Gallivanting might be my new favorite pastime. Especially in the UK.
My friend Jules is in town (in country?) for a break from work and, like the good planner she is, came with an itinerary ready-made. My only role was to be her wheels, a proposition I was happy to accept for two weeks of good company, good food, good hikes, and plenty to see and do in my adopted homeland. Cadbury’s along too, and thinks this entire holiday is exclusively for him. Of course.
We’re currently at the apex of our trip, in both time and distance, having come up the southwest coast of England and through Wales, then on through the Lake District and on to Scotland. We’re staying in the outskirts of Edinburgh in a lovely little village called Lasswade and I’ve pretty much found the home and plot I want when I grow up. It’s a barn conversion that’s been expanded over the years and includes the most glorious conservatory (sun room) with a big, wood-burning fireplace that overlooks their smallholding of five acres. It’s lambing season and when Jules and I drove up yesterday, we passed a newborn no older than a day, its skin still wet from birth. Our hosts are lovely and the wife said if we were interested in helping her with the lambs, we were more than welcome, an offer I would have happily accepted in a heartbeat if not for the fact that pregnant women and little lambs don’t mix. (I was unaware of this fact until I became pregnant and was given explicit instructions by my midwife not to be around, touch, or come in contact with lambs as there is a certain bacteria around lambing season that increases the risk of human miscarriages.)
This trip was long overdue for me. I’ve lived in the UK for almost three years now, and beside the odd day-trip or a long weekend here and there, I’ve not explored nearly as much as I want to in that time. One can forgive me though, as I’ve had grad school, figuring out life (including driving) in the UK, negotiating the new realm of marriage, and finding my feet in my new way of life as a Reservist and writer. But it has been nice to take the time to see a little snippet of the different climes Great Britain has to offer. As much as I love England – especially the southwest and Somerset in particular – I seem to have an affinity for wild places, free of people, traffic, noise, and light pollution. It reminds me of growing up in Minnesota a bit, except with less snow and more rain, and I really have a hankering to find someplace like that to set down roots. Turns out I like Wales a lot, and the wilderness of Scotland has also sparked my fancy. Loch Lomond was a very pretty place. I’d love to go further north, up into the highlands, past Glencoe and Ben Nevis and Inverness and up into the super remote parts. Of course, I’d want to do this in the summer first, to scope out the territory. With the right gear, any place is habitable.
Oh right, and I’m still pregnant. It sometimes takes me by surprise because I feel so good, though my clothes are slowly no longer fitting me, and I find myself looking at my expanding midriff thinking, “Wow. That is an impressive pot belly.” But it is very cool to feel the slight kicks and flips and triple salchows Baby B is doing on a daily basis. I’ve been very careful about where I place my feet when we’re hiking, though I’ve felt fine during every expedition. Out of breath, sure, but I would be whether I was preggers or not. And I follow the advice I was given: as long as I can carry on a conversation, I’m not overdoing it. Since Cadbury is a fairly low-energy dog, he and I go at about the same pace, and I load Jules down with a pack full of extra layers, water bottles, and snacks. She’s been my Sherpa and a very good one at that.
I suppose I just wanted to post an update about what I’ve been up to lately, and that I’ve been up to stuff lately. I miss my husband because he was unable to come along on this trip, and I only saw him for a week after returning from the States from a five-week course. However, it’s not often I get American visitors, much less good friends like Jules, so my laments about not being able to take him along were met with a very British “pish-posh” sort of attitude that I go hang out with my friend and have a good time. I just wanted to write “pish-posh.”
I’m watching Cadbury play fetch with a leftover piece of wooden cladding from a construction project at this house, and he’s having the time of his life with a five-month old collie mix outside. We’re planning on hiking up Arthur’s Seat later today, so that will wear everyone out. And we’ll sleep well tonight.