2003-04-24 - 8:22 a.m.

That was a very compact and wonderful trip I just took. Scotland was wonderful, a wonderful place to go for a few days though I found that I had more of an affinity for the English countryside than I did for the highlands of Scotland. I mean, if I were looking for places that I would like to live, it would be in Northern England.

We started our trip from Newcastle upon Tyne in England and drove north into Scotland, stopping over night in Pilochry at a perfectly pleasant bed and breakfast where we were served a very decadent five course meal which ended with a common English dessert called sticky pudding. I will forever be in love with sticky pudding. That night we wandered through the town which was charming and beautiful. At one point, right after I stated that I really needed to pet a cat, a crazy little black cat came running down the rail of a bridge, from no where, meowing like crazy and flipping over to be petted. I think he must have been some mystical Scottish creature, not just a mere cat, because his timing couldn’t have been more impeccable.

The next day we got back in the car and drove into the middle of no where. Seriously, no where. The roads are tiny, curving, rather nerve wracking at first (especially since we were on the “wrong” side of the road and every time I saw a car coming at us in the opposite direction I thought for sure we were dead because I couldn’t get used to being on the left side of the road). Towns that we drove through were nothing more than a couple houses. It was desolate and beautiful. Entrancing. The highlands are entrancing. One of E,’s French colleagues had brought me pictures a couple weeks ago from his trip to Scotland, at one point he had warned me that we would need to keep a look out for “ship” in the road. After having him repeat himself a million times I figured out that he was saying sheep, not ship, and it’s a good thing I understood him because sure enough, there were “ship” ALL over the place. Funny ship.

So then we arrived on the Isle of Skye. At first I was kind of nervous because it seemed just as desolate as the entire days drive. The town we stayed at wasn’t exactly booming, but we were able to find dinner, a good dinner (this is something else I really liked about the UK, every single place you go to has a vegetarian selection, it seems to be a requirement because even the beat up diner like place we stopped at on the road the next day had vegetarian sausage listed for breakfast) and beer. The next day we wandered a little and then set off walking into the moors. Scotland has no trespassing laws so you can venture anywhere you want and as long as you close gates behind you and don’t cause any trouble, you won’t get shot. We ventured off our path and climbed to the top of a moor about five hundred feet from the ground. We sat up there for a long time, looking out into the water, watching seagulls float through the was amazing, revitalizing. And it’s a good thing I got revitalized that afternoon because that night destroyed me for the rest of the trip. We went back to town and decided to have a beer before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. This was at about 4 I think. We had a beer and then decided that maybe we would go to the hotel bar for another beer. But the hotel bar wasn’t open and when we asked the lady at the front desk what time the bar opened she directed us to another pub down the road where we could go. Which was a mistake...and a gift at the same time. The pub we went to was incredible small, we were packed in like sardines and before we knew it a group of Scottish men had invited us to sit down, “for a laugh,” with them. A little while later another group of men came in and when the Scottish guys inquired where they were from they told us they were Irish, from Belfast and from then on the Scottish guys called them, “the Patricks.” Anyway...I have no idea how it happened, but many pints later, E. and I were both extremely drunk and had five minutes before our dinner reservation. We both smelled of beer and were grimy from walking all day, not to mention so drunk I can’t believe we could even walk. But we got to our hotel and were seated for our first course. And wine. Why we ordered a bottle of wine I do not know, but we did. I don’t remember much of the dinner except for the part when I burped REALLY loudly and everyone turned to look at me. E. just looked at me incredulously and said, “I think I need to find a new girlfriend.” It was terribly embarrassing but I am still laughing about it, even now, so I guess it was worth being such a drunken pig. So...after dinner we went to the lounge where E. had a whiskey (because he had vowed that he would have a whiskey after every meal while we were in Scotland because Scotland is known for their whiskey) and I had some much-needed coffee. Then we went back to the room and preceded to make drunken phone calls back home to our family and friends. I have never had so much fun with a man in my entire life. If I only needed one thing to make me sure that E. was someone I could spend my life with, it would be that night.

The next morning we set off for our night in Tarbert at a castle. This was supposed to be the highlight of the trip, for me at least. It was a castle and it has sixty acres of gardens...those are two things that I love. Unfortunately the castle night was the one night I didn’t enjoy. I was hung over, tired and I had cramps from hell which left me in bed except for the hour or two I forced myself to get up and eat dinner. The castle was beautiful, yes. The restaurant had a great view, yes. But I was totally not impressed over all.

So then we set off back to Newcastle. Back to civilization which made me surprisingly happy. I am annoyed with myself for feeling relieved once we were on a real highway, able to get coffee and gas. We saw some really cool places on our way back across to Newcastle, places I would like to visit more the next time.

And Newcastle is an incredible city. We didn’t really do anything there, went to a pub, went to dinner, stayed in the hotel...but I just felt like it was a really cool city. I loved the bridges. I really, really want to go back there and spend a few days. The whole reason we had gone there was because I wanted to drink Newcastle beer in Newcastle. Unfortunately we found out that Newcastle is to the people of England like Coors is to Americans. I was devastated that it wasn’t a big deal there. But I did get my pint of Newcastle, which I basically had to choke down because I was so poisoned still from all the drinking of the previous four days. And then we got on the airplane and came back to France. And again, like I did last time when returning from Italy, I felt like I was coming home when I arrived back on French soil. I cannot figure that out, maybe it’s because this is where my stuff is right now, but I get homesick...but not for my home, I get homesick for THIS place. I was so happy to get out on the balcony last night and look at my park. Happy to be home.

Tomorrow my friend Jim and his fiancée are coming to Paris from England to visit me for the weekend and then I just have one more week of my life here and then I return to Michigan. I have no desire to go home for good. I wish I were going to get my cats and to visit for a moment...but that is not the case. I have no idea how I am going to deal with not having E. around. I have no idea how I am going to be able to survive this next year and a half until he comes back home. I have gotten too used to him now and almost scare myself when I realize how little I want to return to my other life.


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