Saturday, November 16, 2013

Planning Ahead

Garrick and I are enjoying a lazy weekend together before he leaves early Monday morning to attend two conferences,  ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) and SBL (Society of Biblical Literature), in Baltimore with fellow St Andrews students and scholars from all over the world. He'll be away for a week and a half, and I'm not looking forward to it. It's lonely to be in Scotland without my husband or family, and in these times I feel most homesick. There are a few other wives who will also be on their own, and we'll get together for meals and coffee dates, giving just another reason why the St Mary's community is amazing. My friend Jackie, who inspired this post, will be visiting from Edinburgh at the weekend as her scholar husband is also away.

So, I thought I'd be proactive and make a list of activities or goals to accomplish while I'm on my own:
  • Cook something new. Garrick recently bought me these cookbooks: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and My Little French Cookbook. I plan to have many dates with my new cooker.
  • Knit! I have almost finished an infinity scarf, I'm almost done with one fingerless gloves, and I have a few balls of yarn needing a purpose.
  • Play my piano. I want to make progress on "Claire de Lune" so my mom can help me when we are in Seattle over Christmas.
  •  Reach out to friends. I need to schedule coffee dates and meals with the lovely ladies in my life.
  • Show off St Andrews. As mentioned above, I'd like to show Jackie our favourite places in St A's.
  • Attend Handel's Messiah.
  • Put up our Christmas tree. Garrick strongly believes that Christmas doesn't begin until after Thanksgiving, but has given me permission to put up our tree early.
  • Watch girly movies.  
  • Organise the cupboards underneath our kitchen sink. (It looks like Tupperware exploded.)
  • Skype with family. I'm excited to have free time in the evenings to chat with my parents, sister, nephews, in-laws, and friends.
I'm sure I'll be referring to this list when I feel bored or lonely, and I'm thankful that I have so much support for our time apart. I think it will go by quickly, but I'll sure miss this guy:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Weekend Away

The west coast of Scotland has been on our list of places to go. When I worked in Registry, we met Jane, her husband Ken, and Robbie and Nicole. The six of us rented a cottage in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, one of the inner Hebrides, for a long weekend. It was truly of time relaxation, amazing food, and good company.

After a day of driving and ferry travel from Oban to Mull, we arrived after dark and enjoyed a delicious chili dinner. On Saturday, we explored the white sandy beaches of Iona, and the rest of our time was spent in town and driving the windy roads of the island.

Take a look at the view from our cottage:

The main street in Tobermory is colourful and quaint. Shopping includes chocolate, pottery, handmade crafts, and books. We also stopped in at the local bakery and devoured Mull Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

On our way home from Iona, we saw a sign reading 'Farm Shop' on the side of the road. We pulled down a gravel driveway, parked, and walked up to a darkened building that suddenly came to light and a man greeted us. He asked what kind of meat we wanted, opened a giant freezer, and we drove away with our local leg of lamb. Ken and Jane put their culinary skills to work and made an amazing feast including  roast lamb, potatoes, peppers, and courgettes, carrot and turnip mash, Yorkshire puddings, broccoli with cheese sauce, and for dessert, crumble.

The Tobermory Distillery overlooks the harbour and town. Our tour began at 11am on a Monday, so needless to say, we were the only group there. Our guide was the owner's wife, and she was generous with their whisky. We were able to sample each of the bottles pictured below. Garrick purchased the 19-Year to open upon completion of his PhD. I may have to find a good hiding place.

We stopped in at another farm shop located in a green house to pick up some famous Mull Cheddar. The decor was quite unique and we especially liked the wood-burning stove. From there we drove to Glengorm Castle and then on to Calgary Beach.

We arrived home late Tuesday night and enjoyed some take-away to conclude our holiday. We are thankful to our friends/tour guides for showing us Americans a wee part of this beautiful country!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Isle of Iona

Visiting Iona in November is quite an experience. Gale force winds, pouring rain, sunshine breaking through grey clouds, and cold temperatures are a guarantee. We set out early to catch the ferry from Mull to Iona. The scenery on the drive was spectacular, even in 'dreich' weather. We paid £7.10 for a return journey and were the only group on the 11:30am ferry. Apart from a Spar, nothing was open on the island, so we trekked through the rain to the Abbey in search of shelter. Ken rightly pointed out that our experience was authentic for the west coast of Scotland. So, I made the best of the raindrops on my lens and took in the beauty of Iona: