Old World Charm On A Pennsylvania Farm

My latest guest blogging shenanigans!

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A short time ago, a very tall Dutchman clubbed me on the head and flew me to Europe. Well, minus the clubbing part, my 43-year span of xenophobic beliefs and fear and loathing of flying long distances were quickly upended. Thanks to that caveman from Zeeland, I am now dubbed by my family and a small cohort of friends a ‘world’ traveler.

Frankly, it’s only been seven trips to The Netherlands, three in France, two in Germany, and one in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and Italy. But visiting historic landmarks first seen in movies and more frequently posted by braggarts via social media is indeed invigorating. It’s also extremely addicting. Always ‘feening’ for the next big escape, I quickly developed a form of PTD (post-travel depression) combined with obnoxious snobbery. Pfft! Americans. Nothing domestic seemed good enough. And, come on! Limoncello made in Positano is absolute bliss.

Of course, I was being a butthead. And, thankfully, PTD can be a short-lived. According to psychologists, foreign travel has, even for this stubborn Sagittarian, a positive impact. This includes learning to adapt, being creative, and not whining about the joy experienced in other countries once home.

Turns out it wasn’t that difficult a feat. My country ‘tis of thee’ is some kind of wonderful.

Allow me to explain. My visit to Scotland, for example, sparked an interest in European history at Edinburgh Castle; stripped away every stereotype I had of Scottish cuisine at The Playwright in Dundee; and unearthed a love for a good whisky at Laphroaig Distillery on the Isle of Islay. Imagine the thousands upon thousands of tears held back on that flight back home. Something or somebody must have heard my cries because months later, out of nowhere, Facebook’s “people you may know” found a long, lost friend with a connection to Scottish history … in Littlestown, Pennsylvania. Low and behold, I discovered Stone of Scone Farm. Fate is whimsical.

Stone of Scone Farm is owned by a mild tempered lad, Robert “Bruce” Rodgers, with rich Scottish roots that directly descend to The Warrior King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce. Mr. Rodgers, also a member of the historic Angus Clan, entitled this glorious 26 acre farm after the ancient royal symbol, the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny. The 336- pound oblong block of red sandstone was used for centuries in the coronation of Scottish monarchs and historically kept at Scone Abbey. Presently, it serves as a social media hashtag for tourists, prominently displayed in Edinburgh Castle. This symbol of Scottish rule has more issues than National Geographic alone: captured from Scotland by King Edward I as a spoils of war, held for 700 years at Westminster Abbey, stolen back by nationalists, returned to Westminster four months after its removal, and finally, in 1996, on St. Andrews Day, legally returned to Scotland, complete with ceremonies and celebrations befitting its status. Not bad for a rock. (Imagine the reality series “The Real Houses of Scone.”)

Truly whimsical is the farm’s ‘unique aesthetic and picturesque’ landscape that reminds me of the view I encountered while driving through the Highlands in Glencoe to Loch Ness. I found Glencoe’s magnificent greenery, towering mountains, and majestic tranquility absolutely romantic. Stone of Scone Farm has romance written all over it making it the perfect venue for a fantastic wedding in its Bannockburn Barn or near its Tynecastle Springhouse. The 200-year old rustic brick barn’s granite fireplace, the cold-water pond chilling to the touch even on a hot summer’s day, the age-old myriad of statuesque trees inside Stirling Tree Groves, Evelyn’s Herb and Lillian’s Flower polychromatic gardens – ALL wreak of charm.

As described by Rodgers, the tour of the farm begins as you leave Littlestown Road and enter the property’s winding road. The view is sudden and spectacular: an old brick farm house on the left. Continue around the hand-made brick structure and a view of Tynescastle Springhouse appears nestled in a hollow fed by a natural spring that flowed for hundreds of years before the first Europeans settled. Beyond the springhouse lies the large cold water pond and Bannockburn Barn stands in full frontal view, with remnants of the Appalachian Mountains (known locally as Pigeon Hills) rising in the distance.

Rodgers’ heart and soul was put into restoring the farm back to the unique style crafted by German immigrants in the 1800s, resulting in a property recognized as both rare and historically significant. This included removal of old animal pens and the creative reuse of original materials. For example, old hay racks were dismantled and repurposed as handrails for the stairs. Inside the barn are hundreds of hand hewn wooden timbers carved from trees that once stood on the property.  The marks on these wooden timbers made by the axes and chisels of old world craftsmen are still clearly visible to the naked eye.

The beauty and mystique of the farm after restoration could not go without others to see and experience. So my long lost friend, Patricia Green, partnered with Rodgers and helped plan the next phase of the farm as a unique event destination. Green blended her PR smarts with Rodgers’ old world heritage and attention to detail to create Stone of Scone Farm. They delight in the prospects of the farm hosting private retreats, corporate meetings, annual local events, and barn weddings.

I found the inherent peace of Stone of Scone Farm the most important amenity. I imagine myself on the patio adjacent to the farmhouse in a rocking chair with a glass of cabernet in hand, soaking in the tranquility like I experienced in Glencoe.

Also, is it just a coincidence the Stone of Destiny was referenced in Shakespeare’s grisliest play, Macbeth, AND the farm is only a stone’s throw away from where the Battle of Gettysburg, the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, was fought? I admit to reaching a little with that notion but it helps with my new adventures of going global at home. (And, YouTube has a DIY video for Limoncello!)

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About The Author

Colleen is a writer, food lover and rookie world traveler. She lives to leverage her life experiences and new found passions into a fun and challenging journey. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she currently resides anywhere in the world barring her luggage does not exceed 50 pounds. Contact Colleen at leftandinside.com.

 

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Cheating is Good…with Kevin Spacey

cheat

Cheaters beware! The hackers of the infamous Ashley Madison dating website for the married and already attached made it clear that it will expose you if it does not willingly shut down. This could be earth shattering for all of its members.

But what about exposing the other type of cheating…the type that can be equally devastating. The type that create such fantasies as being Lewinsky’d by Kevin Spacey. What! What! Continue reading

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trainwreckThe world has officially become Bizarro.  At least to me anyway, regarding women and sex.  Recently, I was listening to an intriguing interview on The Howard Stern radio show with comedian Amy Schumer discussing her casual hook ups. It left me flabbergasted. And, not the reason you may think. I found the details and her comfort talking about her sexcapades, which her new movie Trainwreck  (see photo above) is loosely based on, fascinating. BUT it was the reaction from Howard and other male callers from the show that was most astonishing. They DIDN’T seem disgusted. They wanted to know more!one night stand girl

Women have been getting their freak on more noticeably than ever, whether they are post high school, post college, or even residing in assisted living (more than half of men over age 60 and 40 percent of women, remain sexually active). Continue reading

Pittsburgh to Portland Series: The Bird’s the Word

Years ago, I was forced into becoming a professional foodie. My casual dining career suddenly upgraded with the launch of our new All-American bistro and, like most sales and marketing “experts”, I had to cram for finals, or in this case, our grand opening. With stacks upon stacks of Food & Wine issues to peruse, I learned two important facts: Coq Au Vin is French for “your entire day is f**ked” and Dana Cowin  is obsessed with Portland, Oregon.

Since then, I’ve finally “mastered” the preparation of Coq Au Vin simply by purchasing a Dutch oven and use of vacation days (the restaurant biz can be brutal). Also, several years and few boyfriends later, I hopped a plane from the Steel City to finally visit Rip City. Continue reading

Pinball and Playmates

Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.

On  a few occasions in the early 80s, my sister and I were dropped off at Grandma’s house in a small town, Herminie, PA. Both my grandmother and grandfather had died within a few years of each other (a mark of true love) and the three bedroom “estate” was now run by a few of their nine plus children (I still have no idea how many babies Edna Mae birthed), including my mother’s fraternal twin, Aunt Maggie.

She was a bit of a loner and, in my mind, one of the lucky ones. She never married but remained totally devoted to her parents, sisters and their silly children. I never liked Herminie. My grandfather’s brood was one of maybe three black families in the area and, well, it wasn’t fun being not white in a redneck town. This particular fact is what I attribute to why my Aunt frequently visited the local bar. And, babysitting would not deter her much needed pilgrimages to her Holy Grail containing whiskey. Or was it vodka?  Continue reading

Daily Prompt: “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse.” Set a timer for ten minutes, and write it. Go!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Race the Clock.”

“An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse.” Set a timer for ten minutes, and write it. Go!

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It was already a late night when we finished our drinks. Almost midnight. Not bad for a first date. The liquid courage extinguished any and all signs of nervous ticks. We were all smiles and moved on to touching hands, shoulders. Questions and quaint interrogations about his job, family, origins, and recent divorce had killed the first two hours of conversation.

Those green eyes. The months of unwanted celibacy. At 41, could a walk of shame be reason for slut shaming?

Four years later…Earth Day is the anniversary of our one night stand still celebrated. (HEY now!)

10 min.

Daily Prompt: Morton’s Fork

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Morton’s Fork.”

If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?

I find the skills I’m best at are the ones I dread doing the most. So I guess I prefer to listen, read, and scroll other’s comments, rants and opinions. It’s enlighten to find the differences in how folks communicate, particularly when they respond to pop culture. Reading the “body” language of text should be very important to character study of the book I may never write.

Love you. Mean it.