Monday, February 13, 2017

Scotland Story: First Impressions

We were so excited to hit the road and see the beautiful country of Scotland as a family. A fun vacation to CC is to be behind the wheel of a car, finding his way, navigating us from place to place.

We were all just overcome at the beauty and age of the buildings.

And then we made this turn down a small country road (according to the GPS) and spotted this fine fella. Evidently the grass was greener on the other side.

He had a found a hole through the fence and was chomping away.

My picture is blurry, but isn't he lovely? We just laughed and laughed at his bangs.

Literally. Everywhere you turn is beauty. This was just "a house." We were enjoying every minute of everything we saw.

Scotland is place of magic to me.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scotland Story: Getting There

Our Scottish adventure had begun! An early morning flight launched us to our first ever vacation in Europe as a family. I proudly wore my Campbell tartan scarf, my gift from my Clansman for Christmas.

Did I mention our flight schedule was long? We are REALLY close to Scotland, but it took a REALLY long time to get there. We were just happy to go.

Finally, in the wee hours of the night, we arrived in Edinburgh. We were so tired, but giddy to be there! We got there so late, CC planned for us to spend that first night somewhere near the airport. We got our rental car, which was SO much smaller than the picture. To fit 7 people in a car in that price range, there ended up being basically no trunk. So, we all had duffle bags under our feet and in our laps. I couldn't even see two of my kids. Then there was CC driving a stick shift on the "other" side of the road. We had absolutely no idea how to get to the hotel from the ever-intersecting highways (though we had downloaded maps and had a GPS in the car). Finally, he figured out the maze, we took the right exit, and we drove right up to the hotel. It was at that point that CC realized he had no idea how to get the car in reverse. I am grinning as I type this, but it truly wasn't funny at 2AM. We went inside the hotel, and the man at the desk said he had no idea how to put it in reverse either, but to just leave it where it was. Then Sweet Cheeks, who does this when she gets overly tired, vomited. We got into our rooms, which were about the size of office cubicles and absolutely crashed.

The next morning, I woke early and crept downstairs to read my Bible and have coffee while waiting on the others. Soon, my sweet husband and kids trickled down. We paid a nominal fee for a continental breakfast just so we wouldn't have to try to find breakfast (and put the car in reverse). I am certain we left the continental buffet completely stripped. My kids can put away some breakfast. Everyone was perfectly fine and happy after some sleep. And even cute! CC had gone online and searched for how to put the car in reverse. It seemed the search engine popped right up, indicating we weren't the first to misunderstand. We backed out and headed down the road to beautiful Inveraray!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Christmas in February

Merry Christmas! in February! I miss blogging. I miss hearing from my readers. I've just got a very full plate right now, since my work load shifted to full time. But I just don't want to give this blog up! So, here goes.

We finished school on a Thursday. Whew. Christmas parties were done. Classrooms were shut down for the break. CC and I had planned for this last Christmas before sending Firstborn to college that we would travel somewhere fun. We'd keep the budget small, which would mean awful flight schedules and basic hotels, but we wanted to do it. He desperately wanted to show them Scotland. And after seeing it for our anniversary, there was no place I'd rather go! Our flight left the Sunday after we got out of school. So, we had the little tiny window of Friday and Saturday for Christmas to celebrate before we left.

I have this very happy memory of this little day preparing for Christmas. Everyone needed presents for everyone. We'd been so busy with school and basketball and everything else, we had not really had time to prepare. So, CC drove us all down to the closest little mall. After shopping for about an hour, we left with just a few small things and a few big promises that, "I'll buy you a gift in Scotland!"

But it was so fun to see my kids thinking of each other. Sweet Cheeks and I only managed to find a giant Toblerone chocolate bar for CC. We just found nothing else for anyone. So, we went across the street and bought coffees!

...and she got something wonderful called a "New Year's Cake." Looks awfully Christmassy to me!

And on the way home, Firstborn mentioned she didn't want to leave Turkey without a Turkish teapot. So, her sisters had me stop in the grocery store and bought her one. No one spent too much, but they were just so thoughtful of one another.

Saturday morning, we had Christmas breakfast with egg casserole, birthday cake for Jesus (cinnamon rolls), and cheese grits. With wassail of course. I've been making that for Christmas all 20 years I've been married to him.

That theme of thoughtfulness carried over into our Christmas day. Twinkle had stayed up late the night before creating a hand-painted card with a beautiful letter for each of us.

The girls found their papa a lion mug, our school mascot.

Firstborn spotted some hedgehog house shoes. You do remember we had a "pet" hedgehog for a few hours. He ran laps on our balcony all night. We set him free...

And she made her sisters a shadow box collage of all their ticket stubs and souvenirs from their summer trip to NYC.

And just as we left Moscow last Spring, she spotted a little frame in the outdoor market. She bought it and made me a tiny memory box of our trip. The gifts were small, but very much from the heart. Christmas in Turkey has always been simple. And I love it that way.

That night Aunt B stopped by to deliver some gifts. Can you believe she found me a tiered dessert plate in Stockholm with a Scottish castle on it? Now that's thoughtful!

In the afternoon, I cleaned out my fridge of the fresh produce and veggies that would not keep while we were gone. We drove over to our new friends' house to see if they could use it. This was a family that we met while my Bible class delivered gifts for an outreach. I was happy my kids got to meet them as well.

That night, we quickly threw things into our bags. Our plane tickets were cheap, so we didn't have any checked bags. 10 days in Scotland with carry-ons! The Campbells can do it!

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