Matlock, England and Dundee, Scotland
I had exactly 24 hours with my relatives, whom I’d never met before, and it was a busy day. I was driven around the local area, and given a commentary on my relatives (we’re talking about five generations ago mind you) and where they’d been born, grew up, lived and died. It was interesting observing the family dynamics of these cousins of my Grandpa’s, the three of whom were in their 60s and 70s.
I was given the royal treatment, including large meals and a feather mattress and pillow to sleep on. I got through the meal by sampling only a little of everything, yet the bed was another matter. It was a nice gesture, however it was the most uncomfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on. Even worse than a water bed. You sunk into it and it didn’t move easily, so I felt trapped. Add to that the fact I’m allergic to feather bedding, and I was in for a long night. I ended up swapping the pillow for a cushion just so I didn’t have to explain my potential swollen red eyes in the morning.
My Grandpa had visited these same relatives 60 years ago on his European trip, and they were all keen on the idea that he might return again soon. I’ve been encouraging him to go back for some years now, and now he’s beaten his previous fear of flying it just may well be a possibility.
I spent six and a half hours on a bus from Manchester to Edinburgh to stay with my Scottish friend Lynsey for the last leg of my three months travelling. Lyns and I met in Far North Queensland in 2004, and she has been back to Australia and to New Zealand with me since, so it was about time I went to visit her homeland.
The UK is quite small, yet I’d certainly spent a fair amount of time on buses to get around. I guess I’d just fly if I was back home, yet I didn’t consider it in England and Scotland since everyone said it was so small. Yes, it’s smaller than AU, but consider flying if you’re heading there yourself.
I arrived in Edinburgh at 7.30am and then had to get on a train for an hour to meet Lyns in Dundee. I was tired and cranky from the lack of sleep on the overnight bus, and wasn’t looking forward to another train trip. Thankfully Lyns had alerted me to a sale on train tickets weeks before and I’d grabbed one – saving me pounds in the process. I was continually astounded at the ridiculous cost of public transport in the UK, it was a huge rip off.
Lyns met me at Dundee and we yabbered away for a few hours before heading out to explore some local areas. One woman in an art gallery tried to set me up with her son who was currently in AU – and although I love the Scottish accent I’d rather meet someone first before committing to marry them!
I met Lynsey’s boyfriend Craig, and was introduced to Haggis for dinner. Believe it or not, haggis is actually quite tasty. I didn’t look at the ingredients until after I’d eaten, and it’s basically a whole pig minced up and mixed with barley and some spices. Yum! We headed off on a whiskey distillery tour the following day, with both Craig and I fans of the stuff. I discovered that in Scotland it’s not called Scotch, only whiskey, and it must be drunk on the rocks (only with ice in the glass) and never mixed with coke like we so often do at home.