Monday, November 23, 2015

Headed home on Day 9 -- Happy 12th Anniversary

August 16, 2015
We woke early to say good-bye to Scotland and to the Queen's deer that had been on the wall in our hotel room.  It was on our 12th anniversary that we started our trek back home to Kansas.  Because of the time change it was going to be a LONG day.  We left at 10am Scotland time and we landed in Wichita at 5pm Central time.  But it took about 14 hours instead of just the 7 hours the clock showed.  Not to mention the drive back to Hays and of course, seeing the kiddos!

All of our travel plans went smoothly.  The only obstacle we encountered was the sword we got Isaac for a souvenir.  Matt and Morgan had given us the heads up that we may have issues even though it is a plastic sword.  It's a sword none-the-less!  With an encounter at each security station I managed to keep it with me the whole time -- whew! 
We got home with souvenirs in tow.  After dropping them off at home we got to Robynn and Dustin's and were welcomed outside by our four kids and Stella.  We had an awesome group hug and headed inside to pass of their portion of the gifts. 
Stella - "Aunt Maggie, Charlie is still here!"
Me - "Oh good, Sweetie!  Thank you for watching him while we were gone!"
Stella - "And he's still yellow, too!"
Me - "Whew!  I'm glad we didn't come home to a brown dog!"
Stella gets an A++ for dog watching!  Love that girl.
Royce and I were exhausted and wanted to be home with our family.  We handed out souvenirs... everything from miniature taxi's and busses from England, new mugs to drink hot cocoa that have a little storage place for their 'biscuits' (cookies), mid-evil coins from Warwick Castle, coffee mugs for Royce and I, a scarf from the weaving mill for myself, golf apparel for Royce, fancy purses for the twins, a new back-pack from Scotland for Chloe, and Isaac's knight's helmet and sword.  It was like Christmas in August!
But we were home.  We had a safe trip and our family was together again. 
I can't thank Royce enough for taking me on this trip.  When Morgan and Matt moved there two years ago I told him I really wanted to go.  The majority of the time the past two years we truly didn't think there was any way at all for us to be able to make the trip.  But the stars aligned when we saw a glimpse of hope and this man made the trip happen for us.  While he was indifferent on whether we went or not, he simply perused it because he knew how important it was to me.  I wanted this trip for us.  I wanted to travel together and take advantage of this amazing opportunity.  He worked hard to make it happen.  I worked hard to make it happen.  A trip like this with four kids to place doesn't just happen on it's own and certainly doesn't pay for itself.  It was a full time job from the beginning of July when we booked the flights until the night we got home.  But every step of the way I assure you I appreciated his efforts in making this dream trip come true.  Happy 12th Royce!  You are the best father and husband a girl could ask for.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Day 8 - Divide and conquer Edinburgh

Matt and Morgan flew up to Edinburgh the evening of day 7 so we got to spend day 8 together in Edinburgh!  Of course the guys had to get in a golf round so Morgan and I shopped all the places the guys would have hated.  It was so much fun!
We walked through Edinburgh after breakfast and enjoyed walking around the Edinburgh castle from all sides (except the inside for me... Matt and Morgan went inside the next day).  It's so huge!  I love how it is positioned on the hill, and you'll see in a later picture how prominent it sits as it can look over the water in the distance.  Again, I just think back to hundreds of years ago when the position of this castle could mean days of preparations as they saw the enemy approaching. 

This is actually from the entrance to the Edinburgh Castle.  This is where (pictures later) the Royal Tattoo took place.  It was fun adventuring with Morgan!  She moves well for a preggo ;-)

The two pictures below are of the same view.  It is from one of the ledges from the castle.  So you can see how many miles away the water is, but what a great view.  Imagine seeing ships come to shore and have days of preparations.  Just amazing to me! 

These were taken on the Royal Mile.  This is a mile strip of castles and buildings with again, so much architecture!  The overall look was more interrupted while we were there because of The Fringe show locations.  Seriously, they stuck a show in every nook and cove they could so there was signage everywhere for them.  But it was still amazing to walk up and down some of this strip.

And this picture was for my Chloe.  She told me right away to get my picture with a bagpiper.  This guy was funny, too.  He asked me where I was from, to which I replied "United States, Kansas".  He then responded with "Are you Dorothy?". I laughed and said "No, but it is funny that we are from Kansas and actually saw Wicked in London, a story that is based in Kansas."  His quick response was "Why would you spend time in London?". Of course the residents of Scotland think they are better than those of England! 


After walking through a fantastic flea market of vendors, the castle grounds, and through a fascinating Weaving Mill, Morgan really wanted me to have an Afternoon Tea experience. 
Where else to have afternoon tea than the Waldorf Astoria? What a stunning building.
This was so neat!  Good thing we split the desserts because we would have not put a dent in it otherwise. 
Now to the boys.  They took a train and a taxi to get to their golf course.  While they claimed the rental clubs were difficult to use and it was windy, they did have fun despite their scores.  Matt snapped a few pictures of Royce and of the course so he can remember such a pretty links-style course.


A windy day but a happy golfer.  I'm so glad Royce got to golf in Scotland.  We are thankful Matt was there to 'volunteer' to go with him.  It's not everyday he'll be able to have this experience again!
Although the wind may blow the same in Kansas..... 
Once we reunited after the tea and golf were compete, Morgan and I had a surprise in store for Matt and Royce.  At this time we did not have tickets to the Royal Tattoo yet so we truly felt terrible when they thought we were going to surprise them with tickets to the show.  Instead we took them to the lowest floor of the Weaving Mill to the photo booth.

Thankfully after taking the pictures and laughing so hard at ourselves we found a scalper and locked in some tickets for the late performance of the Royal Tattoo!  We had just enough time for the guys to grab some scotch samples and me to discover that I really like lime in my Captain and Coke.
This was an absolutely perfect ending for our last full day in Scotland.  Matt and Morgan were just as excited to see the show as we were.  You can think of a combination of half-time show, Olympic opening ceremony, and bagpipe festival.  It was just amazing.  Several branches of the United States military were represented as well.  It was just amazing to sit back and watch the formations, dances, commentary, and hear the music. 

The picture below is one of my favorite from the entire trip.  I just love the colors, the excitement, and the symbol of topping off our trip with fireworks.  It truly was the icing on the cake to see this show while we were there.  The odds that we were in Edinburgh during the couple of weeks they have this show is just too cool. 

On that note -- Good Night, Edinburgh!

Day 7 - St. Andrews Golf Course

What good would it be to travel to Scotland and not visit St. Andrews?!?  Royce knew he wasn't going to golf while we were there so he didn't force the issue of visiting.  But I really wanted to see it while we were there and I'm glad we did.  It took about 1 1/2 hours to get there by train and bus, but it was more countryside to see and the only rainy day we had. 

This picture, and all of our St. Andrews visit, was during the rain.  It was a really nice rain though, and it certainly didn't stop the golfers.  We learned from the Scotts that
"There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."
We spent all of our time on the Old Course.

Shown here is the Old Course Club House.
I don't carry the correct equipment to have stepped foot inside. 
After visiting the Old.Course Gift Shop my perky golfer needed a picture with his new apparel. 

He looks mighty fine I might add :-) 

We ended the day with a nice facetime message with the kids -- always a bright spot in the day!  Then we enjoyed Thai food and another comedy show from The Fringe! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Day 6 - Train ride to Scotland!

Thursday, August 13, 2015.
Matt slept in from flying the night before and Morgan was off to work.  Royce and I collected all of our things, managed to pack souvenirs and whatnot in our suitcases, and we walked the mile to the train station.  It was a nice morning walk through Bury and we were excited for the train ride ahead. 
Our first train was very full.  Royce and I were not able to sit together until after a couple of callings, or stops.  We had many callings along the way, but only had to change trains one time.  After our exchange we were in reserved seats.  It was still a full car but at least we were together and in comfortable seats.  It was a beautiful train ride.  We had two hours in the first leg and then a scheduled four hours on the second leg.  The drive would have been eight+ hours and the train was scheduled for six hours.  We were able to go more direct cross-country and follow the coast line along the route.  It was so neat! 

We had a long delay at one of our callings... there was actually a death at the train station... so we were all required to stay on the train and wait it out until other trains could get on schedule as well.  We were probably delayed about 1.5 hours, but all that aside, it was a very nice and relaxing ride through the countryside and coastline. 
Edinburgh, Scotland!
This place was ELECTRIC.  On our train ride we found out that the largest arts festival in the world was happening in Edinburgh -- that's right -- the largest arts festival in the world!  Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an approx. 25 day time period which showcases more than 3,000 shows with artists from 50+ countries being held in over 300 venues.  There were shows, ticket lines, artists, and venues EVERYWHERE.  Everyone told us we needed to catch a couple of comedy shows, so we did just that.  When else can we say we saw shows at The Fringe? 
To say it was intimidating stepping off of the train is an understatement.  Wow. This city was just so busy.  It was exciting though.  We could see the multiple castles on the Royal Mile and were just amazed at all of the architecture again.  Just incredible.  It took us a while to find our hotel but we found it and got settled in a bit before heading out to explore and see our first Fringe show.

Matt had found out a couple days before we got there that there was a Royal Tattoo happening in Edinburgh as well.  How did we miss all of these annual August events in our planning?  Now it make sense why the hotel rooms were so expensive!!!!  But we were willing to dive right in and enjoy it all.  We saw the fireworks from the Tattoo the first night we were there.