Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Strawberries & Cream -- YUM!!!

May 12, 2011

Ok, we had an early evening last night so you would think that Ray would have had things prepared better for his morning (Scottish time) blog.

Yesterday (Wednesday) we spent most of the day helping out Labrador Rescue Scotland at a store called Pets at Home. Pets at Home is sort of like a Petsmart/PetCo in the Colonies. Pets at Home are having an adoption awareness campaign. Lab Rescue was asked to staff the booth one day.

So it felt just like I was at home working an event with Heart of Texas Lab Rescue. So we sold raffle tickets and a few Lab Rescue items to raise funds. But mostly talked to people about the importance of adoption.

And of course as with any event you must have your spokes Lab. Here is Molly working the booth. She was incredible, and speaks eloquently about the benefits of re-homing.

While we were at Pets at Home (a wonderful place by the way, and I highly recommend stopping by one if you are in the area). A little girl came by with her school project. She is to take care of Thomas a stuffed Dalmatian for a week and bring him around. With her.

Ok, every adventure has to have something unique in it. So during one of the breaks Sheila and I went and wandered around a local cemetery. Where we found some wonderful headstones (Including Carolyne's Dad whom we said hello to). But this one was very interesting and indicative of many of those in the area, with a lot of detail about the person.

After a wonderful day of meeting Labbies it was time to relax. Roger had offered to make Pizza. (sorry no pictures I was to engrossed in gouging myself) It was wonderful. But of course to make Pizza means you must have pizza ingredients. So off to Tesco (local grocery store) we went. While Roger, Sheila and Carolyne were out finding food Ray was in the Wine/Booze section. Roger and Sheila knew that I would be most useful there.

Now one of the things about letting Ray loose in a Liquor store is that you never know what he will come back with. Well of course I found a wonderful Jacob's Creek Shiraz that was reasonably priced (Ray rarely pays more then $15 for a bottle of wine) but the find of the day was a bottle of Strawberries & Cream infused Vodka. I kid you not.

It sort of looks like Pepto Bismol (an upset stomach med in the states). But taste wonderful (at least to me, and that is all that counts).

Oh, and I almost forgot we did go and see some scenery. Here is the obligatory picture of the North Sea. Love the whole rocky shore stuff going on.

(Can you tell Ray is getting to the end of the Blog and Breakfast is calling and I can't eat until I'm done informing you of what went on).

So Mega great day. Today we are off to Tongue. So far the day is starting off well. Usually I have to prod Sheila to get up in the morning, but she popped right up so I think she is as excited to start the day as I am.

Ray & Roger & Sheila
P.S. Ray is getting the hang of this driving on the wrong side of the road thing and is going to be head chauffeur to Tongue today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Movie Stars in Wick

May 11, 2011

Well yesterday (I am writing the recaps the morning after) was brilliant.

We started out with a wonderful breakfast at the Hawthorne's B&B. Gosh if you go away hungry then there is seriously something wrong. Thresa lays out a wonderful spread and makes a great cup of Coffee.

Afterwards we were off to Carolyne's and then to spend the morning in Wick. Wick is a wonderful little burg in the Highlands. While there we did one of the things that we came to Scotland to do, which was to hand over a little donation to Labrador Rescue Scotland to help them in their good works.

Glamor Queens:
Then it was off to the place where Locals have Coffee and a pint in the morning in Wick, and to have a walk about (have to throw in my Australian once in a while). While there we had what could only be called Movie Star sightings (I'll post a pic later, can't find mine) only to find out that they were Carolyne's Aunt and Mum.

But gosh they they were very much in the style of Greta Garbo & Lillian Dish. Very Glamorous. With the Carolyne's Aunt wearing sunglasses to hide her identity from all her adoring fans (which I later found out were to hide an eye that just had surgery on it) and Carolyne's Mum with a wonderful white headscarf on. The two of them looked like they stepped out of a 1950's post card. It was wonderful.

After a nice pint errr.... I mean a wonderful Coffee. It was time for a walk about. I was thrilled to see the Cancer Research Store. A place where survivors can go. (Those of you know me, know I kicked Cancer a number of years ago and thanks to my beloved Labbie Ms. Shasta it is not coming back).

The town is very walkable. We had a wonderful time. Just strolling around.

While about we stopped off at one of businesses that help out Lab Rescue Scotland, Hilltop Horses. A wonderful store full of everything you would need to go riding. and of course we had to have a picture with all the great gear as Margaret Huston of Heart of Texas Lab Rescue would be jealous ;)

The it was on to a real treat. A honest to god Manor house. Thumpster Estates This is a wonderful place situated on over 10,000 acres where you can go hunting & fishing etc... But they also have Flat Coated Retrievers. Which of course made our day. I am going to do a special Blog article on this place in the next day or two. There was so much to see and do that I could not give it justice. But suffice it to say it will go down as one of the highlights of our trip. Not just a wonderful place, but wonderful people with of course wonderful dogs.

After a relaxing dinner, we were off to hand deliver a couple of paintings to Rory & Sarah. So thanks to Carolyne's husbands GPS unit (a Tom Tom) we were able to make it cross country to Halkirk to meet Gracie. A wonderful 2 year old Lab who for all intensive purposes rescued Rory & Sarah. To boot it was close to Sarah's birthday so Sheila was able to drop off a couple of paintings.

Next came a wonderful drive back to our little B&B in Mey. And the end to another wonderful day. And of course since Ray is too darn lazy to write about the day they had on the day it was had, it is being done the morning after the day. And it looks like it will be the start of another wonderful day.

That is if Ray can get Sheila & Roger out of bed. They look so comfy under the wonderful down comforter. I even went over and tickled Sheila's feet but she did not move.

Oh well. We hope you have as brilliant a day as we do.

Ray & Roger & Sheila
P.S. We decided that we will do a Photo site and download all our photo's to it. There are so many that we just can't get them all posted here.
And stay tuned for a special posting on Thumpster Estates.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A day in Mey

May 9, 2011 Recap
Oh my!!!! it is 7am. But these comforters at the Hawthorne's are so comfy I never want to get out of bed. Lucky for me I can compute while in bed.

Ok, I am writing this the morning after it happened.

Whew we are having a whirlwind of a time.

We drove up from Loch Ness yesterday to Mey. The trip was very stunning. We stopped at a little cafe outside of a town whose name I can't remember and had a "Spot" of tea and then went up to view the Emmigrants statue (I'll talk more about that in a later post).

Then up to Mey where we checked into the Hawthorne's B&B. Much to my surprise there was a Police Van in the driveway. Hmmmm!!!! I was certain that I had violated a few driving laws in negotiating the roundabouts as well as driving on the "Wrong" side of the road. But alas it was just Andy whom is the Husband of Theresa who runs the B&B.

After resting up a bit we got a Police escort up to Carolyne's place (Home base of Lab Rescue Scotland). Of course I took pictures of the Labs. Here is one of her D'Arcy who looks so much like Roger & Sheila's Sophie that it is scary.

Then it was off to Castle Mey, which was the late Queen Mum's Castle. You can tell that the whole area just loved her. No pictures allowed inside, but needless to say it was very nicely done. But not pretentious.

After Castle time it was time to hang out with Labbies. Ollie & Lenny were gracious enough to let us come and play with them.

Then it was back to Carolyne's for a light dinner and some pleasant conversation before the harrowing ride (minus police escort) back to the Hawthorne's. First Ray had to figure out how to turn on the headlights in the car. That was a comedy act until we found the switch that had a headlight on it (DOH!!!!) Then came the drive back on the single track road which was going well until we came up on a car coming right at us. So I went to pull over and they went to pull over but we both went to pull over in the same space. Of course the whole time Roger & Sheila are yelling "Left, Left, Left" so I swing over to the Wrong Side of the road again and all is fine.

Ok, back to the Labraventure. Today is going to be packed full of excitement.

Ray & Sheila & Roger

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 1 Recap

May 9, 2011 7:30am

Day 1 recap.

Well we had an adventuresome flight. Sitting around us was 2 old laddies cackling about something to do with Arthritis and how one is considering going to Germany for a new experimental Pig Testicle treatment. Heck. I learn so much while out traveling.

Then came the landing in Glasgow, where we breezed through customs. Though we were quized by the Customs officer as to what we were doing here and why we were going all the way up to the northern reaches of Scotland just to see Labradors. (She obviously does not know us.)

Next came the car. Well we got a nice little Skoda. And after driving around the area a while Sheila saw the M8 motor way and off away we went. Once we found A82 we just never got off.

On the way we stopped at some castle (I think stared with Uraich (or something like that. ) It was closed for the day, but we made the best of the situation.

Then came a wonderful evening of sleeping with Roger & Ray competing to see who could have the freshest gastronomical explosions ;) Sheila refereed the competition.

And of course a Nessie sighting.

After that it was Piddles, Cookies and Beds for us.

It is really the 9th right now, but morning is just starting so we will post later in the day. Including a before and after picture of Sheila. Before she shaved her arm pits and one after ;)

Ray & Roger & Sheila
May 8, 2011 4:15am Loch Ness Time

Whew we made it. Had a nice drive over to the Clansman Inn on Loch Ness. Sheila and I are having a nice glass of wine and some cheese while Roger naps.

Yes this is Ray driving legally on the wrong side of the road. We have a Skoda, nice car to drive but you can't see the front end of the car from where you sit to drive (bad product design). So every now and then I misjudge the wrong side curb. And of course send Roger and Sheila screaming ;)

Sheila was having such a fun time on the flight. This was taken after Ray had spilled a glass of Water all over the place.

in the Philly airport there are Portable Defibrillators all over the place. So if you plan on having a heart attach in an airport, we highly recommend the Philadelphia airport.

Ok, write more in the Blog or focus on drinking a wonderful Italian Red wine. Hmmmm!!!! Wine Wins out.

Check back later for more.

Ray & Sheila & Roger

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Labraventurerers in Philly

Yes we are in Philly, next stop Glasgow. Sheila is having the official Philly meal of the Great Scottish Labraventure. A Philly Cheese Steak.

So far all is well. Flights have been on time and we are having a blast gabbing.

Sheila is wearing her travel pants. I think she got them a little to big so that I would have to carry her bags while she keeps pulling them up.

Word is that Carolyne has a bottle of something for Roger and I to consume in Scotland. We can't wait.

Connection keeps getting dropped so will keep this short.

Ray & Sheila & Roger

Friday, May 6, 2011

If you want the Loot, read on!!!

May 7, 2011 4am Austin time
(For God sake what am I doing up at this hour? need to catch a ride to the Airport for my 7am flight. Ride shows up around 5am.)

Let the Labrventure begin!!!!!

Sheila and I talk just about everyday. Usually, I answer the phone with "What do you want now" But yesterday it was "Thanks God it is you and not work".

So everyone is packed. Sheila packed about a week ago, Roger packed a couple days ago and I of course packed this morning. Socks, Shoes, Pants, Shirts, Dinner Pajamas all packed in. I had wanted to bring my Cowboy Boots, but alas space constraints mean they stay home (sorry Carolyne). And sorry Carolyne & Yvonne the Stetson is staying home, don't want to risk crushing it on the flight. But don't worry I have my Cowboy Shirt!!!

So you are reading this and thinking, did he say he packed Dinner Pajamas? Yup you read that correct. I believe that if you are going to be lounging you should be comfy and hence my Dinner Pajamas. Which needless to say have Labrador prints on them.

Sheila calls yesterday (Friday) with her afternoon update. Paintings done, things packed, things shipped and she called her kids and said how much she loved them and how proud she is of them. Damn, I was about ready to cry (except I was laughing so hard). Yup!!! we are all going to die and Sheila is the only one of us who has said goodbye to her family.

So we are off. And of course we are violating one of Ray's prime directives of traveling overseas. Which is never fly a U.S. Flag Carrier. For years when I was with IBM I would only travel on an airline from a country who I figured had not recently pissed off the Terrorist world. Hence I mostly flew Singapore, Emirates, KLM and Swiss when I flew around the world.

But here we are not only flying on a U.S. Flag Carrier across the pond, but one called US Airways. And of course we are doing this just days after the U.S.A. rid the world of a Terrorist. So maybe Sheila telling everyone goodbye is not such a bad idea. Hmmmm Time to get the phone working. (except I doubt anyone would answer their phone at this hour of the morning)

Or I could just assume that everyone I care about will read this post and hence I can cover everyone all at once. So here goes. I love you all, I am very proud of each of you and if I never see you again remember my Will says if you want the Loot you have to take the Labs!!! (Will is located in the Yellow folder on the shelf upstairs.)

Whew!!!! I feel better already.

So we are off. I am as excited to see Sheila & Roger Wedegis (who are my Florida family) as much as I am to to make the acquaintance of my Scottish family. I am lucky to have families all over the place. There is my Texas, Florida, Montana, Oregon & Alaskan families as well as my Egyptian & Australian families. And soon my Scottish Family. Heck why be stuck with just one family when you can have several?

The next post might be from Philly where we may have Internet connection via AT&T WiFi, or maybe the next post will be from Scotland and the Clansman Inn on the shores of Loch Ness. You will need to check to see.

Ray & Sheila & Roger

P.S. don't forget we are posting little snippets on Facebook in the LabRaventure group. If you are not a member just request to become a member on FB or send one of us a note.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What to Pack or to Kilt or Not to Kilt

Ok, so you have decided to go to Scotland and you are wondering what to pack.

Well being the seasoned traveler I have it down pat. I lived for 2 years out of a carry on travel bag. Granted I was not always in style but it seemed to work for me.

So first thing you do is to figure out what is essential for happiness. For me it is my feet being comfy, so I pack lots of socks. I have found that I can put up with a lot of misery if my feet are warm and dry (I like the Adidas Cool-Max Socks, very comfy)

Second is that you will forget something, so just accept it now and get over it.

Third don't over think the packing. Really you don't need to have a different outfit for each day. A couple pairs of jeans, 1 pair of slacks, a few shirts, a sweater and a light jacket is usually enough to last a week. I pack 1 pair of shoes and wear one pair on the plane. And of course I bring a ton of socks ;)

And besides if I packed too much where would I be able to put my Kilt?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have Passport will Travel

Sheila, Roger & Ray all have our Passports now and are ready to head off on the the Great Scottish Labraventure.

So why all the excitement, after all it is just a Passport?

Well that is what we all thought. Ray has had a Passport since he was born. So no big deal there. Roger needed one, and that went fairly smooth. But Sheila always has to be the difficult one.

For those of you who don't know, Sheila is adopted (and very comfy with it). So when she sent in her paperwork she sent in the Birth Certificate that she had. Little did she know that there for adopted children there is a more detailed birth certificate that is needed and is only available from the agency in the state that she was adopted from. So she had to jump through a bunch of more hurdles to get that "Long Form" Birth Certificate.

So after much waiting and paying an expedite fee to insure it arrived in time, the big day finally arrived. So now Sheila has a Passport and can come on the Labraventure (darn good thing as the airline ticket had already been paid for).

Ok, a Ray story. (there are always Ray stories ;) Ray fully expects that he will get the "special" treatment when he goes through Customs. Given that he was born in Libya (yes I am an African American) and that stamped in my passport is just about every Arab and Eastern European country. Thus, I am used to getting invited to have a seat in a private room when I go through customs.

So there you have the saga of the Passports.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where is the Middle of Nowhere

Where will we go, is the most often question that I am asked when I say I'm heading off to Scotland for a week.

Everyone immediatly thinks of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Invernes etc... All the places that they may have heard of in the news or seen on a map.

When I say we are going to Northern Scotland and start mentioning such places as Mey, Wick, and John O'Goats (I want to go there just to see why a place is named after someones Goat) you get a blank stare. Then I say Northern Scotland, and again a blank stare.

Then I say I'm going where we are least likely to find a bunch of tourist. And then the eyes light up, oh you mean the middle of nowhere. Yup that is where we are going to go.

Except the middle of nowhere is always somewhere to those that live there. And what we have found in our travels is that the people who live in the middle of nowhere tend to know all the neat things to do and see. Thus, we are really going somewhere, just it is nowhere.

So what do you do when you go to nowhere? Well you find all the neat quaint things that make it really somewhere.

So that is what we will be doing. Searching out the uniqueness that makes nowhere really somewhere.

So are there castles in the middle of Nowhere? Why yes there are. The one that I am particularly interested in visiting is the Castle of Mey. As you can see it is a grand estate. But the thing that intrigues me the most is that it was one of the favorite places of the Queen Mother. A lady whom I greatly admire.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It all began with a Picture

So how did The Great Scottish Labraventur start?

Well like so many things in the lives of Ray, Sheila & Roger it started with a picture. Ray called Sheila all excited about this picture that Carolyne Poulton had just posted on Facebook. As you can see it was just stunning. And of course it involves Labradors (for those of you who do not know me I have one of the largest collections of Lab art around numbering over 600 pieces).

So Ray calls Sheila to tell her she has to look at the picture, and how stunning it would look painted. So Sheila sends a note off to Carolyn to ask her if she could use the picture as a reference photo for a painting. Carolyn of course agrees. And the result is this painting.

So Sheila lists the painting on eBay for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to Lab Rescue Scotland (whom Carolyn works with). And low and behold it is bought by a Scotsman living in America (or as you Brits might say living in the Colonies). He bought it because it reminded him so much of home.

Thus started a friendship between Sheila and Carolyne. Carolyne at some point probably said you need to come and visit (she probably did not, and still does not know what she has gotten herself into).

Next thing you know Sheila, Roger and Ray have Plane tickets to Scotland leaving the Colonies on May 7 and returning on May 16.

And it all started with a picture posted on Facebook.

So there you have it. How Facebook helped a bunch of Lab loving people to connect. And now a grand adventure is going to happen and you get to come along.

Ray & the Gang

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Less than 1 month to kick off!!!

Howdy all,

Well we are less than one month to the May 7 kick off of the Great Scottish Labraventur.

So what is a Labraventure? From my travels around the world I have noticed that all truly civilized societies have Labradors. So as we head out we will be searching to see if Scotland is truly a civilized society.

Thus, we will be searching out Labradors in Scotland and having a wonderful adventure along the way. For those of you who followed the Great Alaskan Expedition in 2008 you know that Sheila, Roger & Ray find lots of off the beaten track sites. Yes we will see some of the traditional touristy sites and we will report on them. But you can be assured we will find plenty of unexpected treasures as well (mostly because Ray is driving and you never know which way he will turn).

So stay tuned. We will be posting brief updates on Facebook in the LabRaventur group. And detailed postings here (with pictures and all). We will put links on the FB page to the daily antics so don't worry.

Ok, first story. (you will find out that Ray has lots of stories). I have never driven in Scotland but I have driven in Australia, Tokyo, Rome & all over Europe. The plan is to fly into Glasgow on May 8 and drive up to Loch Ness and spend the evening there before heading up to Mey in northern Scotland. So what is the story? Ray has been known to shift with his right hand when driving on "wrong side of the road". So this will be interesting in itself.

Next posting will cover the logistics of getting to Scotland. You will learn how 3 crazy Lab loving people decided to jump on a plane and fly for 18hours just to see for our selves if Scotland is Civilized society or not.

Cheers & Stay tuned
Ray & Sheila & Roger

Tuesday, April 5, 2011



         $30.00  Free Shipping

#4 in the series of 5" x 5" watercolor sketches,
They may be fun to collect and hand together. Great price and fun art.

Thanks for looking. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011



When I first got Sophie I named her officially The Lady Sophie D'Ardmore (the street we live on)  Fergus became the Lord. So it's not quite a stretch to have in the Scottish mode..The Lairds of D'Ardmore.!

#3 in the 5" x 5" watercolor sketches .  I am having fun finding images and painting them. See more tomorrow.
    $30.00  Free Shipping    If 2.50 appears I will refund it. Can't figure that one out. LOL
                                                                       Warmly Sheila

Saturday, April 2, 2011



Of course this is our Sammy. LOL..I've never known a Lab so goofy . He sits looking so cute with an ear bent back as he has a gas attack.  Do you think there is a wee Lassie that would love him?? 

One more 5 x.5 watercolor sketch on 300lb watercolor paper.  Make it yours and you will be on the list for a fun postcard from Scotland!!!  Thanks for looking!
$30.00 free shipping

Thursday, March 31, 2011


The count down begins. With all my commission finishing, commission doing, my own project painting, cards and prints for Scotland Rescue, whew, I do sit down.  With ADHD though, I don't stop moving.LOL. I prepared  5" x 5" 300lb watercolor squares to take on the trip top Scotland then thought...what if I started now. 

I plan on doing these quick painted sketches and putting them on here, one or two a day.  Three if I sit more. LOL..
They will all be priced at $30.00 and the buyer will be added to the postcard from Scotland list. I'm planning on hand painting those too. Long flight!!! LOL

Thanks for joining in the fun and getting an original painting to boot!!
$30.00 Free Shipping