Saturday, February 23, 2013


Here we go.  You've been warned, there's not much content to this, just pictures and commentary from our four days in Scotland.  I narrowed it down from over five hundred to seventy seven.  And I didn't do any insta-repeats, because if you're awesome, you're already following me on IG anyway.

Here we go!

We pulled the kids out of school early and left Northwood at eleven because someone warned us that we needed to be through Birmingham before two.  Since Nick drives ALWAYSALLTHETIMEFOREVER if he's in the car, I didn't care about any of this and didn't pay any attention to if there was any traffic in Birmingham or anywhere else really.  I was in charge of taking pictures through our filthy windows and making sure the playlist stayed on EXTRAAWESOME at all times.  Oh, and giving IG a play by play.  OBVIOUSLY.
 It took about nine hours for the seven hour trip, which is winning in my book.  We stopped just south of Glasgow to eat Italian food in a Mexican restaurant.  In Scotland.  Our 'hotel' was less than an hour after that.
 If you're interested, we found the castle on this website.  The owners were fantastic, including meeting us to let us in two hours late, surprising me with a goodie basket full of cheese and salmon (wwwww) and a bottle of champagne and the best bread I've ever eaten.  Granted, I was a tad hungry.  It was three bedrooms, two full baths, full kitchen including washer and dryer and full sized dishwasher, fridge, and separate freezer, sitting room, media room with a huge tv and comfy couches, and a rooftop terrace with this view.
 And it's slightly tacky to mention money, but I will say that it was very affordable, and if you really are interested, let me know and I'd be more than happy to share what we paid.  Well, not share the money.  But the info.  It was a great location, unless you want to do way up North.

On Saturday, we slept in a little and headed to Stirling Castle.

 Not gonna lie, I was slightly bummed.  Don't forget, I'm knee deep in Pillars of the Earth, which took place in the 1100s, and The Eagle, which was like 140, and let's not forget Braveheart.  So Stirling was a little 'modern' for my tastes, and Nick agreed with me, even before I told him I thought it was lame.  When we go again, we will skip this.

After Stirling, we headed for Edinburgh and stopped at the Falkirk Wheel for Nick.  I wanted to include the pictures and a link in case any of ya'll have nerdy husbands or dads who are JUSTDYINGTOKNOWALLABOUTTHEWHEEL.

Sure, it was neat to watch it go around, but since I have no idea how boats typically travel uphill, it just didn't do much for me.  I can imagine my dad would love it though.  We skipped the boat ride and went on to the city for lunch at the Elephant House Cafe, which I read about in my (lame and useless) guidebook, but which failed to mention that THIS IS WHERE JK ROWLING USED TO COME TO WRITE back when she was poor.  NO SHIT!!! All those pics are IG'd and I promised myself this post was for real pics only.  Sob.

Edinburgh was absolutely gorgeous.  Every building was beautiful, it was the strangest thing.  People told me it was cool, but I had NO IDEA.  I can't even really put my finger on what about it was so gorgeous, but whatever- it was.

I had some sort of communication breakdown and we missed being able to get inside the Edinburgh Castle by less than two minutes.  That tour lady was a BITCH and she was NOT letting anyone in.  But after our disappointment at Stirling, I wasn't too too bummed.  

Because that gave us time to just wander around the gorgeous city!!

 We found a dude in a kilt playing the bagpipes...

A random funhouse mirror...


And lots of photo ops for Ava, who is all of a sudden VERY interested in having her picture taken.  Not that I'm complaining.

Then we left.  We know our kids, and after running around all day, we knew life would just be easier if we headed back to the castle, grabbed some food at the grocery store down the road, and watched a movie and cuddled.  I can't really complain about that either.

You may or may not have noticed that the sun did not ONE TIME break through on Saturday.  So imagine my delight when we got up bright and early on Sunday and were welcomed with this view through the windshield.

 Hard to beat that.  So glad we didn't listen when people told us DON'T GO IN FEB, IT'S A WASTE OF TIME, THE SUN ONLY COMES OUT FOR TWO HOURS A DAY, YOU'LL WASTE YOUR MONEY, BLAH BLAH BLAH.  They are WRONG and it was gorgeous, so there.

Our first stop on this Entire Day in the Car was Loch Leven.  It's hard to see, but in the middle of the loch is an island, and on the middle of the island is an old castle where they imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots.
 And also sheep.  There's sheep all over the UK and I just love them all, each and every one.
 Then we continued north for the rest of the lochs and the southern Highlands.  These are all through the windshield at sixty miles an hour, so excuse the lousy quality and take my word for it- it is a THOUSAND times more awesome in real life.

Look at this asshole in front of us.  Now, it wasn't as cold as we thought it would be, but it wasn't more than 5C, and it was RAINING.

A modern day shepherd!!! How cool is that?!?!

If anyone knows what this castle is, please share.  I glimpsed it out of the back window and barely got a shot before it was out of sight.

And I just love how every now and then, you see the most random, gorgeous building.  That's how it was ALL WEEKEND.

After another forty minutes on the road, we hit Loch Laggan.

Wow.  Not sure what I was expecting, but I think it was a pond.  I think I may have thought that the lochs would be little ponds.
 I was wrong.

We took this old windy, com-inducing road past this house, which apparently is part of a show or an old show on BBC called Monarch of the Glen.  This was the best shot I could get, and I had to basically scale down a ravine and perch on the muddy edge of death to get it, so you're welcome.
 A few miles later we came across what looked like a pretty badass bridge, so we pulled over and got out.  But we noticed this LOUD water noise, so we got a little closer, and it was a HUGE dam!! So cool.

Next stop? Loch Ness.  Home of our underwater ally.  Name that movie.

 Not gonna lie, when we first got there and it was sort of a tiny river and no signs or anything, I was EXTREMELY bummed.  It was sort of a long way out of the way to see it.

BUT, luckily, Nick knew better and led us a tiny bit further up a bath, and then we saw it.

Loch Ness is HUGE, and the light was perfect and everything looked GORGEOUS.

I mean, seriously? Look at this shot below.

Then it was back in the car to head over toward Fort William in the west and then swing back to the hotel.
 Now, I know what you're thinking: all this time in the car with HER kids?!?! I'd rather die!! But honestly, it wasn't that bad.  At all.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that that drive, riding shotgun with my main squeeze, my kids in the back, these views out my window? One of the best days of my entire life thus far.

No bullshit, I swear to God.  It was just sort of magical.  And ya'll know how I feel about magic.
 And we also saw these badass old stone things.  So that helped.

 This was one of the last shots I got before the sun finally sank too far.  At six.  Take that, all you people who said we'd only get three hours of daylight a day!!

Monday.  More sun.  Seriously.  Scotland is so fucking awesome. After talking to the owner of the castle we stayed at, we decided to skip Glasgow this time around and hit up a few coastal towns and St. Andrews.  I think we made the right choice.

Below is Dundee.  Woulda been cooler without the kids, who, by this time, were just sick of walking around listening to me say "Can you believe how cool this is?!?!" So this was a quick stop for coffee and lunch.

And then.  Ya'll.  Then was my favorite part of the whole trip.
 St. Andrews cathedral.  Built in the 1100s.  Perfection.  EXACTLY what I was looking for.  I think I cried a little bit.

 Unfortunately I've been working on this post for six days and I'm exhausted so I can't think of any words to properly convey how magnificent this was.  Guess you'll just have to make the trip and see for yourself.

Then we walked right down the street to St. Andrew's Castle, which was also extremely cool, but didn't have quite the magic for me.  I blame Pillars of the Earth.  That book just gave me a thing for cathedrals.

 By now the lighting was pretty badass though.

 Then, here's a random shot of my kids getting ready to make out.  Kind of gross, but also cute?

Then it was Tuesday and we had to leave.  Which sucked.  We climbed up all the stairs to the terrace and I forced everyone to stare directly into the sun so I could try to get a group shot.

 Apparently kids don't like staring into the sun.  Who knew?

On the way back to London, we took a slight detour to see the Border Abbeys.  I've changed my mind and decided THIS was my favorite part of the trip. Either this, or the lochs, or St. Andrews.  Or Edinburgh.  I can't pick.

I think (although it's VERY likely I made this up) that the great big gorgeous part was redone in the 1500s, but that the gorgeous rubbly rubble down below is part of the original structure from the 1100s.

UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE.  It was SO breathtaking in there.

With my amazeballs lens, I can get a great 2.8 speed, but stand back far enough to spy and catch these two sweet boys loving on each other.

And then it was back in the car for eight more hours of looking out the window and seeing this.

 Not a bad holiday.

Phew.  I did it!! If you are going to Scotland and have any questions, please feel free to ask me anything.  We had a blast and will DEFINITELY be going again, at least once more to see further north, probably twice more so we can hit Edinburgh again.

And, lest you think it was all roses and rainbows and unicorns, I want to leave you with this final shot.  THIS is what we were dealing with most of the time.  Yes, we had a blast and we loved it and we're SO grateful to have had the opportunity to go, but c'mon.  We have four kids under seven.  THIS is our reality.