Anne, Uncle David and Yours Truly
Christmas evening. Apparantly I needed to look like a skinhead whilst in Glasgow. Very few approvals there...
What does Bonnie mean anyhow? According to Google, the highest rated definition refers to a benchmark which measures the performance of Unix file system operations
. Now I don't know about you, but I don't think the Unix filesystem has been around for as long as the Scottish dialect. This is just one of the many things that would confound me throughout our journey in Scotland. Luckily I have a better half that is more than capable of helping me out in this area whilst at the same time giving me the quizzical look of someone who has just been asked a stupid question. (For those who struggle like me, Bonnie means beautiful, as in "Aye, yir bonnie, aside frae the plook on the neb.". or "Yes, you are beautiful, apart from the pimple on your nose.")
After saying our farewells to our wonderful friends in Canada, we headed East to the Old World. We decided to upgrade our seat purely to accommodate the mounds of extra baggage that we had managed to accumulate in Canada. So much for my idea of travelling light. Now don't get confused with thinking that we were taking all of our old and newly acquired
Anne and Ann
After a few glasses of Champagne :-)
stuff on the plane. We were only taking what we needed for Scotland for a few months. An additional 40 boxes of god-knows-what was being shipped to Bulgaria at a later stage. Thankfully we helped out a friend who felt like filling up their garage for a few months. You know how cold and lonely an empty garage can feel sometimes.
So after a paying just few hundred extra dollars for the upgrade, we boarded the plane expecting nothing, but found to our disbelief we were almost treated like Business Class passengers. It made the 8 hour trip, dare I say it, delightful, if flying can ever conjure up a positive emotion. It's a strange feeling flying into London without the exhaustion that is normally present after flying 40 hours from Australia. Almost like the airport had only previously been experienced in a dream state, yet here I was walking through the old dream perfectly conscious.
We stayed overnight in a little B&B in a town called Horlely. We enjoyed Fish and Chips (If you want to sound local, call it a "Fish Supper") and a Pint of Guiness(ontap) at the local pub. With the exception of the
mandatory gambling machines, the surroundings felt about as old as the rest of the pubs in England (hundreds of years if it was a day), and although I cannot remember the name, it was probably something like "The Hog and Hoof".
We hit the hay early, and the little Jet Lag we had forced us awake around 4am. I went for a run in the rain (surpise, surprise!) and observed the determined and unconcious commuters march to work as I ran past. I still don't miss it. Mandatory after my first run in the UK was the "Big Breakfast". Wow. Sugar maybe poison of choice in North America, but here, it's fat, and boy, did it taste good!
With enough in our stomachs, we checked out, picked up a rental, then grabbed the dogs who had just flown in that day. We headed north, and after a few hours of learning how to drive on the left again, we made it to Nottinghamshire. We stayed at another B&B, and once again enjoyed another Fish Supper. Even bad Fish and Chips in the UK taste infinitely better than anything in Australia, so it is going to take a while
Loch Katrine holds most of Glasgow's drinking water. Thought better than to swim in someones cuppa. (Otherwise I would have Ian - swear!) :)
to tire of the taste. I thought it was the tallow, but Anne assures me it's all cooked in vegetable oil, so it must be the potatoes and fish.
The dogs had coped well with all the travel. Seasoned travellers they are now. I am sure they knew they were infinitely closer to their hometown of Staffordshire than they had ever been. On our way the following day we departed England and entered Anne's old country. Surprisingly not long after the border, I needed to engage in coversation when I filled up the car with petrol, and didn't understand a bloody word the attendent said. Luckly, my credit card spoke the same language.
After getting lost in the heart of Glasgow, we made it to Anne's Aunty and Uncles. I even managed to understand the directions given to me from the local video rental attendant.
Anne's family are super cool. Ann and David have two awesome daughters, Pamela and Dawn. Frequently all four of them wind up my Annie, and I take great delight in sitting back and watching the fireworks. I am sure it's just a Glaswegian expression of love.
Our first order of business
Mandatory gift shop on the Loch
was getting some wheels, and we managed to score a great deal on a BMW. I guess that is one of the positives of this darned credit crunch. Cars are cheap. It's a great car, and we get about 40mpg. Which should make a big difference if gas ever goes back to $140 USD. Even around $40, Diesel here is still 98p per litre, which equates to about $2.15AUD. Enough with conversions. It is what it is.
We spent our second Christmas with Anne's family, and had a great time. Anne and I were embarrasingly spoilt, and we both managed to add at least a kilo or two of terrific christmas fare.
We spent a few weeks up in the Highlands in a wonderful cottage on the edge of a beautiful loch. Sure it rained, and snowed, and was even windy at times, but the location was spectacular, and we spent hours just gazing over the loch, deep in either thoughts or books. We had a wee open fire (see I am getting it!) and loved every minute. Lochgoilhead is a tiny town, about an hour away from any major market or ammeneties. The town has very few
residents, and the cottage has no internet. WHAT! NO INTERNET? Now that was a strange, yet liberating feeling. If anyone reading this wants a wonderful getaway, Rock Cleft Cottage
is a wonderful experience. There are incredible hiking experinces in every direction.
Whilst back in Glasgow, I found the running experiences a little limited, so Joe, a close friend of Ann and David's took Anne and I under his wing and opened up the wilderness that is the heart of Scotland. We went to Queen Elizabeth Park, or "The Trossacks" as it is also called, and found an unfathomable depth to the amount of walking/hiking/running trails that are available. Sick but true, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Wonderful trails that hug the mirrored lochs, with deep forests that can turn day to night so quickly. The only thing to be afraid of is your imagiination. Oh, and the wild Haggis. No Bears though. Or cougars. Anne no longer had to walk in the middle - no fear of being in front and confronted by a bear, or being in the rear and picked off by a cougar. This wilderness is about 40 minutes drive from the heart of
Just one of the many houses on the Loch
Glasgow. Like most things in Scotland, it's not very far away.
We have been back to Stirling, made famous for the battle led by William Wallace against those darned English. The last time we went to the William Wallace Monument in 2005, the base of the monument had been desecrated by a huge and shocking wooded carving, supposedly made in the image of the great Knight, but clearly it was Mel Gibson with a kilt. We found upon our return than common sense had prevailed - the lease of the 'artwork' was not renewed, and the cringworthy carving was returned to it's owner. Bannockburn is very close also, which is another battle against the English, this time led by Robert the Bruce.
We are now enjoying day trips about the country, prior to my return to Australia for a couple of weeks to arrange shipment of furniture, and to catch up with friends and family. Anne and I have been stunned with the recent fires in Melbourne, just like most others around the world. We really cannot fathom the devastation and loss that has occured, our hearts go out to all those affected. Nature knows how to teach
the lesson of the impermenance of all things better than anyone. It was a surreal feeling watching Melbourne hit record temperature highs when the UK is experiencing the most snow since 1984. The world surely is changing, and the only thing we can rely on is what we experience in the present.
Once I'm back from Australia, it's only a couple of weeks before our jaunt in Bulgaria. We are looking forward to settling into new surroundings and experiencing the challenge of a truly foreign culture and language.
Take care and hope to hear from you soon!
Don't forget to click on pages 2 and 3 to see all the pictures, there are a few of them....
Adrian + Anne
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