October: After 3 months being in Scotland, things start to really happen! I think this month had the highest concentration of castle-seeing. I explored Blair Atholl, Linlithgow Palace, Culzean, Glamis, and Doune. Not to mention that i got locked inside a graveyard at St. Michael's, stopped traffic to get my picture taken in front of Gretna Green, visited England for the first time for a half hour (just enough time to get a chippy) and got completely lost wandering around in Glasgow. I also got to know Edinburgh quite well, gave a speech about my roll at the House at a Friends of Ecumenism Conference and started to make my own friends here (Kelly and Emma).
November: What a difference friends make! I started aqua jogging at the Rec Centre in Stirling with Kelly and met her other friends Catherine and Leanne. Lovely wee lassies! The first weekend in November was quite fun! Had a girly night (those are quite popular) at Catherine's (she lives in Old Plean) where I met a lot of great girls and I introduced everyone to my friend Dirty Shirley (Shirley Temple with raspberry vodka) and it was a hit! Then was picked up the next day to spend the rest of the weekend with my friend Emma in Menstrie. She is married, has a wee cheeky monkey of a son named Callum, and is expecting a new baby in May. Anyway, on the 5th of November they celebrate Guy Fawkes Night with big bonfires and grand fireworks displays. We went down to Stirling where everyone gathered in field by the university to ooh and ahh at this huge pile of pallets that they set on fire with a wooden "Guy" perched on top. Also, not to go unmentioned was the singing performance of one of the ex- X Factor competitors (think American Idol, but with Dannii Minogue instead of Paula, complete with Sharon Osborne and of course Simon Cowell).
At the end of November I went to South Wales. I feel like i could write a whole other blog about this trip, so I'll save it for another time!
December: Planning, planning, and more planning for the trip with mom, Hill and Laura in Scotland/England for Christmas and New Year! Was given tickets to see the Rosenethe Singers do The Messiah in Dunblane Cathedral. One of the most moving experiences of my life. The singers were magnificent. I felt so lucky to be sitting in a medieval cathedral listening to pretty much my favorite-of-all-time peices of music. Made me think of my Oma and how much she would've loved it. I miss her. Then I finally got to see my family! Talk about a trip of a lifetime. More on this later, I promise!
January: This month started out in an interesting fashion. I didn't have to be back to work until the 7th, so I had some time to recover from the whirlwind trip with my family. I went on this sort-of date (more like a tester) with this guy who is a good friend of my friend Emily. We went out to lunch at the Lion and Unicorn in Thornhill, and it was all very nice, but we decided we'd be better as just friends (read into that what you will). Then the next week I had what i consider one of the most Scottish experiences I've had here. My good friend Kelly had her farewell party, as she has now left us here in cold Scotland for the sunny beaches of Australia for no less than two years! Well, Kelly has like 2 aunts and 3 or 4 uncles, all with tons of kids- and all with the capacity to dance, drink and have fun more than any family I have ever known. (did i mention that i work with Kelly's mom and aunt at the House?) Me and the girls (Catherine, Leanne, Emily, Carmen and Kelly) dance the night away! And did you know that Dolly Parton is legend over here. You can't go out dancing without getting down to 9 to 5, I swear! And then I ended up on the bus that the family had rented singing "Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond" and "Wheels on the Bus" all the way home- where the party continued for Kelly and I until we crashed at 3.30, only to wake up at 9.30 to find her dad and uncles still swirling their whisky! I miss my wee Kelly, but she had one hell of a farewell!
Then a couple of weeks later my friend Catherine had her 30th birthday party! By this time I am now very aware of what you'll find at a good Scottish buffet, who to call for a good DJ and the necessity of finding a venue with a big dancefloor! Catherine's party was brilliant! Loads of dancing- which i can never get enough of! Catherine's finance Stephen and my friend Emily's boyfriend Andy are both on the Bannockburn rugby team. I've now met most of the guys on the team. I love rugby.
That pretty much brings us up to date! I've been hanging out with Emily and Catherine a lot: going out to the movies, rugby club, pubs, and basically having the time of my life- when i'm not working that is!