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June 1, 2002
Spring flowers (Gail)

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Admiring the rhododendrons at Eaglescairnie Mains

Even after all these months of traveling I still find it hard to believe we are on this trip. I question daily what we did to be so lucky to travel and see so much of this world. I still get that "Hey look where we are" feeling. Our visit to Hadrian's Wall was one of those moments. I had heard and read about the wall but never imagined I would ever be standing at this outpost of the Roman Empire. We have since learned of the Roman Antonine Wall built earlier and further north outside of Edinburgh. The Romans abandoned that in favor of the Hadrian location. We learned of this wall while visiting a Celtic museum and later realized we were right next to it when we visited the Falkirk Wheel on our way to Edinburgh. I love the historical connections we are making along the way. Rome and the Celts, William the Conqueror, Flanders and the woolen trade with England, the industrial revolution, WWI and WWII are just a few examples of how our travels have covered not only distance but time as well.

I have felt especially blessed these last few months, as we have chased the spring across Europe. Starting in Italy in February we enjoyed the just blooming forsythia bushes giving a golden cast to the countryside. As we moved into Central and Northern Europe we experienced the fickleness of the spring weather but still the flowers where evident everywhere. We also enjoyed the flowering bulb gardens in Holland on as beautiful a day as we have had on the whole trip. As we returned to France the fields were a golden blaze and the villages were decorated with the beautiful colors of lilac and spirea; light and deep purples and whites everywhere.

Now that we are in the UK the wildflowers cover the hillsides and the trees are all leafed out and the grasses are so green. Along every countryside roadway the wild rhododendrons bloom and the wild hyacinths cover the forest floor. The white of the daisies and yarrow mingle with the grasses giving an appearance of just fallen snow to the woodlands along the roadside. There are yellow wild irises along the ocean hillsides of Mull and Iona islands giving a sunny burst of color against the blue of the sea. It's hard to concentrate on driving when the flowers are just begging to be admired. Living in Silicon Valley California we don't get this spring show and that makes this so much more memorable for me. I will miss it next year and will probably have many of our flower photos enlarged and framed for the walls. I miss my own garden and now have a few new ideas to incorporate into it.

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Enjoying the pinks on Lunga Island in the Scottish Hebrides

By moving steadily northward we have been able to prolong our springtime. The profusion of color has made it difficult to dedicate anytime to museums and castles so we have spent more time outside hiking, just enjoying the beauty. Today it is too cold to go out and the weather has been rainy. Fortunately our loose schedule allows for us to just enjoy what we are given and we are very lucky to be spending this day on a gorgeous farm outside of Edinburgh. We over look the fields with the grazing sheep and the landscaped gardens with mixed perennials. Perhaps later we will take a five-mile walk around the farm to the wildflower meadow. Eaglescairnie Mains is a place you just want to settle down in and not move. The farm is a runner up in the Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation. It is used as an example of how best to combine wildlife and landscape conservation with agriculture and biodiversity and still turn a profit. We instantly liked it here; it feels comfortable and homey. It's picture perfect, I would take the flower garden home if I could. So even though we probably will not make it into Edinburgh to do the tourist stuff we are perfectly happy to enjoy the Scottish countryside and hospitality available here.

By staying in the countryside we have had fun watching the baby animals. We have seen lambs romping after each other. Listening to them calling to their moms and hearing the mom answer is like listening to a call and response choir of sheep. Add to this the ducklings, goslings, chicks, calves and colts and there can be no doubt we are in the midst of spring, no matter what the weather may indicate. And the weather has not always cooperated. Until we reached the UK I felt we had been extremely lucky with the weather. But true to it's reputation we have had more rain here than everywhere else combined. Gray seems to be the natural color for the sky. When we do get a rare blue sunny day we rejoice knowing it won't last for long. I am amazed that the British have such a reputation for politeness and properness, you'd think all this dreary weather would send them over the edge. Perhaps that is where football (soccer) comes in, gives them all a release. The weather might also explain all the beer consumed. We are amazed at the amount these people can put away. We would be falling on our faces but they seem to do just fine, stay civil and can even drive after the evening out at the pub. I do indulge in an occasional glass of wine but usually we order a pitcher of ice water and accept the funny look we get from the server.

Keeping to our slower schedule has been an advantage because three of us have head colds in one stage or another (perhaps it's the weather!) and rest is just what we need. Plus we just can't "charge around" all day touring, we all get tired and we do want to be careful about the boy's tolerance. If we do too much there is a strong chance of turning the boys off to learning and travel forever, so we try to keep it fun. We don't always see all the "musts" but we do get some insights that perhaps most tourists wouldn't get. In Ruthin the man at the laundry says most tourists come in exhausted ("shattered" is the word he used) because they are on a one-day-here one-day-there moving travel schedule. He said I looked much more relaxed than most Americans he sees. At our B&B the fact we stayed four nights gave us an insight to the life the B&B operators have. People are in and out in one night never to be seen again. No time to chat no time to rest. This has been the theme everywhere we have gone sense arriving in the UK. We watch people check in at night then leave after breakfast the next day while we are able to take our time over breakfast chatting with the owners. I must say here that the B&B owners in the UK have been the most delightful people to chat with.

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Enjoying a sunny breakfast in the solarium at Eaglescairnie Mains

We also take some time to chat with the other guests. The normal questions we get are how did we manage this and how do we school the boys? But we have had a new one. Where would you live if you couldn't go home?

It's hard to say where we would go to live if we couldn't go home. We haven't seen all there is to see….yet.


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