Sunday, February 12, 2006

You take the high road, and I'll take the low road...

In keeping with my new term's resolution to drink more pints and travel more, I spent this past weekend in Scotland, on a coach tour of the Scottish Highlands. We went up to Edinburgh on Friday afternoon, spent the night in a hostel, and then climbed on the coach bright and early on Saturday morning. The tour took us up through Stirling to Glencoe, then to Fort William for lunch, and Urquhart castle and Inverness in the afternoon. By 4:30 we were heading south again, with a stop in Pitlochry for tea, and then home again just after 8pm. The guide said we covered about 400 miles altogether, which is pretty impressive for a day trip!

On friday night, we went out for dinner in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle (figuratively speaking, that is - the street is south of the castle, so no shadows there!). We then moved a few doors down to the Last Drop (the logo of which is a hangman's noose) where we met a group of Welsh boys who were in town to see the rugby match. Now call me crazy, but I was pretty sure that a), the match was being held in Cardiff, not Edinburgh, and b), it would probably be more fun to watch your team from your own country, so that when your team won (which they did, 28 to 18!), you could celebrate in style, and not have to worry about annoying rival fans by cheering for the wrong team. But apparently i forgot to take into account both the fact that rugby fans aren't as um... riotous? as football fans, and that little thing called easyjet, which has really changed the face of british travel.

See, the story goes like this... these boys live in a town that is just north of Cardiff. To buy tickets to the match was about 30 or so pounds (by their reckoning, anyway), plus the 100-odd quid they would have to pay for the taxi ride from their town to Cardiff and back again (yeah, that seems a bit long for a taxi ride - hotel room in Cardiff anyone?!! - but at least they weren't stupid enough to try and drive there and back!). Anyway, it turned out that it was cheaper for these 4 guys to drive to Bristol, fly to Edinburgh, and stay there for the weekend, watching the game on Sunday from a pub, and then flying home the next day. Bizzare, eh? Anyway, the four guys (Christian, Craig, James, and his brother "the apprentice") turned out to be Connect 4 champions... who'd a thunk it was as popular over here as it is at home! :) This was our one group photo, before the connect 4-induced craziness took over!

Christian, James, Lauren, me, Craig, "the apprentice", Ellen, and Elizabeth

Here are some other photos from the trip, roughly in order of the stops we made:

the Sir Walter Scott Monument on Friday evening

Glencoe - we stopped to see the mountains, but they were pretty well hidden by the clouds!

Ellen, myself, Elizabeth and Lauren at a stop just outside of Fort William

Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness
(no sightings of the monster, I think she was off visiting the Ogopogo in Kelowna!)

Hamish the highland cow (pronounced "coo")
He wanted to come home with me and meet Frobisher, who had forgotten to come on this trip!

This weekend was fun, and I'm glad I made the trip, but I don't think I'll take another coach tour for a while. The early morning (6am to get there on time without skipping breakfast!), combined with the rocking motion and the heat of the coach, all but induces you to sleep through considerable portions of the trip (even my knitting couldn't keep me awake!). So even though there's only about an hour and a half or so between each stop, you can't help but feel groggy and tired everytime you get off the bus... but at the same time, how else could you see that much of Scotland in a single day when you don't have access to a car (or the desire to attempt driving on the wrong side of the road in a totally unknown area?!).

Anyway, on friday before I left, I got this fun item in the mail:

It's a sample card for Coldharbour mill's yarns, which come in aran, double knit, and 4-ply weights - all 100% real wool! Jess, my secret pal 6, sent me a skein of their aran weight yarn in plum, which is how I found out about this place. I'd love to go visit, but a trip to Devon doesn't seem likely any time soon... thank goodness for websites! I'm loving the bluebell and honey shades... but what to use it for...

Oh, one more quick thing... I have added links to Lauren's and Elizabeth's blogs, in case you want to check them out. Elizabeth is the new recruit to knitting whom I mentioned the other day. And my guess was right about her too - she is already planning to try making socks when she finishes her scarf!

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