Christmas day disappeared as it does in any home involving children; in a flurry of ripped paper, increased excitement levels and over full tummies. It was strange celebrating it away from home, away from our bright blue sky and the heat from a 40 degree day.
Scotland turned on magnificent weather for our winter wonderland celebrations. 3 degrees, a heavy fog that lifted to reveal a clear sky for a short period, that was replaced by an even heavier fog and frost as we finished our evening Christmas dinner. We had two long walks, rugged up in our winter gear, breathing in fresh country air and enjoying the scents and sights of the stunning countryside of Perthshire that Pitlochry nestles into.
Sheep on hillsides, majestic poplars, yellowed pastures awaiting the warmth of spring. Pitlochry certainly is a village that needs to be walked. It is so beautiful.
Boxing Day saw us rugged up to brave the elements on a long 3 hour walk. A walk that would usually take 1.5 hours if it were not for the crazy amount of photos I stopped to take! Over the hillside from Strathtay, where Dudies family had a gorgeous grey stone Manor home for many, many years and where we last visited on our honeymoon nearly 17 years ago. Dressed warmly in our winter gear, we trudged over the hill back to Pitlochry. It was the most stunning, soul reviving walk I have had since doing it way back in 1996!
Surrounded by Poplars, ferns, moss and crystal clear hill streams that quenched our thirst from the steep uphill walk. Pheasants startling from our noisy conversation and evidence of deer, though we didn’t actually see any. At the top of the hill, we stopped for hot tea from a flask Dudie had carried for us, and we spent time looking back over the misty valley and seeing the spectacular snow covered mountains in the far distance.
We hiked back down to Pitlochry through thick forest, with dappled light and soft moss underfoot and cracking the ice on the puddles and streams with our boots. Bon carried a piece of ice for nearly 2 hours before it melted upon our arrival back in the village where we headed into a cafe to warm up with soup and hot chocolates. It was a stunning walk.
Thursday saw us heading further North, to Aviemore and the Cairngorm Mountains. We found snow for Bon…and plenty of it. The ski fields were busy, school holidays adding to the crush of people taking the vernacular to the mountain top, but was it worth it! A stunning day for skiing, clear skies for miles around offering us incredible views and the most spectacular backdrop for photos. It was cold. -3! Apparently we were incredibly blessed to have such clear weather. Dudie and Bon hired skis, whilst Bel and I enjoyed the snow from a more knee friendly aspect. Snow men were created, snow balls were thrown and memories were made.
As we left the ski fields, a herd of about 15 reindeer surround us in the car park as we packed up our gear. What an incredible chance to witness this…wild deer, straight off the highlands, in search of the salt off the road. It was INCREDIBLE. The foals ate straight off the girls hands.
Yesterday, saturday, was all about Edinburgh. Oh my, what a beautiful city with its rich history, majestic buildings and the mightly castle that stands dominant on its rocky perch above the ancient town. 3000 years of history etched into its foundations…captivating, spellbinding and utterly inspiring. Bon and I spent a few hours wandering the castles corridors, being chilled by the stories and by the biting wind that envelopes its battlements. Bel and Dudie, not sharing our enthusism for history and having visited the castle two years ago, left us to enjoy the castle at our leisure. It was perfect sharing this experience with just Bon who is my fellow history enthusiaist. She is still buzzing from the spookiness of it all.
Then, the high street, enticingly near, called us with their brightly lit SALE signs in every window…we should have had our blinkers on. Shopping with every tourist and local on a saturday in Edinburgh, with winter clothes on is not fun. Scarf, beanie, gloves, jacket off…jacket, beanie, scarf, gloves on…repeat and repeat and repeat. There were bargains to be had and a lot of tantalising winter goodies to be dreamt of buying…but our Australian winters sadly, do not warrant these purchases. I was drooling over the selection of boots, Hunter wellies, jackets and accessories. I stayed strong…sort of!
We wandered until our legs could take no more…the Christmas lights and decorations etched in our memories and Dudie’s wallet a little lighter for a day out in the city with three girls.
We have awoken to snow….falling snow. The girls screamed with delight as Dudie led them outside with their eyes closed. They have spent at least an hour playing in the garden…in their pyjamas and coats. Their unrestrained childish delight brought me to tears. Hopefully it will keep snowing over the next two days.
2 days. Not nearly enough time before we pack once more and head back to the sand and hustle of Dubai. It has not been enough time in Scotland that is for sure. There is still so much I want to see and the days are so short that it is not possible to cram it all in. The tyranny of distance is made even more apparent when you realise the price and time that is needed to get back here again and it has just gone in the blink of an eye.
I’ve filled a 16 gig photo card already, my OMD has been the most brilliant travel camera that has not left my side in the last 10 days…thank goodness it is weather sealed! The sand, the snow, the fog and the rain has put it through its paces and it has given me amazing photos through it all. Definitely a “Oh My Dear, how I love you” camera!