Eildon (2005-03-13 - 2:01 p.m.)
Posting from Shannon's laptop! Oooh, I am jealous. Wish I had a laptop with wireless internet. It's weird though, I am having a great deal of trouble working the North American keyboard! You know you've been away from home too long when...
So Brad has been a good influence, and I have become quite the hiker lately. (So much easier when someone does all the planning for you!) Yesterday's trip was down to the Borders, to a town called Melrose. It has a gorgeous ruined abbey (which I only saw the outside of) and is right beside the Eildon hills. So of course we had to climb them. There are three hills, and Brad decreed that we had to climb the tallest. It was really nice terrain, all little paths through the heather. When we reached the top I was amazed - you could see all the way to Northumberland! Cue the song "Sailing to Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler getting stuck firmly in my head.
I am a Jeremiah Dixon
Anyway, the view from the top was astounding. Once again my camera didn't do it justice. Maybe Brad had more luck. It was so strange to be on the top of the absolute tallest thing around for miles. When you climb Canadian mountains, no matter how high you get all you can usually see is other mountains. On this hill, the whole countryside was spread out below us in every direction. We sat and ate our lunch and stared at it. No matter where you looked, there was always something new to see. Absolutely incredible.
Then we continued along a route mapped in Brad's handy "Lonely Planet Walks in Scotland" guide. Of course we managed to get completely lost anyway, but it was a nice walk through the countryside of the Borders. Wandering along forest tracks and farmers' fields, jumping fences, crossing bridges - I love that you are allowed to wander nearly anywhere in Scotland without some irate farmer trying to take your head off (as long as you are respectful and careful).
We came across some very interesting things, like a stone marking the location of the Eildon Tree, where Thomas the Rhymer met the Queen of the Faeries, and the location of an old Roman fort called Trimontium. The name is Latin for ‘the fort at the foot of the three hills’. We were hoping for ruins or something, but there didn't seem to be much left - just the fields where the fort once was. Still, it was interesting to see. We ended up back in a lovely pub in Melrose for a hot toddy. Melrose is apparently also the birthplace of sevens rugby, though this meant little or nothing to me. I will have to come back if I have ever have time and have a proper look at the abbey, though. It's all in ruins, but it looks amazing.
In total, Brad reckoned we walked six or seven miles - part of it severely uphill. I still managed to get up the energy to go out last night, though. Today was the rugby, Scotland versus Wales, and the Welsh had taken over the town. Everywhere you looked you saw red and green. The Welsh flag is actually pretty cool - it has a dragon on it. The Welsh were in a party mood and happy to buy drinks for anyone who happened to be around. We had a fun night, though we had to fend off Welsh advances every five seconds.
Pia leaves in a little over a week. We have been interviewing potential flatmates this week, though Craig has a bad habit of telling people to come over without checking with me if I'll be around. In this manner I managed to miss all but three people who came to look at the flat, because I was out or had prior plans when he had people round. Grrr. However, I did really like the Irish girl who came last week, as did Craig, and we've invited her to move in. She's a student and seems quite good. I hope so! The other people who came to see the flat were horrendous. Proper neds. The woman was actually more of a cougar - 40 if she was a day, wearing a low-cut shirt to show off the tattoo on her cleavage. Her boyfriend was at LEAST 15 years younger and African. They liked the room, but were concerned that we didn't have cable TV! "I need my soaps, and he watches a lot of sports." Suddenly, that Irish girl was looking very good indeed.
This week will be crazy. Jen gets back on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the three of us are going to see Chicago at the Playhouse. Then it's St. Paddy's Day, and there's an international student party on Friday. Saturday is the lacrosse ceilidh, and Sunday I have a ticket to see Ani DiFranco in concert. Also, I think Bee might come to visit next weekend! I am very pleased. I've missed her up here and it would be great to see her. She's working in Kent at the moment but it doesn't sound like she loves it too much.
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