After the difficult night we'd experienced in Manchester, all we wanted to do was sleep in on the morning of March 26th. It was a Wednesday and alas- we had a train to catch. Coupled with our completely empty stomachs that were surely digesting themselves by this point, none of us slept past 6:30. The cab picked us up promptly at 8:00 and we headed through the city to the train station.
Lauren wasn't doing well at all. She'd been fighting a respiratory virus in London and was on the mend, but having walked so much the day before and having eaten nothing, she was weakened. This is our child who always has to have a decent amount of sugar in her blood because she's a tiny little thing and has the metabolism of a hummingbird. When she doesn't eat, it takes her body several hours to recover even after she's fueled up. She was horribly nauseous when we got to the train station, but we assured her that she'd feel better once she ate something. Hmm. It didn't work out like that, but I'll come back to this in a minute.
We walked into the train station and it was like a bunch of kids on Christmas morning. FOOD. There were so many places that were open and they all accepted credit cards, which was fantastic because we had zero cash- thus our predicament that lead to our empty bellies the day before. Close to the platform was a Burger King serving breakfast. Cody headed there, while I went next door to Boots Pharmacy to replenish some of our toiletries. While in there, I loaded my basket to the brim with ready made sandwiches, crisps, candy, bottles of juice, and anything else that was edible. I walked out of the pharmacy with two big bags just as Cody came out of Burger King with two BIGGER bags.
We looked at each other and laughed and it was like that moment at the end of Gone With the Wind when Scarlet O'Hara raises her fist to the sky and proclaims, "As God as my witness, I will never go hungry again!"
We met back up with the kids who were sitting nearby, and all but Lauren started inhaling the food. They couldn't get it in them fast enough, but not Lauren. She sat there with a pale face and a lethargic body and could barely keep her head up. We kept telling her to at least drink some juice, but she was too sick to her stomach and was shaking. We tried and we tried to get her to put something in her mouth, but she wouldn't. And then just like that, she turned green and vomited right there in the train station. Luckily she had the good mind to grab one of the now empty Burger King bags in which to do her business, so the mess was contained.
Before we boarded the train, Cody made one more stop to get everyone hot cocoa and tea for me. It took a long time for Lauren to perk up, and she slept for the first part of the trip. We knew this was going to be a long day of travel as we we said goodbye to England and made our way up to the coast to Aberdeen, Scotland. One day, the kids will look back with regret on all the time spent wasted on the trains as they looked at their stupid tablets rather than out the window at some of the most magnificent landscapes the world has to offer. I'm at a loss for words as I sit here and try to describe the beauty, which is odd because I like words. The train made a stop in York, but we didn't have to change trains. People got off and people got on, and then we wouldn't stop again until after we crossed the Scotland border.
Scotland is a sacred place for Cody and me. I'm a McCorkle as is my father, and my mother is a Gilbreth. Both dense with Scottish blood, and then there's Cody. His father is an Andrew and his mother a Crookston, which are just as Scottish. Genealogy is a major passion for both our families, and our lineage is traced back several hundreds of years, to the Middle Ages on Cody's side. It's quite fascinating, and all we wanted to do was step into the place that birthed so many of our ancestors. There's something humbling and connecting and grounding, knowing where you came from and what those people did and who they were.
I recall the exact moment we crossed the border and I was overcome with mixed feelings. I loved England because so many of my favorite stories and scientists and writers came from there and some of my family, too. I'd dreamed about visiting for so long and I knew it would be years before I'd get the chance to go back. But I knew that Scotland would be special, and there was certainly a tangible feel when we crossed into it. It was like a vortex opened up and the air was cleaner and the ocean bluer and the grass greener. One of the first villages we came upon was Barrick on Tweed (pictured above) and it was straight out of a postcard. The seven hour train ride went by far too quickly, as I could have looked out the window for days and never grown tired of the splendor of the place.
We spent a good portion of the trip in the company of two families who were traveling together. It was two couples and six children between them. The wives were sisters, both English, but one of them married an American and had been in The States for several years. Their three children were American, but the other sister and her family were all English. Being in such close quarters for so long, it was easy to put pieces of the story together. The English-American sister had a funny hybrid accent, while the English sister had a very thick Northern accent. It made me wonder how often they got to see each other, and whether or not the cousins had ever met before. They got off in Edinburgh, which was two or three hours south of our destination.
|I had to snap a picture of these nasty things. Everything over the seems to be alcohol themed! These tasted terrible.|
We finally got to Aberdeen about 5:00 in the evening and like every time before, finding a taxi that could house all of us was difficult. But standing on the curb for so long as we waited, gave us a chance to look around see just how incredible the city was. Unfortunately, most of what I got was video of the place, but Aberdeen is nicknamed "The Granite City" for a reason. It's built around a granite quarry, which is where a lot of the economy stems from (that, and oil). The buildings are exquisitely rich granite and everything is immaculately sculpted. We finally decided to get TWO taxis rather than waiting for a van, and we surely paid a lot to get to our hotel for the night. Cody rode in one cab with the boys while I rode with the girls, and our cabbie was a charming older man from a village near Edinburgh who hadn't met many Americans, and was just as enamored with us as we were with him. It was a half-hour drive through the city (little did we know how far away from the train station our hotel truly was) and the man gave us all kinds of interesting information about the place as we drove around. Aberdeen is a gem, sitting high up north right on the edge of the sea and I hope to one day go back.
We made it to our lodgings a little before 7:00 but being so tired from the night before and the long train ride, we all stayed put for the night and ordered pizza and were introduced to cheesy British TV. Even though it had only been a travel day, it ended up being one of my favorite days of the trip. We were finally in Scotland. We were finally home.