Sunday, January 25, 2015

It's a...


On Thursday, we took a half day and road the bus up to Ninewells Hospital for our 20 week scan. The technician laughed when she saw the position of our baby: she had her feet by her head and was spinning in circles. With big smiles and teary eyes, we watched blood flow in and out of her heart and identified all ten fingers and ten toes. Everything is progressing normally, and at the very end, the technician confidently told us we're going to have a daughter! After our appointment, we bought her some new outfits and then came home to Skype our families, followed by fish & chips for dinner. It was a lovely day, indeed.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Scotland Bucket List

Garrick and I woke up on 1 January and thought, "Here we go!" Our move to Germany is just three months away. We're getting excited about this next chapter, but are also sad to leave St Andrews and want to say goodbye well. Transition is messy and comes with lots of ups and downs, so I hope this list can add some structure and happy memories to our time of packing and preparing. Garrick will buy a car on his next trip to Wuppertal at the end of January and drive it back to St Andrews, so we'll be able to travel more easily. Here is our bucket list for our remaining time here:

Crail Pottery: Garrick has wanted a custom pottery mug since we moved here, and this is the place to go. Crail is also in the beautiful East Neuk and home to lots of sea glass filled beaches. (Completed 17/01/15.)

The Cocoa Tree: We've been here several times, but is there such a thing as too much chocolate? Also, their bean and chorizo soup is our favourite. (Completed 17/01/15.)

Isle of Skye: We visited here with Garrick's family during our first year, but we'd like to see the Fairy Pools. We have plans to go with friends around March.

Beach walks: The West Sands, Castle Sands, and East Sands are all gorgeous beaches in walking distance of our flat. I'd like to go at least once a week to one of these places.

Balgove: Hands down, the best breakfast in St Andrews. It's also a nice walk to get there on a Saturday morning. (Completed 10/01/15, but I'd like to go again.)

Edinburgh: We've gone on several day trips to this city, but I've yet to hike Arthur's Seat. I'd also like to visit our friends Will and Jackie one more time.

The Peat Inn: This is a beautiful 5-start Scottish restaurant near St Andrews. Garrick is taking me here for my birthday in February!

Burns' Night: On the 25th of January, we celebrate poet Robert Burns and eat haggis, neeps, and tatties. I think we have two celebrations on the calendar this year.

Jacobite Train: This 84-mile scenic railway journey takes you from Ben Nevis, this highest peak in Scotland, and ends at the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis. I'm not confident we'll have time for this, but I'd love to make an effort.

The Grange Inn: This is a 17th century farmhouse near St Andrews that serves Scottish food. We're going in early February with friends.

Tartan: I have a tartan throw, but I'd love to get a few other items before leaving Scotland. Our friend Chris recommended this site:

Fish and Chips: Enough said.

Bonfires: Our Christmas tree is currently drying out in our back courtyard so we can light it down at the beach for a bonfire. Once it's a wee bit warmer, we'll be ready!

Castles: Our Historic Scotland passes proved the perfect way to see Scotland during our first two years here, but there are still a few more castles I'd like to see, namely Glamis, Kellie, and Balmoral.

Photographs: I need to get out and photograph our favourite places in St Andrews. Because we live here, I forget the charm of this cobble-stoned town.

Time with friends: In this case, this one is last, but definitely not least. In fact, it's the most important one of all! This community of people is so special to us. Garrick's viva date is set for mid-April, and as our lease runs out at the end of March, we'll get to stay with our good friends Jesse and Liana. I'm so grateful for this time with them before we leave and for their generosity.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Loch Fyne

A major perk of working for the University is that we have a full week off for Christmas and New Years. I've met some wonderful friends through work, so we all decided to rent a cottage together on Loch Fyne over the break. After many planning meetings and messages, we found a perfect place, organised food, and coordinated transportation. We even managed to go grocery shopping with all seven of us. On our first morning there, we went for a long walk on the icy trail near our cottage. 

Most mornings, we woke around 9:30am and turned on the kettle for tea and coffee. We spent three days working on a jigsaw puzzle, watched movies, knitted, and truly r e l a x e d.

Loch Fyne is famous for the best oysters in Scotland, so we visited the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar for lunch. The group ordered a plate of crispy oysters, and Garrick and I shared a plate of crab claws before our mains arrived. I had the Salmon and Cod Burger, and Garrick, the Hand Dived Scallops. This was one of the best meals I've had in Scotland, and would highly recommend a visit.

After lunch, the sun was setting (oh, Scotland), and I snapped this photo of the loch.

For Hogmanay, we stayed at our cottage for a game and curry night. I made naan breads and the rest of the group each made a delicious curry. On New Years Day, we went to dinner and a ceilidh at The George Hotel in Inveraray. Garrick and I partnered with our friends to learn the dances, and came back together for Strip the Willow at the end. At one point, Garrick missed a step and a member of the band said, "Pay attention!" in the mic. I couldn't stop laughing.

Garrick reminded me that next year we will be making new memories in Germany over the holidays. I am so grateful for our time in Scotland, and I know it's a blessing that we're so sad to leave. The night ended with a live piper, and then we were off to our beds.

We love these people: (left to right) Sam, Ken, Jane, Nicole, Robbie, and us. Happy New Year! 2015 is a big year for the Allens with another international move around the corner. Stay tuned.