We made it back home last night after 10 days in the UK. We had a really nice trip with our friends H. L. and Shirley Ross. They made it more enjoyable for us because they drove, and I would have been a nervous wreck if I had been trying to do that.
They had left several days before us, and picked us up at the airport in Glasgow, Scotland -- which is on the southwest side of the country. From there, we went along the western coast, spending our 2nd night in a B and B on the Isle of Skye. It was a gorgeous island. In fact, I was surprised at how beautiful Scotland is. The gorse is in bloom, and so there are splotches of yellow all over the landscape. And everything is SO green.
From there, we traveled along the north to a B and B (our favorite one) just outside of Inverness, which is in the highlands on the northeast side of the country. Many of the mountains were still snowcapped, and water was still cascading down from the snowmelt. We ate dinner one night in Dingwall, not far from Inverness. It was the headquarters of the Ross clan, and that area was my ancestors' stomping grounds. We learned that the Ross clan was considered to be fierce fighters. In fact, for anyone who has seen Braveheart -- my ancestors helped fight for Scottish independence under William Wallace.
We also were able to locate my grandfather's birth home in Inverness. While there, we visited with the current owner. He said that the building was 180 years old -- which means that to us it was old when my granddad was born there in 1902.
We went to several castles and relived much of the history of Scotland there.
Of course, the highlight of the trip for me was on Sunday, when we went to St. Andrews. We walked the Old Course for 4 hours. We stopped and had communion and prayer together on the 11th tee box. Think about that if you watch the British Open in July. It's a par 3. After walking the course, I really wanted to play it. But it was such a treat. The night before we walked the course, we ate at a restaurant just off the 1st tee and 18th green, and the next day had lunch just up the street.
From there, it was on to London, where we spent a day and a half. From Saturday (Edinburgh Castle) to Tuesday, I bet Beverly and I averaged walking 6 miles a day. We saw many of London's famous sites: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the River Thames, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, Hyde Park. But catch this: About 11:50 on Tuesday, we were walking toward Westminster Abbey, when we saw a bunch of people gathered up and down the streets. From where we were, I could see Big Ben, so I thought, "Oh, they're gathering to hear it chime at noon." We hurried down to join them. It was then that we saw mounted soldiers and marching soldiers coming our way. They were followed by ornate carriages. Only then did we realize that we were standing about 50 feet from the back gate to Buckingham Palace. And guess who was in one of the carriages? THE QUEEN! That's right, we saw the Queen. She had just delivered a speech at the opening of Parliament. What a serendipity that was!
Great trip, but it's always good to be home too.