Wind at my Back

I love Scotland. Iceland was wonderful, but Scotland has made its way into my heart. There is something so charming and unforgettable here–narrow winding streets, hidden tea rooms, kindness of strangers, warmer weather, and the beautiful friends I am staying with… and I am happy here.

Upon first arriving, I was more than an hour late landing, due to leaving Iceland in a small snow storm. At least the snow hit the same morning I was flying on to greener pastures in Scotland, with its warmer temperatures and softer rain, so this made it a little easier to wave goodbye to a wintry Reykjavic. A unique, lonely, moody, and beautiful landscape filled with joy, mystery, and adventure, I will miss that place and hope to visit again some day.

Once arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, a lovely cheerfulness took over. I took a taxi to the west side, and in no time at all was with my friends Neil and Kathy in their bright cheerful flat with its high ceilings and tall windows, meeting their beautiful 8 month old girl, Chloe. Love at first sight–Chloe is one of the most smiley babies I’ve ever met, and loves songs and rhymes and eye-gazing, and I’ve had my heart’s content of baby time here. That first afternoon, we walked along some beautiful blonde and red sandstone apartment buildings, ending up at a small park where we had fun taking some family pictures. While the skies were overcast, the light was beautiful, the grass fully green, and the bright orange and red trees filled in the boundaries of a black iron fence–a superb location for photography.

Afterwards, I settled into the place that is my home away from home for the remainder of my trip, and we had a wonderful Venison stew, lovely side of mixed root vegetables, and roasted potatoes. A great way to start my time in Scotland. Staying with such kind and generous friends has been a wonderful blessing to me during my holidays. Much love and much laughter. They were great friends in Fredericton, and now to reconnect and be together again has really boosted my spirits.

In our first two days together, Kathy and I, together with little Chloe, took some time to tour around Glasgow. First we headed down to Ashton Lane, where we saw movie theatres turned into cafes and restaurants, and lovely shops, tea places, and cobblestone everywhere. If there were even a quarter of such quaint independent cafes back home in London, I would be very happy.

We headed to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, where we had lunch in the Tea Room. One thing I’m learning here is that Tea Room and Café often also means restaurant, where a delicious lunch can be had. My lunch included a baked potato with cheese, known here as a “jacket potato” and somehow one of the best potatoes I’ve had. We also walked through Kelvingrove Park, a gorgeous long park with autumn trees, a river, and many bridges; heading further into town took us to the Mitchell Library, the main public library downtown Glasgow, a must-see for me as a librarian.

On Day two, we visited the Kelvingrove Arts Museum, and also had lunch in the Hidden Lane Tea Room. Just as it sounds, this little café was tucked away down an alleyway and ’round the corner to the right, and without Kathy to show me, I would never had known it existed. With proper tea pot and tea cups, I drank about three cups of tea, and decided that drinking English Breakfast Tea in Scotland seems much more delicious than tea back home.

On the way back, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of stone churches and little rose gardens, where coral, red, or pink roses against grey stone made everything, despite the grey skies, seem cheerful and charming. I love the many gardens here, where even though November is almost upon us, everything seems to grow bright and green, and the leisurely afternoons of my holidays actually give me time to smell the roses.

So that is all for today, with another Scottish blessing to keep you going:

“May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine upon your window pane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near to you and
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.”

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Some stories from home, some from travel adventures (usually in autumn), some happening in community, friendship and faith, and some about the vulnerable, lonely and excluded. To honour them because they have changed me for the better and taught me how to love more fully and be loved more fully. Some days are great, some good, some not always good. But overall, it's been a beautiful journey so far, and I feel more like myself every day. -- Debra, writer / photographer / blogger / traveller

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