My baby sister is getting married in 19 days in the English countryside outside of London. It’s going to be a spectacularly opulent affair on the grounds of an old manor-turned-castle that lists archery, falconry and hot air ballooning as Resort Activities on their website, amongst others equally as
grandiose British. So, yeah. You can imagine how the wedding itself is going to be!
I’m actually incredibly excited and beyond thrilled to go. Not only because it’s my Baby Sister’s wedding (*SOB*), but having lived in London for a year and falling in love with the country, I couldn’t be happier having a reason to go back, if even for a brief visit.
My sister and her fiancé are Canadian, permanently living and working in London. Once they decided that they were to be married there, my husband and I started talking about the trip and how much extra time we wanted to spend overseas, and did we want to stay in London or explore other places within the UK? Honestly, for me, it was a no-brainer. I would visit London every month if I could. Hell, I would MOVE BACK in a heartbeat. There’s something about the city, and I’m sure anyone who has been can attest to this, that hooks you, and haunts you once you’ve left. Its charm, its history, its spirit, its pubs (dear GOD! Its PUBS!) – you can feel life vibrating from every cobble-stoned street, every bridge, every square inch of its dirty ground. But not only do I love it for having lived there and gotten to know it so well, it’s also the place where my husband proposed, so it has the specialist-of-special places in my heart.
Basically, he blew all other proposals EVER AND FOREVER out of the water. I was going over to visit a friend while he was away on business. I left on a red-eye from Toronto and, unbeknownst to me, he left on a red-eye from Detroit. I arrived at my friends place and we immediately went to Borough Market, my favourite place within my favourite city (go for the chorizo sandwich and Monmouth Coffee and it will change your LIFE). We went to Roast, a fabulous restaurant overlooking the tops of the old buildings leading down to the Thames. She left for the ladies room, and as I sat by myself, contemplating whether or not to eat the soft pat of sea-salted french butter with my fork sans bread, my gorgeous boyfriend walked into the room, dropped to one knee, and the rest is history.
London: it’s the greatest damned city in the whole entire world. Full stop.
Somewhere along the way in our trip-planning discussions, however, and I’m not quite sure when or how, Scotland sneaked its way in. Not just Scotland, mind you. But, The Highlands. Of Scotland. Like, the Mel-Gibson-running-through-the-wilderness-in-a-leather skirt-with-a-freaky-blue-face-screaming-FREEDOM Highlands. And not just visiting them. Hiking them.
Now, if you know me……………..which I’m sure, at this point, most readers of the blog DO, so must I even go on???………..I am not a hiker. I am barely an exerciser. Yes, I went a bit buck-wild in the gym before my wedding, but that’s because weddings these days are a sport, and every bride feels the pressure to look their best no matter WHAT IT TAKES. So a couple of years ago I was in the best shape of. My. Life. Then I got married and had a baby and had to deal with THAT for the last year and a half, and fitness levels dropped dramatically. To the point of not existing. I’m not saying I’m totally out of shape. I think running after a newly crawling baby who wants to get her hands into everything qualifies as working out a *bit*. Oh, and since I don’t have time to turn my back for one second, I’m barely eating lunch, which keeps me nice and slim-and-trim. But hiking. For DAYS. Through the Highlands?! Come on.
After a few weeks of keeping it casual, the conversation took a serious turn after watching Braveheart (again, for probably the thirty-fourth time), and seeing the stunning beauty of the landscape unfold on the screen, the deep green rolling hills, the mist that hangs on them like a cold days breath, I found myself thinking, “wow. I can GO THERE!” It wasn’t just a scene in a movie anymore, but a place we could actually visit and explore….
Okay. I liked the idea. And it turns out my husband has been harbouring a desire to hike the Highlands since well before we even met. There wasn’t much persuading on his part once I got it in my head that those magnificent vistas could be seen and touched, not only by my hands, but our daughters, too. Yes, we would be taking our daughter. Of COURSE we would be taking her. But think about it for a second: you and your husband have decided to hike the Highlands of Scotland. To tread the footpaths of ancient lore. To scale hills and valleys and bogs in unpredictable yet probablydefinitelyrainingallthetime weather. To sit amongst other travelers at night in dark, dank, windowless pubs, drinking ale and single malt while recounting the day’s adventures.
All with your 11-month old strapped to your back.
So, we’re doing it. The trip is booked. Before we end up at my sister’s wondrous wedding, we fly into Glasgow, 10 days from now, then head by train to the Bridge of Orchy where we start our 3-day, 60km hike.
All with our 11-month old strapped to our back.
Are we crazy? Maybe. Am I starting to think we’re getting in way over our heads? Most definitely.
Am I going to need the Mama Mantra more than ever on this trip? Abso-fucking-lutely.
At least we get to relax with a bit of archery and hot air ballooning after……right??