Travel: Highlands Road Trip

food & drink, lifestyle, travel, where to wander

The Allen’s came to town and we are still not sure how to put into words what their trip meant to us. Matt and Shannon traveled long hours from Denver, took time away from their jobs and made their first trip without their sweet son, Jude. The big and small sacrifices they made for this trip to happen were not lost on us. There were moments where I noticed our two worlds merging – excitedly showing off our new life in Scotland alongside the familiar faces of old friends from home. They blessed us with a suitcase of our favourite brand-name snacks from the States, poured blessings on us through prayer and it was extra nice of them to bring along some Colorado sunshine.

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IMG_9300Day One: Buchanan Bust Station, Glasgow. Bacon rolls. Train to Edinburgh. Water of Leith. Inverleith Park. Vinyl shops. Stockbridge. Coffee @ Cairngorm. New College.  Royal Mile. Grassmarket. Grayfriar’s Church. The Meadows. Dinner + whisky.

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sCOtland2016-010Day Two: We started a morning tradition with the Allen’s of having a ‘slow brekkie’ or slow breakfast. This included sipping countless cups of coffee, in our pajamas, listening to Matt’s playlists and frying up some delicious food. Our day in Edinburgh was full and mixed the best of city + hills. Holyrood Park + Arthur’s Seat. Hike up the Crags. Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop. Old College. Calton Hill. National Museum. Coffee @ Brew Lab. St.Gyles Church. Dinner @ The Scran + Scallie. Fish Pie + Sticky Toffee Pudding. Drinks @ The Last Word, Stockbridge. Circus Lane. More whisky…

IMG_4024The Scottish Highlands live up to the hype. They are what you have heard and more. Sunny skies, sideways rain, other-wordly landscapes, enchanting animals, unique colours and foliage, hills for miles, snow-capped mountains, remote villages and places you would imagine only trolls and fairies living in. The road trip was carefully planned yet adventurous,  rugged yet stylish, wild yet tame, budget-friendly yet indulgent, and at times I had to ask myself, is this really happening?

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Processed with VSCO with c3 presetDay Three: Slow brekkie on repeat. Rental car. Drive to Aviemore. Cairngorm National Park. Loch Morlich. Reindeer Centre. 10K Circuit to Ryvoan Bothy. Prayer on the summit. Views at An Lochan Uaine– Emerald Lake. Lunch @ The Winking Owl, Aviemore. Loch Ness + Urquart Castle. Dinner at Oakwood Restaurant, Dochgarroch. Smoked Scottish Salmon + Venison Goulash. Raspberry Cranachan. Drive to Drumnadrochit. Loch Ness Glamping B+B. More whisky…

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An Lochan Uaine

IMG_9307Day Four: Waking up to Highland cows + sheep out our front doors. Drive to Torridon on the most dangerous/beautiful/narrowest road I have ever been on, The Bealach na Ba. Stopping the car to see baby cows (I know they are called calves, but I prefer baby cows). Gauking unashamedly at baby lambs (again… I know…) Traditional Scottish lunch at the well-known  Applecross Inn. Hake and prawns. Fish + chips. Langoustines (not what Shannon expected but she was a trooper).  Drive to Skye. Shepherd Huts B+B. Fairy Pools. Prayer. Stargazing.

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IMG_9038The Bealach na Ba : Torridon to Applecross

Day Five: Blue Herron out our window. Birds chirping instead of a phone alarm. Morning greetings from rescue donkey’s, George + Gilbert. Slow brekkie delivered in picnic baskets by our lovely host, Janet. Whisky Porridge. Grapefruit. Fresh coffee. Drive to The Old Man of Storr. Magical black, white and emerald landscape. Lunch in Portree. Fishcakes. Cullen Skink. Drive to Ft. William. Ben Nevis, 1345m. Glencoe. Charming cottage, Tigh-na-Gare, located in Arrochar on the bank of Loch Long. You guessed it, more whisky.

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Portree, Isle of Skye

IMG_9054Day Six: Slow brekkie. More coffee. Drive back to Glasgow. Car game of ‘Lost at Sea’, wow still laughing about this ‘team-building and communication’ game. Bittersweet parking lot goodbye’s. Gathered around the Allen’s suitcases at the airport. Prayer for traveling mercies and that God would seal this trip on our hearts always.

Processed with VSCO with c3 presetOur friendship with the Allen’s, this visit, this experience came at the time we needed it most. It was only a week before Ryan would leave for his semester in Germany and we were more than encouraged by it. This trip reminded us of God’s provision, his goodness and an appreciation for the natural beauty in our world- what a privilege it was to share with such dear friends!

 

With love from Scotland,

x

 

NOTES

-Thanks Matt for being our friend AND for being an incredible photographer. You documented this trip like a boss. – If you are interested in the places we stayed, I have linked to websites for our choice of accommodation.  – Curious about Scottish cuisine? Click on the links to find out more about some of the traditional Scottish food we tried along the way! – If you are in Edinburgh, links also included for a few of the best places to sip in the city.

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River Cottage Veg Every Day

cookbook, reads, recipes

There are a lot of things I can spend my money on and a few things that I should spend money on and books always prove to be a good investment. This series called Weekend Read, will include posts about my favorite reads and resources related to cooking, healthy nutrition and tips for well-being.

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When we decided to move to the UK, our suitcase space was limited and a lot of things just didn’t make the cut. I ended up having to do things the old fashioned way and hand-write my favorite recipes from my family binder and personal cookbook collection. Pinterest, Instagram and food blogs are just about my favorite way to find recipe inspiration these days but there is something nostalgic and endearing about a shelf full of cookbooks in the kitchen including hand written recipe cards from generations past and friends present.

This cookbook by River Cottage is definitely worth checking out. River Cottage is known for easy and healthy recipes that incorporate the best of British larder. A dear friend recommended Veg Every Day right after moving to Scotland. Yes, I bought it. Yes, I broke the pact I had with my husband about accumulating things. And no, I don’t feel bad because it’s a book!

I turn to this book when I need inspiration for something quick, healthy, in season and creative. Everything we have tried, has been delicious. The recipes are funky and get my taste buds dancing… peanut butter + lime + chili in a Sweet Potato + Peanut Gratin? Oh yes, ma’am. Since we are approaching the pot-luck, bring your own side dish, holiday season, here are two recipes that I tried recently and will definitely be sharing with friends this year.

Seasonal produce: beetroot, parsnips, and red cabbage

Both of these salads can be served warm or cold. They are bright, crunchy, flavorful and packed with nutrients!

Beetroot Salad with Walnuts + Cumin 

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INGREDIENTS – serves 4

75g walnuts
2 tsp cumin seeds
About 400g beetroot
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Juice of 1 small orange
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
A pinch of hot smoked paprika

METHOD

Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and add the walnuts. Toast gently for a few minutes, tossing often, until they smell toasted and are browning in a few places, put aside. Put the cumin seeds into the frying pan and toast gently for a minute or two, tossing a few times, just until they start to release their scent. Tip on to a plate to stop them cooking further.

Peel the beetroot, grate it coarsely and put it in a bowl. (If you have fresh baby beetroot, just slice it very thin.) Add the parsley, orange juice, a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon of rapeseed oil, and season. Stir, adjust the seasoning to taste and, if possible, leave for 20 minutes or so, during which time the dressing will marinate and soften the beetroot.

Spread the beetroot in a dish. Crumble the walnuts and scatter with cumin over the beets. For a delish finish, add a few drops of olive oil and dot with a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt. Sprinkle on the remaining cumin and the paprika.

Red Cabbage, Parsnip + Orange Salad with Dates 

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INGREDIENTS- serves 2

1 orange, ¼ small red cabbage, core removed and finely shredded
1 parsnip, peeled and grated, 1 small handful dates, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves

METHOD

Cut the top and bottom off the orange and stand it on one of the cut ends on a chopping board. Work your way around it, cutting off the skin, pith and membrane, then cut out the segments. Squeeze the juice from the segmented orange into a small bowl.

Arrange the cabbage on a large plate, or two smaller plates, along with the orange segments, parsnip and dates. Trickle over the reserved juice and olive oil, then sprinkle on the thyme leaves. Serve at once.

Click here to view recipes from Veg Every Day! on the River Cottage website where you can find an index of many of their recipes.

What are your favorite go-to cookbooks?

x

east coast organics

recipes



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There is no such thing as the twelve month strawberry? Gasp!

Eat Seasonably celebrates eating the right things at the right time: a chilled fruit salad when it’s hot, a hearty root vegetable stew during the cold months; raspberries in June and butternut squash in October. We received multiple recommendations from our friends in Edinburgh to try East Coast Organics, Scotland’s highly awarded organic farm & vegetable delivery service. They offer seasonal fruit and vegetables along with organic cheese, bread and eggs.  We order the UK veg box with free-range organic eggs.The farm is close to the city, only 10 miles southeast of Edinburgh, and they deliver straight to our door!

I am loving the UK box for several reasons:

1. I am curious to learn more about local produce, currently reading The Allotment Cookbook 

2. I am trying new produce, “Hello celeriac and parsnips!”

3. I have to be more creative with meal planning and recipes, this Beetroot Walnut Hummus is a keeper

4. Because scrubbing the dirt from your carrots and potatoes is good wholesome fun!

There’s nothing like fresh vegetables at their seasonal best and eating food when it’s just been picked. It tastes better, it’s better value and it’s better for the planet. There are a number of good reasons to eat more local, seasonal food:

– to support the local economy

– to reduce the energy and CO2 emissions to transport the food we eat

– to avoid paying a premium for food that has travelled a long way

– to reconnect with natural cycles of planting and harvest

– to enjoy fresher, tastier and more nutritious food

Eating seasonably has its advantages and it’s challenges. Alas, I  sometimes crave and indulge in a good banana when it’s February. If you are in Edinburgh, give East Coast Organics a try! If you are elsewhere in this beautiful world, explore what’s in season in your area.

What are your favorite seasonal recipes?

the scenic route

travel

We realized recently how much we like not having cars. No car insurance. No worries about gas prices. No random mechanical failures or transmission issues. No check engine light woes. No hour long commutes sitting in highway traffic. And the best part, no ice scraping on frosty mornings. I mean, we loved our ’96 Honda Passport and our fancy ’99 Honda Accord, but life without them is not as hard as we thought – that is until the time comes when you want to go for a little road trip.

This past fall, my aunt Debbie and uncle Nelson came through Edinburgh on an epic, month-long trip through the United Kingdom. They invested in a rental car and when they asked if we wanted to tag along on a day trip to St.Andrews we simply couldn’t resist. An entire day spent with our sweet family from home and a wee road trip? Yes please!

When they told us about their plan to take the scenic route we were even more thrilled. The scenic route includes several miles of coastline, and a string of beautiful villages lining up one after another as you make your way closer and closer to St.Andrews.

Buckle up and join us as we recap one of our favorite trips so far.

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First stop – St. Monans

St. Monans is considered to be one of the most attractive of East Neuk of Fife’s coastal villages. For those of you that enjoy history (there is a lot of that here, come visit us!) St.Monans hosts the ruins of Ardross and Newark Castle. You can also view the Parish Church at the west end shoreline.

We decided to stop here for some sunshine at the pier, warm coffee and fluffy scones. We found our way to the rooftop of the cafe to sip our lattes. As we sipped and talked about what a great idea this all was, our favorite author and theologian, N.T. Wright. walked up the spiral staircase and headed straight toward us. Ryan and I both did the double blink, did-I-just see-what-I-thought-I-saw thing. We recognized him immediately, and were instantly starstruck, like a couple of teenyboppers seeing N’Sync in person. We eventually settled down and introduced ourselves telling him how much we enjoy his work and how important his books have been in our faith and ministry. Curious? We recommend his books whenever we get the chance, here is my chance and here is a great title to start with Simply Christian by N.T. Wright.

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Next stop- Crail

A few miles further east you come to the most remote, and perhaps most photographed of the villages, Crail. Charming cobbled streets wind down to the miniature harbor, which is sheltered by cliffs, surrounded by historic fishing cottages and places to eat lunch or grab a pint. An older gent that I met here told me that the harbor has been featured on postcards for “as long as there have been postcards”. So, for a very, very long time. The whole village was a fascinating place to walk through, explore and needless to say, photograph.

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Final stop- St. Andrews

St. Andrews is home to golf, one of Scotland’s oldest universities, to a castle standing on a rocky cliff, and to the partial remains of a once great cathedral. Here, I’ll save you the trouble of googling it and highlight some Wikipedia facts for your reading pleasure.

  • Built in 1158, St.Andrews Cathedral was a Roman Catholic cathedral that became the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland.
  • It fell into disuse and ruin after Catholic mass was outlawed during the 16th-century Scottish Reformation.
  • The ruins indicate that the building was approximately 119m (391 feet) long, and is the largest church to have been built in Scotland.
  • *It is old, it is huge and a lovely place to wander. *Not from Wikipedia.

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St. Andrews Links is regarded as the “home of golf”. It has one of the oldest courses in the world, where the game has been played for 600 years! What many people don’t realize is that there are seven public courses here; the Balgove, Eden, Jubilee Course, Strathtyrum, the Old Course (1552), which is widely considered one of the finest, the most famous and traditional, courses in the world, the New Course (1895), and the new Castle Course (2008). Yes, I am bringing my clubs to Scotland after our visit home this May and you betcha, I am definitely going to try and play here.

P.S. Dad and Papa, if you are reading this, thank your for instilling a love in me for this frustrating but oh so darn addicting game. I hope you can come see the course one day! 

We really had a lovely time getting outside of the city and being able to explore some of Scotland’s gems with our family. We are grateful for an aunt and uncle that accepted the challenge to drive on the left side and we simply adore their spirit of adventure.

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Moral of the post… Come and visit, let’s get a rental car and go take a scenic route!

Love,

A + R

cheers!

travel

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We hear it a lot these days, and I want to use it, I really do, but it just doesn’t feel like a natural thing to say. Just when I am about to use it, little thoughts pop into my mind. What if I don’t say it in the right context? What if my American accent just ruins the moment? So I did a little research. When I say little, I mean little, like Google search kind of little. After a quick search, I was able to gain some insight into this cheery expression.

Definitions; 1). a friendly expression said just before you drink: Cheers! To good health. 2) UK informal used to mean “thank you”: “I’ve bought you a drink.” “Cheers, mate.” *note: do NOT say this if you are not British, you will will get made fun of. 3) UK informal used to mean “goodbye”: “Bye.” “Cheers, see you next week.” Where it gets confusing is when you hear someone use ‘cheers’ and ‘thank you’ or ‘cheers’ and ‘goodbye’ in the same sentence. Then, what you thought you knew about the word just becomes more perplexing and the contexts are quickly blurred.

For now, we are truly enjoying this linguistic immersion and study of Scottish English. There are so many phrases, words and euphemisms that differ from American English. Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we are embarrassed. Example, a couple of weeks ago I went out with my colleagues to celebrate the end of a week. A girl from our group walked into the pub, and in a slightly louder-than-average volume I remarked, “Cute pants!” A few people looked at me wide-eyed, and my other colleague said, “Oh dear. Trousers. Say trousers. You just told her you like her underwear.”

Life is full of learning moments and they catch you off guard sometimes. Living abroad provides lots of these opportunities.

Before we moved we prayed for our life here. We prayed for community, for friends, for a smooth transition and for the ability to “do” life here. Prayers for open minds to soak up the culture, to share life, to meet new people and be open to the differences that might come about.

So with that, I will pretend we are at a table in our favorite neighborhood pub, the St. Vincent, and propose a toast; May we all be a little more open-minded, able to learn from one another, to laugh a little more and to not take ourselves too seriously. May we live well with one another, be kind to each other and enjoy our days together. Cheers!