31.10.2016 - 06.11.2016
Monday started with a morning walk with Jude, and almost as soon as we had stepped out of the house we spotted a skeleton walking along, checking her phone. Ah yes, Halloween. I'd almost forgotten.
We trundled off St Andrews for the morning, but only after we had taken a few 'alternative routes' through Dundee - doesn't seem to matter how many times we go there, we ALWAYS end up going the wrong way.
We went to the cathedral first and climbed St Rule's tower, which offered great views over St Andrews. From our lofty vantage point, we also spotted a large pumpkin headed straight for the cathedral grounds. There truly is nothing more Halloween than a giant jack-o-lantern strolling about a cemetery - just a shame it was midday and not midnight, for greater effect.
From there, we took the coastal path to the castle and wandered around what was left of it. Naturally, I was finished my castle tour about an hour before Simon so I was allocated Pay For More Parking and People Watch duties. It struck me again just how many Americans are in St Andrews - as tourists and as students. It took a long time before I heard a Scottish accent go past.
We headed into Dundee for the rest of the afternoon for a spot of shoe shopping. Because apparently if you wear the same shoes nearly every day for eight months while traversing mountains, fjords, markets, munros, abbeys, castles and cobblestones, they WILL get worn out. Unfortunately it was an unsuccessful shoe shopping mission, but I did find a jacket to add to my layers, so hopefully that will mean I make it through the European winter alive.
We arrived home to Kirriemuir in time for a skeleton and two little scary creatures to come trick-or-treating - lucky we had planned ahead and had provisions!
Tuesday was a cracking day - lovely lovely sunshine, even went for a walk in a t-shirt, no jackets required! We took Jude to the forest area that is known for the presence of red squirrels, but she didn't seem to appreciate or even acknowledge their existence. So we spotted the squirrels, and Jude spotted the sticks. Everyone was happy.
Gus and Vikki came up from Dundee in the afternoon (by which time the sun had disappeared, unfortunately) and we took them on a cultural tour of Kirriemuir - from the Bon Scott statue to J.M. Barrie's grave, with a coffee shop in the middle. We had dinner at the Airlie Arms - Simon opted for double haggis to make up for the fact that we had been in Scotland for nearly two weeks without any haggis at all. We came up with alternative names for Tickety Boo's and tried to convince Gus and Vikki to buy the Leura (again) but that was about as successful as my shoe shopping expedition.
Wednesday was a day for planning and scheming - because ninking doesn't just happen of its own accord. And really we were just killing time until the curling started. After dinner we made our way to the Forfar Indoor Sports centre to watch our ceilidh-friend Shona win a match of curling 9-3. Quite the decisive victory. By the end of the game, we reckon we just about had the rules sorted out - it is essentially lawn bowls on ice, and instead of just waving your hands and encouraging the bowl to go the way you want it, you frantically scrub the ice to make that happen. My favourite part was the footwear - one slippy shoe, one grippy shoe!
On Thursday we revisited Dundee and did some seriously efficient shopping (with Gus' help). I found boots within about ten minutes, we collected advance purchase train tickets (soooooo much cheaper) and Gus took us to Vikki's favourite Turkish restaurant for a scrummy lunch. And then we even managed to find Christmas jumpers - total forward planning. After all that success, it was home for two of my favourite things - sweet potato and red lentil soup, and Taskmaster. Winner winner, soup for dinner.
We had a quiet day on Friday, saving all our energy to walk to dinner at Cafe Eck's, a community run bar that puts all profits back into making Kirrie a better place. The meals were big, cheap and delicious - and the chocolate cake was as light and fluffy as Chuck before he's had a haircut.
On Saturday, we experienced the fickle Scottish weather. We woke up to sunshine, and decided to go for a run - but ended up being hailed and/or snowed on (which incidentally was great motivation to run faster). Simon then went to his first cattle sale in Forfar with Graeme, the Malcolm-Turnbull doppelganger from the ceilidh. Luckily for them, it was entirely undercover. Meanwhile, I walked down to the shops while the sun was out - but walked home in the rain. And later that afternoon we took Jude for a walk in the sun - yep, you guessed it, we got rained on. Lovely day. As long as we stayed indoors. Once day turned to night, we braved the elements once more for the Kirriemuir Guy Fawkes bonfire. My goodness it was cold! Simon lost all feeling in his face while waiting for the fire to be lit, and goodness only knows how the youth of Kirriemuir managed to play their guitars on the back-of-the-truck stage. Once the fire started, there was at least some warmth to be had - but we all had to stand a safe distance away behind the ropes, while two lucky firemen got to play Manage The Fire. We left before the serious fireworks started in order to prevent hypothermia, but enjoyed the sporadic show of crackers that continued on into the night from the comfort of the lounge room. We even fell asleep to the soothing sounds of fireworks...
Sunday was our last official day of housesitting, and Simon enjoyed beating me at chess not once but TWICE. I wish I could say I was letting him win to maintain matrimonial happiness but alas, I have to acknowledge his superior chessing skills.
We took Jude out to see the waterfall at Reekie Linn, and she Appreciated the Beauty and Excellence of all the sticks that could be found there. Simon and I enjoyed the gushing water and the abundance of autumn leaves though.
Claire and Jack returned home late arvo, and we fed them and sent them off to bed nice and early to sleep off the jetlag, while we had literary adventures on the couch. Housesitting is tough.