Well, this might sounds strange, but Tyler and I have not had time off alone together since August. I know most of you think that this whole trip has actually been time off, but I assure you, it has not. We work at least 5 days a week, and almost never get two days off in a row, so we dont often get to go far from the farm. We love the work, but it is exhausting! Its also surprisingly exhausting to live in someone elses’ home.
So we took a week off in the middle of May for our first vacation! We spent three wonderful days in Edinburgh, which we first had to learn how to pronounce (ed-in-bra). We stayed in a great little hostel that was actually a converted church, and we got to eat Mexican food! We spent our days in the city wandering around, looking in on little tourist shops, getting a pint or a whisky at a pub, and listening to music.
One of the highlights of this stop was the Elephant House Cafe. If you dont know, this is the cafe where JK Rowling sat and scribbled the first few chapters of Harry Potter on napkins, when she was too poor to afford a notepad. The cafe is now a very thriving tourist spot, as most major city tours at least pass by the place. We got coffee and cake and sat in this magical little spot for a long time. One of the best things is that people have taken to writing messages to JK Rowling on the walls of the bathroom, and as I knew about this, I had what I wanted to say prepared. As it turns out, everyone, everyone writes to Jo. There was hardly a square inch of space. It was definitely the most emotional bathroom Ive ever been in. It feels strange to say it, but it was beautiful to see how much those stories mean to people, and the things they learned and valued from them.
Another highlight was tracking down Scotland Street. If you’ve never heard of the 44 Scotland Street books, you should! They’re Tyler’s current literary obsession. We found the street, tiny and quaint as discribed in the books, and we visted the Cumberland Bar, which is a pub most of the characters in the book frequent. Although the employees had never actually heard of the books.
We caught a bus to the airport the next day and picked up our rental car. I can’t believe how lucky we are, but we got to see our dear friend Emma again! She was home from Skye for a bit, so we stopped by her parents house on our way out of Edinburgh, where they lent us a tent, sleeping bags, and camping pads. It was an incredibly generous thing, and something that we will appreciate forever; I only hope we can return the favor someday.
We then traveled north to a little village called Aberfeldy. I happen to love Aberfeldy whisky, but the main attraction of this place is that it is where JK Rowling currently lives. So we tracked down her house and took a picture of the gate, all the while saying things like “She drives down this road“, and “She buys her groceries here”!
Next was the incredibly beautiful drive through Glencoe National Park, where we had to stop a million times to take pictures, and onto Fort William, where we found a great and very cheap campsite. Our campsite host was named Bill, and he was a delight to meet. He came to our tent the first morning and gave us his version of what the owls sounded like the night before. We had stayed up all night listening to them, but his was almost as great.
It turns out that Fort William is maybe the cutest town ever. There is a great pedestrian zone, with little pubs and shops, and really friendly people who arent yet sick of asking tourists where they come from. Our first day in Fort william was climbing Ben Nevis, but in true Richardsonsinnorway fashion, I have to dedicate a whole post to any major peak climbed. (It just occured to me that I didnt dedicate one to Ben Rinnes, but Ill just tell you that I was big, the day was hot, and it went very well.) Ok, so check back soon for information about Ben Nevis-and for now, know that it was absolutely the best mountain summit of my life.
We spent a day driving down from Fort William, down to Oban, and past Loch Lommond to the Lake District, where we collected our sweet, crazy friends, Erin and Bert Carlstrom, from the train station. I say crazy because they took a train to see us for just 20 hours, 7 hours of which were spent squished into a tiny tent with us, and 6 of which were spent hiking the tallest mountain in England. It was wonderful to see our friends again, even for a short time, I cant believe how lucky we’ve been to see them as much as we have. So we hiked Scafell Pike, which again, needs its own post, and we therefore completed the Three-Peak Challenge; Climbing the tallest peaks in England, Wales, and Scotland. We drove back to Emmas parents house after the mountain, and they let us sleep in their camper before our flight to Ireland the next day.