S: Ancient Paths 2012 Tracing History and Celebrating Life with Friends
BC: Once upon a Christmas a little girl named Linda got her first camera. The rest is history. | Primary Photography by Linda Swanson Ceremony photography by Anthony McMillan
FC: Ancient Paths 2012 Tracing History and Celebrating Life with Friends Ireland, Scotland, and England
1: THE MOUNTAIN TEMPLE, WAT ARAT | Novem | To celebrate our 42nd anniversary we spent a month exploring the monasteries, castles, villages, and canals of this historic part of Europe. Along the way, old and new friends gathered to create a most special event in the Scottish Highlands.
2: We started in the Phoenix sun and landed in the Dublin rain . . .and it would rain for 25 straight days.
3: Into beautiful Wicklow County and the Glendalough medieval monastery site.
5: The town of Avoca in Wicklow was the location for the BBC TV show Ballykissangel. The Avoca Weavers have worked on this site since 1723 and the looms now in use are 100+ years old. Tom enjoyed his first of many Guinness at the pub.
7: Ireland abounds in Bronze Age stone circles, forts, and burial sites, especially along it's rocky coastlines.
8: Stone, rock, and pebble... The natural building blocks of Ireland for thousands of years.
10: The sea is never far away....
11: Water water everywhere, surrounding the and and falling from the sky
13: Ancient Neolithic stone circle near Youghal in southeastern Ireland.
14: Kilkenny--Chartered in 1207
16: Onto the Dingle Peninsula and live Celtic music is everywhere. | Pooh really enjoys a visit to the pub.
20: 6th century Gallarus Oratory was built in the shape of an inverted boat.. It overlooks Ard Na Caithne Harbor on the Dingle Peninsula.
21: Limerick in central Ireland is a launching point for more history and, of course, more music. Our high rise hotel overlooks the River Shannon and Limerick Castle, completed in 1200. Sailing and sculling are favorite pastimes for the locals here.
23: 5,000 years ago Neolithic people built a large portal tomb, Poulnabrone Dolmen, in a unique geologic area near Burren. This harsh karst landscape is weathered bedrock and features sinkholes and caves.
25: Eire...the "Green Isle" is named for an ancient goddess. Every color of green can be found, especially in the rainiest June in recent history.
26: Onto Sligo and Donegal for our last three days in Ireland.
27: From Northern Ireland's Belleek China Factory to Carrowmore Stone Megalithic Cemetery and from surf to turf. We loved the diversity of Ireland, despite the daily rain.
29: The Scottish Highlands We return for our third visit to this magical land of mountains and water, history and adventure. The Swansons are an adopted sept of the Gunn Clan. Our vow renewal ceremony would occur at Glenfinnan, site of the monument to the Highland Warriors and the failed Jacobite Uprising that ultimately saw the destruction of the clans in 1746. Scotland is one of our "adopted" cultures, along with Italian, Native American, and Jewish. We used blessings from each culture in our ceremony.
30: The road to Maillag crisscrosses the railway made famous by the Harry Potter films., including the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The road along the sea provides endlessly changing vistas. Maillag is special to us because the beach was used in the film Local Hero that helped us fall in love with Scotland many years ago.
32: In Fort William, Clan Cameron country, we again find live Celtic music and dance. Filled up with good pub food we shared the experience with 30 Hungarian tourists.
34: Our first timeshare is just south of Loch Ness near the Great Glen. The wild stag is a symbol of strength in Scotland.
40: Hiking the Great Glen we found the only floating pub in Scotland.
41: Plockton Bay and the Isle of Skye
46: Glenfinnan House Hotel on Loch Shiel is the site of our vow renewal weekend.
47: Manager Magna helped us plan everything at the 250 year old hotel and nearby Ft. William provided flowers, Tom's kilt ensemble, and both of our photographers.
48: We gathered for the weekend with buddies from Minnesota, California, and Scotland. Strangers on Friday night became friends by Sunday.. | CJ Johnson and sister Ruth Ragin | David and Susan Adie | Char and Duane Delonais
49: Some of us took a ride on the Harry Potter Train.
51: Tom, David and Susan and Pooh took a boat trip to the Isle of Rum in the North Sea for a day of seals, castles, sea spray, and the often rare Highland sunshine.
52: Some of us went to morning mass at the historic Glenfinnan Church just above the hotel.
53: Everyone gets ready for the ceremony at 6 PM. Originally planned for the outside patio, rain at the last minute moves us inside.
54: Once Upon a Time... A little girl named Linda from Delaware met a little boy named Tom from Minnesota.... | and, by the grace of God, a whole lifetime adventure started in Maryland and went around the world.
56: Ewen Henderson provided the musical framework and filled the hotel with the beautiful and powerful sounds of the mighty Highland pipes. Selections included a local tune for the entrance and Amazing Grace.
57: Everyone had a part in creating the ceremony which included blessings from Italy, Israel, Scotland, and the Apache Nation. There was laughter, tears, and a Mazel Tov at the end.
61: The Laird and Lady of Glenfinnan . . . We are blessed with special friends. who traveled so far to help us celebrate. Pooh was the only family able to attend and he got a new tartan tie for the occasion.
62: David begins our dinner with a dramatic turn at Robert Burns' classic poem "Addressing the Haggis." It celebrates the Highland delicacy combining oatmeal and lots of "different" animal parts. It is traditionally served with 'neaps and tatties" or turnips and potatoes. It is totally brilliant!!
63: We hosted a ceilidh, at the bar. The traditional dance music is lively and we even tried a turn on the floor. A highlight for Linda was Ewen playing The Misty Mountains on the whistle. The song from the movie Local Hero. is one of the reasons she fell in love with Scotland so many years ago. Truly a dream come true.
64: And then we went our separate ways to continue our travels on these ancient paths.
66: We spent a few days in St. Andrews with David and Susan and they continued their summer holiday.
72: Falkland Palace This Renaissance royal palace has the oldest tennis court in the world dating back 450 years and a magnificent walled garden.
76: The seaside town of Crail is close to St. Andrews and a favorite spot of David and Susan's for lunch or a bit of tea and a sweetie.
78: For a judge and a lawyer, David and Susan's St. Andrews home if full of bears and lots of silly fun. Brilliant!
79: On our final full day in Scotland, we visit the Discovery Museum in Dundee.. The last traditional wooden three-masted ship to be built in Britain. she was designed for Antarctic research, and launched in 1901. Because the train is so expensive, we pick up another rental car and drive 8 hours down to our last destination near Nottingham, England.
80: Our final week is on the 1830 canals of central England aboard a private canalboat. We will travel 32 miles over six days aboard the 55' timeshare Alweras Angel. After almost a month of daily rain, the sun finally emerges, just when we need it the most.
81: After a few minutes of instructions, Tom heads out of the marina toward the Union Canal with Pooh as co-pilot.
83: Peace and tranquility on the water.
84: A series of 10 locks at Foxton lifts the Alrewas Angel 70 feet to another canal. Linda cranks 40 times to operate this historic engineering miracle. It takes an hour and lots of help from the Lockmaster and friends.
86: Along the quiet paths we meet wonderful people who live fulltime on the canals. This couple has a summer ministry on the water.
90: Daily life on the boat included four hours of motoring to charge the batteries and the occasional bit of laundry. When a fire broke out in the engine, Tom's quick response saved the day and we were underway six hours later with a brand new starter.
92: We return for the last evening, on the water vowing to come for more time on the canals our next journey back to England.
93: Our final ancient path was the medieval town of Market Harborough, home of Union Wharf. St. Dunstan's church was built in 1470 and the school in 1614. We are ready to fly home on the first day of the Olympics. Our trains to Manchester were delayed due to protests on the tracks close to London.
94: Our last night in England we meet Tom's cousin Dwight who has been a theology professor in Manchester for 20+ years. They had not seen each other for over 40 years. As we prepare to leave we had renewed desire to live in Europe again. A new plan begins to take shape as we dream about a year in Italy, perhaps in 2015. That plan is in God's hands, as always.
96: Enduring memories . . .
109: To God be the glory and thanks for a miraculous month on ancient paths. If friends are the family you choose for yourself, then we have chosen wisely over the years. To have such friends with us to celebrate our lives together was a blessing beyond anything we could ever imagine.