Michael and I have each lived (or nearly lived) overseas in various places before but Scotland is the first place we have lived that we have actually been able to return to! So it was an experience itself finding out what it would be like to return to a place that you lived out part of your life.
What I found was the distinct feeling that I belonged to two different worlds. When we walked off the plane the world switched: my brain suddenly used a different vocabulary, I was surrounded by close friends but they were a different set of close friends than in the other world, I was eating different foods, but foods that I already held dear, the land itself was no stranger and I knew my way around. It was certainly an interesting phenomena and made me appreciate all the more what several of my friends here in Indiana feel constantly as they balance their life in their birth country with their life here in their current "home".
The other interesting phenomena was that of realizing a dream. Over the years I have dreamed that I returned to Scotland (or Uganda) and the dream seemed so very real, but then I woke up. This time the dream became reality and it was even better than I thought. To finally get to a place you have dreamed of going for years. I wondered if it was just a tiny bit like heaven will be -- something you spend your whole life dreaming about, and you have certain clues as to what it will be like, but one day I will actually be there! I think it will be absolutely amazing!
Of course one of the most important things about our trip to Scotland this year was finding the right "base camp" for our explorations. The house would either make or break our vacation. I am so thankful to report that we found the best house ever! Melville Lodge truly was the perfect fit for our family!
The house is located in the foothills of the area that I always looked at with longing from my walks in Airdrie. It made my dream of living in the country, on a farm, come true! I felt like I was living in one of the houses featured in the British Country Living magazine (which is worth buying whenever you can spare the cash!).
Irene, the owner of Melville Lodge, made us feel so welcome right away and did everything she could to make sure we had the best stay possible. Look what she left on the table the morning of our arrival -- freshly baked shortbread cookies for us to enjoy with tea (which she also kindly made sure was already in the cupboard).
It looks like I left it to the children to carefully photograph every detail of the house! Maybe one day when I find their photos and sort them I will have more to share. However, the house was just perfect for our "large" family -- there were three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a huge kitchen, a sitting room, and an adorable little conservatory out the back. Plus there was a lovely lawn/garden to enjoy and the country road to meander and acres and acres of forests and paths to explore.
Rachel and Laura shared one of the upstairs bedrooms:
Just below the house lay a sheep pasture. What can be better than looking out the windows and seeing sheep grazing on the green green grass!
And down the road there was heather in bloom!
Trails through the fir trees ran here and there and Scotland has a free roaming law which means you can walk wherever you like!
Wellies are the clothing of the country and between our friend Karen, and the owner, Irene, we all managed to find a pair to use while we were there.
Here is James working on his needle work in the conservatory. Rachel soon took over this room to use as a schoolroom while we were there. The view out the doors goes to the Campsie Hills in the distance.
All around were sheep pastures, cattle grazing, and lovely vistas:
I did love my little wardrobe in our room. Everything fit in so well (at the beginning) and it kept everything nicely organized and feeling very British.
Our bedroom was on the main floor and also had an attached bathroom of its own. Nice! Irene made sure that all the beds had the most comfortable pillows, sheets, duvets and spreads. Honestly, I did not want to leave that bed and come back home (which is saying a lot).
There was a little deck with table and chairs for enjoying the warmer weather (60's to very low 70's) and we did get more than our fair share of warm weather while we were there!
The driveway had a gate at the end which made it very safe to allow Laura to play outside. The kids spent hours playing around the garden and the driveway and it was so nice to just let them have their freedom.
I did love the kitchen! Look at all the light! And look at the size of the table (which for Britain is VERY big). We managed to squeeze 12 and 14 people around the table multiple times. I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't had such a large kitchen. It certainly would have made fellowship difficult.
And here is another view of the kitchen. There was a laundry room/pantry behind the kitchen with a huge window that brought in more light. Certainly a necessity with the amount of laundry we created.
The other nice thing about Melville Lodge was that it was so centrally located. We chose it because it was close to Airdrie so we could see our friends easily. But, we didn't realize that it would make it so easy to get to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, and anywhere else we were headed. There was even a back road to get to the motorway that cut off lots of extra time and helped us pretend we were living the country life with all the other farmers in the area. And, the train station was just 5 minutes down the road!
I loved the front garden! And I need to figure out what those lovely flowering orange plants are because they would look so nice in my fall garden.
I loved all the views from the road.
And the farmers who lived next door were so kind and friendly! They answered all our questions and so graciously let us be involved in the farm work on one or two occasions. We LOVED it!!!
I'll have to save the sheep for another post, but they added to our whole adventure too!
So that is where we stayed! We'll always think of it as one of our "homes" now.