Sunday, December 27, 2015

Walking through Edinburgh Highlights

We had a full day to walk around Edinburgh on our way up to the National Park where we were staying for Christmas.  Besides a picture of the castle, I don't think I'd ever looked at any pictures of the city so I didn't have a feel for the layout or terrain at all.  It was all a pleasant surprise.  Our hotel looked out over Arthur's Seat on one side of the city, with the queen's palace tucked in its shelter.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we had only seen rain forecasted for every single day last week so we were prepared for the worst and were so thankful for the gift of blue skies and mild temperatures, neither of which are normal this time of year I would think!  Granted, it did rain in the morning, but by the time the sun came out good it was clear.

It would have been lots of fun to tour the palace and walk through Mary Queen of Scots' rooms, but since we had daylight and dry weather and only one day we kept walking.  KJ had a route marked out for us, and I called a detour when I glimpsed this amazing cemetery on a hill.

I love reading old tombstones.  They seem to say a lot more than tombstones today?

This man was a gunmaker, and he and his wife lived "long, consistent and exemplary Christian lives."

There was also a good view of the palace from the top of the hill.  I love the rounded turrets.  They're very fairy-taleish.

We walked by the embassy and halfway wished we'd had our passports on us.  It was nice to see Old Glory waving in the breeze that thankfully wasn't too hard!

Just snapping pictures of monuments along the way, as Americans do.  Up next is the New Parliament building, which is actually the old parliament nowadays, but old habits...

Edinburgh really does have a nice skyline.

As we walked up the hill to see the Scottish National Monument James took off at a run because at the top of the hill he would receive the promised Jelly Baby.

The climb was worth it even without the Jelly Baby.  I loved these views of the city but maybe even more so of the city leading up to the sea.  There's just something about a town on the sea that is so beautiful.

There were some lovely things going on with the sky and the clouds.

It was fun to see another monument for Lord Nelson, and KJ urged me to climb to the top for some even better city views.  Or ocean views, whichever you prefer.  You can see the palace in the right side of the picture below.

It was also a good chance to get some pictures of those crazies from up above.

Maybe we'll have an opportunity to go back and get a closer look at Edinburgh Castle.  It was amazing to look at from a distance.  Our friend Parker always says that the bad part of going up the Eiffel Tower is that you can't see the Eiffel Tower in your view of Paris.  I felt like that this week with a few places we didn't have the time to get up close to.  Sometimes seeing where they fit into the landscape is enough.  It looks so wild and rugged overlooking the orderly streets of the city.

There was a brief shower of very cold rain when I came down, but by the time we finished our lunch it was clear again.  While eating James had spied the Christmas carnival going on in the square and really wanted to go down this slide.

We decided to let he and Ella do one thing each.  Ella chose the Crystal Palace, which was a maze filled with mirrors, and poor girl, it was hilarious watching her run into walls from the outside.

Thankfully she kept a good attitude about it and finally found her way out.

Afterwards the girls did some shopping.  I guess I didn't think I would need a bathing suit in England, because I didn't bring one, and granted, I went a year without needing it!  But the hotel had a heated pool, and I wanted to be able to play with the kids so off we went to track down a swimsuit in the middle of winter in Scotland.  After striking out several times we finally succeeded and really enjoyed going in all of the huge stores on Princes Street in the process.

Since we got separated from the boys we decided to find our own way back to the hotel with the help of good 4G coverage and Google Maps.  It really is such an amazing thing.

We made it safely back to the hotel where we cooked pizzas and watched White Christmas.  It was a great day.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Road Trippin'

KJ and I were talking this week about how much we enjoyed looking back at pictures and how we get compounded joy from experiences by looking at the pictures weeks and years after that particular moment is gone.  And the pictures trigger other memories from the time that we would otherwise lose because we wouldn't have something tangible calling us back.

God gives us so many good gifts every day, and I don't want to forget them.  I don't want to forget the fun of spotting these deer lying in the field after our Holy Island pit stop and then the exhilaration when they jumped up and flew through the grass, surprising me with their big fluffy white tails.

I don't want to forget how the clouds parted and the sun shone glorious at just the right spot in the clouds ahead and ta-da!  Rainbow!  Do rainbows start to get old after awhile?  

I was also feeling super excited about how beautiful a picture could be driving down the road at 60 mph.  The light was just so lovely.

And then 5 minutes later, another one!  I was aiming the camera lens underneath and past KJ as he drove so this one was out of focus but dreamy in its own kind of way.

I love these graceful ladies by the sea.

Our trip was such a last minute thing, and as we checked the weather forecast there was nothing but rain for our time there.  Low expectations make having sun as we crossed the border all the more welcome.  We were also thrilled that there was a place to stop and celebrate the border crossing.  There was a food truck parked there as well, and when we got out my first words were, "It smells like Texas."  Actually, it probably smelled like any state fair in the U.S., like fried food goodness.

Notice how low the sun is at 2:15 p.m.  I probably talk about how low the sun appears way too much, but it's just so noticeable to those of us from the southern end of the northern hemisphere.