The bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond
After a lazy, rainy Saturday morning, Adam and I took the train through to Linlithgow, where a real British Christmas dinner awaited us. Since Adam spent Christmas with us, he never got to have his yearly Christmas turkey, cranberry sauce, roasted potatoes, and more (aka our Thanksgiving meal). We had champagne cocktails and nice chat before sitting down to one of the best dinners that I have ever had. My favorite dish was skirlie, a Scottish dish made from oatmeal fried with chicken fat, oil, and seasonings. It was like stuffing and had a wonderful aftertaste of chicken stock. I haven’t felt that stuffed in a while!
The next morning, we woke up early to begin the hour drive to Loch Lomond. We turned off the cell phones and relied on an old map that Adam’s dad had lying around. We munched on fresh fruit and sipped ginger beer while driving through the foggy highlands and past the misty Stirling Castle. After a leisurely stroll through the shops at the base of the Loch, we drove a few more miles to Luss, a tiny village right on the shore.
I had forgotten that it was Mother’s Day in the UK that day, so did not expect to see as many families in Luss as we did. The cobblestone streets (well, really just ‘street’) were lined with crumbling, but cozy and colorful, stone country houses winding around one another. Mothers holding roses walked together with their partners as their small children darted past them, clutching the leashes of puppies eagerly dragging them toward the stream. Adam taught me how to skip stones in a small river and we played with a few dogs that trotted near us.
Eventually we made our way to the shores of Loch Lomond (and I mean the literal shore). I stood right in the surf and let the cold water lap around my ankles. A thin layer of mist moved across the horizon, barely covering an array of mountains and hills. A family of ducks swam close to the shore amidst abandoned rose petals and daffodils from the morning’s celebrations. Adam took photos while I collected sea glass–a beautiful assortment of greens, whites, and blues. I even found a bit of blue and white china that the waves had softened into small rounds. We must have spent at least an hour laying in the cold sand and letting the loch’s waters wet our feet.
My return to Scotland has been so different from what I expected. I assumed that I would spend the majority of my time in Edinburgh, revisiting old favorites places and spaces. However, I’ve seen so much more of Scotland than I thought I would. My boots have become delightfully muddy and I’ve had more fresh air in the past two weeks than I have all year. A few days ago, we went for a muddy morning stroll around Beecraigs with Adam’s parents and his two dogs, Inca and Orla. Whereas my first time in Edinburgh was all about the city, this trip has been all about the countryside and Scotland’s hidden beauty.
I remember sitting in front of Grandma and Pa’s fire as a little girl and clumsily knitting with my rainbow wool while Pa hummed from his armchair. I learned the words to Loch Lomond in front of their fire, and this weekend, I got to hum it myself as the loch’s waters swirled around my boots and the breeze warmed my face. It was a special day indeed!