Our kids threw a mild hissy fit about not being in the States for Halloween, complaining they’d gotten gypped, or in Germany — where the holiday’s just caught on — instead, we’ll be somewhere in Scotland, hopefully near a castle, after a 15 hour ferry ride out of Amsterdam and a layover in Newcastle, where they make the brown ale.
We’re booking our first room to let, a self-catered ‘Chauffeur’s apartment’ by Lochinch castle in a place called Stranraer, not far from the ferry we’ll catch to Belfast at the end of November, leaving Scotland for the north of Ireland.
But for Halloween it will be Inverness, what appears to be a good base camp to explore the Scottish Highlands in early November and the Orkney Islands, with relics such as the Standing Stones of Stenness — and not far from the Cawdor Castle, prompting a reread of Macbeth for Halloween, a relish of blood and the supernatural, a gorefest for James I who believed in witchcraft and reigned over Scotland, Ireland and England until his death in 1603 — 100 years after the house in which my mom was built, here in Germany.
But my kids just want candy, they don’t need history. We did the responsible thing, to check the weather charts for the UK in the winter months since everyone says it will be cold there, like this is news to us, cold, wet climates — and there’s nothing out of the norm, save the odd cyclone or hurricane, such as The Great Storm of 1987, caused by a severe depression, all irony aside.
And it’s a year now since I had a post featured on the WordPress Freshly Pressed dashboard, which took my number of followers from 500 to nearly 5,000, largely because my Scottish/Canadian friend Ross beat the WP editors down with Tweets insisting they read my posts — and despite the added traffic, I still interact with about 1% of the people who follow this blog, which is plenty satisfying still.
And for the first three years I didn’t have a single visitor on this blog, because I wasn’t using tags and wasn’t doing it for anyone else — but it’s sure a lot more fun now with people reading and commenting, so thank you.
We’re booking a flat outside of London for the end of January, that’s 20 minutes from Waterloo station, got great reviews on TripAdvisor, and runs about $160/night USD, which seems really good for the London metro area.
And the Chauffeur’s apartment west of Dumfries, Scotland — which has a view of a castle and access to its 75 private acre gardens, is roughly the same cost as our daily mortgage for our house in Sammamish, WA — hoping since it will be US Thanksgiving then, I might find a local fowl I can roast in its oven, the James Beard method of cooking the turkey on high heat and then removing it from the oven and flipping it clumsily with a wad of kitchen roll, always entertaining.
It’s hard to imagine ourselves in Scotland while we’re here in Germany and more so, returning to the States next spring, but like everyone else, we’re flipping over the calendar and starting school, soon making plans for Halloween, likely the only time in our lives we’ll spend it in Scotland.