Sunday, June 14, 2015

arrival at Three Glens

I'm on Skype with Ed. He asks -- do I hear kitties in the background? No, not at all. You're hearing sheep. Everywhere I look, there are sheep.


Yes, I am in Scotland.

Someone inclined toward pessimism surely would have slumped at the inauspicious arrival. Leaving the plane, we, tired passengers, walk down the stairs, then wait in the cold drizzle for the bus to come and take us over to the very indifferent terminal building. From there, it is a long walk to the car rentals (you have to rent if you're going to stay in the middle of nowhere -- a trade off for sure) and at the car rental desk, I am yet again forced to take on insurance which doubles the cost of the whole enterprise (they don't quote you the price of it when you book on line) and I shake my head at my own stupidity for not having checked this in advance.

On the very upside, I win the fight and I throw down the keys to their "upgrade" (a 4 door Kia) and oh so reluctantly, they do "manage to locate" what I really wanted - a tiny two door Fiat 500. So let's ignore the cost and enjoy the ride.

My home for the next five nights is located one mile from the village of Moniaive (no, I don't yet know how to pronounce it) and fifteen miles from Dumfries. To get here, I follow a very detailed/complicated/intricate routing I had done on Google maps. I think -- great! You basically have to use small rural roads to get there! (It's about 2.5 hours from Edinburgh.) What I should have also remembered was that I would be tired, driving alone without someone to read directions, on very narrow (very narrow!) roads.

Not daunted, I put on BBC, listen to several lively discussions about the UK's concerns regarding asylum seekers from Africa and forge ahead.

And here are several lucky breaks: the roads are rather empty in this part of the country. It's possible to stop the car and take a photo now and then.



The drizzle clouds, as is so typical in Scotland, also lose their hold and sure enough, I find my small ribbon of blue.


But where to? And why here? Oh, you know my criteria: an interesting place with good walks, fresh and honest food and a good room to come back to at the end of the day.

I found it in Three Glens. I can't really call it a B&B. It's not exactly that. It's a stunning (and stunningly new, actually) home perched on a hill, built as a place for the farmer who owns it to retire to eventually, when he's done tending his acres and acres of pasture and farmland and hundreds (my guess) of head of sheep and cattle. In the meantime, so long as he and his wife are not yet retired and living here, they rent out a few of the rooms (I am right now the only guest).

the house

the room

the view from my windows

Perhaps what's most impressive is the eco-friendliness of the property: a wind turbine supplies power (actually the house grabs only 2% of the turbine's output). Ground  source heating (with radiant floor heat). Insulation? Sheeps' wool. (If you're interested, you can read about all this stuff here.)

Me, I'm just mesmerized by the views.


I spend the afternoon sipping tea and listening to the sheep.



It is very hard to tear myself away for a walk, but I do. Just a short one. Down the hill, up the road a bit, then return. The sheep keep me company.


The lambs are getting large, but their voices, crying out again and again, are so young, so asking still for help in navigating the pastures, that honestly, each time one cries out to its mama, my thoughts spin back to Snowdrop.


It's uncanny. To me, the lambs sound like her! It's as if we all are a mere repetition of something that has been taking place forever and ever, all around us, even as we think we are so unique, so one of a kind.


I return in time for dinner. It is served by Greg, the house manager (who hails from New Zealand, but that's a whole 'nother story) and it is completely fresh and honest! He had asked my preferences and honestly, I have no great food dislikes, though I'm happiest when there are plenty of vegetables.

There are plenty of vegetables: veggie soup, then chicken stuffed with brie with ratatouille and braised cabbage and carrots, finished off by a lemon cheesecake with rhubarb. Completely delicious!




Night time. Or is it night time? I doze, I wake up, thinking it's sunrise, but it really is a midnight sunset of sorts. The first night in a different time zone is never easy, but here, I am completely at a loss as to how to treat this period of night that is not really night, not helped by the fact that my iPhone refuses to take on the new configuration, remaining stuck in Detroit time as if it cannot fathom that where we are is no longer over there.

I know better than to fight it. For now, I take out my computer and catch up on my posting.

in transit

I am forever amazed when nothing goes wrong in these multiple-legged trips. A flight from Detroit to Paris was punctual and peaceful. I had possibly the best sardine class seat on the jumbo 747 (front, so plenty of legroom) and my seatmates were friendly, but only for the first twenty minutes. I could not ask for more. I did not sleep, but I read back issues of the New Yorker and my mind filled with stories of real estate in London and speckled frogs in New York.

On time arrival meant that I have time for breakfast in Paris (well, at the airport)...


I am sure that this will be my best bread product of the trip. Oh! Two minutes in this country and I am already comparing and rating (I noted that the yogurt is a gold medal winner -- they even rate yogurts!). Never mind, it's a fine breakfast and I am grateful for it.

You might wonder why I post these brief, in transit notes. No one really cares about another person's travel tribulations. If it's smooth, it's boring. If it's problem-filled, you'll smile and say -- ha! You wanted to travel! Truthfully, this interim posting is born of an old fear that there may not be a functional WiFi at the end of the day. These years, that fear is almost never substantiated, but there have been times and places when publishing something on Ocean proved to be nearly impossible. And so I put this in, because at the airport, there is WiFi.

Time now to leave hot Paris and head north to cold Edinburgh. If my good fortunes continue today, I should next post from Scotland.