A wee trip to Scotland

On the back of our Italian adventure we visited Scotland to drop off Gran for the next few weeks, to see Blake and Courtney’s family and to spend a little time amongst the Scots, because, why not! In the true style of us, people who seem to attract chaos and peril in general, we were dangerously close to missing our flight from Venice. Having stayed up until very late the previous evening excitedly chatting to Courtney and alerting a small handful of family members about our engagement, we were completely exhausted and the added stress of an almost-missed flight was not great. That ride to the airport and manic sprint once we arrived is something of a haze now… But we drowned our sorrows in airport hotdogs and all was right again.

We were greeted at the airport by family I had only ever heard about second-hand and immediately knew they were basically the nicest people in history, so it was nice to know we’d be spending the next few days with them!

B and I had been to Edinburgh previously, but during Fringe-Fest season which is certainly not the most authentic Scottish experience… Roads closed, streets literally overflowing with the thousands of people who come to see shows, it’s intense and kind of overwhelming so we immediately breathed a sigh of relief at the quiet streets and peacefulness that oozes through Scotland. Edinburgh is gorgeous, and one day I hope to go there when I’m not completely exhausted so that I can really, truly enjoy it. Edinburgh is a great place. Edinburgh is like a quieter version of the most beautiful streets in London, and it’s also cheaper which is a bonus.

One one overcast (but still beautiful!) afternoon the three of us had brekkie in Edinburgh, also managed to fit in high tea at Jenner’s, did some Primark shopping including a strawberry shower cap and saw this very interesting, highly recommended Australian film at the Edinburgh Intl Film Festival, and got stupidly lost and almost killed on probably the busiest highway in Edinburgh. No worries. This is us in the depths of despair not sure how to get ourselves out of a mess. The smiles are deceiving people…

primarkhat

Needless to say we survived the ordeal, but the lesson I took away is that Courtney trumps Blake when it comes to google maps in future 😉 {NB this will definitely cause an argument, hehehe}

Blake and I were staying in a separate hotel due to lack of bed space with family, so the following morning after surviving the highway situation and a giant hotel breakfast of black pudding, eggs, beans, bacon and more {yowzaz!} the two of us set out on a little adventure to a nearby attraction, Almond Valley , set within the beautiful countryside of Livingstone. If ever there was a time where I thought ‘This would be a great place to bring future kids!’, it was at Almond Valley. What a brilliant set up! There was a little train (which of course we rode…), a fake-mine, interactive activities, beautiful old stone buildings with all sorts of things to explore inside, donkeys, the whole shebang. I enjoyed it as an adult but boy oh boy the bairns of Livingstone must surely go mental for this place.

I may be proud of myself for totally getting a handle on understanding thick Scottish accents without even a squint, but names like this are beyond me. So cool!

Scottish Oil
After learning way more than I expected to about mining (?!) we met up with family again and headed to Glasgow for the afternoon where we had lunch, wandered around, and Courtney and I managed to squeeze in a shellac mani thank you very much. After all, if one is going to wear a sparkly engagement ring, one must have lovely nails for the inevitable ‘let’s see your ring! let’s see your ring!’ questions.

After a fantastic dinner with these folk, we had another early night as we were all still recovering from a huge few weeks of Italian gallivanting.

The next way we headed to Loch Lomond, the inspiration for this little ditty. It was a beautiful drive through true Scottish countryside, I didn’t take any photos because I was half asleep (me being tired/sleepy seems to be a running theme in today’s post! Turns out Italy is tiring!) but I can assure you, it’s something everyone should see. Loch Lomond itself is beautiful too. We ate sandwiches on some benches, wandered through some cute markets and admired the view for awhile. There’s something about standing in front of a Scottish loch that pictures and words really don’t do justice. It’s pretty magical.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

A slow drive back called for some castle-viewing, small-town-stopping including a visit to an all year Christmas shop, and finally a delicious dinner with friends which I did not photograph, in fact I didn’t pull the camera out very much at all in our brief Scottish trip… I will once more blame exhaustion.

The trip was not so much about doing things as it was spending time with family, and for Blake to see the places he has grown up hearing about. What an amazing thing for Blake and Courtney to be able to experience together, with their family and with me tagging along too… Thanks guys! Scotland, we will be back. Maybe even for Christmas!

Edinburgh

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On our fourth week, a buddy of ours from Sydney came to stay for a night or two. It’s pretty five-star at our share-house in Clapham Common, as he slept on our bedroom floor and had to use some clothes in a pillow case as a pillow. …Sorry Davey. He had plans to go to Edinburgh for the weekend and do a tour of the Highlands and see some shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest, so Blake and I at the very last-minute decided to join him and jumped on a train after work one day… A few hours later, we were in Edinburgh! My mind was blown by that one, and I’m still not accustomed to the fact that we can wake up in one country, jump on a train and be in a new one in just 2 hours.

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It was quite late when we got in so didn’t see much that night, but woke up to a lovely surprise the following morning – which is that Edinburgh is gorgeous. We wandered from the apartment where we were staying with David and three other friends, over to the heart of the city where Fringe Fest fever was happening. I never thought Edinburgh would be more hectic than London, but it was. Pamphlets being thrown at us every 30 seconds, desperate comedians (and some actors… but mostly comedians!) walking around trying to get people to see their shows, pop-up-vendors everywhere selling food and drinks and merchandise… It was mental. We managed to see five different shows in two days, some more amateur, some more professional, with audiences ranging from about 6 people to 100.The highlight for me was a production of Harold Pinter’s ‘The Dumb Waiter’ set in a kitchen. We didn’t have dinner as we had read that the space was a kitchen, so went in hungry expecting a little cafe with some tables and chairs where you could order food and drinks and have a merry old time… But when we arrived we wandered into literally, a kitchen. A commercial chef’s kitchen with no seating, and definitely no means of ordering food or drinks. The audience of around 30 surrounded three walls of the room, with the two actors doing their thing in the middle of the room, at times less than a metre away from audience members surrounding them. I thought I could be tough and stand for the whole piece, and realised about 5 minutes in that that wasn’t going to happen and experienced an uncomfortable moment when I tried to sit down as at the precise moment that one of the actors ran in my direction, not knowing I was in the process of trying to conspicuously move a piece of the set to sit down, almost ran into me.

It was surprisingly stressful navigating the giant crowds all day but an amazing experience to see so much performance coming together in one place. We did a lot of walking and saw Edinburgh castle from probably every angle of the city. We had dinner at a little Italian place before heading back to the apartment to do it all again the next day.

Edinburgh University

Edinburgh University

We had lunch on the Sunday at the Elephant House cafe, which to my dismay used wooden spoons as a centrepiece on the tables, but to my delight was also a place that JK Rowling used to frequent when she was writing the Harry Potter books. The bathrooms in that place are some kind of ridiculous shrine to JK, every single possible surface that could have a message on it, has a message on it, written in sharpies and pens by HP fans across the world who make a similar pilgrimage to the place where the story evolved!

Blake and the wooden spoon centrepiece

Blake and the wooden spoon centrepiece

The view of Edinburgh Castle from the Elephant House cafe - hogwarts..?!

The view of Edinburgh Castle from the Elephant House cafe – hogwarts..?!

Edinburgh was a real surprise in terms of beauty – it’s much more picturesque than London, and everything is gorgeous and old. Every single building had incredible detail and looked like it had a story or two to tell. We spent a lot of time just wandering around and checking it out. Next year for the Fringe Fest we plan to be back, for longer, and will explore more of Scotland too.

 

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