November 15, 2013


Scots love their thistles! Well -- perhaps they don't, I never actually asked, but tourists certainly do. Thistles practically cover the Royal Mile in the form of keychains and t-shirts and magnets and shot glasses, and they really do cover the Scotland landscape in plant form as well -- they're everywhere, and come in a vast amount of flavours (don't actually eat them please). 

Legend has it that while a Norse Army was creeping up on a Scottish encampment long ago, a Norseman stepped out on a nasty thistle, causing him to burst into loud anguished tears of pain, thus alerting the Scottish camp of an impending attack. Okay, maybe not the anguished tears, but you get the picture. Don't know if this is true but it's cute. Cute and painful.

Couldn't live in Scotland for a few months without drawing their national flower! 

{Drawn in June 2013}

November 10, 2013

week four.

We did something brave and daring in week four. We rented a car and whilst driving out of the car rental parking lot on the wrong side of the road came to the realization that our GPS wasn't going to work and we didn't have a map of Scotland and there was a four-lane roundabout coming up and we had said we were going to be at our Bed & Breakfast at six o'clock PM and had no idea how to get to Aberdeenshire. 

After Wayne narrowly missed driving against the curb (or kerb, as they spell it here) several times and after I had very unhelpfully squealed in fright every time he almost hit the curb we crept our British Honda Civic into a petrol station and bought a great big map that helped us escape the Edinburgh traffic. Two overpriced Costa coffees later, we had successfully made it onto the highway and were headed to the great green northern Highlands of Scotland for four glorious days of exploration... 

Wayne is now a UK driving pro. We had hit the east coast and were winding our way along the ocean headed to Aberdeen...
 Our first stop: Dunnottar Castle. Old. Crazy old. A ruinous castle perched on cliffs next to the sea. Beautiful. Lots of sea birds. Inspiration for the castle in Disney's Brave
 Wayne is fishing in tidal pools! Had to get our dinner somehow. 
 Classic Loch Ness surrounded by yellow gorse. Huge. So huge. No monsters, only tourists. 

After getting a good look at Loch Ness, we headed west and crossed a big bridge onto the Isle of Skye. This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. Ever. Ever ever ever. It's like Lord of the Rings amazing. And obviously photos won't do it justice. 

Everything here is just so blazingly green and untouched and... sheep. Sheep everywhere. 

If you are not careful you will hit a sheep and get a dent in your rental car, and even worse, be pursued by an angry Scottish sheep farmer which would probably be a situation you would want to avoid. 
Eilean Donan, Scotland's most photographed castle. Had a starring role in a James Bond film. 
Low tide at Loch Harport in Carbost. There are some funky crustaceans happening on these beaches... 

 Up near Dun Flodigarry near the most northern tip of the Isle of Skye. Windy, dramatic, stunning.  
 We happened to be up north right around summer solstice which meant the sun didn't really fully set. The clock is creeping towards eleven PM and still no sign of darkness...

Couldn't keep this week's photos at only three, no surprise there!

November 05, 2013

gutted, chuffed, skived & scuppered.

The Scottish accent is really really hard to pick up. I consider myself to be fairly proficient when it comes to imitating an English accent (at least better than Drew Barrymore's attempt in Ever After... though I do love that movie), but with Scottish? It's an odd breed. If you're not careful you can quickly turn it into some weird British accent with an Eliza Dolittle kick, or suddenly you've become Irish or gone all Aussie, or, when things really go off course, you're sounding Punjabi. Not sure how that happens, but it does.

Wayne and I have worked fairly hard at trying to master the Scottish accent. Being surrounded by it helps greatly, but there's certain things that we just haven't been able to grasp -- like that tiny roll of the r in words like "sorry". So far I just sound like I have a weird speech impediment when I attempt that level of accent mastery.

{Eating Scottish shortbread helps improve your accent, really truly!}

Besides the accent, there's a whole extra category of Scottish vocabulary that we didn't really anticipate. We've had conversations with people where the whole thing is really one-sided -- they seem to understand us but we're just nodding and smiling because we can't understand a word they're saying. You know how sometimes while watching BBC flicks you need to turn on the closed captioning to see what on earth that angry old British lady is saying? Well... with this, it's ten times worse, and sadly there's no closed captioning in real life -- just two nodding Canadians with confused smiles plastered on their faces.

{Hullo! Jolly red phone boxes on the Royal Mile. They have accents, too.}

Words and phrases that Scottish people use all the time:

Aye & Nae: Yes and no. I think this is great. One time a this little kid at church was asked if he was hungry and ready for lunch and he responded with a giant, "AYE!" Made my day.

Being cheeky: This is also used all the time and can be used for varying degrees of cheekiness -- ranging from being generally saucy to nastily sarcastic to disrespectfully mouthy to dumping all your food on the floor in a toddler-esque rage. Don' bae cheeky!

Wee: Probably the most flexible word in all of Scotland's vocabulary. It's used repetitively as a fill-in adjective, even if the thing being discussed isn't "wee" at all. Example: "Yesterday mornin I took a wee hike up that wee mountain and when I got home had a wee bath and a wee cuppa afterwards." They can't all be wee!!! But they are. Scottish magic. 

Fortnight: This means two weeks, but you probably knew that. It's not really the uniqueness of the word as being Scottish... I just think it's brilliant that they actually use it in common vernacular!

Skived: Avoiding/shirking duties etc.

Scuppered: Mixed up, wrecked, sunk. Example: "My schedule's been scuppered due to the overwhelmingly massive amounts of The Great British Bake Off that I've been watching." Btdubs, TGBBO is a huge deal here. Like... huge. 

Chuffed: Pleased. Example: "I'm chuffed that my apple pie turned out so well!" or "I'm chuffed that I have avoided eating haggis so far!" Which is entirely and amazingly true and I intend to keep it this way and I will not regret it at all. 

Gutted: Opposite of chuffed, meaning very very disappointed. It's like you're so disappointed that all of your insides have been torn out which is rather revolting but there you have it. Example: "Gutted when I think about going back to eating American yogurt after enjoying Scottish yogurt all summer."

We've got a small obsession with yogurt quality. We're yogurt snobs. If there was a yogurt connoisseur reality show, we'd be on it. If you're interested, the best yogurt in the world is located in Austria. We follow the yogurt. 

Pants: Underwear. Completely embarrassed two wee girls by using this word incorrectly, but that's another story for another day...

There are so, so many more, but we'll keep it at this short list. Pull these out on your friends! You'll be British-cool! Or they'll just think you've gone a bit nuts. Either way is good. 

 {This has nothing to do with accents. Wayne is perhaps contemplating accents. Or he's just annoyed that the fire alarm went off and has forced us to sit outside... which isn't all that bad}

{This post written in June 2013}