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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2003
When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was staying in the homey Greshornish House Hotel and had been summoned to dinner by bagpipes. He's about to begin his day on the Isle of Skye. This is his story:
Wake up and lounge in bed. Got 6 & 1/2 hours sleep which is good for me.
Showered. Sort of. There really was no shower in my room. Just a bathtub with a hose that you could hold over your head. Seriously, how hard is it to install a hook or something so that you can open a bottle of shampoo and keep the water on you at the same time.
This is one of the two things that demonstrates America's ultimate ascendancy over the U.K. THE SHOWER. The U.K. has just (largely) not mastered the concept or the essential nature of a decent shower. Baths? Bah!! America is superior because it showers. I may be a Britophile (as opposed to a mere Anglophile), but I am not blind! The showerhead. The combination valve. These are not difficult high-tech concepts. Get with the program!!!!! *end of first rant*
Breakfast at the Hotel. Toast w/butter, strawberry jam & honey, Cornflakes, Orange Juice, Scrambled eggs on toast and that darn vaguely-undercooked English Bacon. (I could easily label their bacon a third proof of American superiority, but I think that's more a matter of taste.)
My dad and I took pictures by the cannon, overlooking the Loch. We talked briefly to Claire from Guernsey, who has a VW Beetle at home. We were trying to figure out why the car alarm kept going off. She confirmed that it was overly sensitive, but that seemed an inadequate explanation. Overly sensitive to what? How does this thing work? It continues to go off randomly. Plus the radio is haunted and the air conditioner sucks too. And yet, we really like the car.
We hit the road, touring Skye.
We head back down A850 to A87. Head north at Portree to begin our loop of the coast of Skye's Trotternish Peninsula. We stopped multiple times to soak in the scenery and take pictures.
The Old Man of Storr is 49m pinnacle adrift from its parent cliff.
Kilt Rock is a cliffside formation that looks like the pleats of a kilt. Mealt Falls is stunning.
At Kilt Rock, I bought a couple of souvenirs for the kids. Rocks actually, handpainted to look like quaint Scottish cottages. The guy hand-painted Erin & Benny's names over the doors of the cottages. He was so sure-handed, I found it very impressive. He told me that I could now say I had bought my kids a cottage on Skye. I've been using variations on that line ever since.
We continued around the Trotternish to the ruins of Duntulm Castle. There's not much there. A few walls, a window. A cellar of some sort that's been gated off so that no one dies down there. But I love this kind of thing. Of course, the stunning cliffside location reminds me of Wyvern (or Tintagel) though this site isn't big enough to be a model for Wyvern, which in any case is theoretically on the mainland. But I just love climbing around these places.
We made our way back down the Peninsula, taking the B8036 back to the A850 to make a loop of the Waternish Peninsula. We passed Greshornish again, but our first stop was Dunvegan Castle. In contrast to Duntulm, this is no ruin. It's still inhabited by the Chiefs of the Clan Macleod. It was the single most touristy place we visited until the last day of our trip. It was also the most disappointing. Although it's location is unsurprisingly (at this point) stunning, the castle itself is unimpressive. The gardens are nice enough, and there was one truly bizarre tree that one could easily expect to see on an alien planet. But touring this kind of place just wasn't the point of this particular place.
We did get to see the Fairy Flag. There are a number of legends connected to the flag. Some say that it was a gift to the 4th clan chief from his Fairy wife. Others that a nurse who was supposed to be looking after a long ago heir, left the boy alone to attend a party. When she returned, he was wrapped in the fairy cloak. Science tells us that the silk was made in Rhodes or somewhere around there. So it may be a prize from a crusade or something. All things are true though.
We headed around Waternish on the A863. Got back on the A87 at Sligachan.
Back in Broadford, we stopped for lunch. The "chips" were good with salt and vinegar. And I had this amazing Peach Ice Cream Sundae for dessert. Plus a coke and some still (but not tap) water. But the hamburger....
The WORST HAMBURGER ever. We saw someone else enjoying one from a distance and both of us ordered burgers. But I had forgotten that the U.K. makes lousy hamburgers. When I was living in Oxford in 1984, the only place where you could get a decent burger (until the first McDonalds opened there right before I returned to the States) was a mini-chain called Bretts. There was a Bretts by the Train station and one just on the edge of town near where we lived at 65 High Street. I think us Yanks kept that latter Bretts in business. Even in London in those days, there were only two places besides American fast food chains like Burger King and McD's where you could get a good burger. One was Wolfs or Wolfies. The other was the Hard Rock Cafe.
Now you need to understand, I love hamburgers. And I'm not picky. I love everything from big thick restaurant burgers to crappy fast food burgers and everything in between. But what we were served in Broadford was inedible. I literally couldn't finish it. My dad says it's because they press the meat instead of grinding it. Maybe he's right.
But unlike the bacon, this can't possibly be a matter of taste. I'm now convinced that America is the world's lone super-power because we shower and know how to make a decent burger. *end of final rant*
Back on the road, we crossed over the bridge to the Mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh. We drove north-east up the coast of Loch Carron. And we got lost in Plockton. We missed a sign and found ourselves driving up a residential road that dead-ended. (Thank God. If it had been open-ended, we might never have figured out we were headed the wrong way.) We doubled-back and thought we got on the right road, only to find that this one literally dead-ended in a parking lot. We double-backed again, and finally admitted defeat, stopping at the train station. A very nice couple eating in the cafeteria set us back on course.
We took the A890 to the A896 past Lochcarron and Tornapress (though I never actually saw Tornapress). Another little bit of confusion was caused by the fact that there are two small villages named Shieldaig (one off Loch Torridon and one off Loch Gairloch). But we managed to find our way to Annat and our second-to-last hotel. This was the extremely POSH Loch Torridon Country House Hotel. If our first hotel (Castle Inverlochy) was classy, this one was Posh. Less elegant, friendlier, but WOW!
Again, my room and bathroom was huge. Their was a lovely Waterhouse print of Echo and Narcissus hanging over the bathtub. (You can see it at http://www.artmagick.com/paintings/painting1399.aspx) Echo just seems so lovely and forlorn. I really liked it.
And there was a separate shower, thank god. The grounds, which included a pasture for castle, looked over the Loch with the Moutains of Wester Ross rising abruptly above it. They had fresh apples and shortbread in the room, so I partook of both.
Dinner was formal, but no coat and tie required. I had sparkling water and a free appetizer: a little teacup of Pea Soup. I also had Potato Leak Vichyssoise. Then I took a chance and ordered the Sea Trout. As I've mentioned, I like trout, but I don't like other (non-shell) fish. I didn't know whether SEA trout would taste more like trout or more like fish. But I loved it. Trout rules. Sea or river or whatever. It came with potatos and green beans. Dessert was Apple Cider Sorbet w/a few berries.
Talked to Beth.
Went to bed. Just nothing on television, you see.
TUNE IN TOMORROW for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "Oatmeal Porridge" "Raining in Ullapool" "Midges in the Gorge" "Bealach-na-ba" "I want to get that guy in a recording studio."*
I've been looking through some of the fAQ links and through the TGS stories and wanted to knoe what the Space Spawn is? How does Brooklyn know about them?
The Space-Spawn are an alien race first mentioned by Nokkar in the episode "Sentinel". You can learn a bit more about them, though not much, by checking out the archives under GARGOYLES 2198 and/or SPACE-SPAWN, THE.
Suppose I used the phoenix gate to travel back in time to plant an undetectable bug [while no person was watching and no person caught me] where I could record the conversation between Titania and Fox. If I was to play a recording of that conversation, what would I get?
The answer to your question.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2003
When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was staying in the stunning Inverlochy Castle and forced to wear a coat and tie to dinner. Life is hard. He's about to begin his first full day in Scotland. This is his story:
I woke up to geese honking. Dozed a bit longer.
Wake up call came in. I went to take a shower and like my father before me found that the darn thing was too complicated. Couldn't for the life of me strike a balance between frigid and scalding water.
Room service brought me the breakfast I had ordered the night before. Scrambled eggs on toast. That English Bacon which really is more like ham and way undercooked for my tastes, despite the fact that I had asked for it "crisp". Wheat toast, a chocolate-chip croissant and a regular croissant. Corn flakes.
We hit the road... w/ a couple of problems.
1. While walking to the car, the sole of one of my great old hiking boots split away from the boot itself. I'm now clomping along, with every step. This is actually very upsetting to me. I've had these boots for twenty-five years and they fit like a glove. I've had them resouled once before. But the opportunity to have them fixed doesn't look like it's going to present itself here.
2. As we're driving away in the Bug, its car alarm goes off. Now, let's just consider the wisdom of putting a car alarm in a rental. Now let's consider the wisdom of not having any kind of owner's manual in a rental with a car alarm that seems to go off for no reason whatsoever. This becomes a daily problem for us. Usually in the mornings, but frankly anytime we turn off the engine, we run the risk of the car alarm going off again when we restart the car. And not just once, but usually two or three times. It takes us multiple trial and errors just to figure out how to turn the damn thing off. But we can never quite figure out why sometimes it goes off and sometimes it doesn't.
Our first stop is Neptune's Staircase. A series of locks on the Caledonian Canal. We watch a large boat traverse a couple of the locks. It's really kind of impressive. Cool, slow and impressive.
We leave Torlundy and drive back through Fort William on the A82, unaware that we're also driving through our best chance to fix or replace my boots. We head back along Loch Linnhe and catch a small ferry at Corran across the Loch.
From there it's the A861 past Strontian (the town that gave its name to the element Strontium). The roads now begin to take on a single lane character. That means that when a car's coming in the other direction, one of you needs to pull over. There are plenty of passing places, however, so it's never really a problem for us. But I do think that had we been travelliing in July or August, when there were more tourists about, it might have been a different story.
At Salen, we detour down the B8007 into the Ardnamurchan Penninsula. Our hope is to take this to the Point of Ardnamurchan, the westernmost point of mainland Scotland so that we can see the Egyptian lighthouse there. But we have a time constraint. We need to catch a 2:40pm ferry at Mallaig, and we want to get to Mallaig a bit early, so that we can see about repairing or replacing my boots. So we stop at Ardslignish, look around and take some pictures of the Inner Hebrides in the distance where the Loch turns into the Ocean. Then we turn around without making it to the lighthouse.
From Salen, we head north to Mallaig. We stop at a Tourist Info Center to get boot advise. They send us to the only store they can think of that might have boots. At this store, they literally only have one pair of boots, which are a size too small for me. We ask where else we might go, and the guy suggests Fort William. That's the exact wrong direction for us at this point, so I'm still clomping around. D'oh!
We grab some lunch. I have an amazing plate of Grilled Split jumbo prawns with Goat Cheese. And a coke. One of the best meals of the trip.
Then we board the Ferry to the Isle of Skye. While we're up on the deck, we hear a car alarm go off, and afraid that it's our car, we go to investigate. It's not our car, but it's a good thing we checked. My dad left the parking break off. Woops.
The Ferry ride to Skye takes about a half hour, and the view crossing the Sound is wonderful. (I'm gonna start to sound very redundant about the views. But it truly was gorgeous about 99.9% of the time.)
The ferry lands at Armadale. We try another store for boots there. It's another no go, but the lady recommends a store called Walker & Welles in Broadford, which is at least in a direction we're heading.
We head south a half-mile to stop in at Ardvasar, which is the traditional home of the Macintyre clan, the clan of my good friend Tuppence Macintyre. We stop by the hotel that I believe the Macintyre's used to run (for centuries). Then we head north again on the A851.
Tuppence had recommended another detour, an inland loop toward the northwest coast of the Sleat Penninsula in order to see Dunsgaith Castle. So we headed toward Tarskavaig. Took a right turn there and headed toward Tokavaig. The castle was supposed to be between Tokavaig and Ord. But we hit Ord without spotting either the castle or even a sign for the castle. We thought about turning around, but we had no real hope that we'd find it the second time, so we just kept going and reconnected back up to the 851.
I know it sounds like the day was full of abortive failures. No lighthouse. No castle. No boots. But we didn't really feel that way. We saw so much beautiful scenery. And we just were enjoying the trip.
By this time, we had finished Tup's mix tape. So I popped in the beginning of the KCRW unabridged production of Ross Macdonald's "Zebra-Striped Hearse". This is a Lew Archer novel, directed and starring Harris Yulin, who was great. It also featured Ed Asner as Colonel Blackwell. Plus Jennifer Tilly, Tyne Daly, Kathryn Lloyd, Jodi Thelen, Joey Pants, etc. I had read the book some time ago, and although I remembered the gist of it, it was great to hear. And my dad really enjoyed it too. It's a six cassette tape production, so it would last us nearly the entire trip.
At Broadford we found Walker & Welles. As promised, they had plenty of boots. I found a pair that fit very nicely right off the bat. (And they had many other options.) So I got 'em. Then I... I... I toss my great old boots in a dumpster that stinks of fish. They truly deserved better. I still feel guilty about it. I hope someone found them and salvaged them before they got too smelly.
Back on the road (the A87 now) we drove through Sligachan and headed north to Portree. Now this trip was almost entirely planned by my father's assistant Anita Kelty Nitta (with a few recommendations from Tuppence and Carol Wagner). Anita provided us with directions, and a map that highlit our route and had stickers for all the hotels. But the sticker for our next hotel was in the wrong place. Horrors! We'd have to figure this out for ourselves for once. Fortunately, finding the hotel wasn't a problem. We took the A850 past Skeabost, Flashader, Edinbane and Blackhill and found the Greshornish House Hotel off Loch Greshornish. Dad was given "The Clydesdale Room". I got "The Palomino Room". It's not quite Castle Inverlochy, but it is a big room with a lovely view of the Loch. The people are very nice, as is the short bread cookie.
After checking in, Dad & I went for a short walk. The Midges make their first appearance, but a wind is blowing and they don't bother us much.
We went back to our rooms briefly. I talked to Beth and left a message for the kids.
We head down to the lounge, but cigarette smokers drive us back upstairs until Campbell, the son of the owner, begins playing his bagpipes to summon us to dinner. It's fun. He's standing out by the old cannon in full regalia, playing. Campbell's a very nice, self-deprecating guy.
Dinner is Mussels, Venison, Potatos, Broccoli, Rolls, Chocolate Mousse.
After dinner, we meet some of our fellow guests (the non-smokers) in the Lounge. An older couple from Lincolnshire and a family from Guernsey.
I stayed up that night until 11:45pm watching "Sex and the City". Then went to sleep.
TUNE IN TOMORROW for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "The Old Man of Storr" "Duntulm Castle" "Two reasons why America is ascendant" "The Fairy Flag" "Posh"*
What is at this 2189 project that you're suppose to be working on?
Check out the Gargoyles 2198 Archive here at ASK GREG. And I'm not really working on this now.
All the gargoyles episodes have not been shown over here so i dont really know about some of th episodes although i have heard stuff about them....
1. Has "timedancer" ever actually been aired?
2. And what exactly IS "gargoyles 2198" is it going to be another series or what?
1. No. It's a potential spin-off/sequel series.
2. It's a potential spin-off/sequel series.
Check out the archives and you'll be less confused.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2003
When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was suffering through an airline trip from LAX to Heathrow Airport in Business Class. He had just changed his watch to match London Time. This is his story:
I read the L.A. Times over a glass of Tomato Juice.
Dinner was soon served. Sourdough rolls & butter, Prociutto & Salmon appetizer (though I didn't eat the Salmon). Prociutto & Shrimp maincourse. There was also a Salad, but the dressing was Ginger, which I'm allergic to, so I skipped that too. Skipped the Rice and Broccoli also. Ate the tomatos. Dessert was Apple Pie with a glass of milk.
Sitting next to me, was a woman flying with her husband. Her daughter and grandson were also on the flight in the first row of coach. They were all on their way to explore London, Oxford, etc. The woman and her husband were both retired professors from UCSD. (He was physics; she was bio-physics.) They were all quite nice. For awhile, Alex, the grandson switched seats with her. He was pretty cool. And I'm not just saying that because both he and his mom were fans (or at least appreciators) of Gargoyles. Though, heck that didn't hurt. Seemed like another good omen. Alex was a bigtime STAR WARS fan, who was writing his own comic book.
Watched three movies on the flight.
IDENTITY - I had seen commercials for this and had predicted the big twist from the commercials. This movie had a great cast led by one of my favorite actors, John Cusack. Rebecca DeMornay was in it too. At first I asked myself if that was her, then I decided it wasn't. Then I found out it was. Weird.
THE ITALIAN JOB - I'd heard good things about this, and I guess it was okay, but I wasn't particularly impressed. Still, the Mini-Coopers were fun. And since the plan for our trip was for my dad and I to rent a Mini-Cooper in Edinburgh and tool around Scotland in it, it seemed to be another good omen that this was on. Best laid plans, as you'll soon see...
ROUTE 60 - A quirky little film that alternated between being annoying and fun. Still, I love allegory and you don't see much of it these days. So I'll thumbs up it.
I tried to sleep a few times, but basically couldn't.
I started reading "SANCTUARY" by William Faulkner. A brutal little pot-boiler that he wrote for the money, then initially couldn't get published because it was too, well, everything. Of course, being Faulkner, even his pot-boilers are high literature. A tough read.
Drank a lot of water.
Eventually, they served breakfast: Grapes, three types of melon (honeydew, cantalope, water), kiwi, croissants w/butter, Peach yoplait, Orange Juice.
We landed at Heathrow in London and had a considerable trip (both by bus and on foot) to change terminals for our connecting flight to Edinburgh.
While waiting, I had an Apple Juice that had the unique taste of the apple juice in the U.K. It's different than in the U.S. It reminded me immediately and viscerally of my semester in Oxford.
Boarded our flight to Scotland. Business class again, bulkhead seat. Don't like the bulkhead, but at least it was Biz.
Fortunately, I was able to sleep. Slept through most of the flight, which was only an hour. So I was still pretty tired.
We arrived in Edinburgh and went to the rental car desk to pick up our Mini-Cooper, which my father had special ordered in advance. It wasn't there. In fact, they had no car for us. Major screw up. My dad was furious, and I just felt bad for him.
But the good news was they had a Grey Volkswagon Beetle available for us. And since it wasn't a special order it cost CONSIDERABLY less. It wound up being a terrific car for us (with a few minor exceptions I'll get to later). So all was for the best. And when I told my kids about it, they got very excited. "Grey punch-buggy, no punch backs," they yelled!
We started our drive. My dad behind the wheel. Me navigating.
We passed through Stirling, the only other Scottish town (besides Edinburgh) that I had ever been to before. But we didn't stop. It was already late afternoon, and we had a ways to drive before we got to our hotel.
We entered the Trossachs area (home to Rob Roy), passing numerous Lochs.
We passed through Glen Coe. My dad is from Glenco, Illinois, and we tried to imagine how Scottish trappers might have seen Lake Michigan and felt like it was home.
We crossed Loch Leven and then drove up the coast of Loch Linnhe, passing through Fort William. The scenery was just gorgeous. And that's exactly why we came. This wasn't going to be a museum trip. With very few exceptions, we weren't here to see anything man-made. My dad's plan for the trip was to see Scotland's natural beauty. Since he was footing the bill, I wasn't complaining. But in truth, I wasn't complaining, cuz it was just terrific. Driving past Linnhe, God parted the clouds and put a spotlight of late afternoon sun on the water. I watched it intensely, half-expecting to see a Selkie or something emerge. No luck. But it was still very gorgeous.
My good friend (and Gargoyles researcher) Tuppence Macintyre had provided us with some travel tips and a mix-tape of Scottish music (modern and otherwise) and even a Robin Williams comedy routine. We played the tape on the way to our hotel. It was great. Only one problem. I couldn't figure out how to get the thing to eject. It literally took me two days to manage it. The stereo was very strange. Every once in a while, for no apparent reason, it would switch off the tape and start playing the radio instead. Other times, when we had it switched off, it would just turn itself on. We'd turn it off again, and it would turn on again. I have no explanation, beyond gremlins. The air-conditioner also sucked. The worst was... well, I'll hold off on that... but those three things were the only problems with the bug. Otherwise, we liked it. In fact, my dad liked it so much, he's considering getting one.
We passed many, many animals. You don't see a lot of sheep alongside the 405 or the 101, so it was kinda novel to us. The sheep in Scotland are nearly ubiquitous. We also saw cows and other "robust cattle", which look almost like Oxen or Yaks or something. We saw rams, swans, horses, geese, etc. No shetland ponies though.
As we got closer to our hotel, my dad, who's only been to Scotland once before, began to say how it was starting to look familiar. Then when we arrived at our hotel, he realized that he had been here before to this hotel. (Don't ask me how he didn't realize it before that moment. It's not surprising if you know him, but it's still goofy.) We were staying at Inverlochy Castle. An actual castle that had been remodeled into a hotel years before. It was, to say the least, an extremely classy joint. (One of the advantages of traveling with my dad is that he tends to go first class all the way.) Dad remembered it as the place where he had a fight with his shower. Being unable to work it, he had started yelling at it. (Now you guys can see where I inherited my limited technical abilities. My dad doesn't even have e-mail.)
My room was amazing. HUGE. With a bathroom bigger than most of the hotel rooms I've ever stayed in. I changed for dinner, as this place required a coat and tie in the dining room. I also left a quick voice mail for Beth to let her know we had arrived.
For Dinner I had sparkling water, mustard seed rolls w/butter, a Lobster cocktail, terrific Potato/Leek soup and Sea Breem with Mussels, shrimp and spinach. Now, the only non-shellfish I really like is trout. But I also don't like lamb which was the other option, so I tried the Sea Breem. Nope. But the mussels, shrimp and spinach were great. Dessert was an Apple tart served with apple puree and fresh pressed apple jus.
Back in the room, I called the kids and talked to them and my Mom, who was baby-sitting. I also called Beth again and talked to her. There was a toffee on my pillow. So, what the heck, I ate that too.
Finally, I went to bed...
TUNE IN TOMORROW for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "English Bacon..." "Neptune's Staircase..." "They deserved better..." "The Zebra-Striped Hearse..." "Campbell on bagpipes..."
So,what is Greg Weissman working on right now besides Gargoyles 2198 and Redemption Squad?
I'm not actually working on either of those things right now.
I'm doing work for Platinum Studios, DAG Entertainment and Hasbro. I hope to be starting work soon on a couple of projects for Warner Brothers. I'll keep you posted.
What would you change and do if you were to start a new gargoyles project and what would it be?
What would I change about what?
Whatever, I could sell.
I'm back from Scotland. As some of you might know, my father (who without exageration has nearly a half-million frequent flyer miles from years and years of business travel) was going to Germany on business and decided to take advantage of the free trip to spend a week in Scotland. I offered to go with him (cuz I'm SO generous), and as my 40th birthday is coming up, he agreed to use some of his miles to take me along.
Thought you might like to hear about my trip. So I'll put together a little Scotland journal. Cover a day per day, that sort of thing. Mostly, I'll talk about what I ate.
And if you're not interested. Well. Then don't read it.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2003
Wasn't going to work, so I got up late (10am). Very slowly showered and shaved. Wasn't even bringing a razor on the trip, so this would be my last shave until today. (For those who haven't seen me since the con, I've shaved off the beard.)
The only problem was that I shaved with a "dead" razor and really cut up my face.
12pm - Walked into Larchmont Village to get a haircut. As an experiment -- and since I wouldn't be seeing anyone but my dad for a week, I got a complete buzzcut. #1 Plastic clippered the whole thing. I think I looked damaged. But Beth and the barber liked it. Though my kids did not. It's still VERY short and takes some definite getting used to.
I went home and packed my duffle bag. And the zipper ripped. Not a good omen. So I repacked in Beth's duffle. Packed my briefcase. Checked the internet briefly.
3pm - The car arrived. I said goodbye to my wife and kids and left.
3:30pm - Arrived at the airport. Checked in. Grabbed some food at McDonalds. Quarter-pounder with cheese, fries, Coke, bake apple pie. Started eating at the gate.
My dad met me there. He saw my haircut and liked it. I was able to upgrade to Business Class at the gate, which was a GOOD omen. Then he and I sat and talked.
5:30pm - We boarded. He was in First Class (payed by the German company he works for). I was in the last row of Biz. The seats are almost too high tech to figure out, but man biz-class rules. Had a glass of water and we took off.
Immediately, I reset my watch to Scottish time. Which means that's it for Monday.
Read about Tuesday tomorrow... (Here's a preview: "sourdough..." "Route 60..." "No punch backs..." "Inverlochy Castle...")