Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 32 - We catch the train and Scotland Wrap

There’s no time for mucking about this morning we’re on an early train to London. We drop the car back to Enterprise and then it is a short walk from the Enterprise Office around the corner to Glasgow Central. We’re here with time to burn and so we’re obliged to sit out in the open covered square and await the announcement of which platform our train will depart from.
Platform 1. As I expected. It looks like we’re the only people this morning that have such a lot of luggage. Lucky. We can fit it in the luggage racks on the train. Our load needs rebalancing. For the moment we’ve just got our belongings into the amount of luggage we have. The bag of books and guide books is ridiculously weighty.
The train pulls out of the station and we’re on our way. By twenty minutes out we’re in the countryside, seeing snatches of grazing and cropping land as the train bursts out of the railway embankments.
9.15 the green lowlands are bounded by gentle mountains the first with flowering heather, the next bald, the following one the darker spikey green of forestry. The peaks recede and the proportion of embankment swaps. The Rosebay Willowherb is vibrant here again. Closer to Glasgow the flowers are ending and just the pink stems and seed pods remain, more evidence of the changing season.
Our ride is smooth and relaxing. I sit at our table seat, facing backwards, typing. I’m journaling what I’m seeing after catching up on getting the pictures off the cameras and having a bite of brekky. A cold, annoying apple Danish and the last few dregs of our delicious lightly salted Tyrell’s crisps. I wouldn’t mind the shocking lack of warmth in the pastry except I’d asked for an apricot Danish at the patisserie at Glasga Central. Hubby watches the scenery taking the odd photo here and there.  
As we cross over into England our trip to Scotland officially ends.  Anyone who has been with us for the ride knows well enough how fantastic it’s been and how much we’ve learned and enjoyed along the way. We have had a neat month on the ground arriving 17 August and departing 17 September. And yet there is so much more we didn’t see and places we really want to return to.

So, what were our favourite experiences and “Wow” moments in Scotland? Oh, there’s so so many.

The Edinburgh Tattoo was better than I could have imagined. Just a brilliant experience. Looking back on it and seeing in my mind the massed pipes and drums on the ground at the castle it just felt like the call of the pipes summoning the descendants of the Scottish diaspora home. An unforgettable and emotional experience. I never expected to feel that way about it but it was powerful.
Along the way there have been many moments that had a real impact:
First entry to Edinburgh Castle.
Starting the descent down Bealach na ba
Arriving at Glenfinnan and standing on the monument breathing deeply of the scent of the Caledonian pine forest.
Getting out of the car at Fraserburgh to the delicious smell of smoking fish in the air
The scent of the flowering heather in a sheltered pocket in the dunes at Forvie.
First mouthful of the scallops in vermouth at Kitchin.
The first bites into the fish and chips in Anstruther.
Tasting the malted barley and the wort at Balvenie.
Watching the light shift over the Cairngorms marbled with flowering heather as we drove through Royal Deeside
Watching the peregrine on its kill on Mull
Emerging from the 249th step out onto the viewing platform at the Wallace Monument
Hearing the ladies from Kansas singing in harmony in Fingals Cave.
Everything about Wanlockhead. The little village sitting among the flowering heather. Seeing the touch seam of ore worn smooth by the twice daily caresses of the miners over hundreds of years. Sitting in the miner’s library reading.
Standing on the highest battlements of Urquhart Castle looking up and down Loch Ness
The light hitting the wings of the cloud of midges dancing outside my car window near the wildlife hide at Kylerhea.
Watching the otter on Mull 
Seeing a red squirrel at Carrbridge.
Having a go on the pedal power loom at Skye Weavers.
Dumfries House from start to finish. Add a few extra wows for the vision and achievements of the project as a whole.
First sit on the sofa, or for that matter the toilet seat, in our room in Dumfries House Lodge. Yeah, I know, toilet seat? Seriously? Yeah. Seriously. Toilet seat!
Our first dulse truffles at Sebastian Kobelt’s Fine Chocolates in Linlithgow.
The apple pie and coronation chicken sandwich at Glencoe Café.
Rounding the corner and coming upon Eilean Donan Castle…haha partly because of the huge car park we weren’t expecting. … but it really is a beautifully situated castle. Must see.
Trying to think of one little thing not quite right about Mo Dhachaidh B&B and not being able to think of a single thing.
Finding teddy dabbing his eyes with a tissue when we got home on our last night at Brockville in Tobermory.
Throwing ourselves down on the comfortable bed at the Ibis Royal Mile and the relief at being out of that awful B&B.
The satisfaction of fulfilling my promise that one day I would visit Lachlan Macquarie's grave to pay my respects. 
Oh look I could just go on and on and have I suppose.. but it’s been fun to run through the trip on fast forward before calling it a day on this visit to my dead Scottish rellies.
We’ll be back. We never exchange our pounds sterling when we come home. It’s our promise to ourselves that there’ll be a next time so we’ll need them.

Thanks Scotland and thank you all who’ve enjoyed our trip with us. We had an absolute ball. 

We're off to live it up at the theatre in London, visit the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace and the War Cabinet Rooms and then head out into the country for a few days to get myself into position for a visit to Prince Charles's garden at Highgrove before heading to Heathrow. We see the Historic Dockyard Portsmouth, the Hawke Conservancy at Andover, Chedworth Roman Villa, Newark Park and Bourton-on-the-water and a have a quick run through Burford along the way. 

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