Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Garrick's Birthday Weekend!

I am older and wiser than Garrick by two months. He officially caught up on Sunday, and we celebrated all weekend. At the age of 25, we can finally rent a car! I'll trust Garrick to do the driving, as I'm not too thrilled about the other side of the road.

Saturday morning, we woke up to sun at 8am and headed out on our bikes. Garrick masterfully planned out a cycle he calls, "The Four Hills of Strathkinnes." I joined for hill #1, and then rode home via the West Sands. The birthday boy stuck it out and returned exhausted and content an hour later.

Then it was off to shop for his party, which included a stop at Mitchell for £2.50 take-away lattes and bacon rolls. There's nothing better after a long workout!

Around 7:30, the festivities began!



After appetizers, drinks, homemade bread by Rachel Brewer, and enough carrot cake to feed an army, the party moved to the Castle Sands for a bonfire. Commence coal-juggling. (Instigator? Adam Harger!) Thankfully, there was only one burnt thumb.

On Sunday, the big day, we attended church, Skyped with family, and then celebrated with the Brewers by eating calorie-free Fettuccine Alfredo and spice cookies with cream cheese frosting.

We are continually thankful for the abundance of wonderful friends we've made here. Happy quarter of a century, Garrick! You are loved.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ordinary and Extraordinary April

Walking home from Tesco on Sunday, I carried nine rolls of Cushelle Toilet Paper by the handy pink strap attached to the package. We passed an excited group of Italian tourists and I suddenly grew very aware of my purchases. We're not tourists, although sometimes we feel like it.

Many moments of this month, like this one,  have been wonderfully ordinary. We've enjoyed meals with friends, trips to the Castle Sands, and evenings spent playing Cribbage. The days go by slow and the weeks fast, and Saturday is definitely our favourite day of the week.
Photo: I've got the whole beach to myself!
Evening trip to the Castle Sands.

Afternoon walk in the Cathedral Ruins.

Working hard of my first pair of gloves!

Lunch with my favourite date.

Now on to the extraordinary.

Garrick submitted his General Research Ordinance (GRO) a week early. This is the compilation of his work from his first year of PhD studies, and it is evaluated by faculty members in St Mary's.

Ryan Gregg, Garrick's college roommate, stopped in Scotland as part of his return journey to the USA. We truly had a "holiday" when he was here: delicious meals, long walks, naps, reading, and good conversation. He lived our life with us for a week and played lovely music for us in the evenings. :)

Coastal Path Hike.
Bye, Ryan!
The day after he left, friends from our hometown of Snohomish stopped in St Andrews to conclude their UK adventures. Piano students of my mom, it was a pleasure to meet and spend time with the Gerspachers! My mom even sent a hug through Rebbecca! They generously treated us to the Tailend and then were off to Edinburgh.
The Gerspachers and Allens!
And finally, take a look at the morning sun shining down on the cathedral ruins. I saw this on my  commute to work. Wow!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Easter and Gladstone's Library

Easter Sisters. :)
This Easter was unique in many ways. We participated in our first Seder Meal with good friends Andrew and Alene. We and a few other families shared in the symbolic meal which included liturgy, wine, and wonderful food. We hope to make this a tradition every year.

As Garrick was in Wales over Easter, I attended church without family this year. I enjoyed participating in the music and watching the grandparents, parents, and children take part in the service together. Although I would not choose to celebrate this way, I was reminded that the Christ's death and resurrection is the same yesterday, today, and in the future, regardless of my circumstances.

After church and a nap, the women of St Mary's graciously invited me to attend their Easter dinner. Lamb shanks, roasted vegetables, spinach salad, and bread adorned the table, and just when I though it couldn't get any better, Guinness Cake topped with chocolate ganoush and strawberries appeared.

A few of the women who were present share an office with Garrick, so I enjoyed getting to know them better. This community continually encourages and challenges me.
Garrick and his friend Chris Brewer received a grant to study at Gladstone's Library in Wales for a week and this included accommodation, breakfast, and dinner each day. Read more about their time here: thebrewerclan.com.
While our men were away, Chris' wife Rachel and I spent the week together. Garrick has travelled in the past and I've stayed on my own, but this was so much better! We enjoyed cookies, conversation, movies, and of course, Legos and UNO with the boys. I was so thankful to be an adopted Brewer for the week. Garrick arrived home on Wednesday evening with our friend from college, Ryan Gregg! More to come on his visit. :)

I think it's appropriate to conclude with this meaningful quote from a lovely hymn we sang on Easter Sunday:

"And we are raised with him, death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Road Trippin' - Day Two

This day began a bit slower, with waffles and coffee at the Brewer's Abode. After fueling up, we were off again, heading west.

We arrived in Dollar, Clackmannanshire, home of the beautiful Castle Campbell. Our wee car trekked up large hills and one-lane roads until finally we reached our destination.
Trees all around, getting a clear photo proved difficult. Castle Campbell was built in the 15th Century and originally named Castle Glume. Around 1564 it passed through marriage to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll. One of Scotland's best tower-house castles, it has been visited by John Knox and Mary Queen of Scots. The Marquis of Montrose ordered the castle to be torched during his campaign, and Oliver Cromwell's Lieutenant did something similar in 1654. On to the photos!
Liana and I walked back a bit earlier than the rest of the group, seeking warmth from the inside of our car! After some snacks and heat, we made our way to Deanston Distillery in Perthshire.
The Coffee Bothy, Deanston's distillery cafe, welcomed us with delicious fare and coffee while we waited for our tour. Here is who they are in their own words: "Deanston Distillery sits by the River Teith at the entrance to the dramatic Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Having been a cotton mill for 180 years, Deanston was transformed into a distillery in the 1960’s and has been distilling whisky using traditional methods ever since."

The, we stopped by Doune Castle for a quick look at the place where one scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" was filmed. It was closed, so we enjoyed a walk around and Jesse snapped this photo:
The Brewers began the drive back to St Andrews, and we continued on with the Nickels, our sights set on Costco in Edinburgh. Traffic. Was. Terrible. Caught in a blizzard, we finally reached our destination and more importanty, Costco hot dogs.
Two days, three castles, one abbey, one distillery, one brewery, and eight wonderful people. It was a great trip!