Perhaps it goes without saying, but one of the things we miss most about Scotland was sharing it with others. This includes visits we had from family back home and the new family we met there through our church. This post will talk about a little of each. We’ve already talked about visits from Lydia’s parents and Nathan’s parents in other posts, so we won’t redo those here, and Lydia had a friend visit in late spring, but I’ll let her talk about that. Instead I get to talk about…
The Chicago Family Visit
My brother and his family from Chicago (Les, Jocelyn, Ainsley, and Molly) came to the UK for a week. Some of it they spent seeing London on their own, and some of it they spent in Scotland with us. They rented a cool AirBnB in Edinburgh, and the kids and I met them there for a day of touring the streets, castle, and historic sites.
We revisited some of the locations made famous by the Harry Potter novels, which we’d seen in a much earlier visit to Edinburgh and had lunch together.
After lunch, we saw visited the Edinburgh Writers’ Museum. It’s dedicated to the writings of Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott. I didn’t know until then that Stevenson was Scottish, and I didn’t know anything about Scott’s writings, but since then I’ve taken the opportunity to read Ivanhoe and think Les has, too.
After a day of seeing Edinburgh, they came to St Andrews and visited us there. Our house was not large enough for two families, so they got an AirBnB there also, centrally located, and it worked out great. We even visited them in it for refreshments and board games.
We got to show them some of our favorite restaurants and we took them to the castle and cathedral (which blog readers have seen). We got to share some uniquely Scottish dishes, like cullen skink at St Andrews Brewing Co., which I’d love to try to cook in the US, but smoked haddock is hard to come by!
Being avid runners, Les and Jocelyn also got to enjoy jogging on some of the lovely St Andrews beaches, including the famous West Sands of Chariots of Fire fame. And we took advantage of one of the privileges of having a teenage daughter–Addy was kind enough to hang out with her cousins while the adults got to go out to Central Bar for some adult beverages and to chat without having to govern young’uns. We don’t get to see the Chicago family that often, so it’s always very enjoyable to get some catchup time as just the grown-ups.
That visit ended immediately before our second trip to Ballinluig, which Jesse has just recently recounted.
We also became very close with all of our friends from our church in St Andrews, the Free Church. In fact, the trip we just mentioned ended on Easter Sunday, and we made sure to get up early to drive back from the highlands and get to church!
One of the highlights of each week was getting closer to our friends from church on Sunday morning and at “life groups” in the pastor’s home on Wednesday evenings. I got to participate in a Christmas choir and our kids attended a once-a-month, Friday night youth group at the church as well.
We’d often see friends from church about town as well, since the town is not very large. I remember seeing two other guys from church (Matt and Saleem) on campus or in town when I was working and the pastor’s wife and kids often walking their dog Willow in some of the same parks or beaches where we walked Meg. One of the other secondary school students from the church was kind enough to help Addy with regular physics tutoring and we got to visit many of these families in their homes for meals as well. (Sometimes we had them to our place, too, but that was crowded because we rented a small place!)
Some of the most vivid memories are the two weddings we went to of couples we got to know during the year. We attended Matty and Jody’s wedding early in the year and Steven and Rachel’s near the end. Both were wonderful events because we were so happy for the couples and because the ceremonies reflected the strong faith of each couple as well. And for one of the two, we also attended the reception, which included a ceilidh!
And Addy and I got to dance together as well. It’s sort of like a country line dance in the US, in that it’s very scripted and repeats, and everyone is doing the same thing:
Sharing Scotland with our family—Nathan’s family, Lydia’s family, or our church family—were some of the biggest highlights of the year.