We flew from Dublin to Edinburgh, Scotland, which was to be our only stop in the country. Of all the airports I've visited on this trip, I have never experienced one that was so relaxed. Apparently, the Scottish are friendly enough to let just about anybody into their country because even though we were coming from Ireland, we didn't pass through customs of any kind. I must say, I was a little disappointed since this meant no stamp for my passport 😞
We stayed with Rich's cousin Charlotte, her husband Pat and their crazy dog Sam. Charlotte warned us about Sam on the drive to her house, explaining that they were his third owners and the previous ones were a big sketchy. She said he's a very energetic Border Collie (what BC isn't?) and that they've been having a hard time training him. Some of you may know, my family dog was a hyper Border Collie named Callie, so I was extremely excited to meet this dog. We walked in their house, and as Sam bounced about, I was in shock because he looked like Callie's twin! I was in heaven because since Callie died when she was just
seven, I've always felt a little gyped on the whole family dog experience. It was almost like getting a chance to see and play with her all over again.
We had only one full day in Edinburgh, but by this point I was pretty sick of doing the tourist stops anyways. Instead, we spent most of the day wandering around the city, admiring the cobbled streets and unique buildings, enjoying the sun, and people watching in the park. That afternoon Rich and I took the bus to a smaller town just outside of Edinburgh called Dalkeith, to visit Rich's sister Claire, who had recently had her second child. Emily, who was about 6 weeks old, was a cute chubby little baby, already being protected by her mature five year old brother Daniel. Rich and I both noticed Daniel's sensible side during our afternoon walk, as he rode his bike ahead of us to find the perfect spot for Mummy to feed the baby.
Having just come from cheery Ireland, we noticed a big difference in the moral of Scotland. Although, the Scottish are known to be very friendly people, they also like to make it clear that they
are Scottish first and British second. If you ever mistake a Scotsman for an Englishman...well, just don't. We became particularly aware of this gravity after spotting numerous insults towards the English (and the Queen) in the form of chalk written graffiti on some of the buildings downtown. Although I can't remember the exact comments, it was clear that who ever wrote them didn't want anyone from England to feel very welcome. It sure made me wish Rich's accent sounded a just little more Welsh and a little less English.
Although their tactics seemed a little extreme, Rich and I can both relate to the annoyance of people assuming we're from countries other than our own. Just that morning a bouncy little man claiming to be a Buddhist monk, jumped in front of us and said "lemme guess, you're from America and you're from England." For the millionth time on my trip, I had to bite my tongue and politely say, "actually I'm Canadian and he's Welsh." Unfortunately, this didn't throw him off track and he continued to try to convince us that the Buddhist religion would change our lives forever and that we should give him some money for
a book that would teach us how to be happy. To be honest, I was feeling pretty happy until he interrupted my tour of Edinburgh!
Despite the whole Scottish vs. English tension, Endinburgh was wonderful. The scenery was beautiful, there were Scottish icons all around us, and every time I heard a local speak, I could barely contain my giggles because their accent is just so rugged and unique. Some day I will have to return to enjoy some of Scotlands world famous hiking trails.
Before returning to London, Rich and I spent another few days with his parents in Wales. We arrived just in time for lambing season and the day we got there, I had the rare opportunity to witness the birth of a lamb. After Rich and I threw on some "wellies" (rubber boots), we headed out into the field to round up a ewe that appeared to be in labour. I got a first hand experience into just how dumb sheep can be, and unfortunately it sometimes means you have to be quick and a little rough with them. After we got her in a pen in the barn, Rich explained that generally it's
best to be out of sight while a ewe is giving birth because a human presence can often stress her out. However, soon after leaving, Rich and his mom guessed from the sounds coming from the barn, this one might need a little extra help. When we arrived, the lamb's head was poking out of her mother and still covered by the membrane which could suffocate it. The ewe had also given up pushing, so Rich and his mom jumped straight into the pen, pulled the lamb out and we watched as she tirelessly licked her newborn. Apparently, twins and even triplets are very common with sheep, and a few hours later the ewe gave birth to a second lamb. It was one of the neatest things I had ever seen and very cool to learn so much about the rigours of keeping sheep. I also got a lot of insight into Rich's life growing up on a farm, and enjoyed seeing him in farm boy mode rather than as a London city slicker.
A few days later, we reluctantly returned to London. Rich started work again, while I spent most of my days exploring London, lazing in the
parks, visiting the free museums and meeting Rachel, who I met at the monastary in Thailand, for lunch.
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