Although each week here in Scotland has definitely had its highlights, this past week has probably been my favorite week so far. We were off last Wednesday and Thursday, we worked over the weekend, and then we were off again this Tuesday - Friday, so I think the extra time off definitely played a part in this being a really good week. In addition, we did some different things work-wise that made the week kind of fun too.
Last Wednesday morning, we took a tour of the farm which we really enjoyed. We'd been living on the farm for nearly two weeks at that point, and were still trying to piece together how everything worked and who did what and when and why and so on, so it was really helpful and interesting to get a behind the scenes look at how things work. I'm learning that there is really so much to know and there's much more to farming than I had once imagined.
D - The farm tour was really awesome (they love it when we say that word here). I too have a much greater appreciation for farming and how difficult and complex it is after our time with Hugh. Seriously, he is an incredibly hard worker, and I feel like he knows so much about so much!
So many potatoes...!
After our farm tour, we took off for the East Coast (of Scotland) for the afternoon. We'd been wanting to see Dunnottar Castle almost since we arrived in Scotland, and were thrilled to find out it was only about a 45-minute drive from the farm. We took the coastal route which was slightly longer, and upon arrival, found out it was sadly closed due to flooding (it had been raining much of the week, to be fair), but we could walk all around it and the surrounding cliffs, so we did. We spent around 2-3 hours exploring in the on-off rain, and had the best time. What a gorgeous area.
On Thursday, our second extra day off due to the kids and Caroline visiting friends and us working a bit extra in advance in order to do so, we drove into the Highlands for the first time (just the edge) and did some hill walking (although I think I'd call it hiking! Hill walking to me gives the impression of something much more mild...) at Glen Clova. We hiked up to Loch Brandy, and despite the ferocious winds, we didn't get much rain which we were very thankful for.
In the afternoon we drove a short distance from Glen Clova to Glamis Castle, a place with a long, interesting, and recent royal history. We caught a 3:00pm guided tour and took in some of the grounds before and after, and were able to get home in time for dinner. It was a great little day trip!
Over the weekend we watched the kids on Saturday, and in morning before we were "on duty" we got out for a quick walk while the weather was good. It was a bit muddy where we were walking - Hugh suggested a new path we hadn't tried before through some tractor ruts - so I donned some too-big wellies and Danny wore some of Caroline's old running shoes and we walked through fields and enjoyed the sunshine.
D - One unexpected blessing out here has been that Hugh, Caroline, and I all have about the same size feet, so it's easy to borrow shoes from them for when I don't have appropriate farm gear. Before I discovered this past weekend that I could comfortably wear Hugh's wellies, they seemed a bit too big, and Caroline's wellies a wee bit too small, but Caroline's old trainers were just right (other than making it appear that I was wearing mom jeans).
On Sunday we prepared meals in advance since we were gone for the majority of this past week and we usually do much of the cooking. We roasted a few trays of vegetables, made mushroom a la creme (to be used in a lasagna), quadrupled a recipe of potato soup to be eaten throughout the week, made a spinach and feta pie and a rustic vegetable quiche, and prepared a double batch of Rogan Josh curry for supper that night. Danny grocery shopped while I peeled the 19 potatoes for the soup and started chopping, and we spent the rest of the day in the kitchen, working away. It was a nice change of pace, and we got to learn some new recipes - I don't think I've ever made curry or a quiche before...or spent six straight hours in the kitchen!
D - Caroline went through a pretty prestigious cookery course in Ireland, where she's from, so she has been challenging and teaching us with a ton of new, cool recipes. I love cooking so it's been another pleasant unexpected surprise that we've encountered here.
Over the weekend it became obvious that one of the kids had gotten chicken pox from a friend, so while the other kids went to nursery and to a playgroup on Monday, Danny and I switched off doing chores around the house and spending one-on-one time with him. When it was my turn, we baked chocolate chip cookies together (his first time!) and read books, and when it was Danny's, they flew kites and jumped on the trampoline and went on the swings. I think he ended up having a pretty fun morning... :)
In the afternoon we did a bunch of planning, packing, and a last minute load of laundry because bright and early on Tuesday morning, we left for a four day trip to the Highlands and the Isle of Skye! We took a scenic route through the Cairngorms National Park, Inverness, and Loch Ness before driving onto the Isle of Skye. It took us about 14 hours (it should normally take only about 5.5, so we obviously stopped a lot and took our time!), but it was a beautiful drive and we saw some really amazing things along the way. We spent all of Wednesday and Thursday exploring Skye, and then today we drove back to the farm. So, so thankful for the great weather we had (no rain aside from some snow on our way back today!) and for the chance to have four days off in a row to see such gorgeous country. A picture from each day we were gone until I get around to doing a full post or two...
We're on this weekend, and then, just two more left (hoping to use those to see Edinburgh and Glasgow!) until our time in Scotland comes to a close. Looking forward to this upcoming week and to getting back into the swing of things with a new schedule with the family now that things are back to "normal."