Part VI of MY Scottish Journey

This next leg of our journey takes place just after Christmas when we had a lovely time as a family and partook of a roasted turkey and fixings to accompany it.

The next mini trip was, again, challenging to my emotions and body. I am still struggling to understand the emotions of this trip. I know it has some to do with my love of this place that stems back to childhood. I think some to do with any ancestral connections of my roots. And some to do with being with our son and his wife. It does the heart of a mom good to see where her children live and their day-to-day lives. All of these, combined with our bodies being subpar, stirred up a jumble of emotions.

All I wanted was to visit my kids and enjoy Scotland, land of faeries and stories and shortbread! I got more than I expected. I’m still processing all my experiences over there. To some of you I may sound bonkers. Please tell me someone out there has experienced the emotions tied to a trip you took!

Anyway, we set off one morning by train to Berwick-upon-Tweed in northern England, just over the Scottish border. The very name, Berwick-upon-Tweed, demands to be thought and spoken in an accent other than American. Another quaint, lovely town with scenery to match.

via duct on The River Tweed

garden in
Berwick-upon-Tweed

Here we caught a bus that wound past views of the sea and farms to Northumberland.  We got off the bus and began to walk towards the Bamburgh Castle. I am speechless at this point. Just look at the pictures of this castle from the road. I really am speechless. A perfectly in tact castle and live-able.  Passed down from generation to generation. I was struck by it’s awesomeness.

 

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Walking up the road to enter the castle was difficult. I was struck by it’s enormous beauty and kept taking pictures. I think I forgot to breathe – LOL – when they say something is breathtaking I can vouch for that first hand. I made it to the top in one piece but had my doubts.

The pictures say the rest. Magnificent and Majestic.

Enjoy!

Cate B

 

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Part V – MY Stone of Destiny

Last year my husband and I came across a movie to stream called “Stone of Destiny“.

We were pleasantly surprised. Not only did it star Charlie Cox – aka: Dare Devil, but the plot was based on the true story of Scotland’s Stone of Scone and a few university students who actually stole it from England and brought it back to Scotland.

As soon as we found out we were taking a trip to Scotland to visit our kids, my son told us to think of places and things we want to see.

I asked if he knew where the Stone of Destiny was? He, being a history major, knew exactly where it was and it would be easy to see.

 

 

So on our journey we went. In my previous posts on MY Scottish Journey, I talked about some of the challenging aspects. All the walking up and down hills and on hard cobblestone surfaces. A bit painful by the time we fell into our bed at night but so worth it.

I wanted to suck all I possibly could from my Scottish heritage and connection to this amazing land. One day, just before Christmas, we set off by train into The Highlands. Be still my heart. The beauty, even in the dead of winter, is surreal. How one small bit of land in this vast world can be so diverse is mind boggling. Or is it? I come from the USA where the difference in terrain goes from frozen tundra to wide vast prairies to rocky shores and sandy beaches on two different oceans and tropical places all along the southern border! But SCOTLAND has more magic, at least to me. A fascination that draws you deep inside of its very heart. And faeries! Don’t forget the fairies. 😉

Here are some images from our train ride into The Highlands taken through the train windows..

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Our destination was Fort William. I beautiful and quaint town set into the hills and water – Loch Linnhe, one of Scotland’s longest sea lochs. One of my goals was to walk on beaches. Any kind of beach was wonderful to me. In Fort William there is a beach and that day the tide happened to be out. My son and I set off onto the wet stones that covered the bottom of the inlet along with seaweed. It was a bit slippery but nothing stops me from walking on a beach.

Camera in hand and a smile on my face I walked and snapped images and looked for some wee treasure to take home with me. And there it was. Right before me in the wetness of low tide, MY personal Destiny Stone.

MY Destiny Stone – complete with MY initial

I bent over to pick it up after taking a photo. It was so slippery and I was layered with warm clothing, I just couldn’t get it. I started laughing. My son came over and asked if I needed help. YES! It’s my stone of destiny! He was quite surprised at that “C” on that stone for his mom. He picked it up and I was thrilled. I could go home a happy woman. My gift from Scotland.

Here is a glimpse of Fort William…

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After enjoying Fort William and our stay in an Air B&B we boarded a bus the next day and went to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. What an enjoyable and beautiful place. I did look for Nessie but she was no where to be seen that day.

Urquhart Castle…

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From here we bused up to the city of Inverness. Oh Inverness, how I fell in love with you. I promise to spend more time with you in the future. The locals have thick Scottish accents and I love it, even though you have to listen very carefully to understand them. And unicorns…….

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From Inverness we hopped onto and train as the sun was setting and ended our trip back in Edinburgh the day before Christmas Eve. A very satisfying and beautiful journey.

Until next time…..

Enjoy!

Cate B

 

 

 

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Part IV – Food in Scotland

Everybody loves food. I do confess that food is not on the top of my list when I travel. I just want sustenance in order to do and see all I can.

I have to say that I did enjoy eating in Scotland. Since we stayed with family, some of our meals were fixed at home or packed up and brought with us. I was delighted. The home cooked meals consisted of leftover Christmas turkey turned into meat pie with puff pastry for the topping. YUM.

We had creamy porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast some mornings. Toast made from the incredible hard crusty loaves that are found unwrapped in grocery stores. Oh the bread is to die for.

Lunches were salami, pepperoni, cheese and rocket sandwiches. Rocket is what we call arugula. There is a description on the bag of its peppery flavor. My husband only ate it once because he swore it had too much peppery flavor for his liking. My son and I just looked at each other before we both insisted it was exactly like the US arugula and that the advertising worked into his head. Anyway, all those ingredients set inside a soft Scottish bun and maybe even a smidgeon of brown sauce or ….. Scottish bun with brown sauce and bacon! Yes, please.

Dinners at home, made by my son, also consisted of curried rice and smoked salmon. And take away gyros or kabobs as they like to call them. So savory and delicious.

Not to mention the shortbread and ginger nut biscuits (cookies). And did I mention puff pastry? It is in abundance in the UK and so much cheaper than in the States! Good grief.

And the Scottish soda they fondly call,  Irn-Bru

Now let’s talk scones. I’m not a fan of dried or candied fruit. I actually gag at most raisins. I can tolerate raisins in oatmeal cookies or granola but cannot stand them plumped up and cooked.

Anyway, it is hard to find scones in Scotland with zero raisins, currants or peel of some sort. But they are cut up very small so I bucked up and ate them. Of course the fact that they bring you a large bowl of fresh, real whipped cream and a bowl of jam to slather all over them really helped. A lot.

 

Now, about hose raisins. My son gave me the heads up before flying out there. He warned me several times about raisins being in many things. Like Plum pudding – raisins galore. So when they insisted we try Christmas Pudding, we were fair warned. And I already knew that what those UK people call pudding is not what we call pudding. Sometimes I think we left the UK and came to America to be free from puds and raisins!

Anyway, I could not do the Christmas Pudding. It smelled great. It looked great. But I just couldn’t. I tried to eat the “cake” part around the raisins but that proved impossible. I have to say the brandy cream poured all over it was good and warm.

A Christmas Pudding

served up

uh, no thanks

So not to go on and on with my words…. Let me give you a gallery of great foods…. Enjoy!

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But last of all I want to show you the Pasties we ate on our last day in Edinburgh. Those who watch the Great British Baking Show will know the term “Pasty” – well they are just as you would imagine! Deliciously wonderful! I am a fulfilled woman. Pastry filled with a delicious beef stew, of sorts. Wow.

Pasty!

 

 

See you later for more of My Scottish Journey.

Cate B

 

Part III – The Natives – MY Scottish Journey

I’m pretty sure group tours are a great way to see and learn about your trip. Our family, however, have never taken a group tour or preplanned tour (The Great Wall of China was with a group but no one spoke english so it was just a magnificent guided walk). We love to get into the flow of everyday life among the people who live there.

Our son and his wife have a lovely flat. When you stand in front of the building, and look to the end of the street, you have lovely view of Arthur’s Seat. It’s a hill that pops up out of no where. A lovely back drop to streets lined with what we, from the US, may call brownstones or apartment buildings.

Arthur’s Seat in the background – Edinburgh, Scotland

I have to say that I was impressed with their flat and the simplicity of appliances and such. While the bathroom was narrow, to say the least, it was practical. You can even brush your teeth while sitting on the toilet. But the most practical was the hot water heater for the shower. Just a box that held the shower head and heated the water instantly as you needed it. I’ve heard of that type of hot water heater in the states by builder friends but for some reason they don’t seem to have taken off. I like them.

The ceilings were super high, it was an old building. The windows are old but also very high. The kitchen was small – my small kitchen at home was bigger – theirs is more practical. No dishwasher but a washing machine under the counter! Tiny, but held a lot of laundry and washed them well! The radiators in each room proved to be excellent dryers in the winter months.

The refrigerator is the what we may call a dorm fridge. Also under the counter, and that meant shopping fresh every other day or even every day. So “old world” to our spoiled, busy world. So quaint.

We had a great mattress plopped on the living room floor each night. Warm and comfy right next to the fresh Christmas Tree.

In the winter, because they are quite a bit further north than we are at home, the daylight begins at about 8:34 and ends at about 3:34! Say what? Short days and that threw us off kilter a bit. Had to get moving a bit faster than I like in order to see things in the daylight!

Our daughter made us fresh coffee each morning with toast or porridge. It was wonderful to be waited on.

Our first day…..

We are not use to city life. We live in a small country town and there is little to no public transportation. So out the door we were hustled and walked at a fast pace to the nearest bus stop. We felt old. My husband has a knee that can act up and both of us have lungs that wish hills didn’t exist. But onward we went.

We arrived shortly to Princes Street near Waverly Station ( the train station when we first arrived to Edinburgh) where the festivities began. The Christmas Market! But wait! I heard my name, “Mom”.

My son pointed and there was a young man holding a Barn Owl. I looked at my son and said, “Can I”?, like a child in a petting zoo.

Here is the result……

Gladstone the Owl

Gladstone and Me

Okay, my trip was done, I could go home fulfilled. I held an owl and learned all kinds of info about them. Pinch me.

The Christmas Market was wonderful. Here is why:

  • Vendors of all kinds form everywhere
  • smell of food cooking…….
  • happy people all around
  • amusement rides all with the backdrop of a Castle
  • did I mention the people?

Let me tell you about the people. It was so crowded at the market and got even more crowded as Christmas approached. BUT, unlike America, we encountered not one rude person. Smiles everywhere. No pushing. No anger. No bad looks.

I thought it was because it was the whole Christmas outdoor market thing…. but wherever we went in Scotland the people were the same. Just plain nice. All the time. 

I fell deeply in love with Scotland that day.

Here are a few random images of the beginning of our trip…….

 

I have to say that from the start, the people impressed me. I confess that I had a “picture” of the Scots in my head – loud, rowdy, etc. And I have to say we never encountered a single one as I had preconceived. A wonderful happy folk.

Tell next time…..

Enjoy!

Cate B

 

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My Scottish Journey Part II: Getting There

The last big trip we took was in February of 2005. The same son who is studying now in Scotland was studying in Shanghai, China for a couple of semesters. So why not go to China? Good grief, prior to that we only went as far as our country could reach and a little into Canada and Baja California.

This was a serious journey. Prepare we did. I learned two phrases in Mandarin and spoke them wrong while there. Our son took us on a jaunt to the Great Wall of China – crazy beautiful and a challenge physically. But rewarding.

This trip to Scotland we are in the second half of our sixties. A little plump here and there and live in a town where hills are almost non-existent.

Edinburgh, Scotland has hills. Yup. The first hurdle was the actual route to get to Scotland. Our local “International” Airport tends to be rather pricey. To save money we booked an Amtrak train to Chicago. A great ride – very roomy and plenty of time to sleep.

I was anxious about arriving in Chicago. My tummy tightens even now as I type these words. We packed way too much baggage and our airline check-in bags were very heavy. Not to mention that they were “outdated”. Did you know that they make baggage with four – 4 – spinning wheels on the bottom???? (insert laughter) They can go in any direction! Where have we been? All these twenty-somethings and their new bags were leaving us in the dust.

Then there was the Uber driver. His job was to get us from Union Station to our hotel by the airport for the next day flight. Apparently it was not his job to get out of the car and help the senior citizens put their HEAVY bags in his car. It’s amazing how fast we can lift and move with car horns blaring at us in downtown Chicago.

At the hotel I had to chat with Iceland Air about our flight to Glasgow. Their mechanics, a necessary position for an aircraft, were on strike. They booked us onto KLM – Dutch Airline – to Amsterdam then to Glasgow.

Relieved, we got a good night’s sleep and got ready for the shuttle to the airport. That went great. We were almost on standby until an angel from The Netherlands walked by and said, “Oh. I booked them last night. No standby for them.” And no charge for the extra bag we checked.

Fly KLM – no extra charge for food and a very pleasant flight.

We were so happy to be on the ground in Glasgow. All we had to do was claim our monster bags and find our son.

While waiting for the bags I received a text stating that our bags were still in Amsterdam. I think I was relieved because they were heavy! Our son popped off a bus and got us to the train station in Paisley……..

As the train was entering Edinburgh I was beside myself with emotion. I wanted to capture every moment on my iPhone and just couldn’t do it justice. My emotions were running all over the place. Foreign land, yet not. So many of us Americans dream of Faerie Tales and Kings and Queens and Princes and Princesses. We are in awe of Downton Abbey life styles and high tea and accents from the United Kingdom. My husband and I watch endless BBC dramas and PBS series that tell of a different time and place. Not to mention so many of the classics came from this fair land that I was now in. I’m still in awe of the fact that we were there.

A dream come true. It was overwhelming to take it all in. As a matter of fact, I’m still taking it all in. At the end of each day I cried. I’m not even sure why. Part of it was the aches in my legs of the hills and cobblestones. Part of it was my insecurities of being in a place far from home. And part was that I was in SCOTLAND!!!

What an opportunity my son was given to be able to study in a place he loves. As we stayed in their flat I grew closer to his wife and saw she had blossomed in her many gifts of creativity. She became more alive in the magical land of Scotland.

Yes, magical. All you thought it would be it was that and much more. I can’t stress enough for you to not give up your dreams. They’ll shift and change some as time passes, but the ones that are meant to happen will, if you don’t give up. They may come suddenly for you or in time and planning and very probable will come to you in a very different way than you thought.

Thank you for patiently going through my processing of this journey. This is just the beginning. Enjoy the images (as simple as they are) and part three is to come……..

Cate B

 

The Journey Begins Part I My Scottish Journey

I have always had a love for  Scotland. I think it began deep inside from my ancestors, I’m convinced of that, or I choose to believe that.

My mother’s grandfather came from Paisley, Scotland when he was a young boy. I never knew him but the few times she mentioned him it was always in a fond voice.

My mother also kept me enshrouded in plaid. I love plaid. I am still attracted to all things plaid.

Many years ago a friend introduced me to the Scottish author George MacDonald. The first book I read was The Lost Princess – a fairy tale. I fell in love with this man’s writing and how he lived his life. Looking for images for this post brought up books of his that I have not read or heard of. A new quest is at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day, in a small mountain town in Southern California, this wife and mother was engrossed in yet another tale of The Scottish Highlands and deep characters, when I had to set book aside and load the four kids into the car with husband and head down the mountain to do grocery shopping.

As my husband navigated down the winding highway I was lost on the moor and the heather  hills. I actually said to myself, “I wonder when I will see the heather in Scotland”.

After parking the car I grabbed a cart and headed into the market. I came to an abrupt stop right inside the door. There, spread out on a long table and hard to miss, was a radiant display of Heather in full bloom. The sign on the table shouted my name: “SCOTTISH HEATHER”.

Who needs food? I grabbed a plant and proudly placed it in the cart. Was that a gift from God? I believe it was. I felt like He was giving me a glimpse of my dream trip that was sure to come.

The kids are all grown and have families of their own now. Every now and then I wondered when we would see Scotland. Then it happened. August of 2017 our middle son and his wife packed up and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland for him to pursue his passion at the University of Edinburgh.

When our son was accepted we talked and decided we would come and visit. We chose to spend Christmas and New Years there. They agreed and we booked the tickets. I was beside myself with excitement and trepidation. Being a person full of imagination and creativity, I tend to be a bit dramatic – at least to me I am. Probably to others also, but I try to keep most of it to myself.

However, I have never taken my life’s journey lightly. What I mean by that is that I tend to, and I plan to, glean all I possibly can from this life. If it’s a move across town or country or a new job then why am I here? What can I learn from the process of this journey?

And what a journey it was. I hope to convey to you, Dear Reader, a land seen through the eyes of a hopeful dreamer and therefore, you can step out and into your dreams, whatever they be. Life is too short to sit and wonder or to dream and not grab the pot of heather placed right in front of you. Go further. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there. But it does matter that you get there.

Get ready for Part II of My Scottish Journey……….

Enjoy!

Cate B

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Temporary

Here we are in a New Year, 2018, and things did not start out as they usually do in my life.

That can be good. But what usually happens is, my husband and I look into our future and talk and pray about what may be or what is in store for us.

This end of 2017 was different. First of all, we were in Edinburgh, Scotland. A dream trip. Three glorious weeks in a land that has been in our hearts for a very long time and three glorious weeks in the home and presence of our middle son and his wife – who just happen to live there for a season.

We did not get back to our home in the USA until the 8th of January. And we even came home with jet lag and a virus, so to bed we went.

By the time we recovered I felt that I needed to enter the New Year again. Can I have a do-over?

Now that I’m almost completely over this annoying sinus-type virus, I am beginning to reflect more on our trip and on this New Year. You see, three and a half years ago we moved to The Burg, a small mid-western town about an hour outside of Kansas City.

Rural. Farms all around us. Quiet. The town has a University smack dab in the middle of it. A USAF Base is just a few miles away. Plenty of activity, yet plenty of quiet. The best of both. And only a quick forty-five to sixty minute drive to “the city”.

We moved here temporarily while our other son and wife attended the University and we cared for our grand daughters while they were in class. A wonderful gift to be a part of their formative years. A bond with those girls that cannot be broken.

We rented this little house temporarily. It is small. It is neglected. It is challenging. It is a home.

Our son and daughter moved back to Kansas City and we decided to stay in this great little town. We have made precious, life-long friends and love the area. But the house. We really need to move to a better dwelling. We have goals and visions for the future and it does not include this little neglected building.

I have a friend who lives on an island. She sends me a text of encouraging words and prayers every day. She told me, just yesterday, when I told her of our need for a different house, “Not good. Always feeling transient.” She is praying for us.

Her statement,  “Not good. Always feeling transient”, took me into a reflective place. For three years I have felt transient. Knowing this house was temporary, yet never seeming to be moving on. It is not good. She is right. The definition of transient is this:

tran·sient
ˈtranSHənt,ˈtranzēənt
adjective
  1. 1.
    lasting only for a short time; impermanent.
    “a transient cold spell”
    synonyms: transitory, temporary, short-lived, short-term, ephemeral, impermanent, brief, short, momentary, fleeting, passing, here today and gone tomorrow;

    This explains a lot of my wandering in my head about where we will live. But as I wander over the last three years I always come back to this town. I just need to feel grounded, no longer transient, no longer temporary.

    I do hope this is the year to find that perfect dwelling. We’re not set on buying or renting or whatever. However it comes to us it just needs to be home. A solid, grounded home.

    He will not forget me and He will not leave me out of his plans for me and my desires on this earth.

    “I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29 The Message

    My son and I with our matching University of Edinburgh tartan scarves in front of his flat in Edinburgh, Scotland. You can see Arthur’s Seat in the back ground.

    Enjoy!

    Cate B