Scotland 2015: Day 5

So the theme of the day is “the road less traveled”.  Having done what I came to do on the Isle of Mull last night I decided to have a quick adventure and then take the scenic road to Glascoe. I had hoped to see Glascoe either this afternoon or spend the night in or around it. In the spirit of “the road less traveled” I present what came with breakfast… If you don’t know what Marmite is – you should look it up.
Still on the Island of Mull. Such an inviting sign!!! However it had been raining and the grazing field (which is full of sheep) was very very deep and very very muddy!!
The gate and the very very large and muddy field (like a mine field of quick sand) leading to the stone circle.
After all the hiking in the mud it was totally worth it!! This is amazing. The Stone Circle in Lochbuie – Prehistoric #3.
Down the road from the stone circle Castle #12 – Moy Castle.
So instead of taking the ferry back to the mainland I headed north to Castle #13 – Aros Castle.
I was careful!
This is small town living!!
From one way country roads and sheep to ferry boats today was an adventure. Here are some highlights of the road less traveled…
Last photo for the night – a proper fish-n-chips!!
And now the irony. I arrived in the city I wanted to spend the night in but no hotels.  There was a huge race in town and all the hotels were booked. I went online and the only hotel in a 50 mile radius was almost right back in the city I started from 12 hours previously! I didn’t fully backtrack to where I started but it was pretty close.
Scotland 2015 Totals
Days: 5
Prints: 3
Castles: 13
Churches: 5
Historic: 4
Nature: 1
Prehistoric: 3
Map Day 5: Craignure to North Connell

Scotland 2015: Day 4

So the day started out lovely at Glenorchy Lodge Hotel with some salmon and eggs and black currant jam on toast. The innkeeper remarked that I missed a great castle on the way in. Not quite backtracking (I took different roads) and I started on another unplanned misadventure on a very cold and very rainy day.
This I meant to visit – it’s raining in the picture! Castle #7 – Kilchurn Castle Ruins
Totally worth the backtrack in the rain. Castle #8 – Carnasserie Castle.
Still at Carnasserie Castle. How am I meant to pass through that opening?
Nether Largie Standing Stones (and sheep) in the rain! A new category – Prehistoric #1
Temple Wood Stone Circle – Prehistoric #2. And now it is pouring rain!
One more very strange detour before I head back to my list – Clach Na Sula Bridge – this 200 year old bridge is crossing over THE ATLANTIC! That’s right this bridge is connected to an island – the Isle Of Seil – Historic #4.
Driving over the bridge is insane!! Taking picture while driving over the bridge, even more so.
Cmon! Really? That’s how you run a shop? I’ve never been to an honest shop before. I’m a city boy!
I arrived at Dunstaffnage Castle just as they were closing but they still let me take my photos. Clearly the artist who made made this picture took a lot of liberty with the geometries Castle #9 – Print #3.  Also, these are not the original prints! I made copies before I left.  The pictures with the prints and the actual place like you see here are just quick reference shots I did with my iPhone.  The real photos are with my better camera and much better!
At Oban Harbour. Why not push on and catch the car ferry to the Isle of Mull?
So I’m on the ferry and I see this on the map: Local Magnetic Anomaly WTF???
When I got off the ferry I figured I would peak at the castle I was heading to see in the morning but it is covered in scaffolding. This means none of the pictures will be great and I can get the best I can get now and I can move on in the morning. Duart Castle – Castle #10.  I also have a great shot in the rain from a distance where it is just this shadowed silhouette.
But wait! What’s that through the mist? The privately owned Torosay Castle! Castle #11.  Yes it counts because I got a good picture and I might go visit it in the morning.
The only WiFi at the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa is in the lobby so everyone is eating bar food for dinner. I had more sticky toffee pudding for dessert. So that’s my day! Now off to the wireless void that is my room and more castles and such tomorrow!
I am just about to go to sleep when I feel something sticky on my forehead and I reach up and find my head is covered in blood!!! After I stopped panicking I cleaned the wound. How in the hell did I get a wound? After some pressure it stopped bleeding. How I cut myself I have no idea? Will this scar? Will the hotel bill me for the blood? It was everywhere. I’m fine and have no idea how this happened!
Scotland 2015 Totals
Days: 4
Prints: 3
Castles: 11
Churches: 5
Historic: 4
Nature: 1
Prehistoric: 2
Map Day 4: Dalmally to Craignure

Scotland 2015: Day 3

At The Cedars Guest House, another hearty breakfast this time with beans and black pudding. I keep eating the toast before I take the picture!

I almost ran off the road because of this sign!
Pucks Glen in Dunoon is described as “dark and atmospheric trail is a magical experience full of tumbling burn, cross-crossed by bridges and is enclosed by rocky walls heavily hung with mosses and overshadowed by dense trees.”
It was raining and then it stopped but I only hiked for about 30 min because it got pretty slick and started raining again.  Nature #1
Inveraray Castle – Castle #5. They filmed the Dowton Abbey Christmas special here, which everyone won’t stop talking about. In the upper left is the Dun na Cuaiche Watchtower going to label that Historic #3.
This was in the kitchen.
Little bit of a misadventure here – this is a long narrow road. The wrong road.
The road was blocked by gates that you had to open and close because of the cattle.
It dead ended in a loch (lake) and then I had to turn around!
I then hiked past the cattle through the field – Keills Chapel – Church #5 – this was by mistake.
The great High Cross at Keills Chapel.
This is what I was looking for a massive ruin! Castle Sween – Castle #6. Next to the Castle Sween Trailer Park.
Dinner at Glenorchy Lodge Hotel
Sticky Toffee Pudding!
Scotland 2015 Totals
Days: 3
Prints: 2
Castles: 6
Churches: 5
Historic: 3
Nature: 1
Map Day 3: Dunoon to Dalmally

Scotland 2015: Day 2

Now that’s a Scottish breakfast!

A tiny boat ride to…

Church #4 – Inchmahome Priory.

Very exciting! Not on my original list but the guy at the last place told me I had to come. Castle #3 – Doune Castle.

Terry Jones recorded the audio tour because they filmed Holy Grail here! I was there for a long time. Each part of the audio tour is like a regular audio tour and then Terry Jones asks if you want to hear all about the Holy Grail and they play bits from the movie and give you all sorts of trivia about what was filmed where. I listed to the entire thing! And and they filmed some Outlander here as well – blah blah.


I think this is the right point of view – Castle #4 – Newark Castle, Port Glasgow.- Print #2.  However, I don’t think the original artist was on a boat and I am guessing the water and rocks is artistic license.

Newark Castle, Port Glasgow. Nothing like a 15th century spiral staircase…

I’m on a boat (with my car)! You have to go into the GPS on the car and turn off the “avoid ferries” feature or it will try and drive you all over the place. And in fact when planning the trip Google had a terrible time finding navigation from place to place. If I wanted good directions that included ferries (and timetables) I would have to use… gasp… Bing Maps.  No joke. But it worked great.

My view from the ferry since I was the first on!

In for the night at The Cedars Guest House. View from my room of the Firth of Clyde – had Chinese takeaway for dinner – very spotty Internet ūüôĀ

Clearly I am in the UK!

This is my nightly charging routine.

Scotland 2015 Totals
Days: 2
Prints: 2
Castles: 4
Churches: 4
Historic: 2
Map Day 2: Aberfoyle to Dunoon

Scotland 2015: Day 1

I landed in Edinburgh. I picked up my rental car and got situated. I have one big list but it is broken into two parts. One part is of course the prints, the other are just the things I want to to in Scotland.  Most of the prints come later in the trip but I really want to see everything I can – really circle Scotland!
Castle #1 – Linlithgow Palace. Just getting back into the swing of things. Drive, shoot, enjoy the castle, and then run to the next one.
Now that’s a spire! Church #1 – St Michael’s Parish Church, Linlithgow.
Castle #2 – Stirling Castle. I had been to Scotland before (in 2000) and this is one of the places I visited.
Church #2 – Church of the Holy Rude.
Don’t know what category to file this under – bridge? I am going to call it Historic #1.  You might not agree with all of my categories but I like to tally everything I see and visit (& photograph). The Battle of Sterling Bridge was near here – but not here – because the bridge was destroyed during the battle. This is still a very old bridge, and you can see the castle in the distance.
I guess this goes with the bridge in the category Historic #2 – The National Wallace Monument. In 2000 I visited Stirling Castle but I was traveling solely by train and taxis.  As I was looking out at the countryside I said I wished I could see the Wallace Monument and this old man who had been explaining everything about the castle to me told me he would drive me. “Don’t you work here?” I asked him. One of the other castle guides popped up, “Old Joe? Nah, he retired years ago but his wife doesn’t like him at home so he just hangs about and does this for free.”  So I hopped in his car and he first drove me to see the bridge and then dropped me off at the Monument.  Those are a lot of stairs and h back in 2000 I actually climbed to the top.
Church #3 and my first print! Cambuskenneth Abbey “The Abbey of Stirling” Print #1 – I think I got close!
Settled at The Faerie Tree B&B and then out for dinner – they served me a ginger ale like it was whisky (i.e. not very much and in a very small glass).
It’s a black rock grill – you cook your meat on a volcanic stone!!!
I guess there was a reason my ginger ale was so small…
Scotland 2015 Totals
Days: 1
Prints: 1
Castles: 2
Churches: 3
Historic: 2
Map Day 1: Edinburgh to Aberfoyle

Scotland 2015

A quick introduction to
Then & Now: Scotland 2015

In November of 2014, my friend and coworker Dr. Leigh Bonds sent me an email: “Thought you might be interested in this.” and a link to an auction website with several lots of 18th century engravings of Scottish castles and cathedrals. I purchased both lots of engravings.  58 prints for $60, this included delivery and auction fees!

When they arrived we went over each one, oh so carefully, watching the table fill with the dust of hundreds years old book plates.

She jokingly said “You should re-photograph these…”

Little did she know…

In 2015 I embarked on a 3-week solo adventure around Scotland to find and re-photograph these prints (as well as photograph as many other castles and interesting places as I possibly could).

The research was crazy! The cost was enormous! The adventure tremendous!

But at the time I did a terrible job blogging. In fact – I didn’t blog at all. Instead, I posted to Facebook for my friends and family – but that was it. But then time passed and it got harder to go back into my posts. With Facebook it is really hard to scroll back months or even years. But then this recent privacy scandal hit Facebook and people realized that in addition to tracking everything, Facebook would let you download it all.

I could download it all! Which allowed me to reproduce my trip to Scotland just as it happened – well mostly as it happened. I cleaned it up a little and added hind-sight in a couple of key places.

I also post a lot of food photos.

You definitely want to stick around to the end! There is a real treat on the Epilogue page!

One last note before we start. Trips like this are very expensive (and I do travel on a tight budget). Websites like this don’t produce income – only the derivative works. In this case it will be the fine-art prints and the book (which I am working on). I’m not doing any pre-sales right now but please join our mailing list so I can let you know when those things are ready (or if you really love it you can click the Support Us link on the menu). Now personally I think this adventure (and adventures like this) would be much better on the screen, so if you are a producer interested in seeing this (or related content) as a TV show – please contact me directly. I am waiting to be discovered ūüôā

Jared Bendis 05/19/2018

So let the Facebook re-posting begin:

It’s a castle adventure starting – RIGHT NOW!!! That’s right I am boarding a plane to Scotland for a photographic expedition of epic proportions. After purchasing a selection of 18th century Scottish prints at auction (thank you Leigh Bonds) I am heading to Scotland to photograph them 200 years later for a book! This solo trip should take me all over Scotland from Hadrian’s Wall up to Shetland! Don’t worry the France film is still in post-production and this trip is photo only – the blue shirts are just tradition. Expect crazy postings for the next 3 weeks!!!

Next: Day 1 from Edinburgh to Aberfoyle


Day 12 РPray, Amboise, Clos Lucé & Chenonceau

Today we finish with the Loire Valley – we could spend a month just doing the Loire but we have to head south soon to really get a fuller picture of France.

The room at the Chateau de Pray was very small but very nice – and in the morning we got to shoot the exterior.

This is the patio where we had dinner!




Pray is like 5 min from Amboise which is our next destination.

I wish we had big biscuit stores like this at home.


Lunch before the castle though…¬† Even a quick Italian lunch here is amazing!



The Chateau d’Amboise is pretty big. And its tricky because it has these HUGE walls and you climb up and up and arrive at a raised courtyard so it looks bigger outside then it does inside and you really get this isolated city feeling.




This one tower ramps all the way down…


The small chapel was interesting.  I liked the cross in the antlers.



Most unexpected is the grave of Leonardo da Vinci.¬† This isn’t where he was originally buried.¬† In fact a short ways away there was another chapel and when they excavated they found a grave of a man the right age and period and dress that had other indicators that it was Leonardo (who lived at the time 5 minutes away) so they moved the body here and placed the marker.¬† So this only the alleged grave of Leonardo da Vinci – though no one has another that is competing with it.

I won’t post the photo but we watched as some lady first sat down and then stretched out like she was doing a glamor shot on his grave.¬† Very tacky.


And just a 5 min walk from the castle (well 10 min in the heat) is the Chateau Clos Lucé.  This is the Chateau where Leonardo spent the last three years of his life.


Inside is pretty standard in terms of furnishing Рnothing too special but one floor is all miniatures of his inventions and it is a real zoo!  Outside there is a park with oversized and climbable models of his inventions for the kids to play on. The coolest part is that in the basement there is a tunnel (closed off of course) that they say leads to Amboise!


The zoo continues in the gift shop Рits all Leonardo all the time.  I now have a Mona Lisa lens cloth (thank you Amanda).


And one last quick jump down the road takes us to the Chateau de Chenonceau.

The history of this castle is pretty interesting because it is completely influenced by women.

One woman built it, another restored it, and then it was the primary residence first of the mistress of the King and then after he died the Queen took it for herself.  Of course everyone loves the fact that its a castle AND a covered bridge.




The covered bridge is one large room Рevery one walks to the end Рchecks that the door is locked and turns around.  You have no idea how busy this place is and how hard it is to get this photo though!


I love the kitchens here Рvery well stocked Рbutchers blocks, knives, pots and pans.  In the corners of the rooms they have pumps to bring up water from the river!


The bedrooms are lavish – this is the bedroom of Catherine de Medici.


This is the black bedroom of Louise of Lorraine also known as The White Queen.


Chenonceau has a great gift shop and when I saw this guy I felt a little better about the amount of stuff I was carrying on my back.


I almost got this stuffed bunny for my mom.


You get spoiled in the Loire because everything is VERY close and we headed off to our next hotel which was 2 hours away – (no more castle hotels for a while).¬† Finally we made it to our IBIS budget. When you go to check in and the self check looks like this…. it doesn’t bode well.


And when I say that many of the hotels we stayed at were bare bones – I mean bare bones – this is what the toilet looked like at most of the hotels.

And yes it is in a closet.


More soon!

Trip tally: 1530KM traveled.  33 places visited (21 castles, 3 cathedrals, 4 prehistoric  sites + 5 places of cultural significance).

As always we thank you for the support of this project be sure to Like us on Facebook & tell your friends.

Day 11 – Langeais, Villandry, & Azay-le-Rideau

Sorry for the delays in posting – but let us continue.

Yesterday had been a shorter day – we did Laundry and only visited Saumur (which was long in that since I can’t pronounce the name I had to say it 100 times) and then spent the night at Rochecotte which really is a wonderfully luxurious castle.¬† We couldn’t stray too far because I wanted us to be at Langeais first thing in the morning for the dropping of the drawbridge.¬† I had stumbled upon this a few years ago by mistake but every morning they actually drop the drawbridge.¬† You can see footage of it in the original trailer and so this year I wanted to get it from a different angle.

Of course while you wait you need a Viennese cocoa and an almond croissant.


I watched the drawbridge fall right at me – its was pretty cool.¬† Very tense as I didn’t know when it was going to exactly happen.




The Chateau has some great interiors. They really have a lot of the castle open and allow you to see what it looked like.

Very few ropes and wonderful floors!


They have a nice exhibit of tapestries as well with some pretty good explanations.



As we headed back on the road we saw an outdoor laundry! Outdoor! You just drive up (and then I guess wait).


Next we headed to Villandry which is known for their gardens (as you will see) but first a quick lunch.

I am starting to understand the joys of Gazpacho – an ice cold soup on a hot day – nothing could be better!




So while the meal was great I ordered a bottle of sparkling cider (which came in its own little ice bag) only to find out it was alcoholic!

I explained – “I didn’t want any alcohol”. ” Well why did you order the sparkling cider?”¬† “Because it was listed under soft drinks!” “So?”¬† “So what makes a soft drink ‘soft’ is that it doesn’t have alcohol!” The day before I drank a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cider so I knew what I was talking about. They told me it didn’t have much alcohol just 15%!¬† They later apologized and took it off the bill.


Back to Villandry.  The castle really goes back Рyou can see the original keep.


Nice displays – some rooms (like the kitchen) were clear to view – a lot of it was an art gallery.


I like this old turntable.


But its the gardens that make this the place to visit.  They just go on and on!





They even have a hedge maze! (Which Amanda tripped and twisted her ankle in – luckily she recovered pretty well).

I love the souvenir shops!  I mean who needs wooden napkin rings with their names on it?  And how many do I get? Do they all have my name on it?


Our last stop for the day is Azay-le-Rideau.  It just emerges from the water.  Small but lovely! Well not that small really.   Just gorgeous!




Many of the room inside are nice to view – but the billiard room was coolest.


From there we headed to our hotel – which is a castle hotel called the Chateau de Pray.

While we were booked to spend the night there and a manager gave us a tour and let us film an interview.

They offered us a lovely dinner out on the patio Рvery very elegant.  Except for the bats.  The bats kept flying overhead and while that seems pretty ok Рone of them left a present on the table.  Now imagine the paranoia I spent during the rest of this wonderful dinner Рand it was a great dinner Рthey just kept bringing us food!


First the appetizers we didn’t order!


Then another appetizer we didn’t order – regretfully it was a sort of fish foam.


The meat was well presented and also cooked perfectly.  They brought all the sauces on the side.


Then the first dessert (which we didn’t order).


The the dessert I ordered Рwhich was WOW Рlooks wow Рtastes wow.  See and now I have already forgotten about bat poop.


Then more desserts we didn’t order!


And then they brought us a bowl of candies! OMG I was going to explode!


A great day in the Loire – 3 castles – some great food and the weather is still holding!


Trip tally: 1498KM traveled.  29 places visited (17 castles, 3 cathedrals, 4 prehistoric  sites + 5 places of cultural significance).

As always we thank you for the support of this project be sure to Like us on Facebook & tell your friends.


Just an intermission!

OK so an update for everyone!

First – we made it through the trip and we made it home safe.

We haven’t given up on the blog – we just had to take an intermission – we got short on time with the travel, filming, and dealing with equipment issues and data management.

But – there is 20 days of blogging left and we will start it back up again very soon!

If you haven’t checked out the first 10 days – be sure to do so!

As always we thank you for the support of this project be sure to Like us on Facebook & tell your friends.

Day 10 – Laundry! Saumur & Rochecotte

It’s day 10 – which means 1/3 into the trip which means laundry day.¬† I did make sure that Saumur had a laundry mat and schedule the day accordingly.


Everything was controlled from one big machine on the wall – pretty cool.


With clean clothes we then headed to the Chateau in Saumur Рwhich I have a really hard time pronouncing!  I mean really hard time. It is a storybook castle.


You might recognize it from the Duke of Berry’s Book of Hours:

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

There is a cafe outside of the castle and for lunch I had the salmon salad.


I accidentally ordered noodles – I still don’t know how.


I found that my new favorite dessert is the floating island – meringue and custard!



Like so many castles it is better from the outside than the inside – very much designed for children – lots of ‘fun’ things and museum things but not as striking as from the outside.¬† They have been doing a lot of renovation so maybe in a few years…


Our next stop was the Chateau Rochecotte.  This is a castle hotel that we stayed at before and also allowed us to film.  Very nice Рvery elegant.




Tonight was about filming a ‘fine’ meal – and this was one of the finest we had.¬† They allowed us to film at dinner.

First they brought us these tasting appetizers (that we didn’t order).


Then I had a carpaccio of Fois Gras and Tuna.


Then to the lamb!


And the cheese course.


You have to tell them what you want – I influence but let them take me on a tour.


After they tell you what order to eat the cheeses in!


Then the dessert…


And the dessert that comes after the dessert!


Remember folks – this is work! Though I do get to eat it ūüôā


We have had lots of questions about menus so I am posting this one:




Trip tally: 1395KM traveled.  26 places visited (14 castles, 3 cathedrals, 4 prehistoric  sites + 5 places of cultural significance).

As always we thank you for the support of this project be sure to Like us on Facebook & tell your friends.