Scottish Highlands


The day after Christmas, Connor and I loaded up a rental car and took off for the mountains and lochs of the Scottish Highlands. After a full day driving, we arrived near Lochgoilhead and settled into one of the best Airbnbs of the last couple years. Our hosts converted an old stable into a gorgeous eco tiny home (she is an architect) and it’s now a Grade II listed building. Fresh baked sourdough, a fire in the stove, piles of wool blankets, and a puppy named Pixie greeted us. We immediately regretted not booking the place for more than two nights. Continue reading “Scottish Highlands”

Scottish Highlands

Edinburgh – Thanksgiving Road Trip Part II


On our first full day in Edinburgh we walked up Arthur’s Seat, stared in wonder at the view, and explored Holyrood Park. I tried haggis for dinner that night and I think I’ll give it one more shot at a nicer restaurant before I write it off. The boys conducted their own city-wide pub crawl over the next few days, and I did my best to see as much as I could before I joined them around 5pm each day. The only pub I remember is called the Jolly Judge; teeny tiny with a fireplace and so cute. In my usual style, I tackled the city on foot and covered a good amount of ground.

I was amazed at the number of shops devoted to tweed and wool! By some crazy miracle I limited my purchases to under 5 items. And I not so secretly regret that I didn’t buy a wool blanked for every room in the house and for every person in my family. And the tweed coats! Swoon. You cannot find these things in America. 100% UK wool, made in Scotland, etc. etc. etc.

I tore myself away from the shops and spent some time at St. Mary’s Cathedral where I took entirely too many photos. The architecture is absolutely stunning. Connor and I toured Edinburgh Castle and saw the Royal Crown Jewels, old prison cells, the great hall where Mary Queen of Scots would entertain… I could have spent another hour or two exploring the castle, but after we watched the sunset over the city we had to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

Drum rollll: we had surf and turf. The fresh Scottish mussels were to die for! Probably the best mussels I’ve ever tasted. The rest of the meal was so-so, but luckily I gorged myself on mussels and came away happy. We went out in search of some folk music after dinner and ended up bumping into 8 or so American troops. How’s that for a Thanksgiving surprise?! We gave them our thanks for their service, naturally, and discovered they are all from Michigan (!??) and stationed in Italy. We chatted with them for the rest of the evening and did eventually find some music.

Oh look, this place says they have “live music.” Let’s go see.

No music playing inside. To girl behind the bar: Hello! Do you have live music tonight? Who will be playing?

Girl: Simon.

… not helpful. Do we look or sound like we would know Simon? Simon turned out to be a non-folk guitarist who has never celebrated Christmas. And with that, we ended our time in Edinburgh and drove back to Birmingham the next morning.

Climbing Arthur’s Seat.
Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat
View of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth from Arthur’s Seat.
Palace of Holyrood and Holyrood Abbey Ruins.
Gates of Holyrood Palace.
Christmas Market ride and Scott Monument
Tommy and I rode the swings at the Christmas Market. The Scott Monument is in the background.
St. Mary's Cathedral
St. Mary’s Cathedral. Stunning architecture.
Edinburgh Castle – Exterior.
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle – Interior.
St. Margaret's Chapel - Edinburgh Castle
St. Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. King David I built the chapel in 1130 and dedicated it to his mother, Margaret. She was canonized in 1249.
American Flag - Prison Door Graffiti
Rebel graffiti from the Revolutionary War. These old prison doors show one of the earliest versions of the U.S. stars and stripes.
The University of Edinburgh
Strolling through The University of Edinburgh.
Cafe Royal Bar
Cafe Royal. Used in the film Chariots of Fire.
Victoria Street
Victoria Street. Rumored to be J. K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series.
Edinburgh – Thanksgiving Road Trip Part II