Monday, October 6, 2014

Eilean Donan

Today it was 73 degrees. SEVENTY-THREE. I mean, this is Seattle, not San Diego we're talking about (which is actually probably closer to 93?). I couldn't even feel the air today when I went out. This has been the perfect fall. We've had the windows and sliding door open in our apartment for days because it's too hot in here, which I realize is a silly thing to say about October, but there you have it. It's colder at night; we have a fan in the window to blow in the chilly night air. It's just a little crisp.

This chilliness sort of reminds me of Scotland in midsummer. I think I wore shorts during three summers in England about as many times as I have just this month alone. It's sad, but that's the British summer for you and at least I wasn't wearing a scarf, is all I have to say.

On our way from Fort William to see the famous Eilean Donan Castle, we noticed a large pull-off with a lovely view. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that there were thousands of rocks stacked up in small towers along the road. We thought we'd give it a try, and I added to a tower. I've tried looking up the meaning of the cairns, but apparently, one doesn't exist. It was a bit puzzling, but we moved on and speculated along the road. (UPDATE: After talking it over with Forrest, we both definitely remember there being some sort of marker or signpost dedicating the spot to fallen soldiers or something similar with each rock representing a service member. So there you go.)

This place actually reminds me of how we used to stack up the smooth stones along the Oregon and Washington coast when we were camping or visiting there. I don't know why we did it, but it was amusing. Perhaps there is an innate longing buried deep within the human soul to not leave a stone unstacked.

So, I stacked up some rocks. And onward to Eilean Donan!
I found these baby stalactites amusing.
After realizing that this was one of the only interior shots I have of the castle, I grew puzzled until I realized that photos are indeed forbidden indoors at Eilean Donan. There are several floors that you can go up, including the main hall, a few bedrooms, and the kitchen (which had all sorts of fake food displays which were fun and interesting).
The castle was so beautiful. It's not hard to see why this is the most photographed castle in Scotland.
I sat reminiscing today about all of the adventures we had in the United Kingdom during our time there. Our one-year mark of being back in the states is coming up next month and it's hard to believe that it's been so long since I've seen the people who made up most of our life for those few years.

Forrest and I sit and talk sometimes about what we miss the most: Indian food (for him), old estates (me), and all of our friends. I know we're going back someday. It's much too important to us. 

Until then, I'll keep going through our pictures and posting them here so that I'll always be able to remember.



P.S. 










Monday, September 29, 2014

Too Much New

Well, I just bought two sweaters and I had to sleep in flannel pajamas the other night, so I guess you could say summer's over. That and the fact that I'm currently sitting in a college library waiting for my 12:00 class to start.. but I'm still wearing shorts (with a sweater) so I haven't given up hope on my Indian summer. I'd say that wearing shorts in late September is more than my little heart could have possibly hoped for this summer. It has been glorious.

The evenings aren't exactly what one would call warm anymore. In fact, one could say that they're downright chilly. We had a big bonfire at my parents' house last weekend and it was exactly the right temperature to enjoy without roasting on one side and freezing on the other. It's just the right temperature of chill.

I started class last week and have been overcome by a level of anxiety that I don't think I have ever felt before. Not when I moved to a different country. Not when I got married. I haven't been able to eat and my stomach is in constant knots.

I suppose that being in a constant state of unease will do that to a person, but as I said, it's a completely new experience. Do people grow more anxious as they grow older? Is that a normal thing?

Everything I have been experiencing this past week has been new and uncomfortable: a new apartment, a new city, a new school, a new schedule, a new job, oh, and a new undergraduate research project.

I can only handle so much new before I implode, you know?

Thankfully, coming back to my parents' house this weekend as well as attending our very familiar church has had an overwhelmingly calming effect on me. I felt myself close to tears several times during the service for no reason at all, except for the realization that people care about Forrest and me and how we are adjusting. It may seem like a small thing, but it helped tremendously.

Being home is comforting too. I enjoyed sitting on the back porch with my Jasper dog and kitty who immediately climbed into my lap as I sat down to edit pictures. I do have some of the familiarity in my life.
I also took a few pictures of Megan's sunflowers which we have been waiting on for several months. 
Here's to hoping that all of this anxiousness will disappear as I grow more comfortable with my new responsibilities and interactions.

Also, my dad taught Jasper how to hold a treat on his nose and catch it. It's pretty impressive and he almost never misses.
My puppy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cat Sweater

I somehow always knew this day was coming.

I started by knitting small animals; I suppose it's only natural to progress to knitting for small animals.

Some family friends of our have a cat named Gus. Gus has an enormous amount of hair--which equals a lot of shedding. So our friends shave him down (except his head and the end of his tail. So he looks like a lion, naturally).

Alas, the price of no shedding is not inexpensive: Gus is one chilly kitty in the winter.

The answer? A sweater.

A cat sweater for Gus.

He's quite regal, really.

Gus really hates his sweater.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Glenfinnan House + Viaduct


So, I'm just going to come right out and say it. The only reason we stayed in this hotel is because it is conveniently located a mere 10 minute walk away from the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This may seem silly to some of you. Maybe it will seem less silly when I tell you that the Glenfinnan Viaduct was used in the second Harry Potter film. That's right. It's the bridge where Ron and Harry almost get hit by a train in their flying Ford Anglia. I realize that may still sound silly to some of you.. but also I got a really good deal from Groupon.

It's been a few months since my last Scotland post, but I'm not even halfway done yet, so let us continue on. The Glenfinnan House was beautiful beyond my expectations. It is located directly on Loch Shiel in a remote location. The house has its own dock, 27 bedrooms, a gorgeous formal dining room, a more casual dining room for lunch, and basically it was a dream come true. I talked Forrest into dining in the hotel that night and it was delicious and reasonably priced. We sat next to the floor-to-ceiling window and looked out at the lake with a candle flickering on our table (so romantic!). It was pretty stormy that night and it was lovely to watch the rain and dark clouds rolling over the loch from the cozy dining room (and if I remember right, there was a fire crackling in the corner) (but that could just be the overall dreamy haze infecting my memory). Sometimes, I have such a great experience somewhere and my brain remembers the time as even better than it actually was. I can't remember even one bad thing happening here and I'm pretty sure nothing did! Even the rain added to the magic. Have I ever mentioned how much I love Scotland? Like I said, it was a dream come true.


Speaking of dreams come true..

Don't worry, there are at least 30 more pictures of the viaduct in this post. Carry on!
Ah, Glenfinnan, house of my dreams.
This little chapel up above was a short walk down the road. It just looks so pretty up there resting on its bed of purple.
It must have been purple rhododendron season because I don't think I saw any other type of flower. The contrast with all the greens and greys made for a lovely effect--and I accidentally matched!
The Jacobite (the company that provided the Harry Potter films with its trains and, consequently, we carried a brochure for it in our car for over a year) runs on the viaduct. We were tempted to enjoy a wizarding train ride (I don't even think that exists except in my head), but a ride on the antique trains is an all day affair (from Fort William to Mallaig) for which we simply did not have the time. We were lucky enough to see a regular train roll across the bridge, however.
I'm not even going to guess how much time we spent wading in the stream just because we could, but I'm thinking it's an embarrassing amount.
This hallway.. there was another like it on the other side of the stairs. The house just kept going. We ventured to the third floor of the house (via winding staircase) and looked out a window (so sneaky, I know) (I must have been too preoccupied with our sneakiness to take a picture).

There are probably way too many pictures in the post, but it was all so beautiful. I would stay here again in a heartbeat.




P.S. Other posts along this journey: