|Entrance to Blair Castle, Blair Atholl|
The week after I traveled to Linlithgow, I suffered a painful running injury that sidelined me for two weeks and causing immense emotional distress. For me, running is a form of personal therapy. It is an entirely selfish activity that helps me and benefits only me. It helps me deal with the stresses and anxieties of everyday life. Not being able to run meant that I did not have an outlet for these stresses and, as a result, my nerves were on edge for the entire two weeks. Not fun.
On July 24, I traveled to Blair Atholl to represent the Consulate at the Blair Atholl International Scouting Jamboree. According to my boyfriend, scouting jamborees are events where large numbers of Scouts gather together to talk, share experiences, cook things, trade things, and set things on fire. This was a very accurate description of what I experienced at Blair Atholl. The Jamboree was held from July 19 – 30 on the grounds of Blair Castle, ancestral seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. Over 1000 Scouts (both girls and boys) from 10 countries participated in the event. Scottish Scouts camped in a field beyond the limits of the main Jamboree site while the international Scouts were arranged in six large sub-camps. Each international Scout troop was partnered with a Scottish troop. There were at least six troops from the US (including one from Maryland), but there were possibly more and I just didn’t see them.
|Main Tent at the Blair Atholl International Scouting Jamboree|
July 24 was the International Faire part of the Jamboree, where the Scouts’ family members were invited to come see what their children had been up to. Each troop developed a stall showcasing their country. Most of these stalls involved food of some sort, which could be purchased with ‘atholls’ (found in the program or purchased on the grounds of the event). Having eaten on the two hour train ride to Blair Atholl, I ended up giving away most of my atholls to some of the smaller Scouts running about. That said, I did try some apple Danish from a stand from Denmark and smores from the New York troop. Unfortunately,I now have the largest craving for smores ever.
|Scouts from North Carolina peddling grits. Not a popular item.|
Other stalls included steer roping (Texas), grits (North Carolina), sushi (Japan), haggis (Scotland), scones (England), bavarian creme (Germany), haggis bashing (Scotland), plus many more! During this, individual troops would gather on a stage to showcase their talents. I witnessed a Scottish troop playing the bagpipes, some North Carolinan troop leaders doing some sort of line dance, and a French group beat boxing. After an hour of this, I ventured to the subcamps to see if I could locate someone from the Maryland troop — mainly to find out which part of Maryland they were from. Despite my creepy lingerings outside of their living quarters, I did not run into anyone from the troop and so left with my questions unanswered.
The Faire continued on for the better part of the afternoon, but since I had already exhausted everything to do there (and since I was alone), I continued up the drive to Blair Castle. Built in the 15th century, it is still the ancestral seat of the earls of Atholl and is used as a residence. It is a magnificent estate and contains many interesting artifacts collected by the family over the centuries. It also contains a museum about the foundation of the Atholl Highlanders — the only remaining private militia in Europe.
The Estate also boasts spectacular gardens. The Diana Garden is essentially controlled wilderness and contains some of the tallest redwoods and oaks in the UK. The Hercules Garden is a 18th century walled garden of 11 acres. It has a Chinese bridge, duck houses, and a curling house. It was absolutely beautiful, which, coming from someone who does not like gardens, is saying something.
Hercules Garden, Blair Castle
First off: A big, huge THANK YOU to Kara and Alex who have supported me in my quest to raise money/raise awareness for WaterAid. This means so much to me. Thank you!!!!!
Yes, I am aware that I have been incredibly lax in updating this. Why? Because, honestly, there has not been much to write about. I wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep. Still, there have been a few deviations from this routine.
Deviation numero uno: Linlithgow Palace
A week and a half ago I traveled to Linlithgow, 20 miles west of Edinburgh. (If you click on the map and move your cursor to the left you will see Edinburgh)
View Larger Map
Linlithgow is famous for Linlithgow Palace, built in 1424 by James I of Scotland and famed for being the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. It exists as ruins now, but as far as ruins go, they are pretty dang cool. I spent a few hours exploring the various rooms, and then took a hike around Linlithgow loch. I had planned to visit the 15th century St. Michael’s Church situated right next to the palace, but they were having mass since it was Sunday.
Other pictures from Linlithgow:
Deviation 2: Blair Atholl (see next post)
Deviation 3: Injury
The major change has been that I am injured and can no longer run. I have no idea how this injury occurred, but it has sidelined me for the past week. My frustration increases by the day and I have to force myself not to try and push the limits of my injury for fear of making it worse.
Deviation 4: Oban
Coming this weekend!
WEek 6 is done. 4 more to go! 28 days until I see my parents, brother, animals, and boyfriend!!!!
Saturday, July 17: 10-mile run to the ends of the earth. Not quite, but this is what it seems like on the day before. I am nervous! But excited!
Sunday, July 18: Trip to Linlithgow. It seems a waste to take the train for 18 minutes, but the buses are unreliable. Soo…18 minutes on the train it is!
Saturday, July 24: Burns Day events in the morning (celebrating the death of Robert Burns) at Calton Hill; International Scouting Jamborette in Blair Atholl in afternoon. I am repping the Consulate at both events.
Sunday, July 25: 11-miler. ACK!
Thursday, July 29: Chinese Consulate event.
Saturday, July 31 – Monday, August 2: Oban trip
Monday, August 2: 7th month anniversary with Drew
Sunday, August 8: Trip to Stirling.
Friday, August 13: Last day at Consulate.
Saturday. August 14: Ho
Saturday, August 28: Patrick Henry Half Marathon, Ashland, VA. Drew’s Birthday.
Saturday, September 17: Leave for grad school.
Life continues on in Edinburgh.
It has been a tough past few weeks. This was to be expected. Part of the reason that I came back was to confront…things. Confrontation is hard, as are most worthwhile things in life. Luckily, the old adage of ‘what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger’ has proven true for me in most cases. So here is to being infinitely stronger when I return to the US.
The highlight of my week thus far has been planning Saturday’s 10-mile run. For those who need to be reminded, I’ll be running the Patrick Henry Half Marathon on August 28th. 13.1 miles, or, in the words of the guard at the Consulate ‘a hell of a long way’. My sentiments exactly. But then again, this is another ‘kill you or strengthen you’ situation. Ideally running the half marathon will not kill me, although considering the fact that I will be running in Virginia in late August and have been training in Scotland, the temperature disparity (predicted temperatures of 80s-90s versus the 50s-60s I’ve been running in) may certainly do so. We shall see. I have been training hard though. Last Saturday I ran 9 miles in the rain. It was supposed to be 8, but I missed a turn, got lost, and was chased by an ugly ass dog that I thought was going to bite me. On the plus side, I found the IKEA, which is not even located in Edinburgh. It is outside of the city limits. Which is the point when I decided that it might be best to turn around — when I saw the sign that said ‘Thank you for visiting Edinburgh. Goodbye!’. Obviously I survived my excursion, but have learned that this week I should be better prepared. And so this week I will be running a meticulously planned route that totals out at 10.1 miles. It will be the longest run I have ever done. So we shall see how this goes.
If I survive the run, I plan to go to Linlithgow Palace on Saturday afternoon (although this might be moved to Sunday depending on the condition that I am in and how long it takes me to complete my run).
So, it has been quite a few days since I last posted. Mainly this is because I spent the time with my friend Chris (my former suitemate from SMCM) and then my boyfriend and his family when they came to visit. The Consulate celebrated the 4th of July in style at the Caledonian Hilton on July 2nd with over 300 attendees (including my boyfriend and his parents). Oh…and I turned 22 years of age. I am positively decrepit. I had heard that it was all downhill from 21, and boy do I believe it. When can I retire?
Because there is too much that occurred during the past few weeks and I am likely to lose motivation to finish the post if I attempt to describe it all, this will be a picture post with some descriptions. If you can’t access it, let me know and I can send the pictures directly in an email or include a more detailed description of my activities. Note: I will not post pictures of anyone who has not given me express permission to post about them.
Sorry for the lack of updates. One shall be forthcoming. I’ve been preoccupied with having Chris visit last week, working on the stuff for the 4th of July party, and preparing for Drew’s arrival tomorrow. Oh and cooking/consuming waaaayyyyyy too many black bottom cupcakes.
Yup. Will post soon.
Also, thank you to Granddad and Nana for the wonderful birthday card! It was lovely to walk in to my flat and find it!
It is 8:07PM here and the sun is still shining as brightly as if it were 2pm. In fact, it won’t even consider setting until 10, at which point the sky will take on some semblance of darkness, but will never completely make the commitment to becoming night. At 3am, the sun will be back up and undoubtedly blazing through my window. Such is life in the Auld Reekie.
Work at the Consulate last week consisted mainly of planning for the fourth of July party which, somewhat unfortunately, is taking place on my birthday. Ah well. I have a new black tie gown that I plan on wearing (despite the ‘business’ dress code) that is absolutely beautiful, so as long as I don’t spill a Lynchburg Lemonade on myself, I should be fine.
This past week was fairly eventful. I made tofu for the first time (tofu and vegetable pesto pasta), ran with the Edinburgh Athletic Club, and successfully washed laundry in my flat’s washing machine (which is extremely hard to figure out). So…yup.
My former suitemate Chris is arriving in Edinburgh tomorrow night to visit me until Saturday. He has been on a study trip in Greece for the past month, so it will be interesting to hear about his experience.
That is all for now. I have seemingly lost my ability to string sentences together in any coherent form, so I may as well quit now.
Lengthier post coming soon.
1. Starting a renewable energy markets study for work. So…thrilling, I suppose.
2. I registered for my first half marathon, the Patrick Henry Half Marathon. 13.1 miles. August 28, 2010 in Ashland, VA. I plan on either camping or renting a hotel/hostel room the night before so I don’t have to drive down before the 7AM race.
3. When Drew comes to Edinburgh (in 15 days!!!!), we are going to spend a day in Fort William climbing Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. It has been a dream of mine to do this, but I’d been afraid to do it alone since climbers have died on this mountain. But with Drew by my side, it will be wonderful. July 2nd, my 22nd birthday, will also be our 6th month anniversary. So this will be a nice celebratory event.
These past few days I have found myself wondering what on earth I was thinking when I packed to come here. Skirts? T-shirts? Was I out of my mind? Clearly, my year in the US eroded my ability to think in a commonsensical manner. These past few days have been freezing cold. In fact, as I walked to work several mornings ago, I saw snow flakes falling from the sky. Snow flakes. In June. If I were back home in DC, I’d be lucky not to see steam rising off the streets due to the sheer heat and humidity. Still, it makes a nice change not to walk to work and arrive completely drenched in sweat. It is rather unpleasant to start the work day off feeling disgusting.