Monthly Archive: August 2015

Peek into the Church of Bcock

As I mentioned, right before the airing of our House Hunters International episode we had actually moved from the house we chose on the episode- though we did live in that house for about 10 months (well we leased it for 10 months, lived in it about 8 since our stuff with MIA in the sea for a couple extra months).

Our house was fine. Just fine. But not sure if you missed it in the HHI episode, it was pretty suitable….but I wanted sheep! And countryside! And rural life! And something more ‘Scottish’ – a house I wouldn’t find or move into in the states. And that’s exactly what we found: an old church complete with cemetery in the backyard.IMG_0001

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Not only that, we have some yard, a stream behind the house, trails across the street, and not only can I see sheep from the backyard…but cows too. There’s only been one day where the wind made the proximity to dairy a problem…and I’m willing to live with that.

 

doot-doot-do looking out my back door.

doot-doot-do looking out my back door.

IMG_0003 DSC_0084 The house is way too big for us as a two person, one dog household… but we’re definitely making use of the extra bedrooms with guests this summer, the full size laundry room, and the massive kitchen. They’ve mixed some old bits of the church (the floor/ceiling, original pew, beans throughout the house, window shapes) with a lot of new (floor lightening, disco counter top kitchen, sun lights). It’s a bit of a hodge podge, but I’m pretty keen on it. And despite the sheer size, it feels quite homey and cozy.

random new light fixtures

random new light fixtures

where all the magic happens (and messes)

where all the magic happens (and messes)

big green

big green

front door thistle & rose

front door thistle & rose

foyer wall

foyer wall

original church pew

original church pew

can't wait to light this baby up this winter

can’t wait to light this baby up this winter

In every room there is some crazy beam work - this is one guest bedroom

In every room there is some crazy beam work – this is one guest bedroom

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ceiling

ceiling

Master bedroom detail

Master bedroom detail

Master bath detail

Master bath detail

I should mention the downsides of this house…. There aren’t THAT many, but they are pretty bad.

  • Spider population is out of control. Out. Of. Control. Every day I vacuum up about 3-5 and every morning I still wake up with spider bites.  Do you know how disturbing that is?  If the average person eats 8 spiders a year in their sleep….we have to be consuming about 3 a week at least.  I’m don’t even eat breakfast anymore.
  • It took 2 months to get internet, a month to get a fridge, and now that there’s been a leak- I’m sure 3 months until it’s patched. Don’t ever rent from Stonehouse Letting. Also, now that we have internet it sucks pretty hard and they’re not sure we can ever have cable.  This is not such a problem in summer…in winter, there might be some Shining moments.
  • No water pressure…my hair always has that dull, greasy vibe.
  • It’s naturally less convenient since it’s more rural. I don’t mind the drive into town, what I do mind is it’s less convenient to go for a run. Sure there are roads by me, but they are super hilly and small so that makes them difficult to run and a little unsafe. You definitely can’t run with headphones…the whole single track lanes that aren’t one way- you need to be paying attention or you’re gonna get clipped by a side-mirror…which hurts I assure you.

What I was skeptical on was having neighbors. We split the church with another family and have on shared wall. But we really lucked out here…our neighbors are amazing! I’m not sure if it’s the walls or the family, but we can never hear them (even with a dog and two young children)! They’ve also brought us fresh fish they caught and chocolates! And it doesn’t hurt they are literally the cutest little Scottish family ever, including the grandparents that live in Stonehaven. And the fact the great grandparents are buried in the cemetery so they’ve put in a good word and assured us we won’t be haunted.

Back Home in the Granite City

Two weeks in Croatia have come and went (as well as my 30th birthday- ugh). I’m not too sure when I’ll get around to the recap (before the end of September, I hope!), but I had a weird expat experience in Croatia (or maybe it was a weird expat revelation?) that I wanted to write about.

The first week of holiday went by and we went from Zagreb to Plitvice to Zadar and everything was great. And then we went to Hvar, where we started to encounter or overhear a lot of English speaking tourists: tons of Aussies and Brits (and ya know, Canadians are always popping up somewhere) and less so, but still a decent amount of Americans. And I realized I was kind of creepily hovering around the Americans like a bee to a flower. At first I think I just wanted to be around Americans and relish in their accents and listen to them talk about how much money they spent at Target. But after a couple days that just wasn’t enough. I single white femaled all the Americans I could find. I would totally find a way to interject myself in other American’s conversations, generally failing to make any great connections but that didn’t matter, and I just needed American on American interaction! I can’t really explain it; it was weird behavior to say the least.

And then we met up with one my best friends and 3 of her friends in Dubrovnik. I got the most recent US Weekly, some new jammy jams, and all the Americanism I could get my hands on. I was feeling pretty good.  And then when waiting at our gate for the last (of our 3) flight of the day to get back to Aberdeen I was surrounded by Scots. And it was glorious. I not only got the biggest smile on my face listening to their accents, but I was so comforted to smell their stale beer breath and hear all their “nae”s and “fit”s and get back into the groove of deciphering what the Scots are saying. Like absurdly comforted. And I just thought, oh I was thinking, oh thank God we’re going home- it’s so nice to be with my peeps where I feel welcome. Vacation was great, but after 2 weeks, I just wanted to be home. And being on a Boeing 747 full of Scotsmen (and maybe 2 Scotswomen) felt like home, or at least the right pathway.

What?! When did that happen? It’s so strange to think that I could yearn for being in Scotland. I have now officially lived in Scotland for a year (actually a year and a month) and in that time have lived in 3 residences here and yet, I feel at home here. I realized that this is the longest time I’ve been away from America (8 full months going towards 11) and I’m quickly approaching the longest time I have lived outside the Midwest (large geographic location but still substantial to think about). It’s a nice feeling to be so comfortable in Scotland, but at the same time it kind of makes me feel guilty for cheating on my favorite city of Chicago as well as confused and scared. Will moving from Scotland give me the same heartbreak moving from Chicago did? We’re still a long way off before that happens, but it’s something I didn’t even anticipate. I was sure I’d adapt well enough, but I didn’t expect I’d yearn for being back to Scotland after a two-week vacation. It will be interesting to see what thoughts are in my head when I am home in the Midwest for a month in December…

I always get way ahead of myself. Right now, I don’t have to think about what happens when we move from Scotland (or even go home for vacation)…and actually, I don’t have to feel guilty for cheating on Chicago when I’m missing Scotland. Even though it seems strange, I want to focus on the positive that I feel so comfortable in this temporary situation. It’s certainly better than the alternative when being an expat. But I’m still pretty surprised that I went from creeping on Americans to craving Scottish accents.

il_570xN.193304266If home is where your heart is…is that your physical heart thus meaning you’re always can be at home wherever you are… or where my metaphorical heart feels happiest? And how do I know exactly where that is?

Are you an expat that feels as conflicted as I do when I miss my foreign assignment location?

Travel Tip: Trainers

Packing for a trip can be hard….so many clothes, so little space. Especially as airlines get more and more strict about baggage weights and allowances. My biggest struggle is looking cute, but still being dressed practically. And really, the biggest concern about practicality of your outfit traveling is footwear. Generally you’re walking A TON on holiday in Europe. I mean, there are times you’re on a beach, or hiking and need specific footwear for that, or it’s a million degrees and you want sandals, but generally speaking, the wrong footwear can really ruin your trip and comfort is key on your travels.

 

Even now on trips to Paris, where my main goal is to relax, soak it up, drink wine and eat cheese, I end up walking a ton. Doesn’t matter that I’m not darting about trying to see all the biggest tourist attractions. It’s just a big city and in big cities you walk a lot.  There are trips where you won’t walk as much though.  Our trip to Croatia isn’t very walking heavy: the cities are small, we’re doing outdoorsy things 4 days (hiking/kayaking/cycling) where I’ll wear running shoes, but otherwise I brought sandals and Tieks.  But think about if you go somewhere like Rome for the first time- you’ll be walking everywhere trying to make the most of your trip and see everything!  It’s a big city with a lot of proper “sights” to see.

 

While I yearn to look cool and not touristy and bring all my fabulous shoes, they aren’t the most practical. Especially in the fall and spring when I prefer to do most of my travels.  Fabulous shoes:

  • Aren’t always the most comfortable.
  • Cost more, which is worthy of consideration with lost luggage, hotel theft, and the fact you’re bringing less shoes, if you encounter some unexpected weather and ruin fabulous suede oxfords in rain…it sucks.
  • Can take up more space. I would love to wear riding boots in my euro adventures but they are so big…and then there’s the possibility of swollen calves and not even fitting in big ole’ boots.

 

And thus, you need cool trainers- that aren’t for working out. Because even cool booties tend to hurt after 10 miles of walking uphill in Edinburgh in a day. Running shoes are too sporty and stupidly colored. Cons aren’t my thing and don’t offer enough support. Sandals don’t offer enough padding for lots of walking. I’m not a Toms person so I have no idea about them. Sperry’s make my toes grip at every step and then cramp up. Ballet flats might go the blister route and pairs like Tory Burch Reva’s don’t offer enough support (although Tieks give it a great shot and they do tend to make it on all my trips, maybe a review on that…). But that’s why I have 2 pairs of my go-to travel trainers- both Nikes.

Why two pairs? Because I’m a nazi about black and brown. While some rare occasions work where you’re mixing black and brown. Most times you’re not and you shouldn’t. And a brown purse should never be worn with black shoes in my book….but I am also not a minimalist traveler or packer…or minimalist anything if I’m being perfectly honest with myself.

Two trainers I totally recommend for travel:

Nike Internationalist GPX Grey & Black are the ones I have but they have great colors and patterns being released all the time.  imgres nike-internationalist-gpx-ladies---black-white-flower

Nikes + blazer + skinnies = just cool enough for paris.

Nikes + blazer + skinnies = just cool enough for paris.

Nike Women’s Pre Montreal Vintage Racer Beige to go with everything, but notice the sole isn’t white, it’s off white…must keep in mind white will get wickedly dirty.

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skirt + trainers = perfect for a spring stroll in a park

skirt + trainers = perfect for a spring stroll in a park

I have to say I love the Internationalists the most. Not only is the pattern great (they are actually men’s shoes for some reason), but they are the most comfortable pair of trainers to walk about in. The Montreal Vintage Racers are cool, but a little thinner soled and their tread is a bit nubbier which I don’t think is as comfortable. But they’re both solid shoes.

 

I used to travel in Nike frees and then not need socks, but the problem with that is your feet and then your shoes stink like all get out. I’d recommend getting some no-show socks to absorb sweat but not be seen, and you can wear these shoes with anything and still look cool: shorts, jeans, even a skirt or dress if you style it right.

 

If you’re a person who travels a lot but is sidelined the second day with blisters and sore feet, it’s time to up your shoe game with some comfortable but wicked cool trainers.  Where do I get all my cool trainers?  This random, german website I found: 43einhalb!  The shipping fees suck, but they are super prompt and helpful with every order (and send you poprocks gum!).  I also am a big fan of Asphalt Gold’s website but have yet to order from them.  They both have great instagram feed that leaves me lusting over shoes way too much…currently negotiating these beauties with myself.

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Unexpected Expat Expenses

Deciding to become an expat is a difficult decision. There’s being away from family and friends, adjusting to a new culture, and the biggest consideration is probably cost. Even if you’re on an expat package, there are expenses of living abroad that you probably haven’t fully realized or considered. While not all costs are big or decision breaking, they add up, and if you’re down a salary, they might make a bigger difference.

 

New Hobbies – Especially if all of a sudden a full-time working partner isn’t working and ‘finding’ themselves. I have a lot more time to pursue new interests which is great, but new interests cost money. Sewing lessons, fabric, a sewing machine, horseback riding lessons, horseback riding gear, fitness memberships, language courses, golf lessons, Scotch tasting club, running club, camping gear…. New hobbies tend to require at least some initial cost to get the things necessary to do them…and ongoing costs if you’re taking lessons.

 

Travel Costs – One major perk that most expats consider is the ability to travel more. The ability comes from more time off and even more so, being in closer proximity to desirable places to travel around the world. And you should definitely take advantage of traveling- I mean, why else be an expat?! But with more travel, even if flying to Spain is cheaper from the UK than Chicago, it still costs money. We would try and go abroad once a year before, and now we’re traveling to several countries a year. That’s a lot more money that’s needed to be used for travel. Even if you are the thriftiest of travels, you’re likely still increasing the amoung of money needed in your travel bank.

 

Pet/Child Care – All that traveling and who watches Stella?  If we’re traveling around Scotland we bring Stella dog as often as we can.  But most times, when traveling to other countries we can’t bring her. When we lived in Chicago we had our families an hour away- there was absolutely NEVER a time when I had to pay for someone to watch Stella. Now we’re paying (a ton) to give Stella the best care possible while we’re galavanting around the world (we probably pay more than the average person because Stella is not a kennel dog.) Of course she’s worth it, but it’s a budget line item I never thought of before.

 

Customs and Shipping – Sending cards is a nice way to keep in touch from overseas. But I seriously spend between £1-£3 per card. Holy cow. It does kind of add up.  And if you want to ship anything home- get ready for a big price tag.   And while it gets easier and easier to order things from American companies online, there are some huge (sometimes hidden) customs costs. Remember my post about paying the postman?  If there’s things from America that you can’t live without, it’s time to find a mule coming over.

 

Clothing for Climate – It depends on where you’ve moving, but you might need a vastly different wardrobe or supplies for your new expat life. It cost a lot of money to get ready for life in Scotland: Waterproof tops and pants, base layers, hiking boots, head torches, etc. In our situation this was all much cheaper to buy in the US.

 

Licenses & Taxes – Different countries require different taxes and fees for different things. Expenses that have cropped up in the UK:

  • TV license £145 (if you watch any kind of TV, you have to pay for this every year)
  • MOT test £54.85 (for your car, happens every 3 years)
  • UK drivers license (a total of) £134 (and that’s not including driving lessons which you’ll need at least a couple)
  • Council Tax (this is not included in your rent and is up to several thousand pounds!)
  • Money down – since you probably don’t have credit in your new country, you’ll be required to front a lot of cash. You want a car- you’ll most likely have to use cash. Want to set up cable and internet? Without credit you might have to put down cash that will be reimbursed to you in a few months. Overall, you’ll need a lot more of the green stuff.

 

Trips Home & Extra Luggage – You are going to want to go home. In addition to your fun travel exploring the world, don’t forget to budget in the expense of flying home. Maybe it’s not in your plans, but for me, I won’t miss Christmas at home for anything. But then other things come up, best friends have weddings, siblings have babies, a relative is sick. These things happen and you’re going to want to get home for them- it’s important to think about that in your budget. And then when you do come home…people want presents, and when you return to your expat life, you tend to bring presents and things you can’t live without (oh don’t mind my suitcase full of coffee creamer and marshmallow peeps). Those extra baggage fees add up…quick!

 

These are just some expenses I’ve come across living in the UK. Are there other expenses in other countries you’ve lived in that you didn’t anticipate?

Coconut Mango Chia Popsicles

Scotland doesn’t have a lot of days that leave one desiring ice cream and popsicles to cool off…but maybe, on a sunny summer day you go for a run and work up a decent sweat and you get the craving for a sweet treat to help you cool off. Or maybe you just want to pretend you’re someplace warm and tropical. Or maybe you want to amp yourself up for an upcoming holiday to blazing Croatia. Or maybe, you just really like frozen desserts.  Or maybe you’re just trying to justify buying these cute little popsicle holders 5 years ago.  IMG_0764

Whatever it is, I got the recipe for you. And it’s good for you!

1 can light coconut milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 mango cut into bite size pieces
1 heaping tablespoon shredded, sweetened coconut
8 drops liquid stevia (or to taste)

 

  1. Combine all the ingredients and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours so that the chia seeds soak up some of the liquid and expand
  2. Fill popsicle molds with mixture
  3. Freeze overnight
  4. Enjoy!
A perfect sunny day for us to sit outside and enjoy the popsicles.

A perfect sunny day for us to sit outside and enjoy the popsicles.

We even shared with Stella

We even shared with Stella

5 things NOT to say to an expat

I think every expat probably has a list of things they’re tired of hearing. Some of my top 5 are probably universal to all expats, while others are specific to my expat experience and life. But these are statements/questions that I hear ALL the time….not once or twice. So for my sake, for your other expat friends’ sake, take note. These words cross your lips, regardless of how nice the response is, your friend is probably pretty freaking annoyed.

When are you moving home?/When do you get to move home?

I don’t even know where “home” is! I have no idea where we’ll be living when we repatriate. Do you just mean America? And if you do in fact just mean America, there is a good chance when I move back to America, I’ll be living nearly an equal amount of hours away from you when I repatriate as I do now as an expat…. so what does it really matter? And what’s with the “get” to move home? I’m not being held against my will in another country, suffering and miserable. We made the choice to move abroad, and even though there are downsides, we couldn’t be happier with the choice. And honestly, I have no idea when we’re going to repatriate. Maybe in a year, maybe in 5… And more often than not, the people that want to know this are people that are very distant acquaintances that my country of residence doesn’t effect them or how often I see them whatsoever.

Definitely not held here against my will

Definitely not held here against my will

Must be a nice/Oh tough life (dripping with sarcasm and/or bitchiness in response)

Being an expat is a nice (or great) experience…no doubt. But that doesn’t mean life is all peaches are cream over here. First, relocating to another country (on a package or not) is scary, and hard, and unsettling, and stressful, and lonely. I’m not doing some big noble or admirable thing, but I’m also not living in a magical world where I don’t have issues. Do we get to travel more? Yes…but we were also a couple who traveled abroad once a year when we lived in the states anyway. We’re taking advantage of the cheaper flights, easier travel, and more time off.  But all the every-day issues I’d have in the states…I still have them here, except a lot of times they are more stressful and complicated. Errands, doctors, money… still have to deal with em all here but we’re trying to navigate doing all these everyday things in a new way, in a new country, with new rules and expectations. Oh and I get homesick and miss all my friends, family, celebrations, and struggles which can suck pretty hard.

I’m not complaining about expat life, I am pretty grateful for it…but it’s not all so different than yours. And you can certainly make some strides to move abroad if you’re up for it….

What a great time to have kids!

Oh, is it?

Often times I hear this, or indirectly hear it. I know it’s because I’m not working in the UK, thus in people’s minds it automatically makes it the most ideal time to pop out some pups.

You know when I think would be a great time to have kids? When I actually WANT to have kids! Call me crazy.

Being across the world without any family support or steady friends (as in friends not on expat assignments where they might be moving at any given time)? Totally ideal situation to be a first time mom! Being in a country with different and possibly not preferred medical systems in place? That sounds like a great time to have babies! Having to buy baby stuff at double the cost? Wonderful!

Not.

All these things can definitely be overcome and you can have healthy, happy babies and start a great family at as an expat….if you want that. That’s the key.

I also personally feel it’s a little insulting to think I can’t amuse myself without a job so I must give birth to give my life meaning/fill the hours. My hours are currently filled in ways much more preferable than with sh*tty diapers and spit up.

current things > changing diapers

current things > changing diapers

Why can’t you come home for X? You’re always flying….

If I had an infinite budget, I’d come home 4x a year…and definitely for every special occasion that arises. But I don’t have that money. And my husband doesn’t have unlimited vacation time. We have a great opportunity to see the world (or at the very least Scotland) and we need to/have to take advantage of it.   Flying back to the states costs a lot of money and a lot of time (especially to get to the Midwest)…and even though we wish we could be at every special occasion and we miss our friends and family dearly….the reality is we come home for Christmas and have a small, hypothetical list of other occasions that will bring us back stateside. Please try to understand, don’t take offense, and start planning a trip to come visit wee bonnie Scotland! BUT, that doesn’t mean we don’t want the invite! We’ll be glad to send you a gift and we are sad we can’t attend (most times)…it’s just not realistic.  But totally shunning us from invites makes us sad too.

Isn’t the weather miserable in Scotland?

Google, people! Unless you’re living in Southern California…who’s weather you calling miserable?! Aberdeen gets less average rainfall than Chicago (fact). Aberdeen is (much) warmer than Chicago in the winter (fact)…actually, we had some days this past winter warmer than San Antonio (fact). Aberdeen gets less snow than Chicago in the winter (fact). And since I personally hate anything warmer than 75 degrees F….No. The weather is just lovely in Scotland.

Totally awful weather

Totally miserable weather

Like awful.

Like awful.

Can barely leave the house.

Can barely leave the house.

{un?}happy camper

I am not a camper. I make no apologies of this and really haven’t ever felt the need to in my Chicago-life. But I am not in Chicago anymore. I am in the land of tough, rugged, outdoorsy, Scotts. And the general notion that Scotland is the best experienced outside. Which I agree with and I do often. Before we moved here we bought all kinds of hiking crap and waterproof crap and I let my outdoorsy, granola, Subaru driving, alter-ego Heidi step out a little bit. But not long enough to sleep outside.

To be perfectly honest I HAVE camped. There was a lot of what I guess would be considered “glamping” as a youth- girl scout camp and summer sleep away camp in cabins with thin mattresses and some form of latrine. But there were the odd nights at those camps where it was decided to embrace the outdoors and actually sleep in a tent. For one night. For a couple hours. Beyond that, I actually did sleep outside for like 5 days straight in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania without toilet, shower, or any means of cooking other than open fire when I was about 14. But I also rode a horse all day every day during that time and to eb perfectly honest, I’d do most things to hang out on a horse all day. And for the record- I refused to poop those 5 days and maybe peed once a day.  Which is funny since now I probably pee outside once a week….oh Scotland.

Anyway. So people camp here a lot.  Which I was indifferent to. But then…then Mumford and Sons announced they were bringing their Gentlemen of the Road tour here to Scotland in my favorite part of Scotland- the Cairngorms. And they had a camping package. And months ago when all this was announced Heidi took over and was like, “Great! Mumford and camping in the mountains! Yes!” And before I could argue the tickets and camping pass were purchased.  Heidi is way too optimistic and doesn’t think things through like the actual logistics of camping in Scotland.imgres-1

A couple weeks later a couple we’re friends with told us they were down too. Thank god because who knows what would have went down without them. Actually, maybe they were a curse because I probably would have bailed on the camping part of the weekend and just gone and enjoyed the music. In fact, I’m pretty sure that would have happened without them….A few days before the weekend, Kaitlin and I met to talk about what we were bringing and details. I asked, “What if it rains?” and she answered, “Then it rains.” “But what do we do….where do we sleep then?” She said, “Outside.” Hmmm, I don’t like not having a plan B.

As it so happens, it rained. A lot.

When we got to Aviemore and parked the cars in the drizzling rain, we loaded ourselves up and started on what we didn’t know would be a mile hike to where we would lay our tent in the by then pouring rain. We were one of the last people there as camping had started on Thursday and as we walked through field of muddy field of tents, I grew tired and crabby and decided we would set up camp at the first spot that I think would fit our two tents. I should mention we borrowed the tent from the couple we went with, and sleeping bags, lanterns, coolers, and mats from E’s coworker. And that when we went to enter the actual area, our friends had forgotten their tickets in the car- so E and I went in solo and had to set up a tent we had never seen before solo.  Major props because we only had like 5 extra stakes and two extra poles at the end of set-up and our tent didn’t ever fall down.  Quite proud of that one.

At one point during set up, a security guard came up to us and said something totally illegible and frankly, it could not be English. Not a chance it was english.  He repeated what he said once more to me, and then to E when I could not grab a single comprehendible world that I could understand. He had to be Welsh. Seriously. Are Scotts required to speak welsh? Because it definitely wasn’t english and he didn’t seem to get why I couldn’t understand him.  So it must be that Scots are supposed to speak welsh and well, I’m not Scot and it just sounded like gibberish to me.  In hindsight….I’m pretty sure he was telling us that we shouldn’t put our tents there as that area was going to flood.  Would have been beneficial to have taken welsh in high school….

When we went back to our friends to get their stuff and show them where we were, we also realized the entire cooler full of beer and cider couldn’t make it in since it was all in glass bottles. So Kaitlyn and I began the trek back to the car, dragging a top-heavy cooler with tiny wheels through fields of mud while the boys set up the other tent.  It was really pouring at this point. We hung out at the car until the guys came back and then we all loaded up again and began the ever increasingly muddy trek back to the campsite.

Original tent set up.

Original tent set up – trust me, it’s raining.

We had a lot of stuff. Bags of food, coolers, sleeping bags, mats, tents, cooking supplies. E and I both had our huge bags…they were the same size as the other couple’s but the other couple actually had their tent, mats, and bags INSIDE their backpacks. Our backpacks were as just as full but they only contained clothes. Lots of clothes. And even though my shoulders killed me….I have never been more thankful for being a packrat and bringing all those damn clothes.

At like 10pm we were finally settled, soaked, frozen and hungry. We cooked up some brats and onions on their grill (we provided food, Chris cooked) illegally under the tarp that connected our two tents.  We were exhausted and cold. But I had decided since it was so wet and miserable, we needed a tarp and the pillows I had originally forgone in the car. The other couple had laid a tarp down under the tent and we didn’t…but we did have one in the car that had a softer texture on one side, and water proof on the bottom that we could lay at the bottom of our tent.   And of course the pillows.  Because after more thought, sleeping on wadded up clothes wasn’t going to cut it for me…not in these conditions.  I needed every ounce of luxury I had.

Grilling under the tarp

Grilling under the tarp

E & I made the long haul back to car, all while E complained that I was being high-maintenance. But the walk warmed me up, we were both grateful for pillows, and even more super grateful for that tarp since by morning- the water had soaked through the tarp. I was damp and chilled through. But the sun was shinning and all the hippies were laying everything over barbwire fence to dry while we enjoyed and sunshine and breakfast of cheesy eggs, toast and PB, coffee, and bacon.  Our friends had fallen asleep before we made it back with tarp and pillows the night prior and they were elated to find us in our tent when they woke up.  Apparently the bet was I was going to stay in the car…but I didn’t!  I made it.  24 hours more to go!

Hurry hippies, dry your clothes!

Hurry hippies, dry your clothes!

Good morning on Saturday.

Good morning walking out of our tent on Saturday.

We then decided to walk into Aviemore to hang out, have some drinks and eventually eat lunch…where we got caught in a pretty terrible downpour that lasted our time in town and the entire walk back to camp. A little after we arrived at camp the rain stopped and the sun came out. Hippies took off some layers and even a rainbow appeared. And thats when we saw that one of our tent-neighbors (who was much more sensible and intelligent) had decided this was miserable and left…leaving their tent spot open. We decided it was worth it to move our tents to their plot of land.

When E and I moved our tent…this is what was underneath us.

This puddle.  This is exactly where our tent was.

This puddle. This is exactly where our tent was.

I am not kidding I was sleeping in that puddle. At this point we walked BACK to the cars to grab yet another tarp (since everything was soaked through, water now soaking through our sleeping mats and bags). The sun stayed out just long enough to dry the mats and bags, and we repositioned everything….and I will say, despite more rain and mud, we stayed dry for the night. Had we been wet, I would have went to sleep in a running car because even though I was dry, I wore the following to sleep in on the second night: long johns, sweats, 2 pairs of socks, a t-shirt, a long sleeve, a sweatshirt, a Patagonia fleece, gloves, a stocking cap and my hood was up…all while fully zipped into my sleeping bag, with my pillow, not having any parts of me exposed. It was freaking cold.

Just a little muddy...

Just a little muddy…

Of course we had s'mores

Of course we had s’mores

Trying to warm up with some chili

Trying to warm up with some chili

Oh and Mumford and Sons were great…though I’d like to see them again not at a festival venue. And unfortunately we didn’t see a lot of the other acts because we were too busy being exhausted and miserable, or changing, or cold, or moving campsite. I have never been covered in so much mud. Thank god for waterproof hiking boots, wellies, and waterproof pants and jackets.

During Mumford

During Mumford

Mumfords up there somewhere

Mumfords up there somewhere

Wellies are a must do.

Wellies are a must do.

The worst bit about camping was waking up on Sunday morning. As if the last day of any trip isn’t bad enough…on the last day of camping you have to carefully and meticulously pack everything up (even less pleasant when everything is covered in mud) and haul it a mile uphill in the mud back to your car. It pretty much took 3 trips to get everything to our campsite, but we made the decision right away we were going back in one trip. Because we just couldn’t make the journey more than once. Some things were left behind, but it was still a miserable, grueling walk back to the car. Oh, but the sun was out NOW just in time to make us sweat our asses off. It might not have been so bad if we had gotten more than 3 hours of sleep the night before, or if the boys weren’t so hungover, or if Kaitlin wasn’t 6 months preggers (holy hell, if I am half the pregnant woman she is E would think he won the lotto). As it was…it was a death march. Perhaps comparable to my last 2K of my marathon. No…worse.

everywhere was mud

everywhere was mud

For once I am overjoyed at the fact I overpacked because when I peeled off a muddy, wet disgusting layer, I just folded it into itself and had something clean and dry to put on.  And I always had more layers to add on when sleeping.  Had I not been able to do those things, I’m not sure I would have made it.  Of course, Aviemore is gorgeous when not raining and the people were all so friendly. But, I am never festival camping again. Never. I don’t even know if I’ll ever try any type of camping again. I can understand the appeal of waking up in the middle of nowhere with some gorgeous scenery…but…

  1. Scotland is never warm. You will never be able to sleep outside without at least 2 pairs of pants on here.
  2. I have awful shoulders so would never be able to hike all day, then pitch a tent in totally desolate, remote area. I’d be able to get about a mile away from the car max.
  3. Pretty sure Stella would hate it.

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A moment of beauty.

A moment of beauty.

Maybe my next time camping will be somewhere where I won’t freeze at night. I can see how potentially lovely it’d be to wake up on the beach watching the sunrise over lake Michigan on a warm September morning…but in the states you can’t just pop a tent wherever the hell you’d like. So what are the odds I can in fact camp somewhere that I really want to camp?  I won’t totally rule it out…but my next time camping will be sans festival, only be for one night, and will be very dependent on the forecast for the weekend.

And I have to say I feel like a total low-maintance bad ass for surviving two full nights, in miserable weather, without sleep, camping.  I didn’t even throw a single temper tantrum!  No tears were shed- not one!   I mean, I’m practically Bear Grylls.