Posts filed under 'house guests'

Normal is Overrated

Expat life is not normal life. In a trailing spouse situation, the working spouse might find in more “normal” and perhaps if you’re coming from a stay-at-home mom who’s children go to private school, maybe it’s closer to “normal” life. But it’s not normal life. People have accents, you drive on the wrong side of the road, your lunchmeat goes bad within 3 days, eggs aren’t refrigerated, you can’t get a decent dirty martini, people drink beer and wine at the airport at 6am, you don’t have a job, there are sheep in you backyard, your constantly traveling or hosting, yet you don’t see your family and friends, and all of a sudden you’re two sizes bigger without physically gaining a pound. Nothing is normal!

When were we ever really "normal" anyway?

When were we ever really “normal” anyway?

So we’ve now been expats for a full year and we’ve experienced our first full summer. I’m exhausted and a little unsettled. In general our transition into expat-ing was a little crazy. We moved and were put into temp housing and within one month I took a week to explore Ireland with family, then a couple weeks later already returned back stateside for a wedding. Then we were in temp housing for another month, and finally were able to get settled into our home. Then we went home for a few weeks for Christmas, then came back to Scotland and all was well for a few months. Then in the last 5 months I’ve ran one marathon, been to 4 countries outside of the UK, moved house, and had 11 guests. That is a mass amount of chaos and the absolute opposite of structure or a normal, predictable life.

It’s now September. The last visitor is gone. Our house is really feeling like home (and spiders are my new family). No super crazy vacations on the horizon. The AWA (American Woman’s Association) had their first meeting of the year. Golf lessons are starting back up. Golf lessons are back in session and next week is my first book club of the year. But it’s not just me- the kids are back in school and the expats that went home to the states, or Canada, or wherever are all back as well. We all now have time to reconnect and get back into the swing of things and normal life in Scotland after the (seemingly) long summer.

And all that is great, but it also is weird for me. I feel like I was basically checked out on even the new-“normal” expat life for the last 4 months or so. Kind of completely detached from Scotland, my community, and my friends here. I’m excited to get back to routine and a sense of expat-life-normalcy. But then I look ahead (way too far as I often do) and think about how I’ll be gone for a month in December, how next summer’s guest list is filling up, and I could potentially be stateside for all of November AND December next year. Everyone knows that expat life is unsettling because you’re moving to another country and you’ll probably be traveling more…but I didn’t really consider all the time you’re not actively living your day-to-day life in your new country because you’re back in your old country, or you’re exploring a new country, or you have visitors for close to 2 week stretches instead of 2 days.

I’m not trying to complain about any of this. I loved having all my guests, I loved my travels, I love coming home (to the states- and would love to go back more for shorter periods of time ideally, but there’s the whole money thing)…it just leaves you feeling disassociated and unsettled. It’s not something that’s going to change for as long as I’m an expat, but it’s something to think about and consider or least anticipate in some way if you’re becoming an expat. Because I’m not the only one! It seems most moms and kids go back to their home country for anywhere between 4-8 weeks every summer to see family. You just have to learn to wing it and kind of accept that even though you have your new home country, it won’t be life as you knew it, and you’ll go through a lot more frequent and longer periods of not actually being home.  If anything I hope that I learn to go with the flow more, embrace challenges, and exceed at rapid transitions….fingers crossed!madrid

Combating Homesickness with Snapfish

My mom was in total dismay over this….but here’s my dirty little secret…

I have yet to hang anything in our new house!

Yeah, that could have went a lot of different directions…. Hear me out, we’ve only been in this house 3 and not even a half months! And in that time I’ve been out of country for 3 of the weeks and nearly every other week we’ve had guests! I just haven’t had time. But we’re definitely going to get after this bit-by-bit until it’s complete (by mid-October LATEST before we host a get together- which probably means the day before we run around frantically cleaning, cooking, and hanging pictures).

But hanging pictures can be hard! And time consuming. And if you’re type A about levelness, a nightmare! But you know what’s really easy to hang…. canvasses. They are so lightweight, the ledge is a built in hook, and all you need to a tack…okay maybe 2 tacks if you’re the type A person aforementioned.

But as soon as my mom left, I got hit with a severe bout of homesickness, which believe it or not, still happens and can hit me like truck out of nowhere. I needed to get something up on my walls that would combat the homesickness and make me happy. And what better than an easy-to-hang photo canvas using a picture from our wedding day which was in the heart of my favorite city and such a happy moment in my life.

I had used Snapfish before to order photo products in the states and was more than happy to see they had Snapfish.co.uk that uses pretty much the exact same format. No new tricks to learn, but there were definitely some new products since my last order. I chose to do a black and white photo and put it on a Slim Photo Canvas, which is the same look as a regular canvas, it’s just thinner in profile and cheaper. And it’s lighter! Another bonus for the one tack users! I ordered on a Saturday evening and got the canvas on Wednesday morning- which I think is a pretty quick turn around town. Put a tack in the wall and subdue the homesickness. Easy peasy.

Slim canvas vs. regular

Slim canvas vs. regular

I’m really happy with how it turned out. A little reminder of a great day, a great time, and the city I love and miss.  DSC_0374

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Snapfish UK and I was provided with a £40 credit to choose whatever photo product I wanted.

 

The Most Expensive Walk

My in-laws visit has come to a conclusion. Well, it actually came to a conclusion early Sunday morning but ya know, had to return to normal life. I, of course, recap visitor’s trips, but going forward they’re going to be a little more condensed. Since we’re getting more guests (only 2 more in 2015, but 2016 slots are filling fast) we often do a repeat of some of the essential Aberdeenshire hot spots. And I can only type Dunnottar castle so many times…

But with each guest, I try and schedule some trip away from Aberdeenshire and do something unique for that visitor if time allows. My mother and I went to the west coast to see puffins, my aunt and I toured the highlands, Megan and I did Edinburgh and went off to Lisbon. For my in-laws….they are BIG into golf- so they’re Aberdeen add-on was centered around golf. And what better place to golf than Scotland where it originated in the 15th century…

So the in-laws arrived on Thursday morning to jetlag and lost golf clubs. Luckily, said clubs were delivered at about 8pm- it was iffy for awhile since w were originally set out to leave on Friday morning at about 6:30 am and they couldn’t find where the clubs were….but they made it. And for once, the rain worked in our favor because it was pouring on Friday morning (to such a degree my now 3rd house in a row had a leak) and golf was delayed, as was our departure time until about 8:30 am.

When we got down to St. Andrews it was a bit overcast and windy, but we didn’t get rained on all day. It was a pretty perfect day and we all really enjoyed it. There is a strict no camera policy but ya know, me and rules…

Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

IMG_0453

Tiger and the ole’ bridge.

IMG_0462

Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

Boys in front of the bridge

Boys in front of the bridge

One rule The Open didn’t have was no booze…so great. And I mean, they didn’t just sell alcohol on site…you could walk in carrying your own. BYOB! We left the course to have a picnic lunch we had packed on one of the closed courses. And of course we had wine and I even grabbed some cans of Pimm’s (not so good in a can) that we then brought back in with us.IMG_0412

Love me a picnic.

Love me a picnic.

At the open

At the open

When we left St. Andrews (later than anticipated) we started a long, cramped, most driving rain journey across the country to the Loch Lomond area, specifically in Helensburgh. It wasn’t an ideal location as it was a little further away from everything than we wanted to me…but it really was like a 20 min drive to E’s race on Saturday and a 10 min drive to dinner- so not bad at all. And the B&B we stayed at- Lethamhill B&B was really lovely. E and I’s room had an incredible lake view, the grounds were gorgeous, and I got salmon and eggs for brekkie. Everybody wins!IMG_0620 (1) IMG_0616

Getting some pre-dinner sherry at the B&B

Getting some pre-dinner sherry at the B&B

IMG_0478

 

As mentioned E had a race on Saturday morning…I mean who wouldn’t want to start their 30’s with an ungodly swim in choppy, freezing Loch Lomond?! It was his first Duathlon and he did great.

Happy 30 E!

Happy 30 E!

After the race we took the Bcock Srs. to a highlands games (naturally) at Loch Lomond. We got piped in by the band, which was pretty great. And they had wrestling! What?! Hadn’t seen that one before. The downfall of the games was a lack of seats and muddy, muddy ground. I cannot stand for hours watching grown men throw heavy stuff…we were in luck, because we just acquired 2 picnic blankets with waterproof undersides so we hunkered down. I have to say, the games didn’t disappoint and I think E’s parents really enjoyed them.IMG_0490 IMG_0505

We went back to the B&B for a nap, then went out to E’s birthday dinner. Which I didn’t grab a picture of but we were at Cameron house and I got sweet breads and lamb! And actually a decent martini which if you follow, know is as easy to get your hands on as a freaking unicorn in this country. And don’t think just because it’s the national animal that it’s easy to find…

Post dinner drinks

Post dinner drinks

The next day we started a rainy drive down through Glasgow and to Trump’s Turnberry Golf Club. The course was made in 1902 and has a pretty interesting history…Trump bought it out in 2014 and now it makes him oodles of money. See here.

And well…. I googled “golf quotes” and came across this:

“Golf is a good walk spoiled.” – Mark Twain

Well that was the most expensive spoiled walk I’ve ever had! I am so mad at how I played….I even had two emergency lessons right before the trip and was crushing it at the range and even the weekend before at a local golf course. Gaaaaah. I was just so nervous. Much better on the back 9 and I even parred a hole- booyah! But still…I was awful. E’s mom actually played the best I think- good memories for her all around. So many golf balls lost…. Anyway…it was at least was a BEAUTIFUL, spoiled, expensive walk.  And ya know, everyone got some time with the sun and sand…

Greg sizing up that bunker

Greg sizing up that bunker

 

E's turn in the bunker

E’s turn in the bunker

Coming up to the first tee box.

Coming up to the first tee box.

IMG_0534

Seriously…could it be more gorgeous? Not my form…the view.

IMG_0538

After 18 long holes.

After 18 long holes.

Monday we headed back to St. Andrews- originally to check out the course without The Open going on, but it was extended to Monday due to rain delays. We were going to head in but after walking about the Castle and Cathedral were pretty tired and wanted to get home. But I have to say, E and I will be heading back to St. Andrews for a weekend sometime to enjoy the quaint little town, and because, I need to spread my hack skills around ALL the super nice, famous, and expensive courses…because hey, I really love expensive, spoiled walks.

The rest of the week had us: dining outside a few nights (hurrah nice weather), checking out Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle, eating fish n chips, eating haggis, having afternoon tea, having drinks at Trump’s local course, eating cullen skink, some more golf for the men-folk, the in-laws went down to Edinburgh for a day, seeing seals, castles, and going on hikes, exploring Aberdeen, and drinking lots of wine. Ya know…the usual.  Odd there’s so much eating when I constantly complain about how awful the eating is here.

Man, I love Stonehaven

Man, I love Stonehaven

Banchory Lodge Afternoon Tea

Banchory Lodge Afternoon Tea

Our view from afternoon tea.

Our view from afternoon tea.

Cullen Skink!

Cullen Skink!

Greg tackling some haggis balls...or bon-bons.

Greg tackling some haggis balls…or bon-bons.

Fish, Chips, and wine at my fav Stonehaven pub

Fish, Chips, and wine at my fav Stonehaven pub

Dining al fresco in Scotland at ours.

Dining al fresco in Scotland at ours.

Overall the weather was great, I think my in-laws had a great trip, and we had a great time with family!