National Unicorn Day is today and Unicorns are also the National animal of Scotland.
With Scotland being famous for its love of myths and legends, there is no surprise that a creature such as
the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal. Unicorns have been linked to Scotland for centuries. The unicorn
was first used on the Scottish royal coat of arms by William I in the 12th century. In the 15th century, when
King James III was in power, gold coins even appeared with the unicorn on them.
When Scotland and England unified under the reign of James VI of Scotland in 1603, the Scottish Royal Arms had two unicorns supporting a shield. When James VI became James I of England and Ireland, he replaced the unicorn on the left of the shield with the national animal of England, the lion, to show that the countries were united.
The unicorns’ distinctive appearance has left a lifelong legacy on Scotland’s cities and towns, many of which still have unicorn heraldry. When you next visit see how many you can spot as you explore different areas. Some of Scotland’s most important historic buildings and statues feature the unicorn. They can be found at:
🦄 On a gatepost at the Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh. This is one of the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. There is also a Unicorn at the gatehouse of the Queen’s Gallery.
🦄 The front of the National War Museum and St Margaret’s Chapel at Edinburgh Castle, an historic fortress which dominates the skyline of Edinburgh.
🦄 The figurehead of HM Frigate Unicorn in Dundee, the country’s only water-based unicorn. It is Scotland’s only surviving example of a wooden warship and one of the six oldest ships in the world.
🦄 The top of the Great Hall at Stirling Castle which was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens and one of Scotland’s most historically important sites. Within the castle, you will also find the beautiful Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry.
You can find out more about it here on the Visit Scotland website.
Unicorns have long been popular with all ages and my youngest daughter, Serena, is particularly fond of them. I recently knitted both Serena and another young unicorn lover a unicorn bobble hat!
Historic Scotland are celebrating National Unicorn Day by having a ‘Virtual’ Unicorn Day. Starting at 10.00am with a Magical Unicorn tour, 12 noon a Puppet show, 2.00 pm Meet the Unicorn and at 4.00pm Storytelling, The Unicorn in the Castle. You can find out more and take part by visiting their site here 👉🦄
Christmas preparations are underway at Millburn for the first time. This time last year we were coming to the end of our careers at the school we both worked at. I was preparing to film the Christmas production for the last time , it never failed to bring a tear to my eye. Ian was enjoying his last roll as Santa in the grotto always happy to chat and give out gifts.
Our Christmas this year will not be as we planned, like for so many. My parents were due to be joining us to see our new home and to enjoy Christmas and New Year. But due to restrictions it makes it impracticable and unwise. So we are looking forward to next year, when things are hopefully safer and more stable and everyone can enjoy themselves more freely.
In years gone by. as a child, we have enjoyed sharing an advent calendar. As the third of four daughters we used to take turns getting to door 24. My mother used to keep a note in her diary of what the order was, so it was fair. We had an advent calendar for my daughters to share and eventually they wanted the chocolate variety but I always preferred the traditional ones, even with glitter!
What a surprise it was this year to receive a Parkinson’s UK calendar from my sister Elspeth. I learnt that they as a family used to guess what was behind the doors, so this year, with identical calendars, we have joined in. Imagine our surprise when so far we have managed to guess five right. I’m sure there will be no surprise as to what is behind door 24, we will all be winners. This is something we will include in our Christmas preparations for 2021.
One of the nice things about living in Dunvegan Village is being able to join in with community activities as part of the Christmas preparations 2020. We found out that Dunvegan Primary were organising a virtual advent calendar. Families chose a date to take part and on that day they decorated their windows or lit up their house. We were lucky enough to be able to take part. Locations are put on a map with the date they were to be lit up so you can go and look.
When in the last year Hague Bar Primary School I remember painting on windows as part of our Christmas preparations, some time ago! Having searched on line for a suitable picture to use in our bay window in the guest lounge, I found I kept coming back to this picture. A bit adventurous but willing to give it a go!
As we have six windows in our bay I divided it into six and cut out pieces of lining paper to use as a stencil.
On the morning of 15th December we were lucky that it was not raining. I fastened the panels on the outside of the window and using a black chalk pen drew onto the window. There was no going back now!
With the help of Acrylic paint I start to fill it in.
The final article was much better than I could have hoped for. Perhaps I did have a few of my father’s, John Ward, genes after all! It took me most of the day.
We have enjoyed taking part and look forward to other events in the futre.
Ian and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year.
One final thing, some of you who have visited Skye will already know of ‘Dobby’, as Ian calls him. The Breakish horse stands at the entrance to a croft and is regularly adorned with seasonal attire. This is his current outfit.
We celebrated owning Millburn Bed and Breakfast for a year on 15th November, although we didn’t move in until 30th December, as we had to have considerable damp proof work done. We moved in just in time for Hogmanay, in Portree. Followed by a New Years Day concert at The Gathering Hall with Skerryvore and Manran.
And what year it has been! I think you would agree no one would have predicted the events that happened this year.
Over the first five months of ownership we had a lot of work to do and I thought I would share some photos with you of the renovations to our Bed and Breakfast and what we found on the journey. We were helped considerably during this time by Ian’s sister, brother-in-law and youngest niece and we couldn’t have done it without them.
We had to strip back the electrics in our lounge, both guest rooms and the two loft rooms to allow Mike and Daniel from John Morrison Timber Preservation to insulate and treat the walls, starting at the top and working down.
It was great to see the stonework underneath and find hidden windows, doors and fireplaces.
We loved being able to use local artisans to help dress our rooms such as the throws from Skye Weavers and Scottish Tablet from Donnie’s Tablet Shed. In our en-suites we used products from Highland Soap Company and chose their Lemongrass and Ginger and Whiskey & Honey as they have a delightful scent. Our guests have commented on how nice they are and we plan to have it available to buy next year if you wish to purchase it during your stay.
We loved the transformations and addition of Cath Waters mugs and Millburn shortbread to guest rooms.
The guest lounge was the only room that didn’t need any work, except to remove the woodchip wallpaper ~ that took a while. In the beginning we were living in one room – cosy!
Our lounge, although not seen by guests, involved not only damp proofing the walls, but refitting a window and having to have the floor dug out as there was no subfloor.
Finally what may be considered one of the most important rooms in a Bed and Breakfast, the kitchen.
When we started stripping out the old units and floor tiles we found that the whole floor needed replacing too.
The window that would have been on the outside wall.
Subfloor dug out for lining with fleece and sand.
And where there is sand there has to be castles!
New walls and ceiling.
Finally nearing completion
Interspersed with all this hard work were days of frivolity…..
Many a trip to the tip, when wet and windy, and boy does the tip get whiffy!!
A bracing trip out to the Quiraing.
Ian is a member of Portree Gaelic choir and was euphoric to be given a kilt.
Joining the ‘Let’s make Dunvegan beautiful again’ team tidy up the village.
Celebrating Burns Night at The Dunvegan, delicious food and live music.
Looking through the photos to share with you makes me realise the amount of work we took on but we are very pleased with the end result. I hope you agree.
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