Thursday, December 31, 2009

I need a Scotch. I mean whisky.

The range of reactions we got when we told folks we were planning to drive from London (where we had our Very Bow Christmas) to Edinburgh (where we are settling in to celebrate Hogmanay) basically broke down into two camps:

1) "Oh, that will be nice! A drive through the English countryside! (North Americans)
2) "You're driving from London to Edinburgh!? (British)

That second response was then accompanied by some detailed reasons why this was foolishness, ranging from "there's not a lot to see" to "the roads off the M-6 aren't that great" to "the weather in Scotland changes suddenly and you will be dodging livestock on two-lane roads."

It turned out, both responses were right.

Rather than try to make the entire journey in one go, we stopped about five hours' drive north of London in the Lakes District. A few twisty, hilly roads away from the M-6 was a tiny hamlet called Ambleside that was cast out of industrial-strength quaintness. Yet it managed to avoid the usual accompaniment of cheesiness. We stayed in a nice, simple B&B, we ate at a "localvore" restaurant down the way called Lucy's on a Plate, we drank at a local watering hole that had nearly as many dogs in the place as people. Beautiful.

The next day, yesterday, we struck out for Scotland. There was plenty more wonderful scenery, even though--I swear--as soon as we crossed the border it started sleeting on us. We ate lunch in a small town called Moffat, then decided to take the "scenic trail" to Edinbrough. This entailed a winding road through the hills, one lane in each direction, at sunset. I have it on good authority that the Scots invented winding roads.

Marveling at the rolling, snow-covered, sheep-dotted hills, we set out on our way.

Five minutes in, it started raining. Fifteen minutes in, it started snowing. About 30 seconds after that, it was a full-blown blizzard, and the sun was down. Oh, no. The scenic route ended with our Volkswagen Golf parked behind several other cars backed up behind a massive snowdrift that had formed across the road... a four-wheel-drive truck was stuck in it.

So we turned around. And did I mention I was driving at this point? And that the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car, which drives on the wrong side of the road?

As it turned out, even the non-scenic route entailed about an hour on yet another two-lane, windy, country road with plenty of oncoming traffic and snowdrifts on either side. I finally was able to breathe normally after we somewhat magically found a parking spot in front of the place where we're staying here in Edinburgh.

And now? Now I would like to go find some good whisky. Sounds like I'll need it to keep me warm tonight. The weather changes suddenly here, you see.

1 comment:

Pete said...

i need one, too.

happy new year, panamaniacs.