour, it is considered to be an elite private school. However, the foundation still does serve children of widows and widowers with full fee remission based on financial need.

Ominous Crow?

Crow? Graveyard? Yes, I must have photos of that.

I thought I’d share this one to add a little humor since the perspective makes it appear that he is pecking the building.


George Heriot’s School is also thought to be the inspiration for Hogwarts School in Harry Potter.

Greyfriars Kirkyard is also home to Thomas Riddle, believed to be where the name came from in Harry Potter. 

Am I Alone?

Walking around Greyfriars Kirkyard, it’s hard to not feel an eerie sense of being surrounded by the unseen.

By the end of my stroll, while the sun was sinking a little lower, I began to feel uneasy. Perhaps this place was as haunted as they say. My heart began to beat a little faster and I picked up my pace, eager to find my way to the exit.

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away. -Terry Pratchett

Let your light shine!



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Friday Faves – Edition 37


It’s so nice to see you again.

Fall has officially settled upon the Blue Ridge portion of Virginia.

I’m hoping that I’ll have some moments to get out and capture some photos this weekend.

If you read Monday’s post, where I announced my November Challenge, then you know that Miss Sunshine woke up sick on her birthday. No soccer, no party..just pain and sleep. Saturday meant everything I had was dedicated to trying to keep her hydrated and soothed. Even after our return from the clinic, there was a period of time where I was debating a trip to the emergency room because the breathing was becoming more labored. I have no nursing skills, but I was monitoring the color of her nails and lips. I am not new to health concerns of children. I am well-weathered in this department. I have had my share of experiences with the 17, 16, and 14 year-old. It was a nasty viral infection and left her with laryngitis for the few days.

Monday, it rained all day. It was bringing in the cold. Miss Sunshine felt well enough to head to school on Tuesday.

And I went and got my hair done!

I always wait way to long between appointments. Mainly due to the fact that I’m still not good at my putting myself as a priority.

Are there certain ways that you make yourself a priority? Massage? Pedicure? Soaking in the tub? Spending hours reading a book? Something else?

When I was looking for a book on meditation, I saw this book, 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I wasn’t going to check it out because I had just finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had been in a pattern of reading non-fiction and had decided it was time for some fiction. In fact, I realized that I don’t think that I’d ever read Hemingway and that to be a cultured person, I should. He is the hubby’s favorite author so he recommended that I read The Sun Also Rises. 

But synchronicity being what it is, I had read something recently about 10% Happier, so I decided to check it out. I thought it was really good. In fact, I had trouble putting it down. Interestingly, while reading 10% Happier, Light Watkins, who is leading the meditation challenge that I am doing through Wanderlust, mentioned a quote by Dan Harris (I think it was on day 16 of the 21 day challenge).

Since I am new to meditation I am learning and still have lots to learn. One type of meditation that Dan Harris mentioned, which I had not heard of, was Metta Meditation. After a particularly hard parenting morning (teenagers…need I say more), I decided to try it. I found one on YouTube that I really liked. I have a hard time with “actual” visualization, but found this specific type and that specific day, I was able to see the person in each part, clearly in my mind.

Not to worry, I did finish and am back to reading Hemingway. I had a hard time with the story in the beginning because he introduced so many characters at the beginning that I was struggling to keep track of who was who. I’ve got it now! Plus it’s a short read. Another book that I heard everyone should read was is Middlemarch by George Eliot. I put it on hold at the library some time back and of course it came in while I have all these books going…and it is by no means, short. Then, my library has a display of “stranger reads” for Halloween. How could I really walk passed a book titled The Queen of Bedlam? So I checked out that rather large book by Robert McCammon.

I think I may have a problem.

Another problem that I have is that I LOVE shoes.

I think that my favorite shoe style of all may be boots. I don’t wear boots in warm weather.  I’m not even sure that I ever wore boots when I lived in Florida. I prefer sandals when the sun is beating down. After the move to Virginia, I started wearing boots during the colder weather and I always keep my eye out to add to my collection. Now it’s fall, glorious fall, and I can pull out my boots.

I think autumn is my favorite season.

Crisp air, bright colors, another page turning.

What is your favorite season?

YouTube once again did well with recommending a new band to me. I had a hard time choosing which of their songs to share. The band is Hollow Coves and they are out of Brisbane, Australia. In the end, I’ve chosen “The Woods” for many reasons. One of those reasons is because I read that the song is about escapism…about how we often get caught up in distractions and forget to enjoy the important things.  So much of my public journey has been about learning to be mindful and not so distracted. Even my blog name was created from a concept of stopping to recognize the beauty around even when everything seems as though it is in chaos.

I hope that you all have had a wonderful week and that you have a beautiful light-filled weekend.


Let your light shine!


Doors of Paris - Part Deux

Doors of Paris – Part Deux

Doors of Paris.

Part Deux.

As promised in last week’s Doors of Paris post, I’m back with another set of doors from our strolls around Paris this past spring.

66 Boulevard Saint-Germain.

I was able to find the location of this door because it’s located beside Jeff de Bruges. Now I’m wondering why I didn’t walk over there and get some chocolate!

64 Boulevard Saint-Germain.

I love a green door set in some stonework.

1 Place Franz Liszt.

After doing some shopping on rue d’Hauteville (where I purchased my bangle bracelet), we walked toward Sacré Cœur and passed this door along the way. The tiny sign above says “GAZ á tous les étages” which means “gas on all floors”.

73 Quai de Tournelle.

This was on our walk from Notre Dame to Boulevard Saint-Germain. I loved how the doors were set beind the archway. That notch in the arch does disturb my perfectionist tendencies though. The sign is letting you know that cars exit from inside there. The awning to the right is for Avanti la Musica, a music box shop.

4 rue Frédéric Sauton.

What can I say? I love a character-filled blue door that I stumbled upon down a rue in Paris.

7 rue des Grands Degrés.

I love this door because you could tell that it opened into a courtyard. It seemed to portray a relaxing, Parisian ambience.

It was so much fun exploring the city and I know that I didn’t even begin to find all the treasures that it held.

One thing I found so interesting about this set of doors is that many of them have the doorknob located in the middle of the door.

Do you have a favorite amongst these hidden treasures?

What is your favorite part of Paris to explore?

For more amazing doors, be sure to hop over to see Norm, the host of Thursday Doors.

Angelina Jolie quote "If you don't get out of the box you've been raised in, you won't understand how much bigger the world is."

Let your light shine!





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A Corner of Paris

A Corner Of Paris


The City of Love.

La Ville-Lumiére. The City of Lights.

Two beautiful nicknames for a beautiful city.


A Corner of Paris.

Last week when I shared some doors from Paris in this post, I realized that I had shared very little about the Paris portion of our trip this past Spring.

The best place to begin is always the beginning. When we decided that we would like to travel to Europe over Spring Break, Paris was one of my top choices. Even though I was somewhat intimidated by the city, it seems like everyone who has chance should visit Paris. Given that our travels to Amsterdam and Paris were confined by the dates of the teenagers Spring Break, our time in each city would be limited.  Just enough to have a taste of Europe.  This was the first time I, or the children, had ever ventured out of the United States.

Walkable Location.

In order to create the least amount of anxiety (for me..the anxiety-prone person), we chose hotels that would make each city walkable. Finding rooms for a family of five is not an easy feat. When they were tiny, we could squeeze them all in to one bed. Now that Big Mr. is 6’6″ and Mr. D is over 6′ and Miss Sunshine is in the 70th percentile and not done growing….we need more beds.

In Paris, that was found in this hotel.

Hotel Opéra Richepanse.

Located at 14 rue de Chevalier de Saint George, this boutique hotel consists of 39 rooms and suites.

We took the train from Amsterdam to Paris. We had considered taking the Metro to the hotel since it is located 200 meters from the Madeline Metro Station (which serves lines 8,12,14) and 400 meters from the Concorde Metro Stations (which serves lines 1,8,12). In the end we opted to take a taxi since all five of us had luggage. There are signs when you exit the train reminding you to use the “official” taxi line. I would advise that you take heed of that message.  We did have a gentleman ask if we needed a taxi and try to wave us toward his driver. We got in the “official” line. I imagine that driving in Paris is not for the faint of heart. I could not tell if there are “rules” of the road with people squeezing here and there, but our driver was very nice and got us there safely.


The hotel is located in the first arrondissement and has been renovated. It was quite beautiful inside. This was the view as you walked through the front doors. Through that door and down the stairs is where we would eat a breakfast buffett each morning. To your left was a gathering area and to the right the concierge/check-in desk.

Modern Touches.

Perhaps you have frequented a very modern hotel.

I had not.

While the concierge did explain we’d need to put the key into the box, we did not understand what she meant. The lights, etc. do not work in the room without placing the key into the slot. We had to send Big Mr. down to figure out how to turn on the lights. They graciously sent a worker up to show him where it went. The foyer was dark and we would never have thought to look there. But honestly, we still wouldn’t have known how to work it.

This also means that when you leave, the power shuts down.  This seems like such a great way to conserve energy (Just be sure that you aren’t sharing a hotel with someone who’d like to make your lights disappear while you’re showering. This didn’t happen on our stay…but I’m just sayin’)

The key was also required to access the stairs from the lobby or to make the elevator move. I wouldn’t realize how grateful I would be for this fact until later. We were there during the shooting on Champ Élysées. While we didn’t hear about it until after we returned to the hotel, it also explained why there had been a helicopter flying overhead as Big Mr. and I walked to the nearby grocery. This hotel was only about 1/2 mile from the shooting. There was still talk of perhaps another shooter being on the loose. My heart raced as I heard people running down the hall (probably a child running to their room), but then I remember that without a key, nobody could get beyond the lobby. This put me at ease.

Hotel Room.

The rooms that we actually had were connecting rooms. Ours was considered a Superior Room and the kids were in a Deluxe Triple Room. This was the view of our room from the bed looking toward the room that the teens shared. Your can see other photos of the rooms at the hotel’s website. Our rooms looked like their photo of connecting rooms without the wood-beamed ceiling.

City Views.

Our rooms overlooked rue Duphot. It was a very quiet street.

We would end up ordering pizza twice from Pizza Nelly

… because teenagers… and pizza.

I’m not sure if it was the managers or owners who were working. I suspect owner because they called their daughter, who spoke more English, to help us place the order for pepperoni pizza and that we wanted to take it with us. This was helpful because we didn’t realize that putting egg on pizza was the standard there. Eggs seems to be very popular on quite a few foods in Paris.

That’s another wonderful thing about travel…seeing how they prefer to serve their food. Other items that we experienced which were not our normal way of eating an item   were ketchup and mayonnaise served together as the side to fries and lemons in the coke.

While the teens were up in the hotel room nom noming on pizza, the hubby and I would walk to the brasserie across the street.

Beer at Paris Cafe

Le Relais Madeleine.

Located at 9 rue du Chevalier de Saint George, we adored this place.

We stumbled upon it our first night in Paris. Miss Sunshine was very ill. She had mustered up enough energy to walk down to Place de la Concorde and check out the Jardin des Tuileries, but then she really needed to eat and rest. We decided the best option was the brasserie near the hotel. We had a nice dinner and the owner / manager? was so nice that we returned for drinks each night. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down his name, but I think it was Pierre.

People Watching.

We love sitting outdoors and watching nighttime Paris come alive. Happy Hour was from 18H-21H. You would see the crowds begin to come and meet as the work day ended. And you would see those who had been shopping nearby on rue de Faubourg Saint Honoré carrying their bags from Hermés and other nearby shops. You could imagine what it was like during an evening as an actual Parisian.

We could see the door to the hotel, in case a teen needed to get us. I would even have my one encounter with a mostly complete language barrier in the pharmacy next door. While intimidating, it wasn’t that hard to point and say advil. I’m not sure if I would have known if she gave me the correct change, but she took her time counting back each piece, so that I would feel confident in her honesty.

It also felt delightful to have these mini-dates with the hubby while in Paris.

Place de la Concorde.

Many nights we walked down to Place de la Concorde to watch the sky begin to glow as the sun nestled into it’s sleeping place. The Eiffel Tower would light up and for 5 minutes every house it put on a dazzling display of twinkling, adding even more spark to a magnificent view.


On the return from Place de la Concorde back to the hotel, I was in awe of the beauty of these historic buildings. Building whose architecture curves and dances into the cityscape.


While Paris had intimidated me with its sheer size and language differences, I did fall in love with its beauty.

Paris in Spring is definitely spoken of in a reverential tone for good reason.

I hope to again walk her streets one day.

Let your light shine!


30 Days of...

30 Days Of…November Challenge


Life is full of them.  Some we don’t ask for. Others we invite, in order to help us grow.

If you saw Saturday’s post, then you already know that Miss Sunshine woke up ill for her 14th birthday. In fact, today she’s home from school and still ill. On top of that…it’s pouring rain. I’m mostly housebound.


I’ve decided to announce my November Challenge.

If you are new to my blog..first off..welcome! I’m so happy that you’ve found my tiny space on the web. Second, since turning 40 (September 2017), I’ve decided to do a 30 day challenge each month to learn more about myself…to create new habits…to press outside of my comfort zones…to be challenged. I introduce the next month’s challenge at the end of the prior month so there is an opportunity to join along.

The challenge for the month of November is:

30 days of preparing a new recipe each day.


Now, before you look at me like I have three heads, I do realize that this challenge will take work. I’ve found that we are in a food rut. Same meals… tacos, spaghetti, anything quick and easy.  Too much frozen or processed food. So I’ve decided to really challenge myself.

Artisan Bread at farm to table Local Roots restaurant in Roanoke virginia

While my hope is to try many main dishes, I am also a realist.

By preparing a new recipe, I am inclusive of all types of recipes. There is a very distinct possibility that when I post about whether or not I succeeded in the 30 day challenge, you will find many days I tried a new smoothie or salad dressing recipe.

I’m okay with that. We all have to start somewhere. Some days there will be time to prepare a full course…and some days I will have to work extremely hard and finding the space to fit in something new.  One major challenge that I’m already aware of is that Miss Sunshine has a soccer tournament in November.  Since I cannot transport a kitchen to the hotel, I will be looking at overnight and/or microwave recipes.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Believe it or not, I did a lot of cooking when the teens were little. That was in the days before everyone was running in different directions and had decided what their tastebuds preferred.

I’m not gonna lie…you’ll probably also see that I make a lot of desserts. Desserts are my favorite form of cooking. While they aren’t always healthy, they also aren’t processed. They have always brought a twinkle to the eyes of my children. It’s rare that they turn up their nose at a dessert that I’ve put hours into making.

Other dishes…

Sometimes I don’t even like a new recipe that I’ve made. That’s the excitement of this challenge. Some recipes will be winners and some will be losers, but through it all…is growth.

I hope that you’ll join in for November’s challenge! Or least try a few new recipes during the month.

Let your light shine!


Friday Faves – Edition 36


Time for a round-up of my faves from the week.


I haven’t actually carved pumpkins yet.  This is a throwback. My trees only have faint traces of color here and there and that specific tree is still bright green


cooler weather has arrived!

Also Miss Sunshine’s birthday is tomorrow and this photo reminds me that I have to travel to a haunted farm and try not to cry while we walk through it.


I’ve been working at cleaning up my photo files.  My startup disk is already full on my mac. I know that I need to move all my photos to an external hard drive, but it seems so scary. I don’t want to lose them in the process. Adding Lightroom is on my list, but I need to sift through old photos first because my computer is extremely sluggish.

The fun part about sifting through photos is when you stumble upon ones that you’d forgotten about.  This photo was from this past summer. It was taken when we visited the North Carolina Aquarium in Fort Fisher.

Most of the week has been spent trying get the house presentable enough for company. There were some highlights of the week though:

  • Miss Sunshine had a good soccer week
  • Big Mr. was inducted into the BETA Club.
  • Mr. D finished driving school. Next month he’ll be able to drive on his own.end.
  • I had to have a vein looked at that was causing me pain when running. There wasn’t a blood clot. Yay!
  • My cousin had his baby. It was a boy! The Aunt who travelled with me to Scotland is now a grandma!
  • My meditation is still going strong. I find myself using different mantras that I’ve learned in the challenge.  Like whenI awake at night or to keep my mind focused when I’m running or when I’m frustrated.


The colder weather really challenges my body to remain warm. I’ve taken to having a cup of tea in the afternoon. Some days I enjoy the teas that I brought home from Scotland. On other days, I enjoy my Yogi teas. I love that they have a little message on the tea bag.  The one that I’ve been drinking recently is a Berry Detox.

Do you have a favorite flavor of tea?

The song that I’ve chosen this week came up on my recommended list. I think it’s because I watch the TV show The Vikings. Given that I’ve been going through Game of Thrones withdrawals, I’m excited that the next season of The Vikings starts at the end of November.

What were some highlights from your week?

I hope that you all have lots of love and light come your way this coming week.


Let your light shine!


Doors of Paris


When I traveled to Paris this past spring, I saw many beautiful sights. I’ve shared a few of the highlights from places we visited while there. We purposely aligned our hotel location in the first arrondissement in order to have the ability to spend the majority of the time walking and also to have easy access to the Paris Metro when our feet wore out.

In doing so, I was able to capture so much more of Paris than just our destination.

Doors of Paris.

In compiling this set of Doors of Paris, I discovered that I actually have enough photos of doors that weren’t part of a specific destination, that in this post I’m only sharing half of those I captured.

As always, if it’s a place you recognize feel free to share that in the comments. For some, I have a general idea of where it was located because I know which destinations the photo was sandwiched in between.

I hope you enjoy this stroll along the streets of Paris.


#9 rue Frédéric Sauton

I’m pretty sure that the plant covered windowsill was what drew me to this door.

This photo was taken after we left Notre Dame. We were looking for a place for lunch and eventually ended up at a restaurant on Boulevard Saint Germain.



This photo was also taken on the way from Notre Dame to Boulevard Saint Germain.

One of the things that I wish I’d researched more prior to the trip was dining locations. I will tell you that we chose that day’s lunch location based on the fact that the menu was in French AND English. It also had cheeseburgers and some of my teenagers are not that food adventurous. The food was good, the service…not so much. I give all places the benefit of the doubt and will assume the demeanor of the staff was because they were busy. We had an even worse experience with staff at a different dining time. But I digress and most meals were wonderful.

104 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

The red signs say “Priere De Ne Pas Stationner. Sortie de Voitures.”

Google translate says this is “Please Do Not Park. Output of Cars.”

The door knockers/handles are what drew me to this door.

This door photo was taken on the way back to the hotel on the night that the hubby and I walked to Ladurée on the Champs Élysées. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that we made our way there on the night after the police officer had been shot on the Champs Élysées. .

Our hotel was located on rue du Chevalier de Saint-George. We had traveled by Place de la Concorde numerous times, so we decided to take rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré before crossing to the Champs Élysées. If you love high fashion, this is the street to walk along. We passed Prada, Givenchy, Hermes, Chanel, and Burberry…just to name a few. I did see a woman get out of the back of a car with dark sunglasses (it was sunset) and wondered if she might be someone famous coming to do some shopping.  Our timing there was very close to the election and there were some walking detours (I think due to the proximity to Embassies) on our return back to the hotel.

Along one of the detoured paths was the “Gold-Handed Door”


I Bis.

This door is located beside Le Cardinal at 1 Boulevard des Italiens

 Last, but not least…this red beauty. I’ve taken a photo right before this door describing the history of Paris and Les Grands Boulevards. This was the day that we walked to some shops on rue d’Hauteville in the 10th arrondissement. This was taken before we got to those shops and after I took a photo at 17 Boulevard des Italiens in the 2nd arrondissement.

Which door was your favorite?

Stay tuned for a future installment of Doors of Paris (which can now be found here.) If you need an immediate door fix, head over to the Norm’s blog, the host of Thursday Doors, where you’ll find many more by clicking the blue frog.

If you’d like to see more from my time in Paris, be sure to check out this post and this post on the Palace of Versailles. I’ve also shared some Paris photos in this post, which makes me realize how little I’ve shared of my amazing time in Paris.

I often share photos and tales from my explorations and journeys on Tuesdays. Look for some Paris jaunts to mixed in there!


Let your light shine!