I thought a visit to Scotland was an essential almost before Sam and family left Alcala la Real last April. I just needed the right 'excuse'. Romy's birthday in January seemed a pretty good reason and knowing that the cottage where the family now live is not big, I decided that we'd have a girly visit and just Romy and I would go. No discussion, no consultation. Even Romy didn't know and I booked the tickets in August last year.
It seemed to take forever for us to reach Romy's birthday in some ways. I'd let her know just after Christmas when she began compiling a 'birthday wish list' and I began to think it would be more fun to share the news so we could plan and anticipate together. It was a good decision and helped her to deal with the rather miserable actual birthday she had, 10 days prior to our departure. (She was ill, the one thing she really wanted had failed to arrive from Amazon....and we had said no party this year due to her visit to Scotland.) But she was brave and our excitement grew in the last week before our departure and Romy got better and I didn't catch her lurgy!
And suddenly, after all the anticipation (and the anxiety when I discovered her passport had expired...) we were on our way to the airport in Malaga for a very civilised flight at midday on a day of sunshine that promised to continue all the way to Scotland.
And sure enough, we landed in sunshine and Sam was excitedly waiting for us at the gate - and we were the first out! What emotion!! I was so anxious to see her again that I foolishly decided against delaying the moment and didn't stop at the loo on the way through the airport. Bad move! Anyway, we stopped at the Hilton Hotel on our way out and the man on the door there was very obliging and let me in in my moment of need.
We called in to see the dilapidated cottage that the Greers are hoping to rebuild and make their permanent Scottish home. It's just the other side of Perth from the village where they currently live and it was in a glorious spot with fantastic views. And a lovely piece of history in the garden - on old horse mill. I don't know what was milled originally but these types of mills have been used variously as gorse-crushers, to provide animal feed, to mill corn, to crush apples or to raise water.
|Plenty of work to do - but a glorious view to enjoy. Oh my, is Romy as tall as Sam?|
It was so lovely to settle down with the Greers and to feel at home immediately. The girls disappeared off to....well, I have no idea, but disappear they did and I guess Sam and I didn't stop talking until we simply couldn't any more.
Saturday really did start sunny and bright so we set off for a walk in the local woods with Charlie in tow - Charlie is a little street dog from Alcala, who seems to have settled in quite well to her different lifestyle!
|It was chilly as the ice on the river proves, but the sun was shining on us.|
I think Romy will grow out of pulling this face for the camera. I hope it will be soon.....
(Mine, I can't help!)
Celia and I shared an office for several years and went through more than a few life events together and I was delighted that she was able to meet up with us. Absolutely brilliant to spend a couple of hours chatting and catching up and reminiscing. Thank you so much for coming to meet us, Celia!
After lunch was over - and it was extremely good - Celia toddled back to the Trossachs and we headed to Paperchase and TK Maxx for a little retail therapy. Everything I wanted in TK Maxx was impossible to buy....too heavy to take back to Spain in my hand luggage. (But I DID so want a big Le Creuset jug....a pink one....) In the end, Romy and I spent quite a bit in Paperchase and were happy with our lovely but light purchases and I bought a beautiful new king size fitted cotton sheet, hotel quality, that I inevitably try and pick up with I visit TK Maxx. Can't have too many of those.
|Photography wasn't allowed in the concert hall, |
of course, but this was at the end.
They didn't have much room, but skated brilliantly
- very balletic and the Crow was incredible!
Edinburgh sported the bluest skies and coldest winds imaginable! As we walked down from the station along Princes St. we were treated to a man playing the bagpipes in full costume and with very chilly-looking knees.
We walked through the gardens and down to the Scottish National Gallery, where as well as taking in some lovely pictures and hearing many Spanish voices around, we left our suitcases for a couple of hours. Then we wandered off again and made our way to the selected lunch spot.
It was an excellent choice for five good eaters - Cosmo Restaurant, a 'Pan Asian and World Dining Banquet' - with an open buffet-style menu from many different countries and where you could literally eat as much as you wanted. It would take an age to recount all the different things we tried but I particularly enjoyed the squid, prawn and scallops that were cooked for me on a hot iron and the Lamb Rogan Josh that I followed it with...oh, and the slice of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding that I couldn't resist....and perhaps I should mention the BBQ spare rib that I nibbled on as I perused what was on offer. And yes, I've come back several kilos heavier but for once I can say it was worth it!! As for what the girls ate...Romy and Izzie were utterly stuffed and Romy couldn't finish her cheesecake. That says it all. It's not something that I would want to do on a regular basis but for someone whose tastebuds are often a tad bored with Spanish flavours, it was such a brilliant experience. And we stayed warm and out of the wind for around 2 hours..
The final treat of the day - Romy's birthday, remember - after we'd picked up our suitcases, was a trip to the Edinburgh Dungeons.
Not originally the Dungeons, I was reliably informed that this venue was once a car park and then a night club. However, it had been cleverly transformed into a most scary place where Sam and the girls did a lot of screaming and I only did a bit.
It was well organised and there was lots of interaction and jesting and some historical information, as well as lots of shouting in strong Scottish accents, much of which I didn't quite catch!
This is a 'good' one of us all!
As we were shown out of this part, we were told to find our way out of a simple maze to the entrance hall. It was a maze of mirrors and - I guess because we weren't part of a main group any more - we were stuck in it for what seemed like an eternity. At the beginning, it wasn't too creepy because we expected to find our way out, but after five minutes or so, we became SO disorientated that at one point, Jazzy made a run towards Romy and almost knocked herself out against a mirror - splat onto the floor! It was one of the strangest experiences I've ever had!!
|At this stage, I didn't know if I was coming or going...don't be fooled though. It's possible I was walking TOWARDS Sam when this was taken....hang on, who took this picture???|
|Brave smiles from four totally confused females!|
And then, suddenly, our time with our friends was over! It was strange seeing them off - rather than the other way round - but they went to catch the train back to Perth, whilst Romy and I were heading off to a hotel near the airport. A fantastic weekend and confirmation that it was serendipity that brought both Sam and I to Alcala la Real, so that we could meet and become the friends that we are.
Romy and I still had a bit of adventure left before we got back home. A tram ride in Edinburgh for a start - and it was now dark, so it felt like an adventure - and finding our hotel. We managed, of course, and by 7pm, were safely ensconced in our room. And by 9pm, we were both fast asleep!! Good too, as we had an early morning start as our flight was at the less civilised return hour of 6.55am...groan! Needless to say, this too went like clockwork and at around 11am, we had landed back in sunny Malaga.
We really had a ball - notwithstanding losing my credit card at some point on our journey and arriving back in Spain with no cash, both of which I managed to resolve without a problem - and I hope we can do it again in the not too distant future. There's something really very good about having a girly weekend.....especially with great friends and with my wonderful, fantastic daughter, who is fun, brave and a brilliant travelling companion. Happy Birthday Romy!!