I love Ireland and I’ve been there twice but I’ve never quite managed to get to Scotland. Luckily, Thomas is a big fan of Scotland so for our main trip in 2014 we spent 2.5 weeks in the UK. I was very much looking forward to all the ‘normal’ food I would be able to find there as well as exploring old country towns and castles.
We spent the first weekend in London, staying with a friend and trekking around the city. I’m not really a huge fan of London, but it’s an obvious first step and it was good to catch up with someone I’ve known since I was 5.
And then onto Scotland! We flew into Glasgow where I caught up with another friend (lucky me) and then we hired a car and drove in a clockwise direction around Scotland: Fortwilliam, Mallaig, Portree (Isle of Sky), Inverness, Orkney Islands, Stonehaven and back to Edinburgh.
Expecting the standard, dismal Scottish weather, we were pleasantly surprised by temperatures in the low 20s. We hiked Ben A’an in shorts and t-shirt and had beautiful views at Man of Storr. The highlights are too many to mention: the cute black-headed sheep, the amazing coastal views, standing too close to the edge at the Orkney Islands, trying to spot Nessie, the castles, the distilleries, mini-golf at St Andrews golf course, the scones, the pastries, the haggis, the steaks… did I mention the food?
For me, Scotland was the closest I’d been to home for a long time. The people spoke English (well, that is debatable) and the food was good, traditional fare akin to what I’m used to in Australia: Sunday roasts, scones, pasties, pies, fish’n’chips and big brekkies with baked beans.
Despite the fact that Scotland is the correct side of the road for me, Thomas took on the challenge of driving. And he did a pretty good job, except when we came to a two-lane roundabout. These don’t really exist in Austria, and they have a completely different system when it comes to roundabouts. And when I tried to explain how it worked in Scotland, his response was something like: “Well, that’s stupid, I’m not doing it.” I imagine what he’d have said in response if I’d said the same when he tried to teach me to drive on the other side of the road. Still, we survived.
Sadly, I didn’t manage to go for my ocean swim as planned. It wasn’t too cold, but when we got to the point where we were staying next a good swimming beach, the weather closed in, the wind rose and we opted for a brisk walk instead.
And the last stop for me was, of course, Tesco, where I stocked up on all the food I couldn’t get back in Austria: Cadbury chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, salt & vinegar chips, brown sugar, golden syrup, real black tea and even a packet of crumpets. That should keep me going for a couple of months!