Let's Begin with Scotland


First of all, how strange to use photography that’s not mine. But as I haven’t actually been to almost any of the destinations we’re considering, I suppose I should get used to it. Once we land, I’m dusting off my camera. I can hardly wait.

Actually, maybe the photo is a useful place to begin. Because the reason Scotland is first on our list is precisely because of pictures like the one above. I don’t know why, but images of Scotland have been crossing my field of vision, on TV shows, movies, social media. Somehow, that terrain has gotten caught in my brain like a burr.

I want to walk those hills for hours under shifting skies and then burrow beside a fire with a book about druids (were there druids in Scotland? I guess we’ll find out!), preferably with the sound of the ocean crashing outside. Something about this image hits every single one of my happy buttons. It helps that so many people I’ve talked to who love Italy, adore Scotland. I would never have connected the two countries, but apparently there is much personality to unite them.


Since we decided on Scotland, I see a lot more photos because I’m now following relevant Instagrammers and spamming Keith with images of the Isle of Skye. With comments like, “Look at this fairyland!” (Or is it Faeryland?) Keith responds by telling me how the picture was photoshopped into non-reality, but I ignore such naysaying. Naysaying and dreaming are ill-suited bedfellows.

In any case, after our hurling whirling departure to Italy seven years ago, I know that what we’ll need on the first leg of our around the world journey is calm. And I have this feeling that that’s what we’ll find in Scotland.



Detox time.

Keith quips that all the Scotch may interfere with detoxing, but he says it with a thread of eagerness so I just smile.


In case it’s occurring to you as it occurred to me, historically, I travel for food. Why bother going someplace with meh cuisine when there are so many astonishing places where the food is divine? Seriously, all the places we’ve been—Italy, France, Spain, Brussels, Quebec, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico. They all have excellent food, inspired even.

Here’s the funny thing—I looked up what they eat in Scotland and got nothing but excited. Comfort food! Shortbread! Haggis is probably really tasty! It’s like my notion of place has completely blurred my usual travel requirements. Part of me thinks, this is good! I’m maturing!

Part of me wonders how long that will last.


There is a definite danger that I’m over-romanticizing Scotland. But that’s okay by me. I’ve never understood the notion of containing hopes so as to avoid disappointment. Frankly, I think disappointments happen anyway and besides, the fun of dreaming is worth the rent. So I’ll keep going to sleep at night thinking about moody skies and stirring peaks and textured hills.

With each destination we pin on our map, I like to think about how the place relates to the themes we’re considering.

  • Breakfast: I’m not totally sure what constitutes breakfast in Scotland. I’m thinking tea, oatmeal, and rashers. I don’t actually know what rashers are, but I think I’ve seen them mentioned in Jane Austen-type books. So maybe more English than Scottish? I suspect there are similarities in the two breakfasts, which would also mean perhaps bangers, beans, toast?

  • Distilled liquors: Keith is a fan of Scotch. It may be why he agreed to Scotland.

  • Art: No idea about visual arts, but I’m very drawn to highland music and will seek that out when we’re there. I like to think of knitting as an art, and I’m bringing my needles in the hopes of stumbling upon a well-lit yarn store drifting light onto rain-slick cobblestones.

Then there are the Scotland specific things I’d like to learn about, that will likely be part of the homeschooling:

  • I want to understand the history of Scotland as it connect to England and France. I feel woefully uninformed. After seeing Mary Queen of Scots last night (it was good, but I’m not a good judge because mostly I sat there breathless at the scenery. I seem to have a problem.), I came home and wikipedia’d for at least an hour. But if you have any books on the topic to recommend, especially historical fiction or non-fiction history or biographies that read like fiction, please let me know! I have much fireside reading to plan.

  • Relatedly, I’d like to learn more about the royal line in the UK, which will mean watching some period piece dramas and documentaries (again, looking for recommendations, please comment below!)

  • Terrain: Why is Scotland so gorgeous? I think there must be some earth science explanation, so we’ll look into that, which I know Gabe will love.

So what are your thoughts? Please share!

Have you been to Scotland? If you were to be in Scotland for a month, what would you want to learn about?

If you have a recommendation for where to stay or go in Scotland or people you think we should meet, let me know! We’re open and flexible and willing to be guided.

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