Posts in Travel
There and Back Again
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These feet have done a lot of travelling over the years...but never so far, so fast.  In the last five days, they:
- Carried me through 3 airports, twice each to Las Vegas and back

- Stomped in the toe-curling hilarity and joy that is seeing my wonderful (and very funny) family.

- Walked on the cheesiest carpet known to man that seems to be especially made for each casino (worst culprit has to be the MGM Grand)

- Ached through the length and breadth of the most ostentatious shopping malls I have ever seen (complete with fake sky, Venice in miniature, the New York skyline and enormous Roman fountains)

- Perched on the edge of casino chairs watching people gamble

- Basked in the hot desert sun pool-side

- Remembered how to walk in 6 inch heels

- Became covered in awe-inspired goosebumps at the beauty and skill of Cirque du Soliel's O. Amazing.

- Tolerated a hot-stone massage

- Carried me home to wrap my arms around one delicious small boy that I missed so much.

I bet you can guess which they enjoyed most.

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Indoctrinated...or not

After living in the UK for so long(8 years in June), I consider myself pretty fully indoctrinated into the culture here. The word "to-mah-to" has slipped out of my mouth on occasion.  I like Marmite.  I talk endlessly about the weather.  I have been to Blackpool. I sometimes forget the American words for "car park", "lorry" and "coriander".

Needless to say, I found myself thoroughly shocked when I realised how very different American camping is to its British counterpart. The expeditions of my teenage years were characterised by isolation, campfires, outhouses and fair hikes to the nearest shower (even when working at summer camps for people with disabilities). Not the 15 tents and their accompanying vehicles crammed into a field the size of my back yard that met us as we arrived at the Machrihanish Caravan and Camping Site. The views of the sea and hills were blocked out by a ring of camper vans and cooking was only allowed on gas-fired stoves.  Don't get me wrong, the campsite was nice and clean and I would recommend it, but it was not camping as I know it.  More like a "bring your own roof" motel.

(When we got back, I asked a number of my British friends if this is what camping is like here. The general consensus was yes, unless you go wild camping...though you may have different experiences.)

So rather than spending time at the campsite, we got out and explored the beauty of the Mull of Kintyre. There were many highlights of the journey:

The sea and its creatures and islands:
machrihanish bay kintyre kintyre view to jura

The Island of Gigha
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Sun setting over the Atlantic
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In the end, British camping and I made a sort of trans-atlantic peace.  As the saying goes, "When in Rome...make s'mores out of chocolate digestives and pink marshmallow, because sometimes close enough has to do."

machrihanish bay

Rest, and Be Thankful

Just a snippet as we arrive back from a lovely trip to the West Coast...

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The view from Rest, and Be Thankful, the highest point as you climb the hills near Arrochar.  It gets its name from a carved bench at the summit.

The weekend was full of thankfulness for good weather, beautiful scenery, gorgeous islands and the power of the Atlantic....but very little rest. Ellis did not like the tent and didn't sleep for two nights. So we are going to take today to recover, do laundry and vacuum the sand out of various places (in the car).

I will be back Tuesday or Wednesday, but in the meanwhile, if you are desperate for more Jude has done an interview with me over at her new blog:

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I am slightly too embarrassed to re-read it!  Sorry if I ramble!

Sea

It would be hard to grow up further from the ocean than Lisbon,Iowa.  In fact, I'd never really seen the sea (other than from an aeroplane) until I was 23 years old.  I now live on a tiny island and the seashore is only about 30 miles from any given point in Scotland (so I have been told). Even though I live so close, each trip to the ocean is an adventure.    Its just so different.  The sights, the smells, the sheer open expanse of the sea.  I am like a child, collecting shells and stones and sea glass for inspection. To this day, I am still convinced that a sea monster is going to jump out of the unknown.

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It seems that the light is different there.  Colours are brighter.

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St Andrews

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Lobster Traps
 

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Bird! Bird!

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I spend most of my time looking down to see what treasures have washed up.

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There were sea monsters at the beach today and they followed me home.
inspired by resurrection fern

Arrival

Thank you for all of your well-wishes, they obviously helped. We survived yet another cross-atlantic voyage, with only minor mishaps, which include but are not limited to:
- Almost having an international incident over forgetting Ellis' toy bus that he never plays with but obviously NEEDED on the flight from Edinburgh to JFK
- Ellis vomiting on me on 3 times and then vomiting on some toy cars at a toy store at JFK.  We are now the proud owners of a new and now sanitized Mack truck from the movie Cars
- Bringing the wrong sized knitting needles on the flight, so I had to watch a movie.  Slumdog Millionaire is amazing by the way.
- Having to stop myself from slugging the 647th person who told me to "Watch his head" when I was boarding the plan with Ellis on my back.  They were just being helpful. They were just being helpful. They were just being helpful.
- And I can't not mention the trip to the emergency room the night before we left with a certain German friend, who had better be resting as I type this. 

For posterity and to help me remember NEXT time I decide to do this, here is my little bit of wisdom on a matter that I am now officially an expert in.

Top tips for flying with babies and toddlers:

1.  SLING.  If you have not already been convinced about the wonder that is carrying your child in a sling, airports are THE BEST moment to invest in one.  You will need two hands to haul stuff, go through security, show your boarding pass the minimum 600 times required, put your hand luggage up and eat as you run through the airport trying to make your next connection (because your toddler will throw your in flight meal all over you and the floor).   This can not be done with a push chair, plus airlines beat the hell out of them.

2. A change of clothes for you and child.  You will need it.  Being in a confined space with small children means mess.  On this trip it meant snot + white sauce from the pasta + vomit...interestingly all the same colour.

3. A rolling suitcase for carryon that is big enough to hold your coats.  We are hot blooded people and I can not stand to wear a coat all the time.  This also meant I had free hands to attend to needs.

4. More nappies than you think you need.  Think about squeezing a tube of toothpaste. I am convinced that the pressure changes have the same effect on children's intestines.  YUCK.

5. Toys and books--a mix of old and "new".  In our case "new" meant digging around in my purses to find various cars he had not seen in months.  Also, do not bring things that involve small parts. Stickers are good (we taught E to stick them on himself, which has the added bonus of entertaining US while on the flight).  Remember there is a lot of in-flight entertainment these days, so you don't need much, even for long trips.

6. Snacks. Snacks. Snacks.  You will not find many baby and toddler friendly snacks wherever you go, so bring some with you.  We love Organix crisps for travel and those squeezey fruit/veg combo smoothy things from Ella's Kitchen. At least its not completely awful for them and they ARE allowed as its classed as baby food.

7. Unless you have a very quiet, laid back sort of baby or toddler, DO NOT board first.  Use every single moment you are on the ground to run around and tire them out.  If your hand luggage is miles away because the bins are full when you do board, someone will help you get at the things you need. 

8. Throw your rules out the window.  Travel is stressful. Allowingthings that you may not normally allow is not going to kill them.  Watching the movies on flight or eating crap isn't great, and good on you if you can avoid it, but if not, cut yourself some slack.

And just for knowledge-sharing, I have to say that if you have to travel with a toddler car seat, get yourself one of these :

Travelmate_md

They are wheels that hook onto your car seat.  It converts it into a stroller, but I just put my carry on bag in it, and you can fly through the terminals.  Plus it means your car seat is not being thrown around in baggage handling.  We love ours and I highly recommend it.

Oh, Travel.

Oh Travel.  You and I are old friends.  We were together when I tookmy first plane ride and saw Cedar Rapids fade outside my window and a year in Eastern Germany rise on the horizon.  You were there when I woke up on a train and saw the Ganges swirling around under us, more like the sea than a river.  You laughed at me the first time I saw Mt Everest and I mistook it for a cloud.  You always know best.

Travel, remember walking through the jungle in Thailand?  Oh, and that time we had to listen to tiny Ellis cry for 8 hours on a plane?  You were certain we were going to get chucked off.  Remember that time we travelled an hour between terminals at O'Hare, only to be told we had to go all the way back because the gate was next to the one we'd arrived at?

Travel, You and I have seen a lot, but I am beginning to worry that we have become over-familiar.  I sit, on the eve of a long and arduous journey, writing and knitting.  I only have a few clean items in the suitcase and very little sleep under my belt.  It'll get done, you tell me.  I just hope I remember everything.

Travel, I do have one small favour to ask.  You are not always kind to small people.  Tomorrow, a not quite two year old has to leave his Dada and kitties behind and be confined to his mama's lap for hours on end. While I know that 28 flights before the age of 2, makes him a pro (and a small boy with a HUGE carbon foot print). I just ask, dear comrade, if you could please think twice before sending any flight delays, lost luggage, turbulence, unfriendly air stewards or other unnamed crisis our way. Oh and a bit of sleep for wee man would be a huge bonus. He promises to be good...sort of.

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things you may not have known about scotland

Well, I am just chuffed to bits that people so far and wide are looking at the blog! I love writing it and love that people might take some small interest in my small corner of life. Anyway, it got me thinking about things that I didn't know about Scotland before I lived here:

1. People really say "Bonnie", as in the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond . It means beautiful.

2. Haggis is made from offal. Heart, liver, lungs of sheep, plus oats or barely, spices and lard, stuffed in an animal stomach and boiled. It is surprisingly tasty

3. Not everyone who was born and raised in Scotland has a Scottish accent. Some people have English accents and they live all over the country, not just near the border. They tend to be posh and went to boarding school.

4. People in Glasgow are the friendliest people you will ever meet in the Western world. Hesitate for a moment at a junction, someone will ask if you need help with directions. Walk into a pub and everyone has something to say to you.

As an aside, as of yesterday if you searched for "worst mother in the world" my blog comes 6th...it would be funny if some of the other results weren't so awful.

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