Our final week in Scotland has come to close. It was a good week, but really bittersweet for me, as we've just had a really great time here, exploring the countryside and cities of this rainy but green land. Today we'll board a plane (or four) and make our way west until we end up in Denver, around 4:30am Scotland time.
Last week it snowed every day until it finally started warming up again on Saturday. We had fires in the fireplace, pulled out our sweaters one last time, and on Wednesday I baked brownies with one of the twins who was home from nursery with the chicken pox. We used a recipe that incorporates zucchini, and kept that part a secret, and then after the others had tried the brownies, surprised them with our special ingredient. She had so much fun with that, especially since her brother very staunchly dislikes zucchini, but liked these brownies a lot.
The other big news from Wednesday was that four pigs arrived to live on the farm, to eat nuts and potatoes and barley and leftover food that the kids don't eat...and then eventually at the end of the summer, be eaten themselves. It was very exciting when their trailer pulled up and they were put in their new pen. They became the biggest topic of conversation and feeding them each morning was definitely a highlight for everyone, not just the kids.
We worked all day on Tuesday, so we had Thursday off and we decided to explore Dundee, the closest city to the farm. We did our grocery shopping the towns of Arbroath and Forfar, but Dundee (compared to those), is "big time" - it even has an airport! We spent most of the morning exploring the RRS Discovery, went out to lunch (thanks Mom and Dad!), and walked around the town a bit in the afternoon. It was a really blustery, but nice day.
On Friday, we woke up to the most snow we'd seen for probably a year - at least since the last time it snowed last spring in Colorado Springs. The kids were so very excited, and kept calling it Christmas, and were determined to build a snowman. There couldn't have been more than an inch or so on the ground, so I wasn't volunteering to go outside in the cold to help with (what I thought was) a futile effort, but they proved me wrong, and by the end of the day, there were three snowmen and 16 good sized snowballs in the backyard! In the evening, once the kids were in bed (although not quite asleep - some of them tend to get up a time or two for various "emergencies") we stayed home and planned our trip to Glasgow while Hugh and Caroline went out to the movies - yay for live-in babysitters!
D - I was really flabbergasted by the snowfall, but was pleasantly surprised to see it melt so quickly like back home in Colorado! Part of my refusal to go outside and play in it may have stemmed from my subconscious denial that snow could be around so late in the year!
Saturday we had kid duty from about 10am - 2pm and it was a gorgeous day, so we went out to see and feed the pigs first, and then spent a while in the backyard. I know I've used this same (or similar) sequence in every weekly update, but that's because we did it a lot: we bounced high, we swung the kids high, and we pushed them around on their little John Deere tractor. I also admired the biggest snowman, which by this time had been named after me...and was slowly melting under the bright sun that had been shining most of the day.
D - Although I've been an on again off again vegan for some time now, I've never really had a problem with the idea of killing animals for food. I realize now, however, that I don't think I'm cut out for farm work as I don't know if I could eat eat something that I named and knew.
After we packed up our four suitcases while everyone was at a birthday party, we decided to take the car and check our Lunan Bay. Karina had recommended it as her favorite beach in the area, and after doing some cursory research on it, I saw that many regard it as the prettiest beach in Angus (the area of Scotland we lived in). It was about a 25 minute drive for us, and we took about 45 minutes to walk along the beach and talk before heading back. The weather felt much cooler and windier than it did at the farm - I was wishing for my gloves and an additional jacket, so it was fine that we needed to get back to make supper (sweet potato gallettes, a new recipe for us!) - but it was a really nice stretch of beach, and we really enjoyed our time.
On Sunday the family was really on a birthday party circuit - they left at 10am and got back after 6pm! We had a light day of work - only a grocery store trip and a pot of chili to make for supper. We had plenty of last minute things to tie up and plan and take care of, though, so we stayed busy. We shared a nice dinner with Hugh and Caroline once the kids were in bed, just like we had the night before, as both evenings they had eaten at birthday parties, so we were able to eat just the four of us - no one refused to eat their food or fed it to the dog or smeared it all over their face. It was nice, but missing some of the pizzazz our normal family meals had.
Monday we said good-bye to Hugh and the youngest at the farm (no room for them in the car with all our suitcases!) and then dropped the twins off at nursery before catching our bus to Glasgow. I shed a few tears each stop of the way...Hugh and Caroline and their three kids welcomed us so warmly and kindly into their home, and really made us feel like we were a part of their lives and family. Saying good-bye to this chapter of our lives wasn't so easy for me.
D - Though I didn't cry like Shannon (what a baby!), I feel the same way. It was difficult to say goodbye after being welcomed so warmly into a family! I hope that we can visit our Scottish friends again sometime soon!
However, after a rest on the nearly two hour bus ride, we were ready to see Glasgow. We spent the remainder of Monday and all of Tuesday exploring the city. Highlights included the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel, the University of Glasgow, touring the City Chambers, Glasgow Cathedral, and the fact that it didn't rain non-stop for two days as the weather report had predicted. We kept hearing before we came from all our sources (people here in Scotland, guidebooks, etc) that Glasgow is kind of rough around the edges, and now that we're here, I think that I can see where that comes from a bit, although after only two days, I can't really claim to know the city (at all). We haven't felt unsafe once, though, and the parts of the city we've been in (as far east as the Necropolis, as far south as Glasgow Green, as far west as the West End, and as far north as Buchanan Bus Station) seem attractive and well-taken care of. The city has plenty to see and do, and is supposed to have some of the best parks around.
Well, what a week it's been. We've said good-bye to our Scottish family, and tonight, after 21 hours of traveling, we'll say hello to some of our Colorado family, whom we haven't seen since they dropped us off at the airport last September. It's been a wild ride, from Colorado to Spain to Scotland, and with lots of little stops in between. I'm so thankful for the places we've been, the people we've met, the foods we've tried, and the good times we've had. It's been far from easy at times, but it's been worth it.