MIke and I hit the road again on Tuesday. This time we’re off to Europe for the trip that we planned but canceled in 2020 due to COVID. And, although it feels like we just unpacked our suitcases from our last overseas adventure, the timing of this trip was mostly driven by some cycling buddies who we are meeting in Bordeaux mid-September. The first part of our trip will be in the UK and include family visits and some walking. The second part will centre around the Bordeaux area of France.
As our trip approached this summer we had an increasing sense of dread from all of the reported chaos at airports. Even Mike, who rarely stresses, was visibly agitated about our planned connection in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport after a report of 16,000 undelivered bags in one day. Aberration or not, Schiphol sounded like a very bad place to be connecting. Adding to our concern, KLM canceled the flight we had booked to Edinburgh so we scrambled to rebook on Easyjet - an airline almost guaranteed not to arrive on time. Mike does love to solve problems so he took to watching Youtube videos of people trying to get through Schiphol. This only increased his anxiety and he pleaded with me to consider carry-on only. I never thought that the words Heather Parry and “ carry-on luggage” would appear together in the same paragraph but now I am rocking my black on black on black capsule wardrobe.
The actual trip over went without a hitch. Sharon dropped us off early Tuesday and we whipped through security. The Vancouver to Amsterdam flight was business class on KLM and that was a mini-vacation all on its own. Fully reclining seats, a fancy headset, champagne before my bum touched the seat, wine menu, a smiling KLM attendant who gently placed a linen cloth over my tray. It will be hard to go back to cattle class! Because we had only carry-on we didn’t have to leave security or clear customs in Amsterdam avoiding all of the dreaded line-ups that Mike had been streaming on Youtube.
We arrived in Edinburgh at about 7 Wed. night. Mike thought the pilot had taken a wrong turn because it was a cloudless, sunny day when we landed. My cousin Isobel and her husband Derek Graham welcomed us warmly and we are now in the very pretty town of Linthithgow - about 30km west of Edinburgh. Isobel and I are actually second cousins as our Grannys (Helen and Isobel Sutherland )were sisters. Her Grandmother Isa - for Isabel - married a Baillie and if any of our family come to Scotland , we are most often hosted by one of the Baillie clan. And hospitable they are! I recall on one of my first visits here with my sister Helen we were passed around the family like parcels and everyone enjoyed feeding us as much as possible. We were too polite or shy to refuse any food on offer and we rolled off of the plane when we got home. I’ll try to show more restraint on this visit.
Yesterday morning we ventured into the city by train. Mike and I were here not too many years back so we decided to forgo visiting the Edinburgh castle , Holyrood Palace etc and instead did a nice long walk. We went to see George Heriot’s where my Dad went to school. The school was founded in 1628 by George Heriot who was the goldsmith to James VI. He bequeathed his estate to the city for the education of “fatherless bairns of the toune of Edinburgh”. Besides it’s beautiful buildings and interesting history, my Dad always said it was a formative part of his education and life. Much like his father and grandfather before him, Dad was a life-long learner and , like many immigrants, had an unwavering conviction that education was the key to success. My siblings and I can attest to the fact that we could get away with quite a bit of shenanigans but we were always expected to make every effort at school.
But I digress. Edinburgh has been sunny- a remarkable occurence. The festival is over and the city looks a wee bit hungover with a lot of garbage needing picked up. There was a notable lack of buskers such as pipers and men dressed as Braveheart on the streets. The shops were quiet and we were able to pick up a few supplies for our coming walk on the Fife Coastal Path. They say that in Scotland there are 5.4 million people, 6500 Highland Coos (cows), 1 monster (Lochness) and 180 million gazillion midgies. So, on the advice of the shopkeeper of the local outdoor adventure shop we bought a book about the Fife Coastal Path and a can of Smidge to ward of the midgies.
One very unexpected but happy wrinkle in our visit here is the fact that Isobel and Derek’s youngest daughter Mairie is having her first baby as I write this. When they invited us to stay it was assumed Mairie’s wee bairn would be born mid-August, but babies pick their own dates and Mairie is 3 weeks overdue. She has now been in labour for a full day and Isobel is with her to attend the birth. We are trying to stay out of the way with long walks and efforts to keep the Grandfather Derek calm and distracted. Hopefully baby will arrive in the next few hours. I believe there were plans for a home birth but the whole gang are now at the local hospital. Best laid plans…….
We took a long walk about the town of Linlithgow today. Very pretty with friendly people, lots of cafes and green spaces.The Linlithgow Palace is at the heart of the town . Mary Queen of Scots and King James V were born at this castle as it was a main stronghold of the Stewarts. I won’t even try to connect the dots from Mary Queen of Scots to today’s monarchy. This afternoon the cousins came round to stare at their curious Canadian relatives. We shared stories and tried to sort out the family tree on my Grandma’s side. Lots of repeated names like Isobel(Isa), Alexandrina(Ina), Ruby, Helen, Fiona, Archie, May, James and Tommy.
Tomorrow we start the next phase of our trip. Derek will drop us on the north side of the Firth of Forth and we will walk the Fife Coastal Path for 3 days towards St. Andrews.
That’s the news for now.
Hope all is well where you are.
Heather/ Mom xx
Footnote: Baby boy Archie finally arrived this afternoon.Read more