Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scotland The Brave

I left Japan early on Saturday morning to catch the 5.20am shuttle to the airport. Unfortunately there were no taxis available and Sayaka couldn't reserve one the night before so we ended up cycling to the station - Sayaka peddling her heart out, me on the back with my huge back pack on, my small day pack in the basket at the front. It would have looked hilarious! Fortunately, due to Sayaka's skillfull cycling, we made it in time.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it) there are no photos of this so you will just have to use your imagination on this one.

I made it to Leeds last Saturday evening after a very long day of travelling and my friend Claire Hopkinson was at Manchester Airport waiting for me. She is the bride for the wedding in Portugal so it was lovely to spend some time with her and meet her fiancee, Helder, before the wedding. Helder is Portugese and speaks English very well. He mentioned he could understand my accent better than Claire's Yorkshire accent! They too, were very good hosts. We had a lovely dinner out on Saturday night and just chilled out and caught up on Sunday which was nice.
The weather here in the UK is much cooler so I can straighten my hair again without worrying about looking like a clown (well, my hair at least).
I made it to Edinburgh, Scotland last Monday afternoon and was met at the train station by Jenni and her friend John who very kindly dropped us back at Jenni's flat.
It's been a nice relaxing week. I caught up with some friends on Monday night for a few drinks which was good. I had to re-tune into the Scottish accent. One of the guys said he had been to 'Torkay' on holiday and as soon as I asked where that was I realised he meant 'Turkey'. Doh! I was also talking to a friends husband who is Irish and he said he has 3 brothers and a sister - Ween, Paul, Karl, and Don. That, to me, was 4 boys names so when I asked what his sisters name was he repeated Karl.. Oh right, CAROL. By the way, Ween is actually 'Wayne'. I feel like I speak a different language!
Last Wednesday I caught the train up to Inverness for two nights with my Scottish pen friend Alison. It was nice to see her again - we have met twice before. I was lucky enough to be invited to her wedding in 2001 when I was living in Edinburgh. She has just recently been through a divorce which turned out to be rather messy. I told her I was glad that she got me in the division of belongings. Her ex husband always reminded me of the mole from Wind In The Willows. She seemed quite delighted when I told her this.
Alison's house is gorgeous. She managed to hang on to it in the divorce and it is rather grand with 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. My room had it's own ensuite and was really lovely. Much better than most hotel rooms I have stayed in!

On Thursday Alison took me out to Cairngorm National Park and we took a ride up the Funicular tram to the top of the mountain. It is a VERY steep and rugged mountainside but the views were spectacular. The winds at the top just about blew me off the viewing platform so it was a quick photo opportunity before heading back indoors for a hot chocolate to thaw out again.

After leaving there Alison drove us around to Dores to the not-so-touristy edge of Loch Ness. I didn't spot Nessie... this time.

I caught the train back to Edinburgh on Friday and we were supposed to go camping on Friday night but I had picked up a wee tummy bug so we stayed in and watched Big Brother and Jenni cooked a yummy dinner for us instead. Bless her. She has been looking after me very well.

On Saturday we played tourists and walked up the Royal Mile - stopping at every souvenir shop on the way. There are a LOT, by the way. It was very wintery and drizzling but still a good day. The rain jacket I borrowed from Paula came in VERY handy.

Sunday was Jenni's birthday so we had a night in on Saturday night to save ourselves for the following day. I had sneakily managed to pick up a birthday cake without Jenni even knowing and we had champagne, strawberries, chinese take away, and birthday cake... oh, and cups of tea. It was very nice.

Yesterday we took the bus out to Southhouse to have lunch with Jenni's parents. It was the first time I had met them and they are lovely. Jenni's Mum had made lentil soup and ham rolls which were delicious and just what we needed to line our tum tums before the afternoon drinking session began!
After leaving there we went to Leith to sit in a garden bar by the canal and a few others joined us for a few quiet drinks.
After a couple of hours we headed to a bar in Tollcross for the World Cup Final. Jenni even got 'Happy Birthday' sung to her in Dutch.
It was a very civilized night actually and we were home by 12.30am.
Today has been another relaxing one with a wee walk up the road and then dinner with friends. Tomorrow we are thinking we might conquer Arthur's Seat.
I am leaving Edinburgh on Thursday to fly to Portugal for my next exciting adventure!


  1. Well done, you! Good to hear that your travels are going well and your sense of humour is finding plenty of occasions to appear. Maybe someone in all the hordes of Japanese photographed the wonderful sight of Sayaka doubling you with your backpack and it will end up on one of those emails! Here's hoping!

  2. Delighted that you have found time to update us on your progress - your translation skills are pretty good. Hope you have similar success in Portugal! xx