So visiting England felt like a great refresher for us both. Somewhat familiar, english speaking people, things were just easier. And we felt good! Our journey was to take us from Northern England into Scotland to Edinburgh, an absolutely beautiful city that I have been to before but Sheree hadn’t. I had deliberately not “turned up” the beauty of the city to Sheree prior as I wanted some element of surprise as to just how stunning the place is. I had naively assumed that perhaps as you go further north, things get less developed as I guess you are going further from Europe and busy England. Edinburgh however to me, is like a gem “hidden in the north”. Maybe some won’t agree with all of that, but it is one of my favourite cities in the world. Anyway, Sheree was stunned and I felt great to be back here!
I was also very much looking forward to arriving in Edinburgh as this was where my mum, Debbie, was to join us! It felt so strange to be happening already, as it seemed like not long ago at all that we floated the idea in the first place! We all hoped it could work out and I was stoked that we could get it to actually happen!
Prior to mum’s arrival though, Sheree and I had a great 5 days in Edinburgh, to explore, take photos, relax, unwind – it was fantastic. Ive always wanted to spend some quality time here and I was able to do that. I also watched Freo beat the eventual Premiers in Pav’s last game, which was a tad emotional. On ya Pav. We were also lucky, that our National Express bus driver had to take a detour to get to Edinburgh. Initially we were to take a major motorway, however there was a 7km traffic jam so he took us on the back way, through some beautiful scenery and it gave us a great preview of what was to come on the rest of our tour of Scotland!
Cue the Debbie-Does-Disoriented show.
So, Debbie had just completed a whirlwind tour of Portugal, France, Switzerland and Northern Italy, visiting friends and her brother John over a few weeks. Her plan was fast-paced enough, and, she was doing very well since getting both of her knees done 10 weeks prior. So, there she was at the start of her journey and on arrival in Lisbon, one of her knees went. Poor mum, There she was alone in Lisbon, mostly incapacitated and carrying a 23kg suitcase! With a trip planned that even would make me pale at the distance to cover!! And I was in Germany at the Weidenhoff workaway, with no wifi or internet, and having to ride 3km into the nearest village to get a connection to the outside world. Not ideal! Luckily, mum being the mazing woman she is she looked at it as an opportunity to reset, realise that she cant see it all and rest up so she could at least move on to the next destination, and maybe cutting a couple of places out. In coming weeks she then completely ignored her own advice, went turbo-Debbie and saw about 1/8th of Europe in 2 weeks, and that was before joining us in the UK!
So, there’s mums back story. So you can imagine my surprise when, the day before Mum was scheduled to arrive in Edinburgh, while I am busy cooking tea, I find out that Debbie is on a plane headed to Edinburgh! Now, I hardly contact my Uncle, but I hadn’t heard from debbie about where we were all staying together the next night (she had booked an Airbnb, and she had emailed me but to the wrong email address). So, I emailed Uncle John to ask him if he could get mum to email me the details. the reply:
“She’s on the 1805 ex Milan flight Easyjet to Edinburgh, Due in about 10pm I think. I dropped her at the airport at 3pm I hope you find her OK.”
Wow. “Turn the oven off Sheree we have to go to the airport!!”. So there were we, had not heard from mum to tell us that she was on her way, A DAY EARLY, we didn’t even know if she was even really on a plane, as John had dropped her off so early. So we assumed that she had to be on a flight, I checked an app and indeed there was a flight due in in an hour. So we raced off, left our roast veges to go cold in the oven and headed to the airport.
It is a strange feeling to wait an an arrivals gate and not actually be even certain that the person you are waiting for is coming through at all! We waited and waited until a point where I said to Sheree “She isn’t on the flight”. And then we saw her. Looking like a stunned Wren after colliding with a window, she wandered out into the lights of the arrivals hall, with absolutely NO idea of what she was going to actually do. I mean she had no idea that we would even know she was on the plane. So after hiding behind a pillar to let her walk off a bit, I then strolled up on my phone and bumped into her exclaiming “What are you doing here mum!?” hahahaha. Oh man, mums face just dropped, looking even scared she asks quietly and slowly, her dazed brain working a million miles an hour “How do you know that I am here” hahaha it must have been a total spin out for her, as it was for us. I thought she might have been meeting a secret lover here in Edinburgh, an absurd notion really, but you know – what the hell! Why was she here a day early!?
So mum had gone to the Milan airport a day early, completely by accident, and there was a flight on this day at the same time as her scheduled flight, so she took this to Edinburgh instead and had some strange plan of trying to coax out of Sheree and me where we were eating that night and to surprise us. The thing is though is that we were eating in our apartment in a locked building and there is no way she could have wandered into our apartment and surprise us. I don’t know…. Anyway it was the start of a fantastic trip in Scotland that I will treasure forever.
Onto the trip itself!
So, our plan, once mum arrived, was to have a night together in Edinburgh(now 2 haha) and then head up to the Isle of Sky on a 3 days tour, as well as the Scottish Highlands. We spent our full day together doing the hop on hop off bus tour of the city, and visited one of the creepiest museums I have ever seen – A Toy Museum. See pictures below. I was kind of horrified in here, but the bone in a dress did make me laugh (While also feeling sorry for the kid who perhaps couldn’t afford a real doll and had to do with a cow bone instead).
We didn’t have a huge surplus of time in Scotland, so this is why we decided on a tour of the Highlands. We were so glad we did. It meant that we didn’t have to worry about driving, planning etc because that was all taken care of. We had a little mini bus, so it wasn’t just a big cattle class tour style, and had a fantastic guide and great people on the tour.
We were taken up through the Scottish Highlands through Fort William and onwards to Portree on the Isle of Skye. Here we have some family ancestral past so it was interesting to go through there with a guide and hear more about the area and it’s history. Mum had also purchased a book about the Clan Cochrane (Cochrane is my mum’s maiden name), where I found out that the original Cochrane was a Norse Warrior who took up land in Scotland. So there you go, one of my favourite shows “Vikings” now will be even more interesting to watch haha.
From Fort William we continued up onto the incredible Isle of Skye. Now, this place really hardly sees the sun. In Winter there isn’t much daylight and in summer, it rains pretty often! Skye comes from a Viking word, “Skíð”, which means cloud. So there you go! Our forecast for the three days was mostly rain, so our expectations were set quite low in the sense that we may not to get see much. Well, on arrival to the island we saw just how little we might see! We could not see further than about 50m at one stage! Dagnammit we thought, Hopefully we get to see something! Well as you will see from our pictures, we ended up being incredibly lucky that the full day on Skye turned out to be a mostly lovely day, albeit windy and cold haha. Plus our guide, who reckons he checked the weather for the first time in 10 years, saw that the rain was supposed to come later, so he switched the schedule around and took us to some amazing places first so we could see them in their full glory. We were glad he did!
We stayed in Portree for the 2 nights, in a lovely little BnB, and in the mornings met the bizzare fellow who would literally appear from no where and always looked like he had just woken up. I was really glad to have met him, because we were able to get an insight into life on the island for locals. Which, from what I could understand is BnBs in Summer (massively increased over the last 5 years) and sheep sheep and sheep in winter.
The place is lovely in summer and just so worth the trip if you’re in Scotland, but I do not know how people sustain a life there in the depths of winter. A few hours of daylight a day and just cold weather all the time. But, the locals would love it I am sure. Apparently many people buy a house there after a visit in Summer, but after one winter they sell up and go – it is just too brutal!
So after our Skye tour, we headed back to Edinburgh, to rest up, do a spot of shopping and just a general look around. After Scotland we were to fly to Belfast for a quick gander at Northern Ireland, before leaving the UK and having a few weeks in Ireland! (one of my favourite countries in the world).
Our trip to Scotland was a memorable one, I loved it. We saw some beautiful scenery as you can tell from the photos, and having mum around was a lot of fun. She brought a different dynamic to our trip, much different from when there had just been the two of us and we had a lot of laughs that was for sure.