Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Campbell Castle

We walked just past the town to the Campbell castle, still lived in by the Earl himself. There were sheep on his land. They stared at us and said, "Baaaaaa." 

We weren't expecting to see the colors of Fall still, but it warmed our hearts. I've always loved that I got married in the Fall, my favorite season.

Here are shots of the Earl's barn!!! I suggested I wouldn't mind if he asked us in, just to stay in the barn!

Baa Baa Black Sheep, have you any wool?

The trees were beautiful and moss covered!

And here is the beautiful castle in the morning light. 

As we strolled through, a bag pipe began to play. I really thought CC had somehow lined all of this up or that I was in a movie set! It was wonderful.

We were able to see a housing complex for the sheltered/elderly named for James Chalmers, missionary martyr from Inverary to Papua New Guinea. This was a beautiful Church of Scotland.

The mist rolled off and on the mountain. CC remembered a watch tower (just barely visible here) that he climbed as a 20 year old. It was so foggy and cold we didn't try it. However, our plan is to take our kids back at Christmastime. Maybe we can try it.

I just could hardly take a bad picture in this beautiful town.

There's the watchtower!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: First Morning

This trip was an absolute surprise and adventure for me. I did know where we were going (unlike our honeymoon), but I didn't know where within the country or what adventures CC had planned for us. When we drove for 2 hours the first night, I couldn't see anything except some lights surrounding the "Campbell Castle" upon our arrival in Inverary. Inverary is the Campbell Clan land. It's where they all lived in the highlands. We slept hard the first night, then woke up to the sunrise at 8AM! (further north than I've ever been)

We left our room to see the cute village we were staying in.

We walked across the street to eat breakfast in the little cafe. It was included with our hotel. We started with these berries, cream, marmalade, and croissants. I quickly realized that, though they were speaking English, I could almost understand Turkish better than the English they were speaking!

We got to choose one plate for our main breakfast. We both chose the one called, "The Full Scottish." And man was it full! PROTEIN overload and so yummy! It had baked beans, a fried egg, a grilled tomato, bacon, sausage, and this little round black thing they had called "pudding." Of course, I saved my pudding till last. I took a bite, and.....PUDDING? It tasted like liver and kidneys!!! We realized it was the traditional Scottish food called haggis. In the old days, they would stuff the stomach of a sheep with all the internal organs, add oats and spices, then boil it. Haggis!

We left the cafe and explored the darling town. This was a monument to WWI for the men from this town who gave their lives there. We began seeing the Campbell name over and over.

What touched me is that there were fresh reminders that the men are still honored. A lit candle and fresh flowers.

I had my camera on the wrong setting, so it is grainy, but I love this photo of my Scot in front of the town's bridge. I began working on him to buy a kilt!

Isn't this lovely?

 Monument to the Scottish soldiers.

And as we were just looking around at the mountains surrounding us, the beautiful "loch" (lake), the fog rolling in, a bagpipe began to play. I told CC he had somehow rigged all this, and we were really in a movie set. I couldn't stop smiling!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Our Escape

CC decided last summer, when we were apart, to plan a trip for our 20th. We try to do something a little bigger (a trip) for each of our 5 years. On our 5th, I was pregnant with Miss Middler. We stayed in a nice hotel in Singapore and chose her name. On our 10th and 15th, we traveled within Turkey with some or all of our kids with us. This year, he wanted us to go alone and to go outside of our country. This was a first; we had never left our kids alone in the country before. Several sweet friends volunteered to help them in any way they needed and made it possible.

He researched and bought some good priced tickets and planned a wonderful 4-day getaway for us. I only knew we were going to Scotland. I couldn't wait! We got up very early and headed out on a Thursday. We hardly knew what to do with ourselves with just 2 carry-on bags and no little hands to hold through the airport.  We bought a Starbucks coffee and split it. I think we held hands the entire time in the airport. I just couldn't believe it was happening! To me! 

After a short layover in Istanbul, then a 4.5 hour flight, we arrived in Edinburgh. I peeked out the window to see this! 

And this! A castle! Right out my window! 

We had traveled most of the day and were tired, but we were like teenagers! We set out to get to our car rental place. A kind Scottish man with a cowboy hat volunteered to get our picture. He had just returned from Miami and Texas! I wish we'd gotten him in our picture. 

We got our car, and my job became reminding CC to drive on the OTHER side of the street! In Turkey, we drive a big diesel van. We had a little French car. It was an economy car, but we kept calling it sporty. And compared to our van, it was sporty! We began zipping through the 2 lane roads, round curves, not entirely sure if we were on the right roads. Oh, it was fun! And then I said, "I'm getting hungry. I wonder if we see some little fish-and-chips place, like a hole in the wall, if we could stop." By this time, it was 10PM Turkey time. CC said, "Only if it's on the left side of the street!" We  had already begun to drive in snow and all kinds of blind curves. And then my little fish-and-chips place was there! CALLING US! 

We walked in, and I will never forget the smell. MMMMM. You know when you are really hungry how good food tastes? We split a plate and enjoyed every bite. 

What a cute place. She had all handmade soaps. I think I smelled every one. 

I took this picture of CC to send to the kids. Big Ben responded, "I love your hottel." I love him! Not quite our hotel, with a fish net hanging from the ceiling. 

It was every bit as good as it looks. 

With fried fish and potatoes in our bellies, we headed back out to find the beautiful town of Inverary, the Campbell Clan land!

Friday, November 25, 2016

20 Years, Just Like That

Somehow I blinked and 20 years flew by. November 16 marked the day that I have been married to my beloved for 20 years. That night, we watched our wedding video. In it, one of the two pastors who married us referenced being in our house "in twenty years" to see the children that God had given us, raised in a godly home. As we watched, we were just overcome with God's faithfulness to us. My husband planned a surprise for me during the summer and booked a short getaway to Scotland (with some very economical tickets!). My next blogposts will be pictures from Scotland!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Nothing Runs Like a Deere

When we lived in our former neighborhood, we organized a simplified trick-or-treat night for our staff kids. But now that we are spread out throughout the city, it was impossible to figure out. So, instead, we came up with a new fall activity. We call chipped in to pay a farmer to take us on a hayride, finishing off with s'mores at a bonfire.

When the man pulled up, we were speechless. His tractor and trailer were John Deere, the biggest and pretties I've ever seen. I laughed that he had "Masallah" written on it. This is a Turkish phrase which means, "May Allah protect." and you see it on the trucks and buses here. I just never thought I'd see a John Deere with it.

The kids had a great time!

For many of them, it was their first hay ride. It was fun and something I hope we do again!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sweet Cheeks and a Sweet Time

My little baby is growing up, there's no question about it. She'll always be my baby (and doesn't mind me saying this), but as she is approaching Middle School, she's earned her night away with Mama to talk about "growing up."

We hopped a bus into town and stayed one night at a spot where we could walk to the mall. I let her pick the restaurant, and she chose Popeye's Chicken.

We walked back to our hotel and checked out the pool, sleeping later in a giant king-sized bed that was so warm and comfy.

Our favorite part was the hearty breakfast the next morning, complete with a coffee machine that spit out any drink you wanted. We tried them all in little cups!

I love my little gift called Sweet Cheeks. She says she ready to grow up, except she'll miss her stuffed animals when she's too big to play with them.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Twinkle Turns 16 (Friends to Celebrate)

On her actual birthday, Twinkle invited a few friends over to our house. The next morning, we took them out for "village breakfast."

It's just....really good!

It was a cold, fun day, and we enjoyed warming up by the wood burning stove.

Happy 16th to a daughter who makes me proud every day!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Twinkle Turns 16! (Family Party)

Twinkle is a 16-year-old! I can't believe my little girl has reached that milestone. Just before we celebrated her as a family, CC casually mentioned to me as he fell asleep one night, that his favorite soup was called Mulligatawny. He'd had it as a 20 year old in Europe and had memorized the name so he could have it again. 20 year old? He's just now telling me? I'd found a recipe and whipped up a pot within 24 hours. He ate 3 bowls the first night. A few nights later, Twinkle Toes requested it as her birthday meal!

We love doing one night just for our family. Just to laugh, to eat something requested by the birthday boy/girl, and to shower them with presents and love. My favorite memory of this night is when Big Ben realized he didn't have a gift for her. His normal route is to run up and find something to give...a seashell, a car, a soccer card. But this night he ran up and grabbed all his cash, 30TL (about $10) and insisted that she have it.

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