Sincere apologies for being terribly delinquent about posting. In the months since the last update, I learned Arduino and started drinking tea, carved a marble axe and illustrated a children’s book, and am now frolicking in various snow-sprinkled countrysides. In other words, a month and change in London was over in a blink, a semester in Brooklyn at Pratt Institute was crossed off the list, and a few weeks of winter holiday in Italy and Switzerland are in the works before returning to London for the next session. Life passes quickly when you move around this much . . .
So a quick trip back in time to catch up — first, Scotland!
With a few days to spare before moving from London to New York, a couple of us picked up rail passes and headed north. Glasgow turned out to be a rather grey and dreary city — even the buildings seemed stained brown with sadness — but I did get to try lawn bowling for the first time, which makes me at least somewhat related to royalty, I think . . .
But enough of this city stuff! Back onto the train for what is purportedly the world’s most beautiful rail line: the West Highland from Glasgow to Mallaig, a tiny fishing village on a snip of land on the west coast, and one of two locations to access the Isle of Skye. The scenery was breathtaking [and impossible to capture] — craggy mountains toppling into finger lakes, lush green pastures cut by stone walls, clusters of white-washed houses huddled against the wind and fog . . . Along the way we traveled over Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by Harry Potter [the train even stopped at this point, waiting patiently while everyone dangled cameras out the windows], and only slightly less scenic without the steam engine chugging ahead.
We arrived in Mallaig cold and hungry and homeless, and were lucky enough to stumble into the arms of the wonderful proprietor of the Chlachain Inn, who gave us their last room on short notice, fed us breakfast at dawn, and found us a place to stay at a neighbor’s house the following night. The welcome was warm, the locally-produced gin a much-needed relaxant, and the haggis [a meatloaf of sheep organs, oatmeal, and spices] surprisingly tasty.
The highlight of the trip, however, was the Isle of Skye. Never mind the intermittent storms and soggy socks and almost stepping on a poisonous snake, the landscape was bleak and powerful and awe-inspiring — rock-studded mountainsides, winding streams, wild sheep skipping up impossibly steep cliffs, and the silence and weight of a place that’s demanding importance . . . I had the urge to conjure a small log cabin in the middle of the valley and wake up each morning with the sun sparkling off of dewy rock faces and clean air in my lungs. Again, Google has much more impressive photos than I [and you will find some of the amazing Fairy Pools, which are on the agenda for next time]. Check them out and hop on a plane — you won’t be able to stop yourself.