The Moutons Come to Scotland

The countdown clock for Keith and Sandy’s arrival felt like it would never reach zero. The whole week leading up to their arrival was full of Brooks asking how many hours until they’d get here. Too much math for me, buddy! The joy in their faces when they saw their Mimi and Papa was heartwarming to say the least. And you know, you usually have to work really hard for Mia’s love and attention but after just a minute where my talkative girl was speechless, she was saying “Mimi! Papa!” over and over. Brooks pretty much tried to climb up Sandy when he saw her across the courtyard at pickup. There were lots of awwws heard around us as everyone watched Brooks and Sandy.

Sandy came to Brooks’ swim lessons right after his school day ended and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him swim so hard. (Also, watching him do the butterfly stroke might be my favorite thing in the world!) He couldn’t stop hugging her the second that he was out of the pool and held her hand nonstop. It was like he couldn’t believe she was real.

Friday, after sending Brooks off to school for his last day before the end-of-term holiday, we took the short drive to Hazelhead Park so that Keith and Sandy could experience a typical cafe and Mia could enjoy showing them her favorite thing – going down the slide.

In the afternoon, we were able to get a tour of Brooks’ school and classroom. He was so excited to show us all of his work and the clan tokens he got to add to Clan Forbes that day. After the tour, we took a walk alongside the River Dee which was just covered in daffodils.

Saturday, with no work, Brett was finally able to join us on our excursions. We loaded up early and took them to Burn ‘o Vat in the Muir of Dinnet – our new favorite magical place.

After lunch at a tearoom in Aboyne, we headed to Dunnottar Castle.

After Dunnottar, we hit up The Bay in Stonehaven for some fish and chips. Word to the wise – the earlier you’re there, the better. I’ve only ever been there around lunch time and the crowds and service are much more manageable then than at dinner.

Sunday was Mother’s Day in the UK and Brett took Sandy and I to lunch at Ardoe House. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures! I realized as soon as we’d left that I hadn’t managed to take any.

On Monday, Brett was back to work. It was cold and windy so Sandy and Keith had the pleasure of joining Brooks and Mia at Wynford Farms while I raced to Costco for some much needed supplies. I can’t say that I missed being the one to climb after them in the play structure! Brooks and Mia loved showing their Mimi and Papa one of their favorite places to play. On the way back Keith got his first taste of driving on country roads with stone walls on one side of you and fast cars racing by on the other. He did great!

Tuesday was a proper Scottish day – cold and continuous drizzle of rain. We passed the day at the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. Brooks got himself a sharp new haircut while Mia napped.

He’s the cutest!

Wednesday morning was busily spent packing for our holiday to Glasgow and Loch Goil. Mia was especially protective of her overnight holiday bag.

Originally, we’d planned to stop at The Kelpies on the way as part of our journey but our gps had different plans for us. It took us right beside The Kelpies on the highway instead of to the entrance. By the time we were able to turn around and get on the right track we’d get to The Kelpies right as they closed. This detour also put us right in the middle of Glasgow 5 o’clock traffic so our gps had us taking all of these back roads through small outlying towns making the journey seem to take FOR-EV-ER. The apartment we stayed in had an absolutely lovely view and was in a great location for the things we wanted to do around town.

And again, thank goodness for McDonald’s. The kids were starving as soon as we arrived and there was one right around the corner. Bless them and their egg free method for making chicken nuggets that BOTH children will eat!

Thursday the weather was typical Scottish weather again so we visited the renowned Riverside Museum – voted the best museum in Europe in 2013. It did not disappoint! Really cool and interesting for all age groups. The couple of pics I have do not come close to doing it justice.

Outside of the museum is the Tall Ship – built in the Bay Yard at Port Glasgow and first used as bulk cargo carrier in 1896. It is one of only 5 Clydebuilt sailing ships that remain afloat around the world. At this point, Mia started being a bit fussy. We just chalked it up to her being tired though.

The book, Scotland the Great by Peter Irvine is like my Scotland guide bible. My go-to for anything we’re going to do. It honestly has never steered us wrong. Using it, I found the perfect place for us to eat lunch only to find out after navigating there that the restaurant had closed the weekend prior! It is the only time the book has failed us! We ate at Patrick’s Duck Club instead and while not the most child friendly place, it was delicious! Strangely though, Mia didn’t seem interested in eating her food. Brooks wasn’t interested in eating either but there’s nothing new there. Mia started fussing again so I took her outside to the park across the street. We played for a bit and then walking back to the car she vomited (or as she says it, “throwed up”) all over the sidewalk. No family trip is complete without a little vomit to remember it by!

My sweet girl napping off her upset tummy.

After her nap, we set off for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. As soon as we arrived, Mia “throwed up” again. After that, she was back to her normal self though and said she didn’t want to go home so we set off for the museum. On display was Leonardo DaVinci’s drawings for his most famous works of art. Really cool to see that up close and personal. The museum had quite the range of things! There were dinosaur bones, life sized replicas of sea lions, tons of Impressionist paintings – and all in a gorgeous setting.

That evening Brett and I went to the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis to take some blue hour shots – allegedly the best time to take photos of both places.

The downside of photographing the cathedral at night is that you can’t see the inside! So, we went back in the morning with everyone before hitting the road. I edited the pictures of the interior in the extreme so that it would be easier to see the details. I’m not a good enough photographer to capture the nuances of the architecture in low light.

Overall, Glasgow struck me as being a bit like Houston. People from there rave about it and all it has to offer, but at its core, it’s an industrial city that’s working hard to develop culture around it that would entice people to visit. Having spent only a day there, I realize that’s not a comprehensive statement – merely an initial observation. Perhaps in the future I’ll have the opportunity to be proved wrong. In a debate of romantic Edinburgh versus industrial Glasgow, I think I much prefer Edinburgh… for now.

When the kids were bored to tears of the cathedral, we left and made quick stops for a park break and lunch before jumping in the car and heading for Loch Goil – about an hour northwest of Glasgow in the Trossachs National Park.

The drive there was incredible. Even the part where we got lost. With views like these, who can be upset about a little extra time in the car? Truthfully, we kind of thought we were staying on Loch Lomond. I’m so glad we didn’t though. Loch Goil is much more narrow and less crowded meaning much calmer waters and fewer lines. Keith really got a taste of Scottish one-way roads as we traversed the winding roads built into the mountains.

We stayed at the Drimsynie Estate Hotel and it was fabulous for families. Indoor swimming pool and hot tub, huge arcade/games space, tons of activities for kids including archery, bike riding, and a nightly disco and performance for kids.

Our first morning we set off on a boat ride around the lake, offering us views of the not-quite munros, seals and homes that seemed to stand alone in the forest.

The weather wasn’t quite acting in our favor but I did manage to get some shots of the loch close to sunset and a few pictures of some sweet little lambs – and their displeased mothers.

After everyone took long naps, (even Brooks!) before we took a drive out to an abandoned house/castle thing that we’d seen from the boat ride around the loch earlier.

That evening Brooks and Mia danced their little hearts out at the kid’s show! (WordPress isn’t allowing me to upload their videos. I’ll keep working on a solution for that.)

Sunday we loaded up early so that we could make a couple of stops on our trip back to Aberdeen. Our first stop was at the Rest and be Grateful. And wow. We did and we were. So grateful to see such a stunning place with my own two eyes. If I didn’t have pictures to prove I’d seen it, I might feel like I’d imagined it.

We also made a quick stop at the Falls of Falloch – or as some call it – Rob Roy’s Bathtub.

When we got home, it was a mad dash to get things washed and repacked. Brett and I had a flight out of Aberdeen at 6 AM the next day!

Short interview on Scotland with Sandy and Keith:

What were your top highlights of the trip?

Sandy – The daffodils in bloom. They were just everywhere you went, blooming wildly on the side of the road. It was one of the most stunning things. Also, all of Mia’s new vocabulary! Special time with Brooks, my little buddy, is always a highlight. šŸ™‚ It was beautiful how the River Dee ran through the city of Aberdeen and the countryside.

Keith – Rocking Mia to bed; putting the babies to sleep. The Loch Goil holiday and spending quality time with y’all and the grandkids. It was so nice to have three weeks here where we didn’t feel the need to rush to squeeze everything in.

What was the most surprising about Scotland?

Keith – The wide open spaces, the greenery. The lambing season! There are baby lambs everywhere! Also, the abundance of the daffodils were really beautiful.

Sandy – How different all of the appliances were!

What was the most confusing thing about Scotland?

Sandy – Counting the exits off the roundabouts and driving on the other side of the road.

Keith – The currency and the GPS – it never routed us the same way twice! It didn’t even give alternates!