Is there anything as dreary as the end of a lovely vacation? I'm back from another gorgeous trip to the UK, and feeling glum. It's just not as easy getting out of bed in the morning, when you know nobody is going to say, "Alight here for Piccadilly Circus!" in an English accent.
England--or as I like to think of it, the homeland. You know how Jewish kids do Birthright, and African Americans take heritage trips? I don't mean to offend anyone, but personally, I like to wander the scarves section of Liberty London. It's an uplifting experience. I pay homage to my ancestral roots.
Stevie and I flew to London, took the train to Edinburgh, motored through Fort William and Glen Coe, tootled around the Isle of Skye for a few days, ferried down to Loch Lomond, met up with Stephen's family in Northumberland, and went back through London for the finish. Two-odd weeks in total, and many adventures had. I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow, but I do love writing lists.
400 meters of Hadrian's wall, and a Roman fort
8 cheeses sampled before 10 a.m. at Neal's Yard Dairy
5 new frocks (Topshop, Cath Kidston, Portobello Road market)
4 sticky toffee puddings
4 Scottish B&Bs that all served the same breakfast (eggs, sausages, rashers, tomatoes, mushrooms)
4 filming locations (Harry Potter, James Bond, Braveheart, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves)
3 major London sites (Tower of London, Cutty Sark, Greenwich Prime Meridian)
3 afternoon teas (The Cadogan, Fortnum & Mason, and a small shop in Northumberland)
3 posh department stores (Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason)
3 castles (Edinburgh, Stirling, Eilean Donan)
2 plays (Jeeves & Wooster Perfect Nonsense, King Lear)
2 historic markets (Borough Market, Portobello Road)
2 cheap street scarves
2 sturdy native ponies
1 Scotch distillery (Talisker)
1 very wet boat trip (where we saw a few soggy seals and no puffins at all, but made friends with a zany Frenchman and some St Andrews students)
1 birthday party for a 90-year-old gran
1 book shop that might just be my new favorite in the whole world (Barter Books)
1 needle-toothed puppy hanging out under the breakfast table (she liked the taste of Stephen!)
Numerous highland cows standing in the road
Countless black-faced sheep
Ensemble cast of friends, family, and elderly British relatives
And just because I'm an English major, how about a few selected quotations?
Scottish boat captain: "Do I spy a midgy in here?"
Boat hand: "Where are you from, then?"
Boat hand: "California?! But you're too quiet to be American!"
Becky, indicating Stephen: "Well, he's English."
Castle guide, taking photo: "How well do you know the young lady?"
Stephen: "Er, pretty well, I suppose?"
Castle guide: "Go on, let's have one with a kiss, then!"
Musketeer re-enactor: "You had to light it using a bit of rope, and make sure to keep the gunpowder dry. Fortunately, it rarely rains in Scotland. The rainy season is just from January through December .... But if it was raining, there was another option. You could put a dagger on the end of the musket, and use it as a bayonet. Gunpowder costs money. Stabbing is free. Stabbing will always be the more popular option in Scotland."
Barney the Beefeater on Mel Gibson: "Now I loved Braveheart. It was a great film. Just not the most historically accurate. The portcullis at Traitors' Gate weighed XX tons. It took 30 men to lift it. Or, one Australian!"
Stephen, tasting hogget: "What was that bready thing, again?"
Becky: "You mean the sweetbreads?"
Stephen: "Yeah. What was that?"
Becky: "You didn't know what that was when you ordered?"
Stephen: "No. What was it?"
Becky: "Oh gosh."
I want to go back. And I want a scone.