Sunday, April 3, 2011

a day in the highlands and other such happenings.

This past week has been a whirlwind of emotion, of fun, of fellowship, and of sight-seeing. As you know from my last post, my parents came to Edinburgh last weekend to visit Jeremy and me, and to celebrate my birthday as well. It was wonderful not only seeing them, but being able to see Edinburgh through the eyes of a tourist again. I know there's a stigma attached to being touristy, especially when you live in a place, but there's something special about looking at a place through the lens of the expectant and awe-filled tourist. So it was nice to get another glimpse of this amazing city--and Scotland itself--with that doe-eyed wonder of newness and awe. We did a number of things in Edinburgh itself, and also went to Stirling, which was brilliant. On Wednesday we went on a tour at the Whisky Experience at the top of the Royal Mile, and I have to admit that it was quite well done. They have the largest single collection of single malt whisky in the world, which was quite impressive in its back-lit glass shelving. My father and Jeremy enjoyed a tasting session of the four biggest whisky regions in Scotland: Lowland, Highland, Speyside, and Islay. I personally enjoyed my tasting of whisky from the Highland region, a distillery called Ben Nevis--named after the highest peak in Scotland. I can't say the same for my mum's tasting, she declared that it just tasted like rubbing alcohol. She's never enjoyed alcohol though, so to expect her to enjoy a single-malt was unfair. I'm proud of her near-perfect ability to not screw up her face at each sip of her glass though. Way to go, Mum.
A very small part of the largest whisky collection.

The lads' whisky tasting.

The lads tasting their whisky.

Then on Thursday my parents booked a trip that Jeremy and I would have never done ourselves--as 'locals' that like to think they can't do anything touristy at the risk of exposing our real state of long-term and awe-struck tourists desperately trying to be locals (mostly for want of money to do touristy things). Ahem, anyway, my parents booked a day trip to the Highlands with Haggis, yes Haggis, Tours. We piled into a bright yellow midi-bus at 8AM on Thursday morning that had bright red letters on the side that said 'Wild and Sexy Tours'. Luckily, it was easy to forget what the bus looked like when you were inside of it. Also luckily, it was actually a really great tour. Our guide was really funny and engaging, and really knowledgeable as well--full of stories and history. We drove up through the countryside to Glencoe, the site of the infamous and terrible Glencoe massacre by the Campbells of the MacDonalds. We stopped there briefly, then continued on up to Fort Augustus and the southern end of Loch Ness, and we went on a cruise of the loch and hoped for a glimpse of Nessie, but we had no such luck. But Loch Ness is gorgeous and daunting, at nearly a mile deep and the waters as black as a moonless night. I have no problems imagining a kind of 'monster' able to keep itself hidden and elusive down there. After we left Fort Augustus we came back down the other side of the Highlands, and saw the Glenbogle house for anyone who has seen the show 'Monarch of the Glen'. We went through Perthshire, and had a quick stop in Pitlochry. Back on the bus and around the city of Perth, then finally through the Kingdom of Fife and over the bridge back to Edinburgh. It was amazing to see the differences between the west and east Highlands, but to also recognize the beauty and glory of both--and all in the same day to boot. It was nice to finally get up to the Highlands, if only for a wee taster session, and Jeremy and I are looking forward to finally get up there to spend some real time in the countryside camping, walking and backpacking over hills and through glens.

How'd you like that house in Glencoe? Yes, please.
Loch Ness.

The east Highlands. Any Western North Carolinians recognize something familiar?
 My dad even connected with his Scottish roots and bought a Harris Tweed flatcap. That, and drank plenty of Scottish single malt and beer. Aye, he's got a little Scotland in him all right.
The handsome Scotsman.

I'm still trying to pin down my elusive dissertation topic, which seems to have taken a dive into murky waters to imitate Nessie--but I'm confident in my ability to track it down and force it to succumb to my will, and unlike Nessie, it will be broken and tamed. Hah.

On a more serious note, Jeremy and I received word last night that our pup, Cael, was taken to the emergency vet yesterday (mostly because it was the weekend, and no other vet was open) due to his unexplained whimpering and crying, and inability to move around very well. Drew tells me that the vet can't find anything specifically wrong yet, and worst-case scenario it could be a slipped-disc. So please, please pray for Cael, and the vet looking at him, and also for  Drew and Kelsey who are having to deal with all of this. Pray for Jeremy and me and well, because as it was hard to be away from the Cael before, it's even harder knowing that he's in pain and scared, and I'm thousands of miles away from him. Cael is on bed-rest of a couple weeks, and on some pain-meds so pray for his speedy (and honestly, pray inexpensive) recovery as he'll be going back to the vet in a week's time to see if he has improved.
Pray for this little guy.




Amethyst said...

Oh friend! Me and Andrew just read this whole post together, and missed you both very much. I should like to come visit and go on a Wild and Sexy Tour. Oh, by the way, we've got internet now! Huzzah! Talk soon, lovey.

Sam said...

I love that you guys did the tourist thing! and man oh man, the whiskey tasting--phil would LOVE this! day trips like these are refreshing and hopefully inspiring. I'll be praying over the disertation and the pup...our animals become part of our family.