Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Heart Scotland

Exactly one year ago today, The Mailman and I were in the Scottish Highlands.  Ever since I can remember, I'd dreamed of visiting The British Isles.  In my imagination, this was a magical place...a fairytale kingdom...wild and green...populated by kings and queens...with a castle around every corner. 

When I met The Mailman, I learned that he had spent a good portion of his military days on the north-east coast of Scotland...at the Navy base in Edzell.  We talked about it often, and I shared my dream with him.  I should have known better.  TM is one of those men who has a way of making dreams come true...and after we'd been married a few years, he began planning a trip to England and Scotland.  In the summer of 2007, my dream became a reality.  

I was terrified.  Aside from a trip to Canada, I'd never been out of the country before.  I came up with every excuse imaginable not to go.  The garden would die and our house would fall and/or burn down...we couldn't leave the dogs...we couldn't afford it...the plane would crash...and if it didn't crash the terrorists would blow it up.  The day before we left, I was an absolute sobbing, trembling basket case.  TM would have none of it...and somehow I managed to put on my big girl panties...swallow down my fear...and get on the plane.

And I fell in love.  I love everything about this place.  The green hills...the cool weather...the rain...and the gardens.  Oh my.  The gardens.  The people are some of the most extraordinary I have ever encountered...strong, resilient, knowledgeable and kind.  I am an American...through and through...but I feel completely at home here.  And I learned something.  Many times, there is something wonderful on the other side of fear.

Last summer, we flew across "the pond" once again...and I thought I would share some of my memories with you. 

After an overnight flight from O'Hare, we landed at London's Heathrow at about 8 o'clock in the morning on the 4th of July.  Fighting off jet-lag, we picked up our rental car and headed out to Wimbledon for the final day of tennis.  Since we were ticketless, we waited in the queue for grounds passes...grabbed some fish and chips once we were inside...and commenced people-watching.  After a pleasant conversation with a local couple (who thought I was Danish!)...we found seats in one of the show courts and tried to watch the men's final on the JumboTron.  I think this picture speaks for itself. 

Our first B&B was the beautiful Scotland Lodge Farm and the fragrance of English roses was just the thing to revive a tired-to-the-bone Yank.  

This is the stable on the grounds.  The owner's daughter is a professional event rider and some of these beautiful animals are show jumpers. 

This is a typical full English breakfast...fried egg, bacon (what we would call Canadian bacon), sausages, fried tomato and mushrooms, baked beans, juice and hot tea.  And of course, there's toast as well.  This hearty fare will see you through a day of power sight-seeing, believe me! 

No trip to this part of the English countryside would be complete without a visit to Stonehenge.  Just look at that sky! 

After seeing this on a PBS special, I knew I had to visit the stunning landscape garden at Stourhead in person.  It almost looks unreal, doesn't it?  You can walk completely around this lake and discover lots of beautiful ornamental buildings, grottoes and whatnots along the way. 


This is one of my favorite photos from the trip...taken at Great Chalfield Manor. Somehow, I think Rapunzel might be hiding up in one of those towers.


To me, this pretty doorway is quintessential English country.

Next, we headed into the world-famous Cotswolds.  This is a typical "turnpike"...on the way to our B&B.  Maneuvering a stick-shift-right-hand-drive car through these itty bitty roads was quite a challenge.  For The Mailman.  Just THINKING about driving here gave me hives!

We stayed at the Old Stones Bed and Breakfast...

...where they have a FABULOUS backyard garden...

...and a grass tennis court!  The property is an old stone quarry and the court sits right up against the old walls.  No...that isn't Helen Wills Moody...it's me!  I played quite a bit of tennis during my high school and college years...TM, too...and this was quite a treat for us.  Notice the bare feet!  Heaven! 

We visited Hidcote, another astounding manor house and garden...with big, fluffy perennial borders... 

...lots of clipped box and topiary... 

...a vegetable garden... 

...and a croquet lawn!  Here's TM, showing off his skill.  I learned croquet as a kid during a visit with my Illinois cousins...and wrangled a set out of my parents when we returned home.  This brought back some happy memories of Summer evenings at home in the backyard.  Do people play croquet anymore?

I'm queen of the lavender world!  The lavender fields are breathtaking...and I brought some home with me.

We usually eat twice a day when we travel...and a little market like this one is the perfect place to pick up a picnic supper. 

After three days in England, we returned our rental car and caught The Caledonian Sleeper to Glasgow.  It's a great way to travel a long distance...bed, breakfast and transportation all in one...and you sleep right through it!  As you can see, I'm pretty well shattered.  Next stop...Scotland!


Jil~Say It With Roses said...

What a wonderful trip I just had to places that I have always wanted to see. I am so happy your dreams came true thanks to a loving husband!
The pictures are beautiful..... almost poetic.
The Cotswolds are charming and how I would love to live in one of those cottages!!!!
The Stourhead Gardens are so pristine they do look like a painting....it would be hard to leave such a place and go back to the real world.
I love this post and will come back to look at the pictures again and again!
Hope you are having a great weekend. It is cloudy here and a tad cooler and that is a nice relief! Hopefully we will catch a stray thunderstorm.

Rebecca said...

OK...I'm bawling my head off. I am NOT kidding. I want to go. The pictures you've shared have taken away my breath. I pray SOMEDAY to visit the exact places you have shown.

If you decide to go again tell me. Maybe we can meet up there. Wouldn't that be amazing?


Stephanie Suzanne ♥ Queen of Dreamsz said...

Oh, how exciting. I've always wanted to go to London and to Paris..don't know if I'll ever make it...we'll see. I've loved looking at all of your photos...I so envy you standing in that field of Lavender...Rose and Lavender are my two favorites aromas. I found your blog via another one but can't remember who. I see that you love to sew. I've just started a new blog to focus on my crochet and sewing. I'd love to have you pop in for a visit.

Pink Sparkles for your week,
Stephanie Suzanne ♥

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